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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Night (or day) at the Museum

We thought we’d give you a brief photographic journey through the Coast Artillery Museum since most of you may not get here.  Arlyne and I have learned a lot while we’ve been volunteering here.  I don’t have to tell you too much about the museum because you can just look at the pictures and read the titles.  Our museum includes information, material and photographs from the Civil War through the end of WWII, and a little about Fort Worden as a Diagnostic and Treatment Center for young men and women and potentially as a Civil Defense Shelter system.  Have a look…………..but our eagles and other birds will be back soon. 

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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

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The News from Port Townsend

This is just an update to what we’re doing here at our volunteer position at the Coast Artillery Museum in Fort Worden State Park.  As many of you know, Arlyne and I volunteer at various locations around the U.S.  Our blog is a thread about what we do, what we see and occasionally our views on the world around us.

The Eagles.  On our days off, Arlyne and I continue to visit the nesting bald eagles in Sequim.  Finally, we saw one of the chicks stick his head up when one of the parent birds brought it some food.  It was just a fuzzy little head but it was very interested in the food being offered.  Some of our new birding friends said they watched the parents bringing fish for the eaglets.  We hope to get some pictures of the action next time we go.  The other birders came with a sulphur-crested cockatoo named Sarah that was super smart.  She talked and understood virtually everything.  She told her “parents” when she wanted to poop and when they held her out, she would do it.  I think she poops on command.  We’re not sure about one thing.  As we were watching the eagles way up in the trees, one of them screamed to the other and the cockatoo jumped immediately from Keith to Kathy.  The cockatoo may have thought it was in danger. 

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On our way back from the latest trip to Sequim, we stopped at a small estuary near the John Wayne Marina that is noted for having birds.  We say a beautiful red-breasted merganser in the bay but the pictures aren’t good.  As a bonus, Arlyne saw a bobcat.  We go there on occasion, hoping to see some long-tailed ducks.

At the Museum.  I was working in the museum with the curator when he showed me several original WWI and WWII posters for war bonds and recruitment.  They are owned by the Coast Artillery Museum but not currently displayed in the museum.  These posters, about 3 by 4 feet, have fabulous artwork from those periods and are wonderful.  I’ve included some images from my phone camera so you can appreciate these beautiful artifacts.  My Google search indicated that each poster is worth nearly two thousand dollars.  I captured some of these from the computer and others I photographed from the real thing.  They are beautiful.

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A Few Other Things.  A few days ago, the curator (Alfred) and I repainted the Fort Worden State Park entrance sign.  It was in bad shape but now looks a lot better.  We also moved a large file cabinet to an upstairs room, with the help of another volunteer.  We had to take it apart first.  This wasn’t fun but we got it done.  The last time I moved something heavy up some stairs, I needed surgery on my knee.

I made some peanut butter cookies and shared them with the other volunteers and the museum staff.  Seven of us volunteers went to a funky little hamburger place that is famous for giant hamburgers.  The entire restaurant, walls and ceiling, is covered with dollar bills stuck up by visitors, with messages written on them.  I pinned one of mine on the wall.  It seems that they periodically take all the dollar bills down and donate them to the local boys and girls clubs.  Take a look at the picture.  Tim and his wife Darlene are volunteers at the Commander’s Quarters here at Ft. Worden.

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Local Port Townsend News.  While reading the local paper in the Laundromat, I noticed an article by a local woman who wrote to the Port Townsend newspaper about the local Farmer’s market.  She complained about the inconvenience and potential dangers of the market.  She said the dogs could contaminate the market and wanted them banned.  She then moved to children; she said they disrupted the Farmer’s Market by running around and playing.  She wanted them banned too.  She then said, oh by the way, she thought wheelchairs were dangerous and one of them run over a child’s foot.  She wanted them banned as well.  Then, almost as an afterthought, she said the music was too loud and wanted that banned as well.  So, in total, she didn’t want dogs, kids, wheelchairs or music at this local event.  I wondered what kind of person she was. 

This story reminded me of another editorial I read in southern California a few years ago.  My son and his wife lived in a hilly area in Murrietta, California.  Every evening, hundreds of ravens flew up a canyon to roost in trees near the top of the hill.  We enjoyed watching and listening to the ravens as they flew by.  It was quite an event each night.  A woman, however, complained about the noise of the birds and wanted the government to “move” them somewhere else.  I wanted to explain to her that these birds have been flying up this canyon for thousands and thousands of years, well before people moved into the area.  Just how was the “government” going to persuade hundreds of birds to fly somewhere else?  I hope as I get older that I don’t ever, ever start thinking like this.

Rescue in Admiralty Bay.  Two girls, 10 and 12 years old, were playing in the water near the beach on a raft and drifted away on a strong current.  We heard sirens and saw a fire rescue truck, a Park Ranger and a police car rushing by our museum.  Reports came in that some people were in the water.  A man swam out to pull them back to shore but was unable to overcome the current.  A wave boarder saw this and paddled out to the three people, bringing in first one girl and then the other while towing the would-be rescuer by rope.  An article in the Leader, the local newspaper, described the event, citing the two local men as heroes. 

