[Tweeters] A Cold Day on Oak Bay

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue Jan 3 20:55:59 PST 2017

Yup, it was another cold day on Oak Bay, here in Jefferson County, where I continued working on blackberry removal.

Even colder than yesterday, but yesterday the North wind bringing all this chill, was pretty calmed down in the late afternoon.

For several days working here I had gazed fondly across the bay to where the south shore of Indian Island was basking in the low sunlight. "Gee, I'd like to be over there!" I thought from my work perch on a soggy and largely shaded slope on the west shore of the bay. The woods where I am working is comprised of a lot more cedars, alders and maples than I see around most of Port Townsend. Loads of Salmonberries too. As it turns out (according to my deep 10 minute research on the internet) nearby Port Hadlock get's 10 inches more rain than dry ol' PT (which is only a 15 minute drive north), and you can see it in the general vegetation changes.

Well, how 'bout them Oaks? Well just across the bay the Oaks of Oak Bay were glowing along the sunny shore I'd been admiring. In fact, I could recognize my favorite patch of them from a mile away (thru binocs anyhoo). I have been admiring them for years close up, as I explored the south shore of Indian Island - a great county park on the whole south shore. Garry Oaks (or Oregon White Oaks if you prefer) are one of my favorite trees, and it's alway a treat to be around them. So after freezing enough for the day I left in the last sunlight and made a quick trip around the bay to hang out with my gnarly old friends a bit. Just before sundown I walked out to the beach where I came upon 8 Brant tipping up near shore. It's been quite a while since I've seen a brant.

Back to today. Today was colder and windier. We (the birds and I) were having a bit rougher time of it, but the wind was blocked somewhat by the lay of the land which helped. The Anna's hummers were still up near the feeder. The wrens were hiding out, along with most everything else, except for 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets foraging on the meadow that still clung to chunks of refrozen snow. No Golden-crowns today.

Right on the ground they were, nearly at my feet, especially one male. When playing with word associations I wouldn't typically match "Alpha Male" with "Kinglet", but based on plumage color alone this one looked to be just full of testosterone - if indeed that affects color intensity. I don't know, I'm not a birdologist really.

At any rate, the little guy was about the brightest Ruby -crowned I've ever seen. Of course I had a perfect view from 4 ft away and looking down on it in the kind of shade lighting that saturates colors. Anyhoo, the little King (King Alpha?) had the largest red "cap" I'd ever seen :and it was like a cap, round ,not the often obscured patch that occasionally flashes up like a crown when they "blow their stack" in territorial displays (and seeing their reflection in a window). Not only the huge red cap, but the greens and yellows in the body ,wings and tail were also really bright. Now wether or not he could sing worth a darn, who knows? Maybe he was a regular "Mini Elvis" too.

Jeff Gibson

on my couch, in

Port Townsend Wa

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