[Tweeters] Ground Fires, Etc.

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Jan 16 10:11:13 PST 2016

This Winter has been interesting in Port Townsend, and I've had a lot to write about, but didn't . That's largely due to the increasingly toxic atmosphere at my parents place at Alzheimer's Acre, which I finally had to remove myself from - and my move to an apartment nearby took a lot of time and energy and was not fun. Anyway, situations not conducive to creative writing, or any other kind of writing.
The past several weeks here were quite the contrast. This week has been" Windy Week", the week before was "Quiet Week".
Quiet Week was a stretch of remarkably calm weather, not rainy but very dark and grey. While lacking weather that can kill you like tornadoes, hurricanes, giant hail, and stuff like that, our region's dark winter gloom may inspire people from sunnier climes to want to do themselves in. Well, I guess we do have hypothermia if you're not careful.
The key to winter depression, in my book, is to just go outside more - even under the grey blanket you'll feel better. At least I do.
During the quiet week, it was remarkably calm. Wonderfully calm. I like calm. I was walking in the dark gloomy forest of Fort Worden when I spied some movement on the road ahead - a group of a half-dozen Golden-crowned Kinglets down on the ground. They were hopping my way so I stood still and waited and soon had the little guys right at my feet - I think one actually jumped on my boot, but I was afraid if I moved to look down at it, I'd spook 'em all.
Decades ago my 'ol Grandma brought me a European bird guide back from a trip to England, and while I've never been, I have enjoyed looking at the book over the years. One thing I noted was that in Yerp, they call the Golden-crowned Kinglet a Firecrest. Actually, I guess it's not the same species as our's, but a very similar Regulus. Here in a dark Port Townsend conifer forest, the bright crowns of the kinglets, especially the males, glowed like embers in the gloom. I thought Firecrown would be a better name than Golden-crowned, and would be a little different than the European name. Maybe that's sexist, because the Golden-crowned is a great name for the female- it's the guys that have the real fire going on. I guess the guys will just have to get over it, as I doubt my name idea will fly very far.
Down at the Marine Science Center pier I had another nature show on one of the calm days. Not to many birds about, but I did see my first Common Goldeneyes of the year. The big show was a Seal.
It was a full-grown Harbor Seal which I first noticed by it's wake. Swimming rapidly just below the surface, it was creating quite a set of dramatic ripples on the surface - sea monster! Then it's head popped up - naw, just a Seal. Anyhoo, it continued zipping back and forth up and down the little section of sandy beach there, at high speed in about 3 ft of water. Seals underwater are very fast. As the seal was right below my pier view at times, I could clearly see it underwater. Finally, in one very fast full-court press down the beach shallows, it ran all the way down to a dead-end concrete pier there and inspired a salmon (about an 18+ incher) to jump clear out of the water onto the beach. The salmon managed to flop back into the water, where the seal was waiting, and I never saw either one of them again.
Yesterday, a windy day, it was not real great birding, but I checked out the pier again as always. The Otter float was covered with an exceptional amount of Otter crap. Down at the end of the float, was some sort of bird carcass, so I went and checked it out. Severely mutilated, about all that was left was bones and sharp pointed wings, no head. All dark wings, and smaller than a Guillemot (which I'd seen a carcass of here before) , so some sort of Murrelet I suppose.
Jeff GibsonPort Townsend Wa

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