The Habitat


















Situated between the mainland and Whidbey Island, Skagit Bay marks the northern-most eastern reach of Puget Sound.  At extreme low tides, eel grass beds are exposed.  They provide nursery areas for fish and crustaceans, and shore birds feed there.  A colony of humans has nested in the shoreline ecotone, where forest meets the beach:


















Mature Douglas Fir extended to the beach line.  Even minor clearing for home sites can be destructive.  When heavy rains and wind storms began to erode the bluff, a riprap seawall was added:




















Unlike concrete bulkheads, riprap absorbs wave action and allows beach material to accrete.  Upland sediments can continue to be delivered to the beach and provide nourishment.  The bluff has been allowed to vegetate naturally.  Nootka Rose, Salal, Oregon Grape, Alder and Willow are good stabilizers.  These also provide food and shelter for wildlife.  Rose thickets are favorite nesting sites for many birds.  In the backyard, Douglas Fir understory gardens are enjoyed by humans and wildlife alike:




















Native plants and trees reduce the need for water and fertilizing.  Where natives are not workable, consider drought-tolerant stock and low-demand cultivars of native plants.  Around here, Rhododendrons and most conifers are examples.  A koi pond provides a source of drinking water and a place to bathe:




















The Herons don't allow me to keep fish, but the Pacific Chorus Frogs come every spring for their courtship concerts.  Before building on the site, a trail led from the road down to the beach.  This turned out to be a deer trail.  Despite clearing, building, landscaping and more than 20 years, the deer continue to follow the same route to the beach for a little salt:

Columbian Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)




















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