[Tweeters] Down On The Beach

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Wed Oct 26 07:52:28 PDT 2016


Have been in and out of Port Townsend lately and haven't been to the beaches of Fort Worden much, but I finally got down there on calm grey Monday. My first stop, as usual was the pier, and the first thing I saw was a Mew Gull fly down and deftly snatch a small silvery fish from the surface. I was immediately chased by a larger gull - nature is full of thieves. The Mew got away with it's fish though. Not real birdy, few gulls, a Common Loon, a Horned Grebe, a few Surf Scoters, and various alcids too far out to ID.


I was sorta on a search for autumnal recrudescense , and I found some. The first were lots of the gray-leaved Beach Pea's emerging from the dunes, which they usually do in spring - maybe they'll make it through a mild winter, but probably will have to start all over again in spring.


What I really wanted to see were re- blooming Nootka Roses, and out of the thousands of plants in the big thickets of them out along North Beach, I did find six flowers. In the hundreds of big "tree" Lupines (an introduced species) I found one newly emerged yellow flower. Didn't hear any fall- singing birds - it was afternoon and gloomy weather which wasn't too inspirational for singing I guess.


Did see some brighter examples of our fall colors. Pacific Crabapples, another sort of obscure deciduous tree in summer, was glowing brightly in a protected hollow near the beach - a mix of orange, yellow and green leaves obscuring the many little red apples- a favorite of Purple Finches I've noted in the past. Also, along the road saw bright yellow Amelanchier (Saskatoon).


By far, my most abundant sighting were flies. As I walked down the sandy beach, the tide fairly high, the narrow strip of dry sands were covered with tiny black flies. Everywhere . As I walked I stirred them up and they would fly a short distance and resettle- only flying a few inch above the sand. Not exactly sure what kind of flies they were, but probably a type that feeds on washed up kelp, seaweed, ect, of which there wasn't a lot of on the beach at the time, the flies were just hanging out. I tried counting how many of the little (just a couple of mm long) things were on a square foot of sand. That was too hard so I limited my count to a six inch square and came out with an average of 15 bugs per square- so I rounded it down to at least 50 per square foot. Back at home I knew that the dry sand zone was at least 10 ft wide (more really, but I didn't measure it at the time). Measuring on a map at home, I'd walked a half mile of fly covered beach . So, in what I consider a conservative estimate, I walked past one million, three hundred and twenty thousand flies. I think that's kind of cool.


Jeff Gibson

counting flies in

Port Townsend Wa
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