Saturday, July 28, 2012

Being Out, Doing Science

Hobuck Beach on the Makah Reservation. We think the weather was supposed to turn good in town; but out here, gray and quiet.

Whimbrels, July 27, Hobuck Beach on Makah Bay (Click for larger image.)
Hobuck Beach, July 27, 2012 (Click for larger image.)

It's the monthly beached seabird survey for COASST. The dead-birds birder team is large this time, seven people. The tide is low and the beach is wide, but with so many people we can cover the whole thing in one pass. It's a long drive (2 hours) and we got a late start. We were on the beach for four hours and the tide seemed really really low the whole time, which is basically not possible, but there you are. For live birds, we saw whimbrels, killdeer, plover, gulls lots of gulls. Heard eagles, never saw them.

At One Point an Additional Wrack Line Appeared, Further Out (Click for larger image.)

We had seven (dead) birds to work, not too hard to deal with when the recorder, the measurer, the photographer and the person wielding the ID book are four different people. Two fork-tailed storm petrels. A baby gull still in down except where his new flight feathers were just coming in. A large immature gull. A sooty shearwater, a northern fulmar (dark morph) and a Cassin's auklet. We had our bird mentor MSB with us or we'd NEVER had gotten the second petrel, he was just a delicate handful of bones; but yeah, a sufficiency of measurable parts when you looked: beak, tarsus, barely visible foot details.

Fork-Tailed Storm Petrel #1 (Click for larger image.)
The Second Petrel (Click for larger image.)

The beach was very clean. SP, who is Makah, says the tribe is doing a tsunami debris survey every Friday, and they are evidently also picking up trash. Hobuck accumulates trash as readily as it does dead birds, so it was surprising to see it so pristine. There were a LOT of people out, surfers, kayakers, stand-up paddlers.

A Lot of People (Click for larger image.)
... (Click for larger image.)

As I said, the beach was clean. Mostly there was only styrofoam, probably left by last night's high tide. We started picking it up on our way back. For the last 500 yards of the return leg, the protocol calls for a marine debris survey, in which you count about one pageful of possible debris categories (and only pick up as you are up for it). This has been being done for about 11 years, a considerable baseline record. But now there is an extremely demanding new tsunami-debris survey which is being developed, which is to cover only 100 yards as far as possible from the beach access and in which you walk a narrow grid, and pick up and tally everything. The seven of us huddled to discuss and discuss what it means, what we should do. It seemed obvious to me that it made no sense WHATSOEVER to do a tsunami debris survey on a beach which had already been cleared and tallied end to end by the Makah Tribe; and that the new protocol must go back to NOAA, to the OCNMS office, for further refinement. Plus everyone was far too tired to trudge back to the further end of the beach, and the first time they field tested the new protocol it had taken four hours... (I was tired and getting crabby. I removed myself from the discussion and ambled to the vicinity of our starting point, read a book. Took a soundscape for Cee.) In the end, the rest of the crew used the old marine debris protocol, listing only this and that, picking up what they could.

Here They Come: HP, GD, JL, MSB, SP, & NM, citizen scientists extraordinaire (Click for larger image.)
Soundscape for Cee. Hobuck Beach, July 27, 2012. See what I mean about the tide?

SP took the sacks of trash to put into the tribe's designated marine-debris dumpsters at Hobuck Campground. The rest of us adjourned to the Marina bathrooms in Neah Bay, to wash up, so that we dared eat our lunches. We're fairly cavalier about whether or not we put on gloves as we handle the dead birds, but it's sort of like the 5-second rule: you know when the ick factor has been exceeded, and then you need to wash or disinfect.

Makah Marina in Neah Bay (Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aunt Mimi's Beach

Rialto Beach on Saturday last. Not too much bird action, not too much wave action. For Olympic National Park's easiest beach access on a weekend day at the height of the season, not very many people, either.

Rialto Beach, Saturday mid-day, looking north (Click for larger image.)

When GF and PB and I were out the weekend before, there was an old lady (the fact that in retrospect she may have been no older than me is irrelevant at the moment: an old lady bundled up in scarf and shade hat) looking closely at the pebbles. We asked what she was looking for. Garnets. Just then I flashed instead to picking up tiny carnelians on the beach of Rodeo Cove in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and to tiny garnets right in the trail heading up Arroyo Hondo south of Taos, other states and other times. Wasn't until I came home that I remembered that indeed there can be garnet sand visible sometimes on Rialto.

