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Thread subject: An afternoon with Nature.
Name Date Message
Marie 10/24/04 12:00 am It was a bright, sunny afternoon but the wind was COLD. My friend and I decided to go for a discovery walk along the waterfront. A few big white, cauliflower shaped clouds floated across the sky. The sea was deep blue and on the move. Whipped by the wind, small white caps cantered across the various bays we visited. The gulls loved the spirit of the wind today. One could sense their exhuberance as they dashed across the sky. Some were dipping low over the water and then others would turn heavenward. Speed was their element today as they set their wings and went with the rush. Smaller birds hunkered down beneath bushes or found shelter in tree cavities. Some shorebirds lay low in crevices between the rocks.Their criptic plumage allowed for almost full camouflaged as they nestled in their places. It is amazing how these birds assume the varying browns, rusts and greys of the surrounding rock. Human eyes certainly never see them until these birds move reluctantly, or call alarmingly, when disturbed by an unsuspecting human like myself out for a stroll. I found Killdeer and Black Turnstones blending well with their surroundings. Greater Yellowlegs didn't see the need to hunker down. They appeared to seek the lee side of a rock and stand on one leg resting with part of their head and long bill tucked between their wings.Two Black-bellied Plovers stood among bigger Mew gulls on a rock to shelter themselves. We found a Heron on a rock on the far side of the Marina, standing in the same spot as one I had observed yesterday. It too had been a very windy day. I imagined that in order to stay firmly to its footing the heron had secured its toes to the rock in such away that it had remained there all night. 'Stuck fast', one might say. The wind took great delight in ruffling the crown feathers creating a really 'bad hair day' for this bird. Why it didn't seek a calmer spot was beyond my reasoning. Perhaps it felt good to have the wind stir lose those little critters that cling to avian life.
Over at Willows Beach( my eagle beach) the nest held fast, cradled within the strong boughs that supported changing leaves of the great elm tree. The wind was blowing hard. Out across the water I could see an eagle. As it flew closer I could see it was My Lady...she was attended by a host of screeching gulls. She wasn't hunting but the gulls believed otherwise. Instead she must have seen me( at least I thought so) for she glided across the bay and up over me to settle on one of her favorite branches. My soul took flight on seeing her again. There she remained, perched high on her branch, surveying her kingdom. Off in the distance I could see Bonaparte's gulls dive like Terns into the water to retrieve a nourishing snack. After a while we left this windy spot to head, we hoped, for calmer waters.
We drove along the waterfront to a spit of land called Clover Point. This area sticks out into the Straits. It is a favorite spot for migrating birds to put down to rest and feed. Today the wind was even more boisterous than we had expected. Despite this rather exposed location, I was able to find one of the two Lapland Longspurs that I had found two days ago. The American Pipits too, that were there had since moved on. This single bird was trying to feed on the center green where human activity abounds. With winds like today humans like to go fly a KITE, and that is exactly what was happening. At least the dog owners weren't competing with the wildlife or the kite handlers. Interestingly, the bird didn't seem to be bothered by the big black and green, noisy object flying above that creaked and groaned with the rush of the wind. It would crash periodically to the ground when its human tether misinterpreted the wind. At this point the bird would just fly across this relatively narrow green space to the feed on the otherside. Below this area and out on the water we could see Surf Scoters riding the waves. Here too the gulls soared with the updrafts created by this point of land. As they skimmed past us at eye level, we saw Thayer's, Mew, California, Heermann's and Glaucous-winged gulls. Eight Harlequin Ducks came swimming in and hauled themselves out onto the rocks to preen. Seven males and one female stood in the late afternoon sun. Their colours are beautiful in this light. I believe there were six teenage males based on their almost adult male plumage. Double-crested and Pelagic cormorants flew from one feeding area to another. Occasionally a glistening head of a seal would peek out between the waves, survey its surroundings and then slowly submerge to feed on fish below. The 35 or so Rock Pigeons that frequent this area were shielding themselves between the parked cars, out of view from friend and foe. A resident Peregrine Falcon from the nearby park usually dines on these birds for breakfast. Luckily I haven't been witness to this slaughter yet! It wasn't long before I got really cold and needed to head home. My friend and I discussed our sightings as we made our way back to my neighborhood. I thought how fortunate we were to have seen such a variety of birds along the waterfront.
Pam 10/24/04 08:50 am Lovely to read Marie - thank you for sharing that afternoon walk with us.
Celeste 10/24/04 09:09 am Ditto!
Marie 10/24/04 11:53 am It is amazing how many other birds I saw and completely forgot to mention. Right at the start of our walk/drive we saw as we stood looking at the birds at the Marina, a beautiful Barrow's Goldeney flew in to join 4 Hooded Mergansers that were swimming about.This was unusual to see a Barrow's at this spot. Usually, one sees just Common Goldeneye.
Also there was a large floatilla of Buffleheads at this same spot. Mallards and American Wigeon were milling around too, so heavens knows why I didn't include these species in my long story... :-) These small ducks are the last to leave the bay here in the spring and the last to return from their breeding areas. Often we see three species of Grebe too but they were not about yesterday, that I could see.

Copyright © 2004 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004