Low Tide Discoveries at Discovery Park

//Low Tide Discoveries at Discovery Park

Low Tide Discoveries at Discovery Park

Images and video shot with my Olympus OM-D, E-M5 (micro four thirds) + Lumix 100-300mm lens.

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.

Discovery Park South Beach Trail

Discovery Park Trail + Bluffs – ©ingridtaylar

The beach itself sloughed away from the cliffs, and is now a plateau of sand, cobbles, boulders and erratics.

West Point Lighthouse and container ship at Discovery Park Seattle

West Point Lighthouse – ©ingridtaylar

When low tide approaches zero, as it did for two days earlier this month …

Zero tide at Discovery Park South Beach

Zero Tide – ©ingridtaylar

… the water’s edge reveals the eel grass that draws in Brant Geese for shoreline foraging.

Brant Geese at Discovery Park Seattle

Brant Geese at South Beach – ©ingridtaylar

We first saw Puget Sound Brants scarfing eel grass last year, while sitting alone at Vashon Island’s eastern shore. The geese swam toward us, within yards, barely noticing my shutter click.

This year, on the much busier South Beach with dog walkers and beach combers, the Brants give us humans wide berth … and decline to turn their photogenic faces to the light.

Brant Geese at Discovery Park

Brant Pair – ©ingridtaylar

We pass the remnants of a Harbor seal pup protection area … broken marine-mammal tape and signs pointing to a now-vacant haul-out zone. In a few months, a new crop of pups will be back on the beaches, with Seal Sitters and wildlife appreciators looking out for the young ones’ privacy and safety as they warm up and rest in these mixed-use environments.

Seal Pup Protection Area - ©ingrdtaylar

Seal Pup Protection Area – ©ingrdtaylar

Tape - ©ingridtaylar

Tape – ©ingridtaylar

Just past the sign, a flock of winter Scaup flushes across Puget Sound with a Red-breasted Merganser flying solo above his Scaup mates.

Scaup at Discovery Park Seattle

Discovery Scaup + Merganser – click for larger image – ©ingridtaylar

The Brant Geese fly back and forth between foraging beaches, dotting the pastel blues with their blacks and whites.

Discovery Park Brant Geese and Boat

Boat + Brants – click for larger image – ©ingridtaylar

In the changeable light of the afternoon, Puget Sound morphs from golds to blues to pinks to blues again.

Brant Geese at Discovery Park Sunset

Brants at Sunset – ©ingridtaylar

We see the telltale geysers of tidal life … the subterranean organisms proving their viability and vitality.

Low Tide Life - ©ingridtaylar

Low Tide Life – ©ingridtaylar

And the nearby American Crows (or Northwestern Crows), watching, listening for those very signs, so they can root out those burrows with their beaks.

American Crow on Discovery Park Beach

Discovery Park Crow – ©ingridtaylar

Crow Foraging - ©ingridtaylar

Crow Foraging – ©ingridtaylar

Way offshore, we hear the bark and cough of a California sea lion surfacing, then realize it’s two sea lions, swimming in tandem.

Sea Lions swimming at Discovery Park Seattle

Sea Lion Duo – ©ingridtaylar

The sun drops and the tide dips –receding from a 1.3 on its way down to zero.

Low Tide Pool at Discovery Park

Low Tide Rocks – ©ingridtaylar

South Beach then stages the scene that is my last photo for the night — West Point Lighthouse reflected in one massive tide pool.

West Point Lighthouse and reflection at Discovery Park Seattle

Lighthouse Reflected – ©ingridtaylar

15 Comments

  1. M. Firpi March 22, 2013 at 7:58 am

    The video is so well done and produced. The crow pics are excellent!

    • ingrid March 23, 2013 at 12:38 am

      Maria, that is very kind of you to say. It’s a lot of fun but I do recognize my beginner skills. Working on these mini pieces helps me acquire knowledge in the process. Video is a nice adjunct when depicting a scene or an experience. In the meantime, there’s always hula music. 😉

  2. CQ March 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I feel like you’re taking me along on an outdoor adventure every time I receive/read/view Wild Beat, Ingrid.

    Actually, today I felt like I was attending an outdoor musical show you’d set up for me (and the rest of your appreciative audience). The main characters, the water birds, played their roles to perfection on a stage filled with fabulous props and with background music that matched their mood (sure, why not a Hawaiian hula tune on an early spring day in Seattle?). So, what WAS the temp for that shirtless paddler?

    Today I not only got to witness Brant Geese, Scaup, a lone Merganser, a sea lion duo’s noses, geysers and an in-love, digging-for-clams crow (success with mate and meal!), but I also got a free ticket to another show, which took me on a trip down memory lane (please click on the hyperlink in M. Firpi’s comment and read what I wrote under her beautiful butterfly photos).

    Throwing you and Maria each a lovely lei … 🙂

    • ingrid March 23, 2013 at 12:45 am

      CQ, what a lovely comment! As I mentioned to Maria in the note above, I want to use more video (now that I have the capability in one of my cameras) simply because it sometimes help portray more character or behavior or ambiance. But it’s a significant leap for me from still photography (which I continue to learn and improve) to understanding videography, and I figure I might as well practice with cooperative crows and pigeons. There are obviously nature bloggers who’ve used video to great effect, documentary or otherwise. I’m a big music lover, and can’t resist the temptation sometimes, to blend a few of my loves in a single post. As far as the shirtless paddler, I’ll have to check my still photos to see if I can make out his garb, but my suspicion is that he’s wearing a wet suit that looks, in silhouette, like a shirtless bod. It was a coooold day out there on Puget Sound! The sun was deceiving. I was carrying hand warmers, schnapps, and wool wraps.

  3. Tammy Karr March 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Hi Ingrid~so interesting to follow your low/zero tide discoveries! The park looks like a great area to explore. Your photo of the lighthouse reflection is spectacular! The boat + brants photo is quite stunning as well!

  4. Ron Dudley March 26, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Lovely photos and I really enjoyed the clip, Ingrid – esp the clam-digging crow. Your area must have an incredibly interesting glacial history.

  5. Bea Elliott March 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks for capturing and sharing these picturesque scenes! The lighthouse reflection should be painted on canvas! But my favorite is the courtship break in the video. It reminds me of my hen-friends who also do that submissive, rapid foot switching, tail-wiggling dance. There’s some things you just can’t capture with still photography… Glad your skills and talents are branching out to the wonderful world of motion! 😉

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