Water is always in flux, mutable — liquid, vaporous, frozen — evaporating, condensing and expanding. This fluidity of form and purpose fuels life with its hydrological rhythms. I find my own personal cryosphere on a 23-degree day in Seattle. Instead of water bears, though, in this ice I see the planetary and the galactic ...
I spotted my first migratory ducks on the urban shores of Elliott Bay last week. The new arrivals are on edge -- wary and easy to flush. Lifting my lens is enough to send them skittering to the middle of the bay, and I can only imagine what sights and sounds have jarred them into high alert on their long journey home.
Smith Cove Park is populated only occasionally with dog walkers, cruise ship aficionados, marina boaters and a few transient souls who stop there by way of a nearby bike route. I went there for the waters -- and for the salt air -- without expectation of wildlife. But, that was about to change -- one late April day.
Like Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower, the gull, along with many urban birds, is overlooked and pushed aside, sometimes literally under foot on crowded sidewalks. Also like O’Keeffe’s flower, when you take the time to really look at that gull and embrace the wholeness of her — her yellow bill, her gray coverts, her ear spots or orbital rings, the white tips of her stretched wings — she becomes your world not just for the moment, but in perpetuity.
They sit suspended at the 18th weir, these scaled faces in the sockeye crowd. It's the window to their water world, the portal from ocean to stream to lake, where their gills remember the taste of fresh after years in the salty sea -- and where they lead -- at least in part -- by magnetic memories of the gravel beds where they were born.
Starlings are common residents in my city landscape. In appearance they are kaleidoscopic, polychromatic, iridescent, resplendent. In song, they are whistles, chants, murmurs and twitters. Every spring, they find ways to reconfigure urban structures into sanctuaries for their nests -- structures like this corrugated metal framework.
This isn't the first time I've seen an Osprey napping with a fish in his talons. Last year, while observing the platform way across Seattle's long-abused-but-recovering Duwamish River I watched a male Osprey land on a utility pole, clutching a half-eaten meal. A crow who'd been tailing the Osprey, landed alongside. The Osprey perched, adjusted -- then appeared to doze off.
It seems like common sense ... to slow or stop the car if you see an animal on the road. But, in recent weeks, I've had several incidents where birds were clearly in harm's way and people refused to either stop or take even 30 seconds off their commute to let an animal exit the roadway.
During the week after I first documented the branch-bearing herons, I returned to the park to watch the avian house builders again. I posted to my Facebook page that I stood for an hour that first day, mesmerized by this testament to renewal. In the end, there were 40+ new nests and trees full of heron chatter.