Posted in Birds and other fun topics

2019 by Robin at Crows of Arroyos

What a year it was 2019. I retired from 37 years at GES and have survived my first 6 months of a new life.

It is a good time to re-vamp and re-visit Crows of Arroyos. In November I crossed the nine year mark and today I gave her a new suit of clothes. Hope you like the new format/theme I picked. Plus, thought I would share with you the highlights old and new at Crows of Arroyos.

The raw 2019 statistics are a good starting point:

  • 113 posts
  • 29,074 words
  • 5,191 visitors

I stuck with my tried and true topics such as:

  • Crow babies, Crows of the Hood & Beach
  • Nature’s serendipity moments on my Puget Sound beaches – Ocean View & Cove Park
  • Waterfalls – revisited Coal Creek in Cougar Mountain Regional Park and hiked 6 miles to see Doughty Falls after our one day rain record right before Christmas.

Some new topics I feasted on:

  • How to find an Old Coal Mine – Adventured several times to find century old mines hidden in suburbia.
  • In the midst of a rain storm ran into a gregarious Spotted Sandpiper.  A new bird spotting to add to my bird list.

Experimented with daily photo flashes:

  • Just Black & White – 9 of these where I used the software GIMP to desaturate some photos.
  • Color Flash – 20 photos of Fall Bright colors including leaves, flowers & toadstools.
  • Bird Flash – 33 one time snapshots of different birds that crossed my path.
  • Very Berry – 11 winter berry fun to show there is color even in the darkest days of the year.

Now lets talk about the top posts for 2019. This is what my readers found of interest  within my whole portfolio of 837 posts. By the way, my all-time views are 51,564 and 27,581 visitors.

Number Five most viewed site was……Duwamish – Kellogg Island with 187 views

Kellogg Island backwater side
  • I wrote this post as part of a series I called My Duwamish Adventure. In 2015 I walked as close to the river as I could.  I started at a park called Cecil Moses Park where the river changes into the Green River.  I made it all the way to the mouth at Jack Block Park.  A lot of walking in between.
  • This article is about a special place on the Duwamish River.  It is the only remaining piece of the original river before it was dredged and made the industrial waterway it is today.
  • The link to the post is – Kellogg Island
  • If you want to see all of my Duwamish Adventure here is a summary post with many links – Duwamish Adventure Directory
  • Here is the video I made called “Our Only River”.  This was the finale of the series.

Number Four most viewed site was …..Crow Pellet with 321 views.

Crow Pellet – interesting look at what this crow was eating
  • One of my crow followers landed a few feet from me on an old piling and proceeded to throw up.   I was kind of shocked and yet sort of honored that he felt comfortable enough to do his regurgitation in front of me.
  • The link to this May 2012 post is Crow Throw – up.  Be warned not for the faint of heart.

Number Three most viewed site was …..Crow Idioms – Eat Crow and As the Crow Flies with 332 views.

  • These two idioms are prime examples of how many do not like crows but they do respect them for their intelligence and sleek black beauty.
  • There is a back story to this post that I did not reveal at the time I wrote it in September of 2016.  It was triggered by an episode at work where I got mad and yelled at a couple of people at work. I can say now that they wanted to break rules and I told them under no certain terms that it was a bad idea. They were unremorseful and told their manager I was harassing them.  Who in turn told my boss. She sympathized with me but said I had to eat crow and apologize. In the end that was the right thing to do but it was a bitter pill to accept.
  • Enjoy Eating Crow & As the Crow Flies at this feasting spot.

Number Two most viewed site was …..It’s Molting Time – Crows, Herons & Madrona Trees with 415 views.

Madrona Trees also molt this time of year. The bark is just like paper laying on the trail.
  • This post has the most staying power of all-time with 3,916 views. It was conceived in the fall of 2011 and every week someone reads it. I think it is the madrona trees molting that catches the traffic. They are a very special tree that molt at the same time as the birds I follow at the beach. But then again it could be the crows who sure don’t look black and shiny when in molt.
  • Check this out at Molting or you can just google “molting trees” and it will pop up on the second page.  Pretty cool to be a hot google item and it is my all time most visited post.

Drum Roll——>Number One most viewed site was ….. “Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Foundations” and it’s sister article “Longacres Racetrack – Vintage Aerials” with a combined 835 views.

Arial View of Longacres Racetrack – left to right – Gazebo, North Grandstand, Original Grandstand, Club house & Jockey House
Mossy stairs at foundations of Longacres Racetrack remains
  • The Foundations had a huge one day visit when a Facebook group “Seattle Vintage” had a feasting party of 514 views in November this year. Making a total of 633 in 2019
  • It also has an all time viewing total coming in second to Molting with 1,904 views.
  • Aerials is no slouch either with 202 views in 2019 and all time of 628.
  • These two are part of a series I wrote about what I found when I went down to where the old racetrack used to be. Boeing bought the property in the early 1990’s and bulldozed it down shortly thereafter.
  • Here is the opening on Foundations:

Ruins are often thought of as a tourist site such as the Ruins of Pompeii, the Acropolis or Delphi of Oracle. These are in distant places many of us can never see.  They do have one thing in common and that is they were places mankind gathered.  The area is imprinted with that activity with not only the remains of the structures but of the vibrations that do not dissipate over time.  In some cases they become more powerful and draw us to them.

Needless I say I am still drawn to these ruins and even a week ago was digging around researching my next article.

  • The aerials were a gift to me from an ex-employee who read my first couple of articles.  They are fascinating since they include the I-405 being built in the 1960’s.
  • Here are the links to the two posts.  You can find more by following the links at the end of these post.  Maybe it is time to make a directory post of them like I did Duwamish & Green River Adventures.   Foundations link    &   Aerials link

Well that ends my reminiscing on how Crows of Arroyos did in 2019.  Hope you saw something new and come back for more.  Wish you all a great 2020!!  A new decade awaits us.

