Friday, October 30, 2009

The One-Day House Guest

A Day in the Car with Rocco, October 27, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Well, we ran around like crazy. The Park had closed the road to Hurricane Ridge on Monday due to ice and snow, so while we waited for them to update the road recording Tuesday morning we went out on Ediz Hook first thing and admired shipping. There were plenty of tankers, freighters, and miscellaneous work boats, and the pilot boat did a run—all just for our delectation. Gulls, ducks (not many). We called the Park road line, which informed us that the Hurricane Ridge Road was remaining closed for Tuesday.

So we zipped into town for me to get a week's worth of mail from the PO box, and return a week's worth of library books, and then headed west. We thought we might go to either Neah Bay or Lake Ozette. First went along Lake Crescent on the north shore (East Beach Road), then over to highway 112 which leads (eventually) along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Visited Pillar Point County Park on the shore, very peacable small waves washing in; watched salmon fishermen messing with nets and boats.

Pillar Point. Canada in the background across the Strait. (Click for larger image.)

Progress was very slow along highway 112, so we made a sudden change of plan, went back south up highway 113 to Sappho and out to the outer coast at Rialto Beach. The usual beautiful ocean. Then into Forks for lunch at the Taqueria Santa Ana, then headed east again.

On our way back, we went up the Sol Duc River and did in fact see coho salmon leaping up the cascade. Not many. But it made me happy, I was hooting and hopping up and down. (I don't think Rocco was impressed by the glorious jumping fishes. He'd just seen coho from the underwater viewing gallery at the Chittenden Locks in Seattle. It must be something to be eye-to-eye with them...) Then detoured again along the north shore of Lake Crescent, this time from the west instead of from the east; took a short walk. Returned.

Then straight home and he packed up feverishly and rushed off to make the ferry from Kingston to Edmunds and on into Seattle for his next social engagement/lodging.

East Beach Road, Lake Crescent (Click for larger image.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Intermezzo (Second)

I didn't dream it. Went today to the Peninsula College library to meet with them, and I do indeed have a new part-time job. Home now to fill out lots of paperwork and round up several forms of ID, then back to turn in the formalities and all is in process.

I've been in Florida with family for a week; then had a 22-hour houseguest— already ensconced in the guest room before I even got home— to run all over the map with; then, well, hanging around in a state of suspense unable to post or write email or really do anything until today's meeting told me for sure the current shape of my life.

Not only do I start next week on Tuesday, but since my birthday is on Friday my new boss is eager to make me the occasion for a staff party. We're librarians. We give each other parties all the time...

Shortly will return this blog to its usual beachbunny programming,

Looking East Along the Strait from Pillar Point County Park, 10/27/09... (Click for larger image.)
though I do want to think about how to draw in a certain amount of librarianly content. Not much of what went on at the tribal library was mine to tell about. But I'm about to be learning about a whole new-to-me library world, academic libraries. And odds are I'll have things I want to tell.

First draft said 'They're librarians." Changed it to "We..."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Very Far Away

Salmon are jumping on the Sol Duc River. Algal foam is resurgent on the northwesternmost coast, Sooes and Shi-Shi Beaches are seeing distressed birds, alas. There is a clearing in the weather, soon to be followed by another storm.

But I'm in Florida with family, just about as far away as it is possible to be. (Well, not really of course. I am reading Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant, set at the very beginning of the penal colony in Australia. There is far away, and then there is far away.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Word of the Day

Olympic Peninsula Gold says there was placer mining in beach sands at Kalaloch, and that "on tombolo between Abbey Island and Ruby Beach, in E 1/2 of NE 1/4 section 31 T26N R13W, in black sand deposits you can find some very fine grained gold." It does not say whether anyone made a claim. Don't see how they could work it, as it is underwater twice a day...

Like right here, it means... Abbey Island, June, 2009. Note person for scale. (Click for larger image.)

tombolo. Who knew?

Abbey Island, connected by tombolo to Ruby Beach

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Rivers Went Up, the Rivers Went Down Again

There isn't a gauge on the Sol Duc River. So I watched the Elwha gauge online through the morning... and in the afternoon off I went, hoping the Sol Duc too had gotten a little less fluffy. Well, yes. Less muddy, less volume but still a lot. Finally the salmon seemed to think it was practically perfect.

