[Tweeters] Totem and Tubesnouts

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sun Nov 30 09:53:15 PST 2014

Early in Thanksgiving week, the weather in Port Townsend was gray and calm, and I had several interesting nature walks around Fort Worden.
My first encounter of note was meeting up with my ol' bird totem, the Huttons Vireo. I've written before about my relationship with this particular bird. When I was first faced with the situation of spending a lot more time in Port Townsend, one thing I looked forward to was seeing loads of Huttons Vireo's, because this place is great habitat for them. Well that didn't happen.
You see, I'm more of a general naturalist, not really a birder - although I can impersonate one in a pinch. Therefore, when out and about, I tend to look at all sorts of things - fungi, plants, bugs, rocks, sea life, bugs, etc. Not a specialist.
Yet, keeping an eye (and what's left of my ears) out for birds as I walk about this place, I was a little surprised not to meet the vireo. Oh sure, I could have pished around more (my doctor said not to overdo it) or used a playback device ( Mother Nature told me that pishes her off). Or I could have purchased that product I seen advertised online @ Billy Bobs Bird Emporium: 'Hutton's Vireo Pheromone Spray' ("we got the spray - you get the tick!"). I also could have been a more dedicated bird observer too - probably the best way to go for me.
So, there I was atop the Fort hill, when I heard that wonderful sound - a calling Hutton's Vireo! The bird has a variety of calls, but this one was my favorite - to me it sounds like a sort of goofy giggle. And thus announcing itself, I got to say hello once again. The vireo was slowly poking along a low alder branch right by me - which I wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't said something. Pretty cool.
The vireo, as they do this time of year, was participating in a largish feeding flock of mixed species - junco's, RB nuthatches, chickadees, and kinglets- safety in numbers.
Later, down at the Marine Science Center pier, safety in numbers was going on down below the surface of the Sound. After an exciting Spring and Summer season of Sound watching, things are slowing down in the marine world. But I saw something new for the year - a school of Tubesnout's under the pier! At first, viewed from above, I presumed they were Herring - which are abundant in the eelgrass here - but they seemed a bit thin, and on closer view, from the poopy Otter float, turned out to be Tubesnouts. These fish, around 6 inches long, are very slim - like eelgrass - and have a long snout. I've seen this fish before, but not in such numbers.
I keep trying to see Ancient Murrelet's and a Yellow-billed Loon down here, but no luck so far. These are both birds I've managed to avoid seeing over the years - not my Nemesis ,don't wanna meet that - but seeing those birds would be nice.
Jeff Gibsonreporting fromPort Townsend Wa

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