Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Spotted Sandpiper & I Brave the Rain

It was a gloomy day yesterday when I decided to go for a walk in the rain. To the beach at Ocean View I went. This is the place many sunny summer days I have enjoyed. However, I have visited there during inclement weather many times too. Rain is not very photogenic when compared to bright sunny days.  Alas, I was in for a surprise as I got soaked by a rain squall.

Spending some time on the rain and it’s grayness consumed me for a bit.

Rainy Puget Sound looking West at Vashon & Blake Islands

The beach was washed to a fine flat plane with rocks and chunks of cement poking up. The cement is an interesting feature down here. They originated years ago when the bluff above the beach collapsed and brought down someones backyard walls and walkways. The power of water and wind has moved this debris northward. Different times of year the sand covers the chunks but today they are all scrapped clean and exposed.  Mother Nature rules no matter what Man thinks.

Cement chunks migrating north on the beach

Then there is the log jutting out into the surf. This log has moved several times over the years. Today it would be a highlight of my adventure.

Log with surf pounding away

The waves were washing back and forth creating a calm meditative moment. This video will lull you a bit. It will also give you a view of the logs root ball and the tangled driftwood I was climbing around on.

As the wind was blowing and I decided it was time to go find a bit more shelter a small bird flew by. He was close to the waves and landed in the rocky beach. He wasn’t too big, perhaps the size of a sparrow but with long legs and beak. A shorebird I had never seen before. I froze in place and started capturing him on film.

The Sandpiper tilts his head to look above for danger.

Was he looking at me? or a larger predator?  Not sure but I found him super cute. At the time I did not know what his species was. Researching later at home in my dry jammies I found he is a non-breeding Spotted Sandpiper. If he was breeding his breast would be full of spots. Here is what Cornell Labs – All About Birds says about them.

The dapper Spotted Sandpiper makes a great ambassador for the notoriously difficult-to-identify shorebirds. They occur all across North America, they are distinctive in both looks and actions, and they’re handsome. They also have intriguing social lives in which females take the lead and males raise the young. With their richly spotted breeding plumage, teetering gait, stuttering wing beats, and showy courtship dances, this bird is among the most notable and memorable shorebirds in North America.

At first he was walking the shoreline feeding as he went. Then to my delight he jumped onto that log I just mentioned.

Great view of Spotted Sandpiper at Ocean View – So CUTE!!

Check out his feet and  how he is clinging to the log. It gets better!!  I have a video of him walking the log and dancing with the waves.

Then he disappeared over the log. I raced through the logs on the beach to see where he went. He is tough to spot but there he was bobbing and weaving around the rocks.

Sandpiper taking care of business on the stormy beach
Big rocks and surf do not stop this little guy

This shorebird has a behavior that is a key to identifying them.  They bob their little butts up and down as they make their way around. Cornell Labs says this about this little quirk

Its characteristic teetering motion has earned the Spotted Sandpiper many nicknames. Among them are teeter-peep, teeter-bob, jerk or perk bird, teeter-snipe, and tip-tail.

The function of the teetering motion typical of this species has not been determined. Chicks teeter nearly as soon as they hatch from the egg. The teetering gets faster when the bird is nervous, but stops when the bird is alarmed, aggressive, or courting.

Check it out & you will smile all day!

Then he flew back to the other side of the log.  Can you see me jumping and climbing again all soaking wet over the driftwood?  That was me desperate to get more of this wonderful piece of serendipity.

I got lucky and found him for a few more shots.

In the rocks looking for aquatic larvae and small crustaceans.
Just a little bit closer view of his busy ways.

I leave you with a smile on my face as I remember the rain and this little guy that made for a wonderful late fall (felt like winter) day.

Then he just walked away took flight.
Posted in History and other topics

Beach Phenomena

Late November all bundled up for wind and cold weather I trekked down to my local beach. Nature presented a few unusual phenomena that we humans often miss. It was a domed incoming high tide and remnants of summer clinging to past glories.

The tide got my attention because Puget Sound looks like it is a mound of water. You ask what does that mean? One imagines that bodies of water should be flat like a calm lake on a breezeless day. As the tide rushes into the sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean this phenomenon causes the water to bulge.  Check out these photos to see if they help you imagine this.