Coho Salmon Moving Upstream on the Sol Duc, at River Mile 59

I never managed to get a picture of one of the big ones, plump and colorful and a hint of those fierce hooked jaws as they flashed by. But I saw plenty, all sizes. Jump jump jump. After a while I feeling like I was throwing myself into each leap, and just watched. Happily.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Over and Over, Looking for Salmon

We are having a long brilliant leaf season. The vine maples started turning out on the west end at the end of August, and are now just barely past their peak up on the Sol Duc.

And it's been raining. The moss in the forest is magically soft again, the rivers jumped up at last. MP and I went to the Sol Duc yesterday. The forest was speckled with leaf color, and there was SO much water we couldn't see (still, again, just not going to see them this year) any salmon jumping. Probably they are hanging out in eddies, avoiding being swept downstream. We focussed on one who had gotten somehow to a little side pool way up on the rocks, and was trying to figure out how to go onward. We'd gasp and shout each time he tried and failed to get further. My whole body wriggled along with him, rose up on toes, trying to help him make it. We held our hands over our mouths to keep from screaming, shouting out at him go-Go-GO. Eventually he tried one more time, got stuck in a bad spot, and was flooded back down into the body of the river. And that was the only fish we saw.

Salmon Cascades, October 16, 2009

It rained a whole lot last night. I went back late this afternoon, of course I did, and there was even more water.

Vine maples on the Sol Duc Road (Click for larger image.)
Vine maples on the Sol Duc Road (Click for larger image.)

I'll try again tomorrow, try again Monday. Then I go see my ma, and when I come back I'll have missed them.


This is fairly astonishing. The Peninsula College library has called, and I will after all be starting a part-time job there as reference backup (and perhaps general fill-in-as-needed).

I'm still a librarian.

Details not to become clear until after I go see my ma next week. I do hope I didn't dream the conversation. So far I have only notes scribbled by my unconscious pencil while talking to the library director as evidence that it's really happening.

Reading News

Experimental widget, showing what's presently piled by the couch...

I lo-o-o-ve LibraryThing. So does the Elwha Klallam Library


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Well, Then

M.-S.'s email to COASST volunteers says that the algal bloom is still out there, but we are not getting harmful foam on the waves and not getting new bird mortalities on the beaches; and "I am pleased to say that preliminary estimates indicate that though alarming for those of us on the beach, the numbers were not sufficient to cause a population level effect to the scoter population." We can return to our normal survey patterns, she says.

So I did my usual monthly beach survey for dead birds on Saturday, and saw happy LIVE scoters, 40 or so, bobbin' around out beyond the surf. They were pretty far away to get a good look but there was one whose face markings and patch on his head plainly said 'scoter' to my binoculars. Purely anecdotal evidence that enough of them survived. Yaay.

(To my disappointment, however, I was not suddenly miraculously returned to when I could expect to find no dead birds, which is the norm on my two beaches. Three carcasses tagged last month were still there, and had to be examined and recorded; plus there was one 'new' one, though not fresh, really as long-dead as the re-finds. And I couldn't identify it because couldn't examine the feet closely and couldn't get a wing chord and I looked at Every Picture In the ID Book to no avail, which made me feel inadequate, though I'm sure my COASST mentors will be able to recognize it from the photographs. MUCH prefer doing the survey and having nothing to write down except the weather.)

What else. I went up on top of the jetty and looked over at the river. Pelicans sitting around, pelicans flying by, and lots of gulls. The waves came in quietly on the beach side. I sat for a long time and finished the then-current book.

Gulls disturbed by a small boat, Quileute River, October 10, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Need some place to make the ID photos available, so herewith, October 10, 2009:
   On Ellen Creek Beach, a refind of a Western Gull someone mysteriously tagged with only one tie (red, so #1) WEGU (1)(2)(3); and bird #768, unknown (768a)(768b)(768c)(768d)
   On Rialto Jetty Beach, two refinds: a white-winged scoter #762 first tagged on 9/20 (1)(2), and a common murre #757 first tagged on 9/14 (1)(2).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Waiting for Rain

Oh the rivers are so low right now. The river guys out at Elwha say the storms arriving this week will bring the Elwha River back up to normal flow; so most likely the same will be true for the Sol Duc. Yaay.

