Posts Tagged With: gulls

WESTPORT HARBOR, PART ONE.

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Westport Harbor has a marine Museum located in the former Coast Guard Station, an appropriate transition.

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It is on a board, how can you get a notion of the size of a 126.5 lb salmon. Having just carved up a 5.25 lb salmon that has thus far provided Jim and I with three meals and three left to go in the freezer, I had to think seriously about this big fellow. It was 53 inches long and had a waist line of 42 inches. Now that puts it as tall as a 10 year old boy with the stomach of a pregnant woman. Yup! On a board. There is pictures of other giants on the wall at 57 pounds and down. I now look at them as food. No wonder the Indians of the Northwest were so healthy and prolific.

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I try to find something that I’ve never seen before in a museum. Certainly the salmon qualifies and so does this dairy. Instead of a milk delivery from door to door, the milk was delivered to a tree. Now that is novel.

Destruction Island Lens

One building on the Coast Guard complex was devoted to the fresnel lens from Destruction Island Light House. Ive seen many lenses but never so beautifully displayed. The docent imparted a bit of trivia, telling me that the state with the most lighthouses is Michigan. Since I lived there for 13 years, why did I not know this?

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This building held skeletons of whales, the Minke, and other whales are endangered because Japanese hunters refuse to obey the hunting ban.  The length of the building, the long part of the L shape, is 100 feet. A blue whale, the largest living mammal on earth,  would take up the entire building. What interested me about this exhibit is signs on the building, Clam Chowder, $5 a bowl. A hotdog and a soda, $4. It went on to compare fish foods to junk foods and gave me another perspective on the relatively cheap food we have in America, healthy as opposed to unhealthy.

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It was about lunch time and we zapped over to Bennett’s Fish Shack, which came highly recommended and we weren’t disappointed.

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Clam chowder and crab cakes. The docent at the museum told us Dungeness crab tastes better than king crab. I have to agree.

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On the street we met little dog, Mikey. Who could resist a pose like that. I know he was just begging me to take him home. If I ever get another dog, I’ll chose a little one.

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After lunch, we walked in one of Washington State’s “heavy mists” along the harbor. It turns out that Westport is the most western point in the U.S. mainland coast. It also has the highest lighthouse on the West Coast, now open to tourists. We didn’t get there. But we had a great time photographing the largest Marina on the outer coast of the Pacific Northwest.  I stopped and gabbed with this fisherman and a couple of others. No luck. They all complained they’d seen few salmon in the water but this guy said, in a couple of weeks, there will be thousands of them in the harbor. People here love to fish.

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Suddenly, on float #8 (I think it was 8) we saw some excited activity, a plastic bag full of red meat salmon on the float. (Click to enlarge this photo, then back arrow to the blog.)

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A fishing boat had come in and this dude on the right was filleting them for the guys to take home.

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I asked him how many fish he’s cleaned and whether the people on the boat had any fun, like a little wine, some music, maybe a dance or…? He looked at me and said, …”fishing is fun, that’s what we do.” He said he’d probably cleaned a million fish.

both silvers, despite diff in color

These two silvers were on the boat walk and the fisherman was waiting in line to have them fileted.

I caught the big one for the day on his hat 14 pound silvers

He was only too glad to hoist them up for us to take a picture. He got the pin for the  day’s catch, “I caught the big ‘un on the Tequila. ” He hadn’t had them weighed yet. All hands estimated the big one to be 14 pounds. The captains know where the fish are and everyone got their limit which is two salmon, plus whatever else they are allowed.

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This guy was tagging heads. He knows how many boats go out each day. They are all licensed. They told him they had to throw back a silver which he records on his chart. He tells what boat these fish came from, the total catch, and a number of other statistics. He knows where they were raised, from what hatchery and the statistics give him an idea how many are still out there and when to close the season to allow for spawning. Fishing is tightly controlled to make sure enough survive and keep the fish numbers sustainable.

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We walked the floats and took pictures around the harbor. This is Jim’s favorite nickname for me.

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The marina is a fascinating place with small, individual boats like this one.

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To huge net trawlers like this one.

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We see very little color in this gray atmosphere.

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As we drew nearer the commercial floats, pens of fingerlings have been planted here. This gull somehow got under the net and then could not get out. We watched her try and try to get out. I know some birds mate for life, maybe gulls do to because the brownish gull kept returning to her and watching helplessly by while she struggled. It was sad to watch.

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A heron stayed hopefully by the fingerling beds for a long time.

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In two weeks, maybe the whole fishing fleet will be after the salmon. A poor fish doesn’t have a chance. I think there were 15 floats with boats tied to each side.

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We found fresh air, wonderful people, fish and beauty. But, I’m not finished. More tomorrow. We move 100 miles south today to Seaside.