So on Saturday, I looked very closely for the pink sand, but didn't see any. (See the last image in this post for what might have been visible.) There were nice fresh hydroids and bryozoans washed up close to the surf line, but nowhere was the garnet sand visible. The summer beach profile is different, maybe that's why. Or the tide wasn't low enough. Or whatever. Maybe there's magic involved, like the magic that hid and revealed R. A. Laffery's 'Narrow Valley.' OMG, the whole text of Narrow Valley seems to be out there. I l-o-o-ove the web.

Bryozoan Washed Ashore. Flustrellidra corniculata (Click for larger image.)

I ambled along, eyeballing the foreshore closely. Could actual crumbs of garnet be found? An extremely modest henge-maker had been at work on a log. The sky-colors and water-colors were way richer than these images show.

Very Small Henge (Click for larger image.)
Rialto Beach, MidDay, July 21, 2012 (Click for larger image.)

There's a soundscape for Cee, but it was a little windy out and the sound didn't come out very well.

Soundscape for Cee

I thought about what my friend IJ said about what the word "beach" means to people. When I was in Florida in March, we three younger and more mobile generations of the family went off to the soi-disant 'best beach in America'. I suppose IJ is right. Take a look at the second photo in the blog post I made when I got home. That is what 'beach' means to everyone in the country except those of us who live near the coast anywhere north of San Luis Obispo. I showed my 18-month-old great niece photos from Rialto. Her dad, my nephew-in-law, explained to her carefully that they were pictures of "Aunt Mimi's Beach". (They decided that my name was too hard for Baby Genius to say, and named me Aunt Mimi. Pfffff. OK, sure, change my name.)

No pelicans were yet on the move, it was early. I did see elk on Beaver Prairie. Here, as promised, a picture of the pink sand:

Pink sand, March 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Elk On Beaver Prairie Yesterday

It is no longer true that I've never seen them there in the summer; and not just whimsical of me to look carefully every time I drive through, Just In Case. :-)

No pix. They were far back by the trees, flashing their beige back ends towards the highway. I was eager to get to the ocean, so I didn't stop. Hoped they would be still there and better located when I came back a few hours later, but they were gone.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pleasures of the Harbor

The canoes landed on Monday, while we were gone. First landing I've missed since I began working for the Tribe. Not so many canoes this time, only the ones from the outer coast, as everyone from inside the Salish Sea is heading straight down the inside waters to Squaxin Island. Elwha is always a two night layover, a rest day for the pullers, so there the canoes were on Tuesday afternoon, right on the downtown waterfront: the tribes' annual reminder to the City that this harbor (and indeed this whole Olympic Peninsula) quite recently was theirs.

The ferry came in while I was sitting on a log talking to some Dutch tourists. Later I paid a visit to the log ship presently loading at the T-pier, the POS Jade.

Paddle to Squaxin Island Stops Over in Port Angeles, July 17, 2012 (Click for larger image.)
It's a Tufted Puffin, Absolutely It Is (Click for larger image.)

On the Road Again

Went off to Portland on Monday: TH drove us across the top of the Peninsula, down Hood Canal, and down the freeway, and across the Columbia River (and the Willamette River) to the 7th floor of the OHSU Center for Health and Healing. We took care of our medical responsibilities. Came back.

Now I'm a science project, participant in a clinical trial. We'll see. Here is not where I talk about it.

There was an entertaining distraction for a shipwatcher. Down by the Willamette, Zidell Marine was about to launch the barge Dr. Bonnie W. Ramsey.

... (Click for larger image.)

We had some time after lab work and before my appointment, took the elevator to the 14th floor (12th?, the highest one with windows you could walk up to) to get a good angle on it. Everyone at CHH, staff and long-time patients alike, were tuned in through the CHH's amazing window wall, feeling a benevolent connection to this ship that grew up under their eyes. Bunting, refreshment tent, guys sweeping the pavement, men in suits accumulating. Launch was scheduled for noon, for 12:30, for 3 PM. More and more people around. Who has the bottle of champagne? Does everyone understand she is named for a UW medical researcher who changed the lives of cystic fibrosis patients? Is one of those figures down there Dr. Bonnie W. Ramsey (1)(2) herself? Is it possible we can see it happen before we must get on the road home? Well, as to the last question, not. As we crossed the I-5 bridge heading back north we could see the multiple tugs lined up, waiting for the magic moment. Luckily the South Waterfront blog has a video.

