Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lookit That Deep Blue Square

In the Olympic Mountains this spring, there is a heck of a lot of water locked up in the snow. 175%-200% of average. Ditto near Nevada City, California, where I have friends who keep getting snowed in...

Snow-Water Equivalent (Click for larger image.)

At the Waterhole Snotel on Hurricane Ridge, it's looking like if we don't get a warm wet storm to help it along, the road to Obstruction Point might not melt out until August...

Up the Dungeness, too.

PS for R&R, and VW. I don't know which of the SnoTel sensors on this map we should be looking at...

The Park website says there are 146" of snow at the stake.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Catching Up

Thursday/Friday I drove up to visit friends in Surrey, just across the BC mainland border. The drive includes a ferry crossing, as well as a border crossing. I got to ride on the brand-new Chetzemoka, launched last fall. Quite a different experience, being on a ferry which is crisp and fresh all over, rather than several decades old and lumpy with many layers of maintenance paint.

Chetzemoka (Click for larger image.)
Sailing from Port Townsend (Click for larger image.)
Tide Running Fiercely Through Deception Pass (Click for larger image.)
Looking north from Crescent Beach, South Surrey, BC (Click for larger image.)

Back home, on Saturday at the end of the day I went out to the library, and to the supermarket, where I saw on the newspaper that the orcas had stayed around the harbor a second day. So then I went out on the Hook (in the rain) in case they happened to be hunting seals anywhere I could see. (These were mammal-eating transient orcas who passed by, not the fish-eating resident orcas I go watching at Port McNeill.) No orcas. Also no ships.

But there was a lot of bird action. Some brants (a truly beautiful small goose); a couple of flocks of Canada geese honking past; a small mixed group of ducks, one pair each of several species. It was like a children's picture book: "Mr&Mrs Goldeneye, Mr&Mrs Widgeon, Mr&Mrs Bufflehead and Mr&Mrs HarlequinDuck all went paddling in circles together down at the harbor." A young eagle came flapping down out of the sky. A couple of gulls were quite excited when he came in. I thought he was going to attack one of the ducks, but no, he landed on the rocks and tiptoed around quite uncomfortably, then flew off with something small in a talon.

Last month I failed Oiled Birds 101 ("intake and stabilization"). The most important thing to learn is to be calm and move slowly and quietly when handling distressed wildlife. My team's practice duck was very freaked out and it freaked me out. Poor Zipper had to go back into his carryall to calm down, and there was nothing to be done about me.

Longer version of Oiled Wildlife Basic Intake and Stabilization, from a letter to a friend:

We worked with dead birds and live ones. The trainer has ducks, and they are moderately used to being handled at wildlife trainings. We were doing intake and assessment. After we practiced using dead ones, handling birds and finding their various parts and putting in feeding tubes and finding the vent so we can take the temperature and so on, my team had a large male mallard named Zipper to weigh and band and listen to his heart and take his temperature and examine every inch and draw blood (such a long list of invasions), and Zipper did not want to play. He was very mad and very stressed.

Eventually he was returned to his carrier, and a team who had already finished passed on a sweet little duck named Pearl who didn't mind nearly as much, but by then I too was very stressed. Someone pointed out that in real life ALL the birds we worked on at a wildlife rehab center in a spill will likely be at least that upset and difficult to handle, but I said that in real life we'd be helping the bird, not just harassing it for our own purposes.

Though Zipper was difficult, a very important part of what we were supposed to learn was to talk softly and be as calm as possible, which helps the birds. At which I entirely failed. So poor Zipper was also suffering from my being worried and overexcited about him. The teams that designated one person to hold their duck in their lap and transmit quietness to it did much better. Maybe when the oil spill comes I'll not be able to be assigned jobs that involve handling birds and putting tubes down their throats (the first desperately important thing is to hydrate them; even if they are also starving, liquids first...)