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DUNGENESS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

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Two paths lead from the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge parking lot, high on a bluff, to the five mile long spit where a lighthouse beckons. It is a working lighthouse, and a great beach hike. we took the primitive path through the woods which is rainforest in nature.

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It isn’t an exaggeration to say the woods are being eaten up by rot, mosses and fungi of one sort or another.

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And, we see beauty in the process.

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The forest is heavy, dark with sunlight streaking through in places. You feel like you are alone in the bower of bushes and trees brushing and closing in all sides.

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Then, from an overlook, you get a magnified view of  the lighthouse at the end of the spit with a day full of sun, blue water and sky.

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Down onto the beach, there isn’t much to see but driftwood for miles. Huge tree roots and smooth washed branches, along with a few gulls and the never ending tidal laps.

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Like kids, we played while enjoying our luck to be outside walking a sand spit rather than sitting in front of a television or worrying about the bad news it injects into your life daily.

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Many of the trees have roots and we pondered where did they come from? Is this yellow cedar?

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Jim drew a heart in the sand…DSC09721 (Copy)

“It’s been a long time since I did something like that,” he said.

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Our goal was this upright piece of driftwood. Who would take the time to stand up a tall heavy dead tree like that, we asked ourselves.

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The upright drift wood, didn’t drift here. The tree was still attached to the ground like the surrounding stumps, a sentinel of what the area may have looked like with a forest closer to the water at one time in the distant past.

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A popular pastime for some people is to stack stones into cairns, or build shelters from the driftwood.

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I climbed up the grassy embankment and the lighthouse is still just a small bubble on the horizon.

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And a look back from whence we came, the tall bluff. We walked about a mile on the beach.

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Then returned to civilization for lunch at the golf course in beautiful Dungeness, figuring since there is a dungeness festival coming up we could find some good crab. I had the lightest, tastiest crab cakes at Stimmies, but there chowder left a lot to be desired. It is always an adventure.  From there to the Organic Farm Store for produce and home to read and relax.

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Check out this sunset. It was predicted to rain, but didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

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BLAINE MARINE PARK, PEACE ARCH PARK

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Memory is not dependable. We knew we had visited this area in 2011. The problem was, we visited both parks in 2009, not 2011. I remembered so well the marvelous blackberries but forgot to bring a container.  Luckily I had a plastic bag in my purse. The Blaine Marine Park must have a mile of blackberries in several different stretches. But here we picked once before.DSC07714 (Copy)

The plants were bigger and meaner. Blackberries grow on new growth, so the old canes are big and sharp. We contemplated that the park must have to mow the whole works down at some point to keep them in such tight control.  I ate my fill and picked enough to take home. We had a big lunch earlier at Lizzies, all wonderful, homemade cooking. So we decided to stop at the store for ice cream before going home.

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We walked the docks where all the fishing boats come in across from  Semiahmoo point. The breeze was heavenly and ruffled the feathers of the gulls. They are messy and bomb the wharf with clams to break them open, but we enjoyed watching them for about an hour.

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They seem to know where to find the biggest clams.

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When they fly around, we tend to think of them as white, but they really have a lot of variation in color.

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Then I noticed this pigeon. I didn’t think pigeons hung around salt water. And look at those red feet.DSC07727 (Copy)

This must be mama, though she seemed to be chasing him. She is bigger and less colorful than the male.

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We walked out through the commercial buildings on the dock. This truck belonged to a Crab Buyer but his logo is a lobster.

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We were following the raucous sound of the birds. These cormorants were screaming and hollering to a similar colony across the water from them,  along with some gulls.

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Then we drove over to Peace Arch Park.

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We wandered through the gardens and then walked to the Canadian Side of the arch, first.

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Then, the U.S. side.

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On the inside of the arch is this commemoration from 1914. On the opposite side, the same gate with the statement, MAY THESE GATES NEVER BE CLOSED. It is refreshing to see this wide open border between our countries and sad to think of the horrible gates between the U.S. and Mexico.

 

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The gardens and sculpture on display at the Peace Arch Parks, both Canadian and American are spectacular. I’ll post some pictures tomorrow.

At home,  we ate blackberries and ice cream in place of dinner. Jim and I both realized in the five years we’ve been together, we’ve never bought ice cream, other than a cone here and there along the way. Neither of us are big on ice cream. But, it was heavenly with berries.

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SEMIAHMOO CANNERY ON TONGUE POINT

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On Saturday, we visited the Semiahmoo Cannery on Tongue Point. To do justice to this picture of the old building, click on it twice to enlarge it. It was once the largest salmon cannery in the world.

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The old building has a lot of character.

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Character that will be its demise someday, as it stands slowly rotting away. I expect the money to restore a building like this is scarce or non-existent.

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In that cove a ferry dock takes people across the channel to White Rock British Columbia or to Blaine which is just around the point. I want to kayak while I’m here, but Jim isn’t interested. One rental outfit works off the point. I talked to a family that kayaked to a spot on the U.S. side where they were entranced by a colony of seals with new little pups.

