Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Change of season

Fall is coming. Here is my photo essay on what I see as the signs here in the North West.

Spiders spin webs on every possible anchor point. They are easy to see when soaked in morning dew. As the day warms and the webs become harder to see and if you are not paying attention while walking though the woods you end up with on of theses in your face.

Harmless but not very comforting at all.

As the weather changes farther North the birds of prey begin to move. Waves of Vultures and smaller hawks such as these work their way south along the Southern coast of the Puget Sound. When the migrants enter the territories of the locals things can heat up. I heard the screams of the Red Tailed Hawks as this unidentified hawk passed through the area.

All of the Black Berries have ripened. Those left this long ferment on the vine and the birds that eat them get a little "buzz", some get out right intoxicated. Few things in life are funnier than a drunk Robin. My dogs have been sneaking out to the berry patch and getting their fill of the berries also.

This was a new life bird for myself. It is a first year female Black Throated Gray Warbler. Hatched and fledged far to the North of here this summer she and those like her are headed to South American. Thousands of miles lie ahead of her before her return next spring and she has never made the trip before.

This secretive Male Pileated Wood Pecker feeds on the fruit of our Dogwood tree. He shares it with a family of Northern Flickers. In the last five years I have gotten three photos of him. He is very wary and does not hang around when he sees the dogs or myself.

This Thirteen inch diameter Sunflower grew in our garden this summer. It took a family of four Steller's Jays less than three hours to completely glean every seed from the husk. Look closely at the Jays crop, it is stuffed with so many seeds they keep falling out. The jays take the seeds off into the woods to hide them for later.

Black Capped Chickadees find it easier to harvest the seeds from the smaller flower heads that the Jays can not land on or hang from.

While doing some repairs to the garage I noticed this North West Salamander slowly working it's way through the leaf litter. I have never seen on of these before and was fortunate to have the camera handy to get a picture.

While birding at the dam I came upon this tell tale evidence of Beaver movement. Strangely this tree is below the dam in the brackish water exchange. I did not know that Beavers would swim in salt water. After felling this tree the Beaver nibbled on a few branches and left the tree for later.

Wood Ducks prepare for winter by ensuring their new feathers are in top condition.

Ducks like this pair of Gadwalls that have been far to the North during the summer, suddenly return over night. These beautiful ducks are often over looked or mistaken as female Mallards.

Clear cold skies at night set the stage for an early morning Coot silhouette on the calm waters of a local pond.

Fall in the North West means the return of the iconic Salmon. Four years ago this fish crossed over this very dam on it's way out to the ocean. Every day was a struggle leading up to this final challenge.

Welcome home.

Scores of different species await the return of the salmon to prepare for winter.

Next spring when the next batch of 200,000 young Cohos swim over the dam they will enter the waters enriched by the salmon that died there this fall. The big wheel keeps turning.

The Black Tailed Deer have shed their reddish coats of summer for the gray winter coats. The young deer in the back has tiny "nubs" where his antlers will grow next spring.

Well Fall is here, we can not change that. I will embrace it for the opportunities it will provide and share the photos with you as they present themselves.

Stay warm and dry, Take care.

Saturday, September 6, 2008