[Tweeters] Escalating Surveillance

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Fri Jan 13 17:45:58 PST 2017

Yesterday I was walking a loop around Artillery Hill at Fort Worden here in Port Townsend with the excuse of looking for Bohemian Waxwings which have been reported in town during our current (by PT standards), deep freeze. Knowing of the hawthorne trees atop the hill, I thought I might luck out. I didn't, and looking for Varied Thrushes in a favored spot of dense forest on the NW side of the hill, I didn't see or hear any of them either.

In fact, quietly standing on the road through the fir forest, catching a low sunbeam for a little warmth, I couldn't hear any birds at all - not a peep. It was very peaceful with only the sounds of a slight breeze through the forest. Then I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye - a big bird down low flying though the trees: a big lanky Raven, wings whooshing in the quiet air, bright and shiny as polished slate in the afternoon sun light. It landed nearby , and a bit behind me.

I sort of ignored it awhile, as I tuned back to watching the calm forest. Then, feeling watched myself, I remembered the Raven: there it still was snooping around in the trees. Now obviously under surveillance, I resorted to counter-espionage techniques, mainly the tried and true pretending you don't see the other guy watching you. It works well with birds if you just don't look with head directly pointed at them. So I was using my wide focus as the Raven hopped from branch to branch - just at my eye-level in downhill trees- with it's black cloak and dagger.

Then the bird disappeared behind a dense level clump of fir foliage, and I raised my spy binoculars and focused right that way. Soon just the Ravens head appeared again, and then slowly and steadily rose higher and higher, while it was moving sideways at the same time, and looking my way. Very sneaky.It reminded me of that ol' mime trick of looking like your'e coming up an escalator while you're just squatting and moving on the floor behind a low wall, or covered table. It was great snooping. With that, the Raven was done with me, and flew off with a croak.

I did get to see how the bird did this visual trick. If you look up the mime trick on youtube, of course there are videos of how to do it : I really don't want to know. But the Raven came out from behind the magic curtain of leaves and all was revealed: it was just doing the ol' sidestep on an upward angled branch behind the foliage - quickly moving foot to foot. It side stepped about six feet along that branch.

That's entertainment!

Jeff Gibson

spy vs. spy, in

Port Townsend Wa

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