For a few weeks at the end of April and beginning of May, hundreds of thousands of migrating sandpipers, Dunlins, plovers, dowitchers and Red Knots feed and rest on the Refuge's mud flats and along the tideline. On the day we went, a volunteer estimated 15,000 birds were foraging on the plateau in front of us.
When thousands of shorebirds frolic on the mire, their wingbeats rattle like seashells strung in the wind ... just the lightest of chimes, near silent except for the rush of air over 15,000 pairs of wings. They become a coil, spiraling sometimes at 40 miles per hour into shape shifters, turning their plumage from dark to light to flashing white to confuse the hunting Peregrines.
In this regenerated, re-planted Bolsa Bay, bird calls and murmurs bubble up from the terns, Sanderlings, scoters, avocets, grebes, plovers, pelicans, sparrows, Willets and egrets who call this haven home. The marsh is barely shielded from Pacific Coast Highway, with just a parking lot and thicket separating refuge from roadway.
Four of our six Seattle neighborhood Ospreys returned last week from the long haul of their migration. If you haven't seen the tracking maps showing Osprey travel routes, take a look at this website: Osprey migration maps. For these studies, Ospreys are fitted with light satellite transmitters that fall off after two to three years. In the time before the Ospreys lose the transmitter, researchers gather data about their final destinations and their various stops along the way.
It begins with a twig in the bill and the throaty croak of the swamp. They're creatures of the marshes, the Great Blues, now on ascent to a season in the trees where nests incubate eggs, and where clumsy young legs will soon dawdle on branches until they get their wings.
Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) grew from the grassroots of my home turf -- Berkeley and the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area). The mission of RATS is to get anticoagulant rodenticides off the shelves. And, in affiliation with Earth Island Institute, they're working with cities and counties in California to adopt resolutions which discourage the sales of these dangerous products.
The kingfisher rises out of the black wave like a blue flower, in his beak he carries a silver leaf. I think this is the prettiest world -- so long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?
Sea lions are being targeted for their catch of salmon at the dam. These marine mammals are often blamed for the problems which have, at their genesis, human technologies or practices: we built the dams, we destroyed wetlands, over-developed, polluted rivers, over-fished and thus depleted salmon numbers to these endangered levels.
The bluffs above South Beach at Seattle's Discovery Park are layered records of glacial history. There's Vashon Till (mixed rocks, sand and silt), Esperance Sand, Lawton Clay (a blue-grey clay and silt) and Kitsap Formation sediments.