I want to say, about the trainer, that she loves her ducks, and remembers as individuals and with attentive love the oiled birds she has rescued, and the swans caught in barbed wire, their physical condition, how they responded. She tells stories about particular rescues and treatments totally from a place of devotion to helping them, and she is teaching people how to volunteer to do it so other future birds can be helped. Bird science, animal rescue of various sorts, and oil spill events all depend on trained volunteers. But I'm not sure it will be me with a distressed sentient being in my hands.

Tuesday morning early I leave for Florida, for family stuff. Don't know that I'll have much to tell, or take pictures of, until I'm home again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Other News

There were orcas in Port Angeles harbor Tuesday afternoon. (1). Where was I? At the laundromat, a few blocks away, all unknowing. It's not even the first time that happened...

Peninsula Daily News says the North Pacific gyre will begin bringing us debris from the tsunami in northeastern Japan in about two years

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Desperately Beautiful Day

It was a desperately beautiful day at the ocean.

Surveying for beached birds at Rialto Beach, my monthly assignment for COASST. No dead birds on the Ellen Creek segment. Not so much in the way of live ones either, except little birds singing a lot in the woods behind the beach, who seemed to be mostly robins. No eagles. Nothing to find in fact, except a cleanswept beach, the gravel and sand smoothed up the slope.

Ellen Creek beach segment, March 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

The pink sand was evident for the first time in a long time. Rau describes the same sand on Second Beach. The color comes from grains of garnet. "These heavy minerals were originally in the Pleistocene or ice age deposits that cap bedrock in this area. They have since been eroded from the Pleistocene deposits and brought to the beach by streams where, because they are relatively heavy, they have been concentrated along the beach by wave action." It's one of those explanations that are just a mystery.

Pink sand (Click for larger image.)

Nothing to find on the Rialto Jetty segment either.

James Island and Little James Island from the jetty beach, March 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

It was hard to pay attention to looking for beached birds, because I knew the minute I set foot on the beach that there wouldn't be any. There was no wrack, no litter except far back in the drift. Obviously anything the size of a dead bird would be either carried away or already buried in gravel unless it arrived just now. Whole trees are buried in that gravel. But dutifully I looked, special attention to the drift, eyeballing across the whole sweep of beach where there was nothing nothing, and then along the surf line returning, and looking looking looking.

Fresh Red Alder Buried in Gravel (Click for larger image.)
Smooth beach profile (Click for larger image.)

So then I went to First Beach to fail to see the gray whales passing by. No whales. (No whales on Sunday either, a trip so unexciting I didn't even post about it.) A harlequin duck and a surf scoter in the river. A nice sea lion manifestation in the mouth of the river, and Quileute fishermen in little boats setting and moving nets with floats. I think the humans and the pinniped were all after steelhead. There were surfers, and lots of people coming and going to walk on the beach. Nobody else seemed to be looking for gray whales, which is just as well as they don't seem to have been passing by today.

James Island from the First Beach Overlook in La Push, March 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
Looking South to Quateata Headland from First Beach overlook, March 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

P.S. The elk were out on Beaver Prairie when I was heading west.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Lot Where the Trees Live

The only thing I did Saturday was wander fairly thoroughly over the lot with the trees in it, to notice what is growing there. Photos are hard; except as seen from my window I haven't gotten a communicative picture. And from my window it looks like a little piece of forest, which it is not. This is not just about this tree-y lot, it is damn near impossible anywhere to get a picture that says 'trees here' when you are standing among them. A frame full of trunks and litter doesn't do it. Plus Saturday I dawdled around until the sun had clouded over. What I found was lots of dismal trash and
   small madrones
   about five really large madrones
   douglas fir small and moderate, one moderately tall
   one cedar
   an amelanchier budding
   at least one alder, moderate size
   lots of scotch broom around the margins
   a broad-leaved evergreen shrub/small tree.

In California, madrone; in Washington, madrona; in Canada, arbutus (Click for larger image.)

Have entirely failed to identify Mr. Broadleaved Evergreen. It could of course be not native, and thus not in the books, as the several spring bulbs I saw scattered around are not. Crocuses, and a maybe a daffodil. A yellow something like that, are there yellow narcissuses?

