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Showing posts from March, 2012

Heron in Haiku

A great blue heron
Softly singing like the tides
Taking flight with me

Heron in the marsh
Moves silently with the earth
Welcoming the sun

The blue heron speaks
You are laughing at the rain
I know this is home

Morning blue heron
Takes flight warmly with the dawn
Spirit of this place

Waiting blue heron
She is speaking for the earth
Awakening us

Sunrise on the marsh
Blue heron greeting the dawn
Taking flight with her

Tranquil blue heron
The tides speaking with the earth
The song of moonlight

Heron in the mist
Whispers softly like the dawn
The name of the earth

Blue heron at dawn
Tells a story to the tides
The song of the earth

Misty yellow sun
Awakening with the marsh
A heron takes flight

Ripple in the marsh
The dawn shifting to the past
Heron awakens

Resting blue heron
The sea smiling with the day
Taking flight with him

The visitor speaks
Awakening like the sun
I know what we are

Visiting a Great Blue Heron in the tidal marshes of the Skagit River Delta.

Greater Yellowlegs

It's neither the name of a Viking chieftain nor a town in New York State.  The Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) is a wading shorebird related to Sandpipers and Curlews.  They winter along the Pacific Northwest Coast and are common migrants in Washington's lowland wetlands and salt marshes.  According to Seattle Audubon, a few may remain in this area through the winter.  The solitary bird was spotted this past weekend in Wiley Slough in the Skagit River delta.  Lesser Yellowlegs (T. flavipes) are smaller, seasonal migrants, but unknown in Washington this time of year.


This part of Wiley Slough is outside the barrier dike which protects the farms and homes on Fir Island.  It is open to the sea and the water levels here fluctuate with the tides.  At the time, the tide was outgoing and the mudflats were exposed.  The dormant vegetation includes cattails and other salt marsh grasses.  This is part of a restoration project (.pdf) aimed at improving Chinook Salmon habitat for…

The Robins of Bowman Bay

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The lawns of the picnic grounds at Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park provide a forest edge/open woodland habitat.  This is exactly what our good old American Robin (Turdus migratorius) likes.  That Latin name literally means "migratory thrush."


We had some nice, sunny weather in early February.  Since then, it has been cold, windy, raining and even snowing.  Yesterday, after some local, spotty snow, the sun finally came out, sort of.  I took the opportunity to hike the Bowman-Rosario Nature Trail in the park.

I spotted a lot of wildlife, but the lowly, taken-for-granted Robins put on the best show of all.  I don't recall ever seeing so many gathered in one place.


The lawns at Bowman Bay were literally alive with dozens of these common thrushes.  They were all busily stalking their annelid pray among the blooming English Daisies growing in the grass.  The birds cock their heads as if listening for the sounds of earthworms moving through the ground.  From what I obs…

Camera Ham

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On a recent visit to West Beach in Deception Pass State Park, I checked out a familiar grove of Shore Pines next to the parking lot.  As I walked around the grove peering in, sure enough, up pops an old friend, the Douglas Squirrel we have seen here before.  I was sure he recognized me, but that would probably be wishful thinking.

He was looking even grayer than he did in January.  By late spring, his coat will return to a deep sable brown.  A distinct black lateral band on the sides will divide the brown from the orange belly fur.

Most remarkable about this encounter were his antics.  He moved from limb to limb in the grove as if he wanted to lead me around and show me things.  Naturally, I followed.  Then he would stop for a moment to pose for a photo like a red-carpet celebrity.  I have posted one of those moments here.  He appeared to enjoy the rendezvous as much as I did.

After about twenty minutes of this tête-à-tête, it was time to go home.  I left the park with another memora…

Exploring The West 90

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In early February, I finally got to explore "The West 90."  I had heard about it a few times, but as a birding neophyte, I didn't know where it was.  The official name of the site is the Samish Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area and it is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  I still don't know why it's called "The West 90."  I would appreciate hearing from anyone who does know.

Historically, this was the Samish River floodplain.  When Europeans arrived, the river was diked and the land drained for agriculture.  Now, about 400 acres along the Padilla Bay shoreline have been set aside for wildlife.  When I arrived, I found a big, flat open field.  It was hard to imagine it was a spot where I would see much wildlife.  In the end, I would not be disappointed.


The setting was magnificent.  Mount Baker stood watch stoically over the fields.  Despite the sunshine, the morning temperature was cold, near freezing, and some patches of fog li…