Next week, Arlyne and I are taking a “vacation” from the Museum and the motorhome.  We’re going to spend a couple of nights in a local Bed and Breakfast.  Our long-time friends Dave and Aileen Windows are going there as well.  It should be fun.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

Wild Kingdom

Spring?  It appears that spring has finally reached this part of the country and we’re starting to see birds other than the usual 4 or 5 that hang around here all the time.  In the last 10 days, we’ve seen a Townsend’s warbler, a Bullock’s oriole, black-bellied plovers, dunlins, a Pacific-slope flycatcher and a yellow-rumped warbler.  These guys weren’t here when we arrived.  I think they’re either passing through or they like it here for the summer.  All the males are in breeding plumage, which makes it easier to identify them.

Columbian black-tailed deer continue to wander around Fort Worden State Park and into people’s front yards in Port Townsend.  When we get a satisfactory photo, we’ll include it.

Remember me telling you about the tree that blew down, taking the bald eagle nest with it?  Several days ago, an eagle was seen flying over the same area with a large stick in its bill.  Good!  It’s building another nest.  Then, a few nights later, the wind blew so hard it moved my Direct TV dish, which had a heavy cinder block holding it down.  Bugger!  Now both the Drapers and the eagle have to rebuild their nests again.   We may not have any TV for a while.  Can we survive?  Sure we can.  Update:  I managed to realign the dish!

Otters and the elephant Seal.  Arlyne got nice pictures of river otters near the beach right down the hill from our motorhome.  They were squabbling with each other a lot of the time, followed by periods of rolling on their back, plopping down and resting then leaping into the water again.  They really are cuties!

We also saw a juvenile northern elephant seal just below the deck of a Fifties style café where we had a hamburger.  He was molting, which takes a few weeks and makes them look all patchy.  He didn’t seem to mind all the people fussing over him as we looked over the railing.  When seals sleep, they really mean it.

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The Bald Eagles.  We drove over to Sequim yesterday to check on a bald eagle pair that was nesting above Dungeness Spit.  We first saw them a month ago.  After 35 days, the eggs have hatched and most observers are saying there are two chicks.  The parents sure seemed very, very interested in what was in the nest.  We always get ready with our cameras and spotting scope when one eagle takes the place of the other.  While we were there, the male was eating another bird which we couldn’t see but he was spitting out feathers and shaking them off his bill.

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When the bird that’s flying and hunting comes back, he or she sits on a branch nearby until the bird in the nest squawks a few times and then comes over.  They sit together for a few minutes and the mate departs.  We tried an experiment taking pictures through my spotting scope using our smart phones.  It’s a little shaky but the pictures aren’t that bad.  See a couple below.  I sort of like the circular field of view that I get with the scope but I cropped the eagle on the dock.

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We met two other bird photographers (and a newsman/sports photographer) who pulled over to watch the eagles with us.  All three of them had sunk at least ten times the money that we had in photographic equipment.  But, you know, we knew at least as much about birds as they did.

One of the photographers specializes in bald eagles and has a website.  He’s been watching these two eagles for three years as they keep coming back to the same nest.  He’s named them Ricky and Lucy and tells them apart by size and by the shape of their gape.  He said he comes over to watch them about four times a week and one day he saw quite a spectacle.  When the little eaglets first hatched, two juvenile bald eagles, an adult eagle and two peregrine falcons were trying to get to the little guys.  Ricky and Lucy never left the nest alone without one of them being there.  There was apparently a lot of squawking and swooping but they defended their little family.

After an hour or so, Arlyne and I left to visit a small beach a few miles away where birds were reported to be plentiful.  Just after we arrived and got out of the car, the sports photographer arrived and we were chatting under a power pole about birding.  We heard a few loud squawks and Arlyne looked out over the beach to see what was making such a racket.  When she came back over to us, she whispered to me “Don’t move too much, just look straight up.”  There was a 2nd year bald eagle 30 feet over our heads, just sitting on top of the pole!  He was there for over an hour as we snapped pictures.  Then, we saw another bald eagle fly pretty close to another juvenile on an old dock structure and the dockmaster bird rose up to duke it out.  As expected, the skilled sports photographer caught the two birds in the air with their claws entangled.  I was a little late and didn’t get much.

The guy we met that named the eagles has a website with several nice pictures of Ricky and Lucy.  Check out his photos and “our” bald eagles at www.eagleeyesphotography.zenfolio.com.

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Random Thought of the Day.  I wish television networks would create a Senior Channel to broadcast all the commercials for security systems, reverse mortgages, walk-in bathtubs, retirement homes, anti-aging creams, face lifts, erectile dysfunction drugs (and all the other drugs), weight loss plans and hearing aids.  That way, I won’t subscribe to this channel and I won’t have to watch any of them.   That being said, the spot in the center of my back that I can’t reach to scratch an itch has gotten a lot bigger in the last few years.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Bird Lover