I have also lately spent some time on the phone with the county and found out who owns the parcel facing me, though I now realize there are actually 3 undeveloped parcels, the other two facing across the larger street, together occupying half a block. This does not tell me what I need to know, which is, was there EVER a house there, or was it just logged over and unaccountably left empty in this long-settled neighborhood? When was it logged, or was it (saw no stumps), and how old are the really large madrones?? Are the crocuses evidence of some vanished house's vanished garden? Why are some of the un-housed lots in this neighborhood covered with trees and others all grass.

And what will Mill Creek Construction do with parcel #02-4556 if the economy ever allows, or do they just hope to flip it, and who did they buy it from, and why has nobody actually done any new construction in this old neighborhood for what appears to be several decades. My house dates from the 1950s, and the others all look older.

i.e., Arbutus menziesii (Click for larger image.)
From across 8th Street (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thinking About What I'm Doing, Kind Of

Jennifer Howard asked a question in her blog post, Doubting Digital Durability, and I found myself in a twitter conversation with her and with @RepoRat, Dorothea Salo. Kind of like conversing with the NetGods.

I wrote a comment for Jen's blog, and it won't post. Yaay technology. So here it is:

Scattered thoughts:

I lately bought a paperback published in 1953. It crumbled as I read it, though I was extremely careful, scarcely opened it far enough to read the lines of type.

But I also once held in hand a book published by Aldus' press in 1515. This was the year he died, so probably not literally an Aldine edition but rather the work of his successors. Still, the book was nearabouts 500 years old, and almost touching Aldus himself across time: my hands remember holding it, with reverence, not wanting to let it go.

Paper persists, as Walt Crawford said in 1998 ("Paper Persists: Why Physical Library Collections Still Matter." Online 22:1 (January/February 1998): 42-48.) The old link I had to the article itself has not persisted, but you probably can find it somewhere.

Mir S. and I did Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, a digital poetry magazine, from 1998 to 2009. When we stopped, we were certainly not of the same mind about what should become of it. To me, from the moment we started, Santa Fe Poetry Broadside was the entirety of what we had published, all at once. To my co-editor, it was an ephemeral publication by definition and by name, a Broadside; and the best of each poet's work would find its way to print; or not. To me, those poems we published are retroactively not-published if we allow them to evaporate.

It's archived in LOCKSS, but LOCKSS is a dark archive. The Santa Fe Poetry Broadside as we intended it vanishes utterly from the web if I miss one payment to my ISP. LOCKSS will migrate its data as technology changes, yes, and thank you so much, LOCKSS; nevertheless, if I want the Broadside to remain alive on the Web, the curation 'technique' is to pay forever.

@RepoRat thinks I could find another Repository to archive it. Then I'd only have to keep up payments for our domain name. Bottom line: it's a (very) Little Magazine, but unlike the ones on my bookshelves, it needs my will to persist.

I did care about the blogging I did for my former place of work. I was a library's voice behind the curtain for 30 months. It was work that wasn't quite mine, and I had to leave it behind. Almost 4 years on, they seem to be taking good care of it. As to this present blog, I really don't know what to think. It doesn't touch my professional work, but is the record of going on four years of my life. This will eventually matter to whom? exactly why?

We now return you to something like our regular programming. I might have something to say later today about the lot across the street, the one inhabited by trees (and trash). But first I need to think for a while about Libyan journalist Mohammad Nabbous, who was killed last night. #libya #libya #libya #japan #bahrain #yemen #libya

Friday, March 11, 2011

There It Is

It's just flat astonishing that the tsunami came all the way across the ocean, at the speed of a jet plane, and then it was here.

Spent the morning at the tribe. I had actually more or less planned to play hookey from the tribal library and go do a beached bird survey, but by 1:30AM the county emergency folks were reporting a tsunami watch and saying to stay off the beaches (but no flooding likely). The central area at Lower Elwha is right down at Strait level. The tribe went through its whole Emergency Operations routine, and as a precautionary measure went house-to-house waking up everyone on the Rez at 6:45 AM and requiring them to evacuate up the hill to the prepared emergency shelter.

