[Tweeters] Some Life in Port Townsend

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign15 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 18 15:07:47 PST 2018

I've been busy this month around PT and vicinity, and had a lot to report,
but my hands didn't feel like typing when I did, the dog stole my field
notes, etc. So it goes.

Anyhoo, I haven't stopped watching. Now, ever since them Eagle's have
landed (10/15) they've been busy as beavers bulking up their nest -
carrying talon-fulls of sticks, grass etc, to their site about a block away
here. Nice to have Eagle neighbors.

Fort Worden has been interesting. As of about a week ago , I've been
hearing a loudly singing Meadowlark down at Pt. Wilson on several visits
down there. Also, amongst the sometimes many Northern Flicker's out there,
I've spotted a "yellow-shafted" version of that bird several times. Maybe a
hybrid - it was too far away for facial recognition the times I've seen it.

Meanwhile, down at the Marine Science Pier where I like to check out fish
action and whatnot, it's been pretty fishy lately. At times thousands of
Shiner Perch, or Herring, or Sandlance swarming about. Usually all these
fish are in segregated schools, sorted by species, but also size: small /
medium/ and large Herring gather somewhat separate from each other for
example. These segregationist integrate at a moments notice, across size
and species boundaries, when a small seal that I've been seeing down there
lately herds them around, all the fish united in their desire not to be
eaten. They soon separate out again.

A few days ago, in addition to the seal, a bunch of other fish-eating
predators lurked about; three Otters, a Double-crested Cormorant,and a
single Horned Grebe were diving. A dainty Bonaparte's gull was dipping down
to the surface for food, and the place was swarming with three noisy
Kingfishers which mostly just chased themselves. Amongst all this action I
only saw the mama Otter nab anything (big herring I think), and the
Cormorant was doing pretty well.

While was watching all this, a mysterious wriggling ripple-mark telegraphed
up from some fishy form below, and just as I got my bins on it, the seal
appeared from below and the ripple-mark disappeared. Another unsolved

Walking down the beach south of the pier I came across an interesting
phenom that I've noted particularly at Fort Worden over the years;
synchronized swimming - of birds, not fish. Mergansers. Just the other day
I saw about 80 - 100 Mergansers, mostly Red-breasted, but some Common mixed
in, perform this water dance. All at once, for no obvious reason, all the
densely packed Mergs all wing-thrashed their way across the water surface
in one direction. Then in another direction. "All together now ...!". I've
seen this many times - always with mergansers - and find it sort of
amusing, along with their downward stares underwater, with crests pointing
up like so many snorkelers.Later at Pt Hudson I could still see the mat of
mergansers off in the distance, when a dozen or so Common Mergansers flew
right by.

Also along the beach that day, about a dozen Bonaparte's Gull and a few
Mew. It was a remarkably calm grey morning, very quiet when the calm was
broken by very loud piping whistles - a Black Oystercatcher! It's been
awhile since I heard one. The bird flew by, noted me, then continued off
toward Pt Wilson. Later it came back and landed nearby. In flight it made
the Bony's look particularly puny. Just Sayin'.

Jeff Gibson
snooping around
Port Townsend Wa

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