First Storm of the Winter Impending (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weather Bulletin

Frost this morning.


Friday, October 09, 2009

(Saturday, Monday, Tuesday) Yes, Still Here

Did went to the ocean on Tuesday. Lots and lots of pelicans, and a porpoise, who porpoised on by showing his sweet little dorsal fin, and then again back in the other direction. Almost no surf, the tide just rose in a quiet way and started going back down again, with quiet waves.

Pelicans are normal year-round neighbors for Californians. But not up here. Each separate string of passing pelicans makes me happy. All my pelican photos were out of focus. Eeee-too-bad, some of them would have been really grand. So I have to show a quiet-surf picture instead.

Quiet Waves, Rialto Beach, October 6, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

I didn't see any dead birds, but would only have seen them if they were in the surf line. I was definitely not looking. Haven't heard from my COASST mentors lately about how the scoter wreck is proceeding. My blog post about surveying the dead birds on Third Beach was cited by the Peninsula Daily News (note link on top), and one of those photos was used in the COASST news section. It seems odd to me that apparently nobody else was making a record of the context, at least not publicly. Lord knows there were COASST surveyors out there taking formal ID photos of dead birds the whole time.

Oh and yes, went with WC on Saturday out to Salt Creek. While we waited for the Audubon people and the vulture lady, we wandered around the park,

Salt Creek Flows Into the Strait, Early Morning, October 3, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

beautiful warm morning, surely the vultures will move across the strait. And so they did, but crossed the shoreline way to the east, over the mouth of the Elwha River instead of where we were. Distant flapping specks through the Audubon man's scope, flapflap, flapflap. The vulture lady counted several hundred as she peered through her scope. Meanwhile WC and one of the other birdwatchers and I were more interested in the ship traffic. We saw the sub escorts, Silverstar and Gemstone and two Coast Guard cutters move out to the west as a group, then turn around heading east again. Sure enough a submarine conning tower appeared among the parade, and after a while you could actually see the body of the sub. Oh my, really large. Probably longer than all four escorts end to end.

On Monday after work I went one more time to look for leaping salmon at the Cascade on the Sol Duc River. It is the time of year when the sunlight at any time of day is always late-afternoon rich and beautiful. But the river is very low. There were fewer fish in the pool below, and only one fish moved. He bounced off, splat, and washed back down.

The Forest at the Cascade, October 5, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Now to see if changing the title makes the automatic email go again...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

This Very Morning

Venus burning over the dawn horizon. Sky-at-a-glance points out Mercury and Saturn, but it's already nearly too light, Mercury barely a spark. Mt. Baker clearly silhouetted.

I owe email to a million of my beloveds, and could have reported here on Saturday mostly-non-events at Salt Creek, Monday mostly-non-events at Salmon Cascade. Maybe later. And I do have to tell about the low water in the rivers. But for now, going to stay on track for an early departure to the ocean. High tide at 1:58 PM, I can spend much of the day watching it rise if I go soonish.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Three Months After the Road Opened

The Obstruction Point Road is about ready to close again. Soon the gate will close at the point where the dirt road leaves the Hurricane Ridge Road, up by the visitor center; already they warn you:

There was a bit of snow on the road going out in the morning, much less by afternoon returning. The clouds never quite cleared off Mt. Olympus, a twilighty sunshine came and went. Frost outlined the grasses. The marmots are gone down into their burrows.

Lillian Ridge Trail at Obstruction Point, October 2, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

WC saw a pod of orcas from the ferry on his way across yesterday morning. In the afternoon we tried for salmon leaping up the Cascade on the Sol Duc River. But though there were more salmon in the pool below the Cascade than there were a week ago, they are still not jumping. What happens if the river never fluffs up? Will they eventually move anyway? Or do this year's returning salmon never spawn?

Tomorrow we try (again) to see the turkey vulture migration at Salt Creek.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


About to go meet WC at the ferry. We have 48 hours. It's a bit rainy. Various scattered possibilities include

Hurricane Ridge and Obstruction Point
Salmon Cascades
Rialto Beach
Linda Mapes' local book launch, Friday night
vulture migration program at Salt Creek Saturday morning

Or we could cast caution to the winds at dart off to the Hoh Rain Forest tomorrow. I mean, duh, it's raining...