Showing posts from June, 2016

Black Oystercatchers Nesting

I consider the pair of Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) that make their home in the Kukutali Preserve to be friends.  I have been watching them since 2011 , the first time I visited.  I'm fairly certain I have been seeing the same birds every year.  According to Seattle Audubon , "Males and females appear to form long-term pair bonds, and the pair returns to the same territory year after year." I was in the Preserve yesterday and found them in their usual spot, where they appear to be nesting now.  They seem to nest later in the season than other birds.  I'm not certain, but perhaps it's a shorebird thing.  Land birds are pretty much done with that now, or even getting ready for a second brood.  Oystercatchers lay their eggs in a simple scrape in the rocks, above the high tide line, according to the iBird app . While I walked up the beach to the west, I pointed the camera at some gulls that were still quite a distance away.  Only then did I

Pigeon Guillemot

This week's visit to the Kukutali Preserve , brought another "first sighting" for me.  Just offshore of the Flagstaff Island beach, I spotted this pair of Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) in their elegant breeding plumage.  At first I saw just a single bird (above), then realized there was a second nearby.  They are year-around residents of the Salish Sea . Pigeon Guillemots are birds of inshore waters around rock shores.  According to Seattle Audubon , they nest in rock caves or crevices or under driftwood.  Given these preferences, this pair could well be nesting somewhere here in the Preserve.  Pairs may join small colonies or nest singly.  These are diving birds that use their wings to propel themselves underwater.  Their diet includes fish, mollusks and crustaceans. These are not ducks.  Guillemots are grouped in the family Alcidae , which includes puffins, auks and murres.  This black and white plumage is typical of the group.  Once in a while, I c

Eyes of the Day

I'll begin with a mystery.  On a hike in the Kukutali Preserve , I couldn't help but notice all the daisies blooming along the road.  A dark object on one of them caught my eye.  Looking closer, I knew I should get a photo of it.  I figured out it was a Harvestman , but I don't know what kind. Another name for them is "Daddy Longlegs," but this is like no Daddy Longlegs I have ever seen.  Wikipedia says, "typical body length does not exceed 7 millimeters (0.28 in)."  This one was at least twice that size.  I do get the delicate little Daddy Longlegs in my house.  They seem to like my shower.  My house guests, however, have tiny bodies that are under a quarter inch long.  Perhaps Kiket Island grows them extra large and robust.  I would enjoy hearing from anyone who can provide more information about this big guy. Harvestmen are arachnids like spiders and scorpions, but of a different order, Opiliones.  They have eight legs like other arachnids, but

Heron Luncheonette

On Memorial Day I hiked around the Kukutali Preserve .  It is a favorite and convenient spot for me, quick and easy to get to and I always find something interesting there.  At the end of the hike, I headed back along the tombolo connecting Kiket Island to the mainland.  There is a lagoon on the north side of the tombolo.  Over the bank separating the roadway from the lagoon, I spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) giving me the eye. In itself, seeing a heron around here is not unusual.  What did strike me as odd, I was well inside the " escape zone " from which herons will usually flee, barking in protest.  This one did not flee, however, but remained in place watching me. As I continued along the tombolo, I got even closer and was able to get a better view of the bird.  It was wading belly deep in the lagoon.  Still, it did not flee from me.  It just stood there motionless. Then, quite suddenly, the bird plunged its head into the water revealing what