[Tweeters] Clear Waters

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sun Sep 7 09:14:50 PDT 2014


Back in the clear waters of Port Townsend after a few days viewing the murky business of Mudville's (Everett) estuary scene.
Walking down North Beach, at Fort Worden, my first pleasant surprise was a bird. At first, seeing the sparrow sized bird with white outer tail feathers, I thought "Vesper Sparrow!", and the bird flew off the lower beach up into the driftwood and dunes. Tracking the bird down, I found it on a log, wagging it's tail - a Water Pipit!
I know, I know, it's American Pipit these days, but it will always be Water Pipit to me. I first met this bird as a subalpine creature when I worked in the mountains ,at Mt. Rainier, and in the North Cascades, many moons ago. In those high meadows, where there was water, there was often a Water Pipit. Nice to see my old mountain friend again, on the beach.
Up in the beach-side roses were lots of White-crowned Sparrows, and one particularly bright Orange- crowned Warbler.
Another -1 tide, and the tidepools were available for viewing, so like a Heron with pants (and rubber boots), I stalked the clear shore waters with my long legs and close-focusing binoculars, snooping around. It was quite the Mollusk Show.
The first entertaining mollusks, were the many squirting clams - a phenomenon I never get tired of watching. There were lots of 'em. Then I came across the Amazing Clam Light Show! Light show?
The Amazing Clam Light Show caught my eye when, closely peering for something interesting, I noticed a brilliant flickering light-form on the sandy floor of a tide pool, looking somewhat like a fluid starfish shape, and although I was not on drugs at the time, reminded me of those old lightshows they used to have projected behind psychedelic bands of the past (maybe still do). Anyway, this flickering little light show was quite entrancing at close-range.
So, what's with the clam part, you might be wondering? Well, this show was produced by a big Horse Clam, which was running the projector - as the clam sent a steady current of water out it's outflow siphon, the flow created a smooth lens-shaped dimple on the shallow water surface, and the early morning sun shining through this wobbling water lens provided the light. It was pretty cool. Really!
Moving right along, the next mollusk excitement was a beautiful sea slug, or Nudibranch. This one, the Alabaster Nudibranch, was about 2 and a half inches long. Many Nudibranchs are like the 'Vegas Showgirls' of slugs, unlike their somewhat poopy-looking terrestrial garden slug relatives. The Alabaster Nudibrach is a beautiful translucent, feathery looking creature, with white- tipped cerata, and in this case, a pink body.(can vary somewhat). Another species I've seen down here (Phidiana) is even more finely plumed with white, orange, and neon blue markings - really decked-out slugs. I saw a few more of the Alabaster's before moving on. I read they crunch up little snails for food, and there were hundred of tiny snails on the eelgrass.
Getting a super-close look at a brilliant Blood Star - a really bright orange-red starfish - I discovered gold! Lot's of gold, on the sand! Beautiful, but if you see gold on top of sand, it's Fool's Gold .But then I am a fool - a fool for a tidepool.
Jeff Gibsonfooling around inPort Townsend Wa


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