Monday, March 31, 2014

American Crow

This fellow, is one of two, that have recently started visiting my feeder. The photo at the top of my blog is him, too, giving a scolding to the ever present squirrels to move on.

The two come for the unshelled peanuts that I include in the morning replenishment of the feeder as they are also a favorite of Blue Jays. Both the Crows and Jays keep the resident Hawk at bay from snacking on the little song birds.

I had the darnedest time trying to photograph them as they kept one eye on me, which you can see here, even though I was behind glass and would barely move except to trigger the shutter. I'd move just a tad and they'd be gone. But my diligence paid off with these shots or maybe the crow finally gained some trust in me.

They are terribly handsome birds, impressive and intelligent.

I jog early in the morning, and encounter other Crows flying overhead calling to each other.

Caw! Caw! Caw!

One day I decided to caw back and it's become part of my morning run. They caw, I caw. They seem to know me.

One morning, after I was at the end of the jog and just about to start the walk down my driveway, I heard a loud caw coming from behind. I quickly turned around and saw a crow on the roof of my neighbors house staring at me with several other crows around him. They played a practical joke on me. I have no doubt they secretly followed me home to give me a little surprise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kiss me

A frog garden statue's patina, long faded by the sun, is replaced by green algae that keeps him handsome while he waits for a kiss that will turn him into a prince.

Algae is a diverse group of simple photosynthetic organisms ranging from the very small to that of seaweed, which is the largest. It is often seen growing on fences, pavement, outdoor furniture and garden statues like this handsome frog. And, it is the organism that clings to submerged objects such as sunken ships that becomes the foundation for artificial reefs.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the Cascade range of Washington State, blew its side out on May 18, 1980

In the immensity of the blast, it caused a massive mud flow.

The evidence can still be seen in these images take in 2013. The blast completely altered the landscape and decimated the surrounding forest.

Trees were felled by the thousands as was much of the life that depended on the forest.

But life is tenacious and hangs on despite calamity.

Life is slowly returning to the landscape and it's a delight to see the different kinds of wildflowers blooming where so much destruction took place.

 In the barren yet volcanic rich soil plants are slowly taking root and reseeding the area.

 These durable plants are reminders of the tenacity of life . . .

 . . . and are smiles of resilience against hard times.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mt. Rainier

When I first came upon Mt. Rainier, its snow covered shape seemed familiar. It was splendidly rugged and compelling. I studied the mountain from many angles and realized it reminded me of Mt. Everest.

A day later, I ran into two park rangers and we began to chat. I asked if they knew if there were climbers who trained on Mt. Rainier for a summit of Mt. Everest.

They seemed surprised by my question and both of them affirmed 'yes' at the same time. They explained that Mt. Rainier is the same technical-wise as Mt. Everest and that it makes a splendid training mountain for the greater Mt. Everest. Plus, just as Everest is, it is unpredictable weather-wise.

They then gave me more detailed information and added that the woman who has scaled Everest the most lives in the area and is a trainer on Mt. Rainier for those wishing to attempt Everest.

Note the block-like formation caused by layers of snow
Evidence of an avalanche
I smiled at the rangers and told them I was not surprised by what they said as I had done much reading about the historical summits of Mt. Everest and thought Mt. Rainier looked like Everest hence the reason for my inquiry.

Mt. Rainier is a massive, active stratovolcano and stands at 14,411 feet. It is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.

 Mt. Everest stands at 29,029 feet.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Geologically speaking

It is easy to forget while walking along a gray chalky path in Yellowstone National Park that you are walking on the mantle of an active volcano.

A volcano that, in geological time, is a recent explosion. It is truly just yesterday that this massive volcano exploded and I am the visitor who rushed to the scene.

The smell of sulfur gas is strong in the air as it escapes up through fissures in the ground and wafts through the air from mists of erupting geysers. The geysers are intensely hot, yet, when the mist lands on your skin it is warm from being cooled by the air.

The emerald blue pools of mineral water is likewise intensely hot and both speak of the power of the Earth just below the surface.

When sunset comes, the geysers are silhouetted against the sky and continue their eruptions day and night.

The shape of the misty water is clear against a twilight sky and steady and sure as the sun's coming and going.

But this serene calmness is an illusion and but a reprieve between explosions. Yellowstone periodically erupts every 800,000 years and it is due soon.

 And, in geological time, it is a frequently exploding volcano.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Steller Sea Lions

One day, I hiked to Cape Flattery, the northwestern most point in the contiguous United States.

Cape Flattery resides on the Makah Indian Reservation. The trail to the cape was once treacherous. The Makah obtained funding to improve the trail, which now includes overlooks along the way.

It's a lovely hike through a rain forest that's vibrant and green.

Cape Flattery
At the end of the trail, when you emerge from the forest, you are high up on a bluff overlooking Cape Flattery with a view deep into the Pacific. It seemed mysterious with the mist, the surf, the ocean, the island, the sky, the coming fog way out to sea, and the sounds. It was sublime, wild and uncut.

Tatoosh Island

Off the coast of Cape Flattery, about a half-mile from shore, is Totoosh Island that was once a working lighthouse. Because of it's isolation it is now home to a diverse population of wildlife.

I stood at the edge of the bluff and leaned on the railing, the only thing keeping me from the gray swirling waters below. And, as we all do, when in situations of possible chance, I thought briefly about the railing breaking and me falling into the water below. 

It would be difficult to survive the power I saw down there.

After awhile of immersing myself in thought and Cape Flattery, I spotted something swimming. I was able to discern that it was a sea lion vigorously submerging and then emerging in the cold waters. 

I was not certain of the species but knew I'd identify her in time (it was a female I found out later). To my delight another appeared exhibiting the same behavior. It seemed they were feeding.

I continued to watch them as they made their swimming seem effortless in such powerful waters.

I could not help but think they were like aquatic dogs playing on a sunny day except, their realm, is the northwest Pacific.

I watched them as they swam further out into the Pacific and then disappeared.

Back home and with images in hand, I set out to identify them and I'm pretty confident I have. They are Steller Sea Lions, a near-threatened species that were once listed on the Endangered Species List.

Their numbers declined ominously with the highest losses caused by fishermen who shot them as competition for fish. They have rebounded, somewhat, but the Japanese still continue to shoot them.

I felt privileged to witness these beautiful animals in their natural habitat and observe their feeding behavior. It is my hope they re-populate to healthy numbers and, that those who shoot them, lay down their guns of violence.

I can hope. I can.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fanned Feathers

I believe this is a Cooper's Hawk. If I am misidentifying this raptor, drop me a note. He was caught watching the activity in the yard and remained on the pine tree branch, no more than fifteen feet away, for over forty-five minutes.

As soon as the camera was retrieved to photograph him, he got ready fly. . . 

 . . . slowly spreading his tail with this wonderful display of fanned feathers.