I went to the beach today during a sunny lull in the snow. It was brisk but really lovely with a low tide that revealed how the beach was scoured from stormy high tides. Made it to the end of the beach and was hanging out.
Then I heard the crows raising a ruckus, which is always a good sign of some excitement up on the cliff trees. I was right because a big white head stood out like a blazing sun. It was an amazing adult bald eagle. It got better since he was feasting on a fish. Oh Yum!!
He was hanging out on a bleached white madrona tree limb. Perfect place to keep watch on the world while he snacked.
How about we get a little closer to our fabulous bald eagle?
Did you see the fish’s backbone? This eagle has been here a while eating some white fish he caught. If the crows had not been hoping for a stolen bite I would have missed him up there on the steep bank.
Let us zero in on his talons. They are nothing to mess with.
Check out how he works the remnants of the fish to get the last morsels. At the end you can see how the bones just fall away. Pretty much all done.
One last shot of this symbol of our country enjoying his catch of the day.
This past couple of weeks while wandering around my local forested parks I have encountered some loveliness. The first one is a Camellia blossom with a dewiness about it.
Then there is the old standard that I write about each spring – the Trillium. This one has started to age and has gone from pure white to this lovely pinky purple color. She was there in the middle of a wild forest setting just waiting for someone to adore her.
Then we have a more subdued flower. She is all green and maybe just a bud that will turn into something more brilliant. Check out how she has fur or rather is all fuzzy. How exquisite mother nature was when she created this plant.
Surviving winter for a crow can be tough. I could equate their hard work to humans getting busy this time of year. However, if we had to live on our wits like they do we would come in a sad second. They are out there every day turning over leaves and observing activity that might land them a meal.
Down by the water’s edge in Lincoln Park on the back side of Coleman Pool (the only saltwater pool in Seattle) I encountered this family of crows. My first view of them was the watcher. He was perched in a great spot – on a flag pole.
You see this is a pretty busy park with a lot of people traffic flowing by here. Not missing a beat this guy is keeping his eye on all of us to see if we drop a snack.
Then between this photo and the next he flew off towards the pool wall. There he landed on the bright blue pool slide structure. His partner in crime showed up moments later. They blend in with the trees so look closely at the far left corner. One is on the pillar and the other is on the door arch.
Nothing like having a buddy to watch your back. These two sat close and kept everything around them under their crow black eyes. Something got their attention and one of them gave the crow caw out. This was a warning or an alert that something was a brewing.
Now you ask who is the boy or the girl here? I am not sure and at first thought it was the cawing crow. Then the upper guy who has the upper advantage seemed to have puffier and blacker head feathers.
Not sure who is who actually. What was I thinking? Can’t tell them apart nor can I tell what sex they are. Adds to the mystery does it not?
Now for the freaky part of the winter crow story. I started thinking about the peanuts in my bag. Yes in my mind I thought about getting them out and offering my black wonders a bit of protein to help them thru their day.
Bam!! Before I could even do that one of the two crows flew over to the bench I was standing next to and landed. He/she was only few feet away looking at me.
What just happened? They read my mind? Now there is another explanation. I have fed the crows at Lincoln Park peanuts before. However, it has been months and I mean many months.
Another explanation is they are part of my Ocean View Crow Murder who I feed regularly. Perhaps one of the birds knows me from there or the crow newspaper in the area has my mug shot on it. Whatever way you look at it they either read my mind or remember me from many months ago.
Then the feeding began. They were actually polite to each other. When I give out peanuts I try to make sure every body gets one. Often there is an alpha bird who will gobble up as many has he can get in his craw. Not here. They each got one and let then let the next bird have one.
As they flew away to crack their treat open I went to a picnic table around the corner. Then one of them came back. No fear again. He was within 5 feet of me giving me the “Cough up another one of those Peanuts” look. Of course I obeyed!!
Deep in the Duwamish Greenbelt on an unimproved trail it was hot and sticky today. No breeze to cool me down as I climbed down into the ravine and then back out.
When I got to the bottom, I decided it was too steep to go down to the creek. There was water at the bottom enticing me that I had to resist.
However, it was so steep someone had put a strap for climbing up and down. This girl decided it was not worth the risk of a broken bone here in the suburban wilderness.
So, I turned around, put my mace away and started trucking up the trail back to civilization. Mace you ask? Here in the city of Seattle not likely I would meet a bear. I carry it when I go off main trails due to the homeless and other odd folks one might stumble upon.
It was hot going up hill. Figure it to be in the mid 80s plus dang humid too. When I got back to my car I realized it was only in the low 70s there. The off-path route was so deep into a ravine it had heated up more than the surrounding forest.
I stopped for a drink of water and to rest a bit when I saw a flash of little birds dancing through the bushes. They were singing in a tinkley way as they went. It was a mixed flock of bushtits, chickadees and kinglets flying from bush to tree to branch.
Then they stopped in a grove of oceanspray. There they were hanging upside down and sideways to nibble on the flowers that were going to seed. Oceanspray which is also known as Ironwood has white flowing flowers that appear in the early summer. It has been hot and dry here in the Pacific Northwest so this area’s bushes had turned pinky.
This short video of one of the bushtits bebopping around this pinky warm paradise is worth more than all the words I have. Enjoy how sweet the encounter was.
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.
It is nearly pure white on the back with a warm mahogany brown on the outer side.
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.
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.
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!
Serendipity took hold of my Sunday. How else can I explain what happened.
Yesterday Greg (my brother) posted on Facebook his painting of a house.
What he said got me.
I think this painting is finished. I’m going to leave the triangle of sky unpainted as a reference to my abstract work. This the house I grew up in, 3-12 years old. I’ve done this image 4 times in the past 35 years
I knew exactly where this house is. It is only a 5 minute drive from my house. So, I said, let me get a picture for you. Cool to compare the painting to today’s reality.
So, that is what I did today on the way to Schmitz Reserve Park. Drove up and bang… there was a for sale sign. Best part there was going to be an open house.
First thing I did was take a few photos with my phone and send them to Greg. Then I walked around and took some photos of the exterior.
The front Door
Thee was a cherry tree there once
South side of house
The old washer shed on West side
North side of our old house
Front porch looking south
A couple of hours later I came back and sure enough there was an open house. I told the realtor who I was and he was interested to say the least. So, I went poking around and realized that what seemed so big as a child was really pretty tiny.
Then a young couple and their Dad showed up. When I came back out of the kitchen the realtor told them I had lived here. Greg had told me our parents bought the house in 1951 for 3 grand. What a hoot in today’s over heated house market. That started the most wonderful conversation and me showing them the small window in Greg’s and my bedroom closet. Funny things we remember huh?
Here are the interior photos I took there and of the for sale brochure
Then there are the stairs. They are the same granite as the State Capitol was built of. Mom always reminded me of that. They and the rockery were built by our parents when 37th & Kenyon SW were paved. The bulkhead we had been not so hot after that.
So, yes you can go home but it is only a peek into the past. Enjoy it but remember it is important to “Be here Now”. The past is great but our loved ones need us here today.
Thanx Greg.. this was super special hope you enjoy the pictures.
Came around the corner today. What did I find? Crow Bone!
You could make a chant out of that – it has such a nice ring and made me smile to see the plucky crow munching on his pork chop bone. And in the middle of the street too!
I am sure he did it not to be a smarty pants or amuse this crow-stalker. He knows that others will want to steal his golden treasure of snackdom. So, he consumes in the middle of the street to protect himself from thieves.
Here is his story:
I leave you with a short video of his love of the Crow Bone.