I watched the First Beach web cam, couldn't see anything that I was sure was anything but surf. But look: the blue line is the predicted tide, the red line is the water level observed on the gauge, the green line is the difference between the two. Sure enough, there were several waves, and the water level receded and then rose for each, and the biggest wave was not the first but a later one.

Preliminary Water Level at La Push, 03/11/11 (Click for larger image.)

There was only about a 6-inch surge in Port Angeles harbor; and as you see, about 2 feet at La Push.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Long Ago and Far Away

Santa Fe, March 25, 2005. This image is for the mystery authors who will be in Santa Fe at the end of the month and are hoping for desert flowers and sunhats as amenities of the Left Coast Crime 2011 convention. Blue skies, forsythia and fruit blossoms are more likely than snow, but it's too soon to know...

Hillside Avenue & Rodriguez Street, Santa Fe, March 25, 2005 (Click for larger image.)

Water News

Heavy rain in the night. The river hopped up, but not very high,

Elwha River Gauge, 03/10/11 (Click for larger image.)

the water is staying in the mountains as snow the way it is supposed to. The Olympics are doing quite well as to both precipitation and snowpack,

The snow telemetry station on Hurricane Ridge, 03/10/11 (Click for larger image.)

though the Cascades are only just around normal and had been forecast to be very high precip this year because it's a La Nina year. Santa Fe where I used to live is dry, and Tucson where my mom used to live is only at something like 35% of their already skimpy normal...

Basin Average Snow Water Content, 3/10/11 (Click for larger image.)

Cliff Mass' post has nice imagery about the present rainstorms. Note the smaller yellow blob of pouring rain right here at 10 o'clock last night.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ships, Lots of Ships

If I use 5th Street/Tumwater Road to head downtown, I'm looking directly at Terminal 3, the T-pier, as I come down the hill. Last week there was a log ship loading. But it was gone again in day or two. The last 3 log ships that I noticed stopped only briefly, took on a partial load, and went elsewhere to finish filling up. Whereas in November Portland Bay picked up its whole load here, till it was brimful of logs and waddled off to Inchon, Korea.

Even without the log ship, there seemed to be ships everywhere, the harbor and the Strait just aswarm with ships, on Saturday.

March 5, 2011. Polar Adventure at Terminal 1. The 'No Photography' sign has reappeared, or perhaps never left. (Click for larger image.)

The two submarine escort vessels were there, side by side as almost always, but it's a different pair. HOS Eagleview and HOS Arrowhead. Surprise! I've always assumed anytime I saw the pair they were Silverstar and Gemstone, even when I couldn't read their markings. Nope. When we saw them out on the Strait with a submarine, from Salt Creek Park the weekend of the field trip, it was likely these two. For all I know it's been these two for years--they don't appear on the ship trackers, and are rarely close enough to read.

HOS Eagleview and HOS Arrowhead(Click for larger image.)

From out on the Hook, across the Strait for a while the lighthouse at Race Rocks west of Victoria was gleaming in sunshine, its bold stripes discernable even from so far away. Here in our harbor I could see British Oak, and Alaskan Explorer. A big white yacht came by blasting streams of water (why?).

Yacht in coming into the harbor... (Click for larger image.)

On the Strait, much less familiar ships—the Alaskans, the Polars, and good old British Oak are often here— were passing nearby to pick up or drop off their pilots. The tanker Sound Reliance, inbound.

Sound Reliance (Click for larger image.)

The tanker King Darius and freighter CSAV Venezuela outbound. King Darius is en route to the Bahamas, which is a little hard to imagine, carting a load of Anacortes oil that far...

CSAV Venezuela (Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Zoomed In, The Way Attention Does

Yesterday morning's view of the Strait from here, can't remember now if this was before or after the brief outburst of wild blowing snow. In effect, this is all I see when I look out the window, my brain zooms in like a telescope.

Strait of Juan de Fuca, February 28, 2011, early in the morning
More like really (Click for larger image.)

Yesterday overcast but variable. Today apparently going to be just overcast, and the Strait is the color I think is called 'pewter'. If the snow finishes melting off the deck, I'll go out and disentangle the prayer flags.