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Wild Kingdom

05 May

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

 

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