Puget Sound as high tide rushes in – distant shot

Now we will get a little more zoomed into the water.

Can you see the bulge now?

Those waves are pushing south toward Tacoma & Olympia the towns on the southern end of the sound. This next shot gives you an even closer look.

Now we have waves and a high domed appearance to Puget Sound

As often in photography it is hard to capture something that is more all encompassing instead of a single little shot of the occurrence. Hope you were able to add a bit of imagination and get the special moment.

Next on this same day I encountered two flowering bushes hanging onto summer on this late fall day. They are not winter bloomers like the camellia I found a week or two ago but rather summer wild flowers not giving up to winter yet.

High on the trail was this pink little thing. It looks a bit scraggly clinging to the edge of the trail.

Late Fall bloomer on the Ocean View Beach Trail

This bush even has a few buds holding out to open but I wonder if there is enough time for that?

A little bit closer to pink

Our pink flower child is beginning to look a bit ragged in the above photo. Have to admire her resilience in the cooler weather.

How rugged but delicate I am?

The zoomed in view makes one even more astounded at this late fall flower’s glorious moment.

Pink Flower combats the fall brown, yellow and red theme.

I am going to leave you with the orange California poppy that is in the very top photo of the post. Just like Pinky, he is also holding onto the summer that is now long gone.

Summer of 2019 is not quite ready to go into history
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Misty Salish Sea Moments

Beach time today was a misty affair. Here I am on the shore of Puget Sound at Ocean View enjoying a bit of fog at high tide. The sound is part of the Salish Sea. This inland sea of North America extends from Strait of Georgia (in Canada) south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and of course Puget Sound.

We are going to start with a tug pulling a large barge crossing over the path of several Washington State Ferries.  The mist, high tide and the sun starting to peek out all created a double vision reflection. (if you saw my pond reflections this is similar but yet not).

At first I was fascinated by just the tug and barge.  I saw them coming around the point and this series shows them getting closer and closer (really an illusion since I used my telephoto on them).

Misty tug and barge chugging along on Puget Sound
Can you see the tug & barge a little better?

See what I mean by the illusion that the water, mist & sun has created?  It gets better!

Is it a Ghost Tug?
And is this a ghost barge on Puget Sound?

When I thought that was the best illusion it got better. Three Washington State Ferries joined the party of ghost ships in the mist.

Ghost Ferries joined the fun
Cormorant salutes the ferry and barge as they cross
Ghostly vessels on the Salish Sea seem to kiss
Cormorant waves good bye

The ferries were not going to let the barge out do them. They decided they had to do a bonding dance in the mist too. Check out their ghostly moment.

Ferry dance in the mist of the Salish Sea
Illusion or Reality? Dancing or Floating?

Not to be out done the birds were actively fishing. In the dancing ferry photo you can see a small flock of Sea Scoters. They have the goofiest faces but they are serious fishers. They dive in unison and feast on the bounty of the sound.

Sea Scoters – a larger sea duck
Popping back up after a fishing moment

There I was feeding my crows peanuts and this huge flock of ducks flew into our cove. I mean a lot of ducks. They were in silhouette from the sun, so it was tough to see details or color. I tried to figure out what kind they are but just not have enough data.

Ducks at Ocean View in the mist
Ducks mobbing our cove

And a little bit of a video so you can see how many there are. You can also hear the crows giving me hell and a dog on the beach. Hard for our black bird friends to be quiet.

I leave you with a couple final sweet moments in time at the beach on the Salish Sea.

Misty moment on Puget Sound to calm the beast in us.
Scoter and sail boat navigate the fall misty moment.
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Retired time at low-tide

Today was a minus 2 foot plus low tide. Off to Ocean View beach I went. As I walked down to the water I started to realize that this was the first day of second quarter financial close at my old employer. I wondered how it was going and celebrated my freedom from this monthly task I have worked on for decades.

In celebration of this big moment in my new retirement life, I experimented with my cell phone’s camera. It does a panorama type thing that I needed to practice.  I did two of them.  One is from way out on the sand bar exposed by low tide looking back at the shoreline. The second is from the shoreline looking out to the water.

Hope you enjoy the beauty of a sunny day on Puget Sound!

Ocean View Beach looking back at shoreline at low tide
Ocean View Beach looking out at Puget Sound
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Winter Wind Dancing

Wind brings out a rhythm on the water. It hums and flows in and out to a beat that all creatures cannot resist. At Ocean View Beach she was singing up a storm.

