29 March 2009

Juanita Bay, 2009.0329

Such a glorious day to be out-and-about, so I headed to Juanita Bay Park.

Most of the normal winter denizens have moved on. Most of the spring neighbours haven't moved in yet. The exceptions appear to own the park at the moment.

Two adult eagles soared thermals off and on all afternoon, while Violet-green Swallows hawked bugs at all levels from just above to out of sight.

Among the more interesting things: did you know Glaucous-winged Gulls can and do dive-bomb prey? This one in particular went almost vertical into the water, not once, but several times. One would think he thought he was a tern, a gannet, or even on a good day, an osprey. He did catch something on at least one occasion, but it was too far away to be ID'd.

Kinglets, RC and GC are both in evidence, as was a flighty Belted Kingfisher.

Not a great day for photography, but a lovely day to talk with friends, old and new, a wonderful day for life.

Quotes, # 002: Joy

Remember those days when life seemed easy, when everything you did created happiness?

all photos are copyright myself. please ask my permission (which can be gained in a number of ways, not the least of which is by solvent monetary currency or barter (grin)) to post these elsewhere... thanks :)

26 March 2009

Swing, Swing, Swing

[ edited to add names as they become known ]

Shoes  74286cxSatyrday past, I was invited to watch a friend dance in the Savoy Swing Jam contest at the Oddfellows Hall in Ballard.

Having hosted a radio show featuring Swing on KBCS, the station where almost everyone alive has hosted at one time or another, it was fascinating to note my love of the music was no more passionate than that of the audience or the dancers on the floor. As well, it was a surprise nice to find a few friends and acquaintances from my "other" lives also participating or simply enjoying foot-stompin' tunes.

Among the things I learned: Don't assume the lenses you thought to bring will handle the lighting conditions. I actually did bring what would probably have been the "right" lens, but forgot I had it. Given the remembered "choices," I still ended up with a few of decent shots, including one accidental, but the number of good was tapered by the number that could have been good had there been enough light (hence, the need to use the right equipment, not just what you remember packing :) )...

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the day. Enjoy!


Robin Nunnally, winner of
the Solo Jazz event
Jazz 74304x

102  74283cx

and my favourite of the day, a young pianist asking for attention:

Junior Pianist  74215ccx

23 March 2009

Quotes, # 001: Diet

i've been wanting to put my photos together with (in)famous quotations for quite some time now, and finally found a way to do so with a minimum of effort... most of these can be blown up to poster size, so if you see something you really like, let me know and i'll make you a deal on printing... if you would like to specify something more interesting, i'm pretty good at listening.

all photos are copyright myself, and may not be used anywhere without my permission (which can be gained by solvent monetary currency or barter (grin))

Sealy PostureComfort

Marc Hoffman and I went out looking for stuph to shoot this morning, managed to find very little. For those still keeping score in the Willows valley, the Rough-legged Hawk is still in the 124th/Sam River neighbourhood, but not posing for photos closer than 100 metres away (and 25-feet up the shoreline poplars)... We did manage to locate an American Kestrel in the western end of the same field, but it was just as adamant about its privacy...

From there, we went to Juanita Bay Park, where more nothing was happening. We did manage to enjoy an effervescent flock of Bushtits, Gold- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets buzzing the willows on the southern end of the middle boardwalk, along with a few first-of-year American Goldfinches. We were also occasionally serenaded by what we believed was a Marsh Wren who almost has the Common Yellowthroat call down, like a jazz scat-singer doing improv... Lastly, one Red-tailed Hawk and three Eagles (one juvenile, temporarily enjoying the Osprey pole perch) were in the air, and a Sealy PostureComfort mattress was found thoroughly soaked shagging the edge of the boardwalk.

Anyone know why American Coots would be up against the northeast shoreline, some finding their way on shore into the reeds 'n weeds for a few moments? Almost none were seen in the Bay proper, though I'm sure they were there.

Weather was dry, but wherever there was exposed location there was COLD wind. The wind made lunch at one of Puget Sound's fine fake mexican restaurants such a joy.

20 March 2009

Monsoon Season Early

Supposedly, spring occurred around 04:44 this morning, the 20th of March.

This afternoon, not quite 12 hours later, we had hail and, for about 10 minutes, quite torrential rain and some decent winds.

The image on the right here details speeds in the neighbourhood of 47 knots, enough to make too many of the trees outside my picture window bow in unison at alarming angles (by guess, 20-25 degrees from vertical). Colours for rain in the image run from light greens (light drizzle, perhaps enough to require a windshield wiper every minute or so), through yellows to oranges, reds, and finally purple (if you haven't finished your Ark by now, it's too late). It's very unusual for us to venture into orange, and yet radar is showing a pretty stark line of reds.

I'm impressed. This is Seattle, folks. It doesn't rain here, it leaks. Here it is, less than 20 minutes later, and there is a bit of sunshine and blue skies to my south.

Spring is indeed here. Hail Equinox!

18 March 2009

Travel Lacks Common Sense

A travel article appeared in today's UK Telegraph, talking about the strangest complaints made to Thomas Cook (a large UK tour company) or the Association of British Travel Agents.