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Another tourist attraction on the point is the Plover Ferry.

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The wide paved bike/pedestrian trail that leads to the point, we learn, is part of the historic Pacific Coast Millennium Trail. What an appealing area to visit.

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Another tourist attraction is the old pirate ships. Two of them entertain by having a battle at sea. We didn’t ride it, but we heard the gunfire as the two ships engaged.

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Plenty of other boat rides are available to anyone wanting a ride on the Salish Sea.

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We drove to the modern Semiahmoo Marina, very pretty, with  restaurants and related businesses about.

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I liked the name of this guy’s boat.

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But, the barnacle clad, old rotting piers at the cannery were much more interesting.DSC07629 (Copy)

This mossy growth is everywhere on the old pilings. I swear, in the wake of even the smallest boats, the pier rocks back and forth as though they aren’t attached at the bottom. A bit disconcerting. But the gulls love it.

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ARANSUS WILDLIFE REFUGE

Jim read a post on Google from a man who saw 300 whooping cranes at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge on January 14th. These birds have a wing span of seven feet and stand 5 feet tall. I saw one as a child of eight years old. My father pointed to it and said, “get a good look because they are going extinct and you’ll probably never see another one.” Then it flew with the whoop, whoop, whoop sound of its wings. Unforgettable. I’ve learned since that the whooping crane was down to 65 pairs. DSC01164 (Copy)

There is no camping at the refuge but the small town of Austwell has a City Park with camping. On-line information said it was closed. He called the City Hall and got an answering machine and no call back. Who knows?  Maybe they are closed on Mondays. He found a private camp ground and got an answer. The woman told him, City Park is open; she charges $21 a night at her campground. The City Park was $24.  Her husband is the Mayor and also the Postmaster. (He used to be the fire chief.) We laughed and laughed. We got there and no one was around at City Park to take our money. The town  looked like poverty row, pretty vacant, with enough houses for 20 families. The sign above kind of tells the tale. We didn’t see anybody there, either.

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The Wildlife Refuge, five miles from Austwell,  seems to be the major income for the town. The area on shore is slightly swampy in places, with low brush and an occasional cactus.

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Texas shores tidal flats follow the terrain of the land, which is  flat and stretches  out for half a mile or more. The birds were so far away, you could only view them with your binoculars. When you take a picture, you can’t be sure what is in it. In this one, a long beaked curlew, gulls, a few ducks. Not too exciting.

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Other people had better binoculars and knew their birds. We saw the ardent bird watchers with camera lenses that weigh five to seven pounds. They carry tripods as well.DSC01152 (Copy)

This heron was so far away, I couldn’t identify what it was. Disappointing after all the beautiful birds we saw at the National Shore at Port Aransas.

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Even without the birds in sight, it was a beautiful day, and we couldn’t help but think how nice it is to be out scouting birds rather than sitting around with nothing to do. The little speck about  center-far right  in the photo is the pintail duck below.

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We followed a loop trail around the refuge. We climbed this huge tower which put us above the tree line. The trees are oak and stunted. The view was a pleasure, so different from home. The woods have fox, javelina, a small type of wild cat, deer and other critters. One couple reported seeing a javelina on the trail.

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A  view from the tower pointing west. There is a heron sitting on a fence post that you can’t see without a binoculars.

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Another pretty view.

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This is what the birds look like with the camera from the tower.  Two pelicans in the background can only be identified by shape.

The visitor center is very nice, with a video and a stuffed whooping crane. They said they have three pairs in the refuge right now, but, they were hiding from all of us. No one we met on the trail had sited one.  We missed the major migration obviously. And, when we got back to Austwell, there still was no one there to take our money. So, we picked up and headed for Port Lavaca and stopped at a very friendly VFW for dinner, drinks and the night. Life is good.

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MISSING BIRDS

One of the nice things about living on the road in parks is that birds are a constant. Treed areas, bushes, grass attracts them. Yesterday, Laurie and I walked the dogs in the early cool of the day and came upon a small park and the cheerful tune of birds. I’d forgotten how much I miss that in this harsh climate. I read the local paper and people love their town, but I find it a great place for a short visit only at this time of year.  The pool is wonderful, but it doesn’t make up for the inability to enjoy the wide open spaces and wildlife. Unless you count scorpions and lizards as wildlife.

This peacock lives in Yuma, AZ. It gets pretty hot there, too.

This beauty lives near a lake in Massachusetts. Seven year old grandson Austin described to me a bird he saw that looked like a turkey but with blue and green and pink feathers.

Even a common gull is an elegant bird. This one lives on Marthas Vineyard.

Springtime in Hershey, PA.

A Texas owl on a fence post.

Louisiana Pelicans.

Burrowing owls from Davis, CA.

And a little songbird from Vineyard Haven.

Made me feel cooler just cruising through some bird photos.

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