WA State Ferry and Gulls dance on the Salish Sea

A Washington State Ferry from Vashon to Fauntleroy is the first to show her stuff. She was riding high on the surging inland sea of Puget Sound. The gulls are dancing along with her as she heads into port. What I like about this video is how it shows the dynamic of wind and surf. Add to that the sun came out to make the blue waters sparkle with excitement.

Then there were the gulls. At first I ignored them looking for the crow murder. They were a no show, which means they missed out on the good times that the gulls were having.

Flying high in the wind
Beach audience cheers on the wind dancers
Gulls tempting the waves to get them!

The poor gulls asked me to make them stars of a video. Here they are in the starring role dancing and interacting with nature on this blustery winter day. The crows never showed their faces. Could it be they were ashamed?

Batgurrl had a story to tell too. She got to the end of the open beach and found a blue tarp stuck on the driftwood. This kind of rope and tarp is a danger to all the wildlife. From birds to orcas to seals to otters this is not a good thing to be hanging out in the surf.

Blue Tarp just daring me to remove it

Wish I had a knife to cut the rope that made it so hung up.

However, I did overcome that and was able between surf surges to rip it off the snags. Then I drug it down the beach to the staircase where I was able to secure it next to the storage area there. Mission accomplished!

At the end of my walk just down the street from our home are three rhododendron bushes that are early risers. Not uncommon for them to bloom in late January in all their pale pink glory.

Pink sparkle to chase the winter away

The sun had come out and they were dancing in the wind just like the ferry, gulls and Batgurrl.

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Got me a crab!

Lot of driftwood floating at high tide.  This duck was using it as an observation platform. Just a little winter afternoon fishing excursion.

Then off she went, leaping into action.

Diving duck from the log surfaces

Too late. Her partner was busy looking for the goodie.

I know it is down there.

He scored!  A crab!!

Crab dinner
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Merganser Floats By

This brace of Common Mergansers did a quiet ballet just off the beach for me. Their crests were edged by a rainbow of color on the water.

Common Merganser at Ocean View Beach

Take a few moments to float along with them as they paddle by me with a Washington State Ferry cruising in the distance.

Ferry headed south with ducks paddling along
Mergansers showing off their crests

 

Posted in Crows at the Beach

River Otters Beach Time

Wandering the beach looking for storm debris I found it was swept clean. Driftwood was pushed up against the bluff and the beach was clean as newly settled snow. A few crows and gulls floated around and the wind was whipping the surf up.

Headed back to the stairs I stopped to feed a few crows peanuts. That was when I noticed what I thought was a seal next to a rock at the surf line.

 

Otters on Ocean View Beach
Otters on Ocean View Beach

I was so wrong. It was a pair of River Otters.  Puget Sound (a salt water body of water) does not have Sea Otters but rather is inhabited by River Otters. You can tell them apart quickly. River otters have a longer tail, they swim belly down and are longer than sea otters. Sea otters swim on their belly just like you think of otters and are chunkier with a flatter tail.

The one that I thought was the rock was grooming and just enjoying a little beach time.

Otter grooming on beach
Otter grooming on beach
River Otter of Puget Sound
River Otter of Puget Sound

His buddy was chowing down on a flounder or what looked like a flat fish.

River Otter chews on fish
River Otter chews on fish
River Otter feeds on beach
River Otter feeds on beach

This pair has lived near here for quite a while. Earlier this year I caught them in the surf. Ocean view Otter Fun – March 2016

This summer I encountered a couple of folks at a low tide who told me about how they had their den under a house on Seola Drive. They would go up the storm drain pipe into the roadside ditch.  From there they entered under the house.

Coincidently that day I met a couple up close to Marine View Drive who said it was their house. They said that they had tried to bar them out but the rascals broke back in.  The big problem was how much they stunk and the mess they made. Who would have thought that a pair of fish-eating mammals would be such a nuisance.

Today I took some video of the pair eating, grooming and playing in the surf.

These cute creatures are about 25 pounds and you would not want to tangle with them. These next two pictures show you that they have TEETH! All the better to rip their prey up and fill their belly.

