[Tweeters] Sex and Segregation in Port Townsend

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Oct 10 10:21:30 PDT 2015

One of the more enjoyable aspects, for me at least, of being in Port Townsend is living with Deer. Having lived in large cities in the last few decades, and not getting out in the wild enough, I guess I was feeling Deer deprived. That is no longer an issue for me since Port Townsend is swarming with deer even right in town. It's about the deer-est place I've ever stayed.
Now, while having visited the place many times over the decades, the past two years I've been camped out here pretty much full time, watching over my aging parents. It's a rare day when I don't see deer. Around this neighborhood, tourists are easily identified by their penchant for stopping their car on our street to take photos of deer on our lawn - something a local yokel wouldn't bother doing.
Why so many deer? While being sort of naive, I suspected it had something to do with sex, but had never seen any evidence of that till just the other day. I was driving dear old Dad down to the barbershop, and as we were paused at a busy intersection, a large buck was boinking away at a doe, right next to the street corner. "Gee, you'd think they would like a little more privacy" , my Dad commented.
Later on I checked out Port Townsend's segregated schools - of fish that is. Walking out on the Marine Science Center pier it was all grey skies, surprisingly warm, and dead calm - the water like a pewter platter. The calm water made it easy to spot waterbirds, which were low in number, but an interesting mix - the most "abundant" birds were Common Loons, saw about 8 of them, along with 5 Red-necked Grebes (one still reddish necked), a few distant Guillemots, two flyby Murrelet, and a very close-up view of a Common Murre winging it underwater. Nice.
Still very fishy down at the pier. About a week ago I was really noticing school segregation in the fish. Outside the pier were thousand of small Shiner Perch in a big school. Then watching the waters inside the pier, there was a school of a thousand (or so) slinky Candlefish on one side of the floating dock, a school of hundreds of small Sticklebacks on the other side of the float, over the eelgrass bed there, and lurking under the dock ramp, a small private school of weird ol' Tubesnouts. When I was at the pier a few days ago, all these segregated schools had been replaced with massive numbers of Shiner Perch - more than I've ever seen in one place.
Sometimes all these small schooling fish are relegated to the trash bins of ecology under the term "forage fish", implying their highest value is the support of larger "more important" species. I find all these fish interesting in their own right. An even more derogatory term is "bait ball", which is kinda like when the Masters of War refer to front line soldiers as "cannon fodder". One of the most entrancing fish sights I've ever had was of big circling torus of gleaming Herring in a dense school in clear water near the surface at a marina in Seattle. When I pointed this out to a boater walking down the dock his bored response was "oh, a bait ball" , as he kept on walking. Oh well, not everyone shares my joy of fish watching .
Back to Sex in the City. Yesterday at dawn I noticed movement outside my bedroom window- a doe running down the road, then pausing and looking over her back. She resumed running, with a big antlered buck right on her tail. They ran down the road and out of sight, so I didn't see how that turned out. Love, or whatever, is in the air. More deer on the way.
Jeff Gibson Port Townsend Wa

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