Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It wasn't exactly a Christmas Bird Count

Belted Kingfisher; Fort Casey Ferry Landing on Whidbey Island.

Most of my morning was spent at the dentist for my semi-annual visit with the hygienist. She is sweet enough but sitting in her chair is not my idea of a good time on one of the rare PNW pretty winter days. Double that sentiment on December 21, the shortest day of the year. From sunrise at 7:56 AM (that is 4 minutes before 8 AM if you think like I do) to sunset at 4:17 PM we do not have much daylight to play in. I am good about brushing and flossing, I don't know why it takes so long to polish my teeth but I've been seeing the same dentist and hygienist for years and we like to get caught up on each others lives. It was close to 11:00 before I was out of the chair and on my way to Whidbey Island with Ray and Rudy Valentine.
Our normal plan is to not have a plan. Ray got some pictures for me from the ferry deck while I sat in the truck with Rudy, waiting for my Advil to kick in. I have a nasty case of TMJ from a minor motorcycle wreck when I was 18. A trip to the dentist reminds me that my jaw is falling apart quicker than my teeth are succumbing to old age. Looking at his pictures reminded me of the days we used to participate in the Christmas bird count on Tweeter. Rudy does not have the same attitude toward birds that we do. He would love to catch one for lunch, not just count them. At least I think that is what all the singing is about when he sees one.
The short trip to Whidbey Island. The sky looks brighter across the sea than over Mukilteo.

First Stop, Langley, Washington on Whidbey Island.

I tried to get Rudy to sit by the boy and his dog, but Rudy doesn't like brass dogs any more than he likes ceramic bunnies. He was having nothing to do with Langley's brass boy.

Brass boy must have thought it was Mardi Gras. He has beads on.

Good ol' Bug Bear wasn't afraid of Brass Dog. He sat bravely for a picture.

The little park at the Langley Marina. For only $250 a night you too can wake up to this view. There are houses to rent. Between us we didn't have money for a cup of coffee so we will not be staying at the charming little house any time soon.

The brand new Ferry "Chetzemoka" that makes the run between Fort Casey and Port Townsend. I know that there is a reason behind the name. I am sure it is a contest winner and has a kewl meaning. But I don't get it. I know what a "moka" is, a popular Washington coffee drink (or is that Mocha?). But what is a Chetze? Ray's only comment was that someone needs to tune the engine. He thought it was making too much black exhaust for a new diesel.

The State Park at Fort Casey was nearly deserted except for an old guy in a Subaru who probably was counting birds for Christmas and a younger man who came down the trail from the Fort, sat on a picnic table and played his trumpet to the cold wind, probably until the trumpet got too cold for his lips to press against. Beautiful view, good music and interesting old guy counting birds while we ate our simple lunch in the truck looking at the birds.

From the truck we saw Golden Crowned Kinglets (a first for Ray), Zebra (or is it a white crown?) Sparrow, Song Sparrow, a Northern Flicker and a Spotted Tow Hee. There was a bunny too. There were more but as soon as I rolled down the window to take a picture, Rudy started singing that song of his and they all scattered. We hope to spend New Years Eve at Fort Casey but I think Ray works that night. We at least hope to get there sometime in January. Rudy can stay in the trailer while we say hello to the birds.

January is when we usually see Scotters in the Keystone ponds. It is so close to January that we made a stop at the ponds on our way back to the Clinton Ferry to look for them. To our mild disappointment they were not there. Common Mergansers and Buffelheads were in the ponds but no Scotters. On the ride back to Mukilteo we were given a window seat. There were flocks of birds at the ferry landing. I put my binoculars on them to see if I could discover more than the usual cormorants and buffel heads among the flocks of black birds.

Scotters. There were flocks of them at the Clinton docks. We've seen them here before but usually we find many more that are easier to see at Keystone. Whoo-hoo! We did get to see our favorite January bird (in December) before we left the island.

Remember those birds we saw at Mukilteo before we set out on our adventure? The birds that reminded us that this was a good time of year to see Scotters?

They were Scotters. (Yep, I can see that two of them were Buffelheads or Golden Eyes)


  1. Meaning of Chetzemoka: The name honors a friendly Native American Chief of the Klallam Tribe near the Port Townsend area who died in 1888.