River Otter - I got teeth
River Otter – I got teeth
Yum - that fish is GOOD!
Yum – that fish is GOOD!

While I was filming them I coughed. The grooming otter gave me this look.

Otter looks right at me
Otter looks right at me

Next they decided to go for a swim and look for more good eats. The one with the fish gave the other otter what was left and took off. Then they played together in the surf.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then the beach was empty. Well not exactly. A gull and crow moved in to see if anything tasty was left behind. And so the cycle of the beach continued on.

Crow hopes for otter leftovers
Crow hopes for otter leftovers
Did they leave any scraps?
Did they leave any scraps?
Otters gone but gull and crow seek scraps
Otters gone but gull and crow hope for goodies
Posted in Crows at the Beach

Ocean View Otter Fun

Ocean View beach had a bit of excitement in the last few weeks. I headed out earlier this morning knowing that a big wind storm is blowing into Seattle. The weather  is not disappointing as I sit here typing this blog up, it is screaming outside with limbs, roofing, and garbage cans thrashing about. There are power outages all around us. Last night when we heard that we could get 60 mph gusts we got the battery lanterns and radio out. We are ready to rock if tonight we end up in the dark.

Walking down the staircase to the beach I got a flash of brilliant spring green. In this picture the neon color you see is from wild spurge.

Green Glow Ocean View Trail
Ocean View Trail glows green

Once I got on the beach, it was pretty obvious a high tide and wind storm had moved the driftwood around for better or worse.

One of my neighbor’s built up “marine residence” picnic area was covered in driftwood of varying size. This is a good example of how powerful mother nature can be. Here are a few pictures so you can see what I mean.

Ocean View Driftwood damage
Ocean View Driftwood damage
Driftwood from storm
Driftwood kicked up at Ocean View Beach

Just to the south of this area is a small built up wall on the bank that a lot of us have piled beach debris behind. The tide and waves did a number on this as well.

Puget Sound Storm eroded Ocean View Beach
Puget Sound Storm eroded Ocean View Beach

Upon my return up the beach I was surprised with a rare site of two otters romping. They were messing with something up on the bank. I dropped my bag and umbrella. Then dragged out my good camera to get zoomed pictures. The camera was in a zip-lock back to protect it from the pouring rain so it took a moment.

Then they saw me and scampered back into the water. My attempts to photograph them in that dash was unsuccessful but a couple of still photos and a video of them swimming turned out not too bad. They were certainly not coming back to the beach the way they watched me.

Life does have its moments of serendipity. These two fat otters were a treat from being in the right place at the right time.

Lastly, I have to show you that My Crow Follower is still shadowing me. I wrote a few blogs about him back in 2014. One of them had him covered in poop. I aptly named him Mr. Shithead that day. Here are the links to those two posts and some pictures from today.  My Crow Follower – 2014 and Mr Shithead

My Crow Follower
My Crow Follower
Crow of Ocean View Beach
My Crow Follower doing his begging act.
Posted in Crows at the Beach

Beach of Sparkling Serenity

High tide gave the day a sparkling moment.  I went to the beach knowing it would be just a narrow strip of beach to walk on and left to serendipity what I would photograph.  No crows or birds to speak of but a dynamic late summer sun on the surf.

The next place I turned my eye was up on the bluff looking through the madrona trees to the sky and water.  Here is a tree framed window looking to the sky.

DSCN6420

The forest is a mix of twisted snags, mahogany colored trunks, and fat green leaves.

Two other events came along – ships, barges and tugs headed north up the sound and some really big bird poop.  I think we should end with the poop, so here are the ships I saw.  I want to point out the distance photo of the tug pulling a barge shows you how the Puget Sound fills up at high tide.  Looking to the horizon it has a hill like bulge, which makes me feel uncomfortable knowing the beach is lower than sound level.

Now… the finale!!  Big Bird Pooooop!!

Came around the corner of the trail and saw this big white spot.  My first reaction was who threw paint or flour?  But that is not what it was.  It is a place under where a bird sat in a tree over and over and left lots of shit below.  This can happen near a nest like the eagle nest in Kent or under a roosting tree.  The bird that can leave this big of a statement is not a little robin, crow or chickadee..no this is the work of an eagle, heron or osprey.

DSCN6363

DSCN6365
Is it flour? Is it paint? No it is Bird Poop!!