Posted in History and other topics

Molting Dry Madrona Forest

Tis the season for all of us to shed our summer dryness. It has been so hot and dry here in the Pacific Northwest with a new record of days with no rain. I have lost count since we blazed through the old 1951 record.

Last night we had a little drizzle that broke our streak but it made no dent in the dryness of the forest or the wildlife’s suffering.

Back in 2011 I wrote an article about molting birds and madrona trees.  I am always surprised by how popular this post is. Currently it is the most read with almost 2,500 hits. I have poked around and found it is a search for molting trees that brings folks in.

This tree molting is a fascinating sight. Walking down the trail to the beach through the madrona forest the ground is littered with paper like bark.  My boot in the picture below gives us perspective on how big the pieces are.

Bark on trail shed by madrona trees

It is nearly pure white on the back with a warm mahogany brown on the outer side.

Paper like madrona bark

These trees are looking rather messy. They like the birds have a shabby look. If one was not aware of this molting they might think they are dying.

Frumpy looking madrona tree near Seattle

It isn’t just their bark they shed but also their dead or older leaves fall at this time of year. They are an evergreen tree but leaves last only so long. This late summer period is their season of rejuvenation. As the season gets hot they shed away the old to conserve energy.

Madrona surrounded by his pile of old leaves and bark

The finale is how spectacular the exposed underneath is a smooth shiny green.  Do you want to reach out and touch it? It is so smooth and almost soft. A thrill for the rambling hiker!

Sheets of peeling bark and smooth green newness
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Madrona Heron

At the beach today out of the trees on the bluff flew this Blue Heron.  It was high tide and fishing must have been slow.  He flew right over me.


Then he landed in the madrona forest where I took his photo.   He was just hanging out waiting for the next school of fish at low tide.

Madrona trees are lovely to look at.   They have this reddish bark that molts in late summer just like the birds do.  See the new greenish bark peeking out from under the peel?  Their old branches can die off and they have a grey twisted gnarled look.  If the heron had not come flying out of another tree, I would never have spotted him.  See how well he blends into the branches of the tree?

Posted in Crows at the Beach

Got My Crow Eye on You

Baby Crow with icky eye giving me the look.
Baby Crow with icky eye giving me the look.

I had heard about an albino crow at Lincoln Park.  This week I went there on a quest to see this mystical bird myself and perhaps get a photo.   This special bird did not show itself but I did find a baby crow with its parent at the beach.   This little guy had a raw looking eye either from molting or some sort of bad occurence.  When I took his photo he gave me the Crow Eye.

Then around the corner from Coleman pool (a rare saltwater swimming pool) there was an older male crow on the fence.  He allowed me to take his photo but not without giving me the Crow Eye too.  Check out how his feathers are brownish and degraded.  He is in full molt.   This year all the crows seem to be having a serious molt.  I blame that on the hot weather, which must have put a lot of wear and tear on their feathers.

Lincoln Park Molting crow    got his eye on me
Lincoln Park Molting crow got his eye on me
Posted in Mocha's family at our house

Frumpy Crows

Molting isn't pretty
Molting isn’t pretty

The summer heat has taken its toll on the local Crow family around our house.   Their feathers are lack luster during the process of molting.  The baby crows are particularly impacted since they need to change their feather suit from juvenile to adult.

One of my older birds looks even worse for wear.  He has lost  his head feathers and looks the part of the frumpy bald old man.

Crow going bald
Crow going bald

Here is a shot of the family sunning themselves.   Guess the family that molts together stays together.

Crow Family sunning themselves
Crow Family sunning themselves
Posted in Baby Crows, Crows at the Beach

Edgar worries about being Lost and Molting

I woke up in the trees and had that moment of sweet sun shining on my beak.   Then I remember with a jolt I was lost and not with my family.   I was not alone though.  The mob of guys I had joined was also stirring.   Harry nudged me and asked if I was wake.  “Come Edgar, don’t look so gloom.  We will get something to eat and then find your family.”

The group started swooping and flying around getting warmed up.   It was fun diving and soaring in and out of each other.  Then we all took off to what Harry called the wharf.   Not sure what that was but he said it would have lots of fish and other good things to nibble on.

We were a motley crew I noticed now that I check us out.   We are molting and our feathers are not laying flat and have gone kind of brown vs our usual black.  W look like we got roughed up in a fight.   My favorite forest tree the madrona is also doing an odd molting thing.  It’s pretty reddish bark is falling off in strips and revealing the pale silver green new bark below.   Would we be green under our old feathers?  I don’t want to be green.

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The Wharf was so far away that we had to stop and rest a couple of times.  The guys said the young ones were not ready for a direct flight.  Guess I am one of several babies that had joined the gang.  Then there it was on the horizon.  It jutted out into the blue sparkling water and jogged to one side.   It had humans on it and the distinct smell of fish hit us.

We all landed on this conveniently located limb that was on all sides of the wharf.   Harry gave me another new word to learn.  He called it railing.  It is something that humans made to keep themselves from falling off the high up walkway.   They are so silly humans.   They can’t fly so they have to protect their young for years.

Then very quickly, the guys swooped over to where the humans were and landed on the walkway.   There were all kinds of food just lying around.   They said be quick before the humans see us and get mad.   Sure enough they started yelling and running at us.

We flew away a few feet up the wharf and repeated the maneuver until that human chased us away.   Before you know it I had a full belly and was so happy we had come here to the wharf.

I will have to show my family this great place and maybe for once Lizzie will stop crying because she will have a mouth full of fish.   Gosh I miss them.   Then I remember I was lost!   How will I ever find my way home?