I'm not sure this list should be accepted as strictly British; yet, far be it from me to cast aspersions on tourists of other not-as-well-traveled countries. Feel free to ask when next we speak if I knew of possibilities that could have been posted here. Regardless, many of these nits are both strange and wonderful. These are some of my favourites:
  • A tourist at a top African game lodge overlooking a waterhole, who spotted a visibly aroused elephant, complained that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel "inadequate"
  • No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled
  • It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England it only took the Americans three hours to get home
  • My fiancĂ© and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked
  • I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller
  • There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners
  • On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all
  • We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels
Sorry. The jokes at this point are just too easy.

16 March 2009



I'm sitting here, dealing with business on the computer, occasionally watching the feeders outside the picture window when, for the first time I can remember in several years, the suet feeders are crawling with bushtits.

Quick count says about 15 are dashing between my forest of bare deciduous and evergreens, and the suet cake. For a moment, it looked like the bushtits were capable of getting inside the suet cage itself, which itself is barely larger than the average suet cake. Even the chestnut-backed and black-capped chickadees seem giants in comparison to these tiny sprites...

Just as quickly, they are gone.

15 March 2009

W Neil Berrett

People do unusual things when faced with important life decisions. Some people blast the undergrowth like Civil War General Sherman; others are more docile.

And then there is W Neil Berrett

postscript: among the comments on the flicker site is a message from an unemployed person who asks mr berrett's soon-to-be-former employer if there is an opportunity coming available... :)

09 March 2009

Sunday, JBP

So, given the weather outside trying to be frightful, I thought I would throw a few photos from yesterday's gorgeous afternoon at Juanita Bay park on the barbie...

For the most part, it was a very quiet afternoon. The swans were not in sight, with numerous people asking where they had disappeared to; perhaps to the same place as the wood ducks, the coots, and the mallards, none of which were seen. How unusual is it to not see or hear a single mallard?

Given this, the photo deities provided me with two unusual opportunities in three hours: a common merganser male, in close to the middle boardwalk dock (highly unusual), and my first photo capture of a ruby-crown kinglet male with his red crest on fire.

First, the RCKI: he (and two or three compatriots) were embedded in a flock of bushtits, doing their avian best to leave the trees with no edible parasites. At first, I thought I was watching small warblers, but then I spotted a crest I hadn't seen in years, managed to catch it twice. Ahh, patience and luck :)

The merganser was unusual in several ways: firstly, he was in close, and it's very rare to get the male to come within twenty metres of land. Secondly, while actively fishing the cove, he went crazy, swimming on the surface full-tilt with head below the surface for about 10 seconds, most all other body parts out of the water. I've occasionally seen something similar with other birds that are either courting or attempting to steal food, but there was nothing else in sight.
If you should have any theories why, please let me know. It was quite entertaining...

Other sightings: a hooded merganser pair swimming from the cove toward the osprey pole; two or three pied-billed grebes, first of year for me on the bay's waters; and a fair number of bufflehead (mostly female).

Winter won't Let Go

Winter just won't let go. Sunday morning, 2 inches, mostly gone by evening. Monday morning, 2 inches, mostly gone by noon. Monday afternoon, 14:00, it's snowing heavily again. Where white covered things six hours ago, there was just a hint of white by noon. Now, about two hours later, everything is coated already again in just the last five minutes.

Have to wonder at the strangeness of the weather this winter. During the 80s, it wasn't unusual to have at least one storm every few years that dumped between a foot and two feet in one storm. The wildest was in December '91, where the storm started just before rush hour. By early evening, there were 4-6 inches on the ground, and more coming. I remember it taking me 90 minutes to get from Wallingford to Kirkland at the start of the storm, then leaving to come home around midnight not to see my home until almost eight hours later. 520 was closed, and though the interstates were still open, you needed to navigate labyrinths of abandoned cars and large trucks unable to move, a most expensive insurance obstacle course.

And it wasn't just Seattle.

I was driving to California the next day, and Portland / Eugene / Medford were all just as white, just as encumbered.

And then, almost nothing. We'd get the occasional storm in the late 90s and into the early 2000s that would hand us about 6 inches, and even get two of those storms in one year.

But nothing like before '91, and certainly nothing like this year, where we've had just under a foot at least twice, and over 4-6 inches maybe half-a-dozen times more. We won't even talk about our little dustings the past few weeks.

Anyone care to take a shot at what they think the summer is going to be like? I'm betting on temps in the 100s for weeks at a time, perhaps with the occasional "raining cats and dogs"...

Any takers?

05 March 2009

Ides of March are White?

it's snowing.


a few minutes ago, i thought it was too warm, the flakes too wet, and yet they are now starting to stick to the peak of the gable for the south entry to my building.

such a beautiful sight this waterfall of soft white, attempting to hide my view of the more distant forest. even as i watch, the quantity of large and puffy is giving way to small and more damp, but the absolute quantity seems unabated for the moment.

with spring just around the corner, tomorrow's weather is supposed to be bright and sunny, yet the weekend could bring more snow.


01 March 2009

2009.03 Desktop Calendar

Sometimes, photos simply appear out of thin air.

This one, in particular, was taken at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, a wonderful place to image birds and flowers from late-April through to the beginning of October. So, I'm at a loss to explain why these petals were in the water the way they were, almost exactly three years ago today.

What are their names? I have no clue. Why they were located in the little walkway water "hazard" just to the west of the car park, same answer. Why were they so vibrant?

I could be sounding like a bad recording.

Anyway, I took several shots of these lovely beauties in what I remember to be almost perfect lighting, of which this was my favourite.

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.

I hope you enjoy :)