On the way back north kept the camera in hand and at the ready, to try to capture the sign by the mysterious towers in the field somewhere near milepost 59.

Was able to read but not photograph the sign, scribbled it on my hand to look up when we got home. Gospodor's Monument Park, oh my. How elegantly eccentric the story is. (1)(2) There's even a tribal connection. As of this spring, the Cowlitz Tribe holds the land (3).

Gospodor's Monument Park. If you've driven I-5 south of Olympia and Chehalis-Centralia, you've seen it. (Click for larger image.)
... (Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Cool and Gray" Here

High ceiling overcast. But the sun is out up on top, and you can see exACTly where the ceiling is. Props to @brianeisley for prompting me to summon up the webcam at the Visitor Center on the Ridge.

Hurricane Ridge Webcam at 5242', about 8:40 AM, July 18, 2012 (Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eagles(s), Oystercatchers, Cormorants, Pelicans

On Sunday, a bubble of sunshine out at Rialto Beach. GF kept not believing it; in his universe the weather is always worst on the outer coast, and they had driven through rain all the way from Seattle. But there it was: a bit murky perhaps, but sunshine. Sky blue-ish.

Dahdayla Rock (Click for larger image.)
Rialto Beach, July 15, 2012 (Click for larger image.)

PB ambled along, picking up small stones and "lovely sticks", while GF and I headed for the Hole-in-the-Wall, otherwise known as The Most Beautiful Beach in the World. (OK, so your mileage may vary.) For the Park's premier drive-to beach in the height of the season on a sunny Sunday, it wasn't all that crowded. We had eagles, and oystercatchers (GF recognized their profiles as they flew off, and me their whistley calls.) Cormorants. Gulls of course. The tide was dropping, but only to a 3.8 foot low. Not good enough for tide-pooling, but still, when we got out there, we had some giant green anemones to admire on the rocks, and the bolder people we going through the Hole. (It's marked on the map as needing a tide less than 5 feet.)

Eagle out near Hole in the Wall (Click for larger image.)

The air thickened. GF went over the trail to the next cove, just to see. Flights of pelicans began to pass by far out over the water. More flights of pelicans. We started hiking back, picking up PB along the way.

Later in the Day, Rialto Beach (Click for larger image.)

We had planned to go around to the La Push side of the river, just for geographic completeness, but there wasn't time since they needed to get all the way back to Seattle. Too bad, odds are the harbor at La Push is where the pelicans were heading. GF has never seen one close up, and we could have gotten pictures...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Asian Fires

The Victoria paper says we are still under Asian smoke, and will be for some time.

And... John Gussman has posted a video clip. Some webcam timelapse, and some interview, and then an explosion. Definitely zowie.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Dam News ; and Lunchtime at the Harbor

John Gussman has posted photos from a flight along the Elhwa River on a clear blue day (apparently July 5). Check out the Glines Canyon dam as seen from upstream, fifth image from the top. Go look right now, then compare it to dam cam's familiar angle on the downstream side. Woo hoo, Mr. Gussman, I totally can't WAIT for your film. [Much later: link doesn't work any more. Mr. Gussman's sharings are transient.]

Glines Canyon Dam, on the Dam Cam (Click for larger image.)

Happy to be home. I was at the tribal library in the morning, and messing around in the Electronic Documents Library database at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary office in the afternoon. Lunchtime, met a friend down at the harbor. Pacific Basin's Astoria Bay is loading logs at the T-pier, though all was quiet when I passed by, they were on lunch break. When I got to the Landing, the ferry's doors had just closed, and he was about to set off for Victoria.

Astoria Bay, loading. (Click for larger image.)
Trees Are People Too: Each Log Has an Individual Identity. (Click for larger image.)
The ferry, Coho; two water taxis; and Expeditions Northwest's harbor cruise boat (Click for larger image.)

Smoky Here

Everybody is so grateful that the sun is out, they are not even noticing the smoky air. It was really obvious flying in from Seattle yesterday evening. Today the Strait has nearly vanished, and the Olympics are grayed out.

Mount Angeles, Smoked Out (Click for larger image.)

Cliff Mass showed that over the weekend the smoke then was from China. China!! (Go look at his amazing post.) But today the NOAA Fire Detection imagery has us under a plume from northern Alberta.

Smoke Map, July 9 (Click for larger image.)

Fires here, fires there, it means the same thing. Climate change kills forests, and then they will burn.