Seeing it whole. Thankyou to Tom Roorda for permission to show these images, and to Anne Shaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute for emailing them to me.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Did went. I decided the whales either were at La Push, or not; and that I was happy to have seen one a month ago, and happy to know I could go look again. But really I needed a long listen to the sound of waves. So I went to Rialto Beach, and had the nicest time in months. Sea stars, anemones, black oystercatchers, gray sky turned blue etc.
I ambled out
beginning an hour before a not-very-low low tide. Maybe there wouldn't be any tidepool critters with the tide at this level, I thought, but yes there were.
Bird nerds will be happy to know I don't only greet cetaceans (and other charismatic megafauna, rivers, or stray sweeps of landscape). I also talk to birds. When I heard oystercatchers whistling and saw a pair circle past, all flappity flap, I too flapped my arms. 'Hi,' I told them, 'Hi darlings.'
Full confession. Later I had this guy nearby on a rock and I started edging closer to get a better picture. Bad me. After a while he squawked indignantly and flew away. No cheerful sounding whistles that time. 'Sorry, sweetie,' I told him.
Eagles in the forest trees behind the beach. On the way home, an eagle sitting in the Quileute River from the pullout behind the beach.
I kept looking back along the beach, unable to understand how it can still be so beautiful when we know we have spoiled the world. It's done. See what we have lost.
Not a single panoramic still in the camera. All the little videos I took for soundscapes have mostly only the sound of the wind blowing across the camera. But they are where the panorama of waves sweeping up the beach are.
Shoutout to @7shores for putting me in mind to go listen to the waves. Thankyou, Olympic National Park.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Saturday remained a watercraft day. Went out twice more, first time down to the harbor to check on the loading of Astoria Bay. There was more simultaneous activity than I've ever seen at one of the logships, two loaders taking logs off two trucks at a time, seven or eight trucks lined up at once waiting to drive out onto the pier. Brakes puffing, engines rumbling, each truck hitting its horn when it is in position and all brakes set, ready to have its load lifted away.
The whole process is mesmerizingly tangible, like watching a giant set of gears in some steampunk fantasy, and I love to watch it. The end result, of course, is that a couple of days later, a whole forest sails away to China.
Back home for a couple of hours, I kept my eye on the clock, and on the shiptracker websites, and when the evening's flock of cruise ships rounded Point Wilson, at Port Townsend, I went down to Ediz Hook (map) to wait for them to pass by on their way to Alaska. It is a reliable entertainment for summer weekend evenings; every Friday Saturday and Sunday, these ships bigger than all downtown leave Seattle at 4PM, come in close to the Hook around 7:30 PM, one two three, so the pilot boat can go out to pick up the pilots who brought the ships out of Puget Sound; and away they sail for Alaska. In a week they'll be back, and do it again. May through September, over and over.
But I was early, Westerdam, Jewel and Star were not yet in view, and there was a whole lot of action on the small boat docks inside the Hook. These were the guys whose boats were not sitting around in the alley a few hours ago. Mostly they hadn't caught anything. One man said his son had caught a small halibut. One after another they hauled up the ramp and headed for town.
I waited a while. Other shipwatchers came and went. There were two tankers and an empty log ship anchored inside the harbor. There were freighters and tankers on the move on the Strait.
It got blue out.
The pilot boat Juan de Fuca, pulled out from the pilot station
and ran around furiously out on the Strait. Took pilots off two outbound ships, a freighter and a tanker. Came back in, dropped off those guys, went out again. Put pilots on two inbound ships, a container ship and a tanker; then, finally, rendezvoused with Holland-America Westerdam, Norwegian Jewel, and Star Princess, one after the other, to bring in their pilots.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The water is a presence everywhere in Port Angeles, visible at the bottom of most streets. @jfleck's theorem does not require a waterfront home with moorage to be provable. Went walkabout around my neighborhood just now, taking pictures of the boats in yards and alleys and on the quiet streets. These would be (just some of) the boats that have NOT been trailered down to the water this weekend in really nice boating weather. In some cases appear not to have been anywhere for a good while.
The thing(s) to notice here: lilacs on the left. Strait of Juan de Fuca below. Freighter going past. San Juan Island on the other side.
Truth: the rhodies are mostly past their prime, and the madrona trees likewise; but the lilacs are splendid. In the vacant lots, alas, scotch broom is peaking.
LOTS more boats in the camera, and plenty visible as little specks out on the Strait. Must note however, that with slightly different framing this could have been a photo essay on the number of vehicles per household (trucks, boats, trailers, cars; functional and not), or the way people ornament their dooryards.
Where was all this? Thankyou satellites for talking to the GPS in my camera, and thankyou iPad for the location pin.
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Shoutout to @jfleck , who writes about water and climate at the Albuquerque Journal, for this new-to-me visualizer, the WPC Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts. I really shouldn't complain, but it's relentlessly sunny here right now. My inclination is to cower indoors.
Journey North's Gray Whale section says it's "rush hour for moms and babies". Since I'm not going to get out to La Push at a low tide before I have to head for Florida again, that will have to do for whale news. For not-news, look again at the post about seeing a whale on April 21.
Work on the Elwha River's dam removal project is stopped for at least another month while the National Park and the contractors and the city and the tribe and other water users sort out the sad fact that the new water treatment plant and all its intake works were underdesigned and have been overwhelmed by silt and debris coming down the river from behind the former dams. It's more fun to think about the ever-changing re-making of the river itself and the nearshore. Once again Tom Roorda has been way up in the middle of the air looking at it, and sharing what he sees. New land continues to grow on the rez side of the river.
Did I mention the days are long?
