[Tweeters] Tsunami Spray and Crab Soup

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign15 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 28 12:43:15 PDT 2018

There has been sort of slow-motion tsunami washing over Port Townsend ,as
high as the highest hills, this month of June. It happens every year,
leaving behind flecks foam clinging to forest and shore. No one was hurt in
the passing of this wave, in fact it's still going on: the blooming of
Ocean Spray.

Yes, June is Ocean Spray month although it continues into July. Ocean Spray
(aka Holodiscus discolor) is a large flowering deciduous shrub that is
abundant in PT - very obviously now when it blooms- a real tower of Flower
Power, it is covered with masses of creamy flower clusters which are
popular with insects, and birds.After blooming it produces masses of brown
seedheads which hold on into winter, also good for the birds. Native
Americans used to make arrows out of the long shoots of this plant as it,
while easier to cut when green gets very hard as it cures( I found that out
by cutting out deadwood on mine in Everett) and even harder when heated
over a fire. It had lot's of uses.

Meanwhile, over at Kah Tai Prairie (located within the golf course), the
very showy flowers of May have turned to a showy , although a bit more
subtle display in a background of tan grasses. Most obvious are compact
clumps of Showy Fleabane (with mauve/purple flowers), Oregon Sunshine
(bright yellow-gold with gray leaves), white Yarrow, and a few other
things. My favorite was the delicate Harvest Brodiaea - a dainty
blue-violet flower about 7"tall- which I haven't noted here before. Neato.
Saw one Lorquin's Admiral, and the seem to be lots of Swallowtail
Butterflys about town this year. Savannah Sparrows making their bug-like

Down at the pier at Fort Worden, the waters have been exciting, changing
daily - who knows what tomorrow will bring - as usual. One day, about ten
days ago, it was crab soup, the plankton- murky water swarming with
Megalops - the second larval stage of a crab. One day there were up to
about 10+ per sq. ft of water. It was hard to quantify because these tiny
little larvae (2 to 3 mm long) were really zooming all over the place - the
Megalops swim quite well. While most adult crabs have the abdomen tucked
beneath the carapace, the megalops abdomen sticks straight out behind and
acts like a flapping propeller.

In fact, these little guys are so zippy, that I was have trouble getting a
good binocular ID on them, so I just cupped several into my hand - tiny
little crabs with pincers and everything. So now that I've got a handle on
them, I can recognize them by movement - handy with a lot of little
zooplankton, Now what *kind* of crab it was, is a whole other story.

Your'e maybe wondering by now, if not sooner, what about the birds? Well,
lately it's been kind of quiet down at the pier, but last afternoon late,
my Ma and I were down there and were treated to close-up alcid comparisons,
as the usual guillemots were joined by several Rhinoceros Auklets, and a
single Marbled Murrelet, all fishing near the dock. Lot's Herring around
these days. Just sayin'

PS: yesterday found a dead Orange-crown Warbler on the deck at home:
prognosis "death by window". While I have banded birds in years past (like
about 30 yrs ago) I'd forgotten just how tiny and light they are in hand.

Jeff Gibson
Port Townsend WA
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