4 May 2013 Pacific Daylight Time
Begin civil twilight 5:15 a.m.
Sunrise 5:50 a.m.
Sunset 8:32 p.m.
End civil twilight 9:08 p.m.
It's starting to melt up on Hurricane Ridge, but there's still a lot of snow up there and on into the high country. Will the Obstruction Point Road open for July 4th weekend? Seems unlikely; last year it wasn't open until the middle of August. I stare at the lines on the graph and try to guess.
Went to Portland on April 29. The daylight is long, we did it as a day trip. Drive drive drive, lab work, consult clinical trial doctor, drive drive drive some more, back home again. I'm still stable, still in the trial. There was big news for a shipwatcher: Zidell Marine's current barge under construction, which I've been watching month by month from the windows of OHSU, seems to be finished. All fresh paint, and waiting down on the ramp leading into the Willamette River. It's now five days later, but either it hasn't launched yet, or the Portland news sites aren't reporting on her launch. She's not listed yet on the amazingly long list of barges Zidell Yards has built in its various incarnations, presently Zidell Marine.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Beached bird survey in Clallam Bay, COASST beach segments Slip Point and Middle Point. Friday, April 26. E. and I tagged along to keep JL company. There are just about never any dead birds on any of the Strait beaches: you drive out there, you walk the beach, you find nothing, you come back. Though in fact JL found a cormorant on the Slip Point beach earlier this year.
Westbound we took WA112 the whole way. There were elk by the highway.
We traipsed across the footbridge over the Clallam River, out on to the beach; and headed east towards Slip Point. You could see snow up on the hills on the Vancouver Island side of the Strait. (At Clallam Bay on the Washington side you are perhaps straight across from Jordan River along the West Coast Road on the Canadian side.)
JL mentioned we had just missed a 2-foot minus tide. There is supposed to be great tidepooling at Slip Point. Since it was a weekday and one of the best tides of the year, I was a bit surprised that the tidepool end of the beach was not aswarm with middle school students, waving checklists of invertebrates. But it was quiet. We had the beach to ourselves. At Slip Point just the old lightkeeper's house remains; the lighthouse itself and the boardwalk out to it are gone. This beach is really the community beach for the town of Clallam Bay. You are definitely not in the wilderness. The houses on Salt Air Street sit right behind the berm. :-)
JL had trouble getting me to turn around once we reached the outlying rocks of the tidepools. Just on the first bits of rock there were carpets of aggregating anemones, and limpets and chitons and barnacles, oh my. Sea urchins were calling to me further out on the point. I was sure they were there, we had seen broken sea urchin tests in the wrack. But this was JL's expedition. We had another beach to walk, and a lunch plan, and she needed to be home for dinner guests. No time for making my way out to the sea urchins' pools.
Then we quickly moved to the tiny beach segment called Middle Point—no dead birds there either, though more trash to pick up—and then adjourned as is JL's practice to the Breakwater Diner, before the drive home. We took WA113 and US 101 on the way home. No elk, no eagles either. We were home by 3PM.
Charismatic megafauna FTW! Sunday the 21st headed for the outer coast, to look for gray whales at First Beach. There were elk by the highway at Beaver Prairie, but I had rapture-of-the-road and did not stop for a photo, allowed nothing to interfere with my pre-determined program: to get out there and See a Whale.
Out on the point in La Push, there was a woman with binoculars sitting on a log, looking over First Beach. "I don't suppose you've seen any whales," I said. "Oh, yes, right... right there, see it, see the sun gleaming on his wet back??"
Yes YES. I waved my arms in giant semaphore circles, and hooted gleefully: primate greeting cetacean. Woooo!
For the next while, the one gray whale (some of the watchers thought they saw two, close together; in which case it was likely a cow/calf pair) worked the area at the nearby end of First Beach. Watchers arrived, watched. You could tell where the whale had most recently surfaced by seeing which direction the watchers were looking.
The sea surface was calm, the tide low; it was gray to the south, more blue to the west.
Here's the thing: you can only see them when they are there. If they are there. There's 19,000 or however many gray whales on the move right now, but to see one from the shore at La Push, there has to BE one hanging around to be seen.
I think it (she?) was feeding, all that back-and-forth, perhaps glimpses of a flipper as she tilted on her side in the low-tide water to scoop up a mouthful of mud and amphipods. Mysterious parts appearing, anyway. Which was always pleasing, but the blows are the best part. Whoosh! There it is, the air that they breathe...
I set the camera on burst and took many many pix of empty ocean right where the whale last was.
Then gone, and all the watchers too. Time for part two of the day's plan: wet feet, and a sloshy progress to the south end of the beach to get a photo back towards The School at the Edge of the World, one of my most favorite views on all the earth. Seeing the whales goes better with even a tiny bit of elevation, so I couldn't go down onto the beach itself until the whale was gone.
Oh, did I mention the sea lions? Sea lions working the river (what fish are running?), and intermittently barking up a storm. There were lots of eagles. The truly gigantic piece of driftwood was still there (a year later ), still attracting climbers. (Note the woman on top of the top of the roots, for scale.) The Quileute tribal school presented the hoped-for photo opportunity, blue roof with blue water and blue sky. Towards the southwest, it had gotten very dark, it was plainly pouring rain out there. I was 5-layers-warm on top as I sloshed along inside the edge of the ocean, but my feet were freezing. It was actually warmer in the water than on the sand with wind blowing on wet skin.
On the drive home, the elk were no longer out on Beaver Prairie. It poured down rain twice along the way. Then I was home. Shoutout to IJ and @helgagrace for encouragements, and @vcmcguire for the wet feet.