The simple life of the Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus bachmani, aka the Black Oystercatcher doesn’t really catch oysters. It’s catches mussels, limpets, barnacles, and various shellfish, all do well for their natural diet.

The Black Oystercatcher loves rocky shorelines, and often seen along the North American Pacific Coast. They don’t like human development or high industrialization where pollution and disturbances to their nesting areas disrupt their delicate existence. 

I took the above picture a few months ago from the Seattle Aquarium, which this little bit of info from its seattleaquarium.org site:

Oystercatchers nest and spend winters in the same basic area. They’re monogamous—the same two birds will return to the nest they create together, season after season. They make nests near rocky tidal areas where food abounds. By flipping their bills sideways and backwards, the birds toss rock flakes, pebbles and shell fragments to create a nest that resembles a bowl. Each pair will raise a clutch of eggs (one to three eggs) at a time. If anything happens to a clutch, pairs will raise two or more clutches until they have a successful brood.”

Black Oystercatchers are often very noisy, for reasons I could not uncover. Those noises are a little silly and cute, different from other avians. I love them for that…

That’s why I am sharing this joy of nature now. Maybe this will cheer you and others in this long, difficult pandemic time, for at least a moment. Then, feel free to make a little silly noise of your own.

Orion T

.

The blossoms stay out, float around, clutter together

After errands in these shutdown weeks, I often take a small detour through Freeway Park in Downtown Seattle (located above Interstate 5).

Why? Because I need to, to help mentally cheered in this tough time. I must place myself in these city-developed little pockets of nature, to hear the birds chirp and peek at the squirrels. To enjoy the lush greenery and surroundings of gardens, grass, shubbery. This is my treatment of the stir-crazy confines of home.

Also lately, I check on the the cherry trees in full effect for the early Spring, reaching the end of their grand presentation. This is a show that is not cancelled, and moving on well…

The trees here are beautiful in some unique way for every season. But this round of developed silken bright blossoms is a particular show. These display a picturesque beauty, a scattered show of delicate petals tied together in the air, clustered to show an overall storybook setting. This global pandemic changing nothing for them, for the show continues.

But soon, this show will slowly end. The blossoms take a bow, slowly dropping to the ground. I look to the slow finale, feeling appreciative that this process moves on as a natural exception to the sadness of the global pandemic.

I share below, feeling somewhat lucky to have these wonderful views, with likely a bit more current freedom to walk around than other parts of the world. Hopefully, these sights will bring a smile, and reminder of some beautiful normal things still moving on…

Orion T

Clowning around with the Clownfish

Did you know…

That clownfish, also known as anemonefish, are born male, But, the dominant adult one of its group becomes female when the previous one dies. It’s an irreversible change, where it can then reproduce with another male, for the next generation of hermaphroditic organisms.

Clownfish are mostly found in coral reefs in south Asia, and Australia, feeding on a diet of plants and very small organisms (algae, zooplankton, tiny crustaceans). Clownfish live in harmony with sea anemones, sharing in food scraps and immune to their tentacle released toxins meant for prey. Those anemones also cover as shelter from larger predators. The clownfish pays their kindness back by removing parasites, and sometimes standing guard.

These strange factoids are just morsels of the countless grand wonders that make up of our complex planet, and build ecosystems meant to naturally create a long-lasting system of life coexistence.

I learned of such and more in a recent visit to the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, where I took the above pictures. Such wonderful things, I will share of more in later postings, spread out over future times. I hope you will enjoy, and be as fascinated as I was in observing, learning of these lively occurrences.

Orion T

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Yes, appreciate those rodents, all 280 different species of them. Appreciate their bushy tails, large eyes, cute smiles, quick tree-climbing ability. Appreciate the joy a squirrel brings to our local public parks and many gardens. Sometimes, they act as pest control agents at no charge, devouring insects. They can also tackle waste, by grabbing small food scraps left by stupid humans. They eat mushrooms, resulting in their waste from digestion resulting in new, much needed spores that help the ecosystem. They are also cute, and inspire resourcefulness and quite clever. Here is one in action…

But perhaps, the best reason to appreciate is their nut-burying behavior. They bury nuts, then often forget (or do they?!). The results are many more trees grown from those seeds within, which helps the world of humans in many ways.

So appreciate the squirrels of the world, give back and spread cheer to the little critters. Feed some natural nuts or seeds, if you can spare (avoid processed food). If you have a yard or a porch, add a squirrel feeder. Also, place a small tub of clean water nearby. And overall, let the squirrels be their natural, adorable selves.

– Orion T

The above pictures were taken deepen with Stanley Park, Vancouver BC, Canada. You are likely to cross path with some scavenging squirrels on Squirrel Trail, and Beaver Lake. You might even find some rare red or black ones.

The realization of long life, according to Jonathan Seagull

“Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with those gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.”

― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

That moment above was taken atop a tide pool at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas (North San Diego County) California. That was one of many great things about that area, which I must share of, soon.

Orion T

Happy Earth Day and so forth appreciation…

20181230_132722

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”- John Muir

The picture above is from early this year, on a day hike through Bowen Island in Vancouver, Canada. Meanwhile, Happy Earth Day! Though much of the day is gone, continue to appreciate this planet we live on, with support and protection to its natural environments.

– Orion T

The Depth of Nature

20181230_125637

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” – Henry David Thoreau

The picture was at Killarney Lake, in the middle of Bowen Island. This was during my stay in Vancouver, Canada in middle of a nice group hike. It’s a nice, short walk for those who can spare an hour or two (the extra hour for the trail that goes around the lake).

But right now, I wish there was a calm lake easily accessible to my current situation, living in a noisy city. Staring at this picture will have to do, for now.

– Orion T

The Destructive and Constructive Work of Beavers

photo dec 30, 3 41 02 pm

A beaver is a hard-working, very intelligent mammal engineer.

When beavers work, they produce noticeable results. There is a grand notice on the materials they use, mainly wood from trees. The environment used, is forever changed.

The above picture is from my group hike on Bowen Island in Vancouver, Canada. This is one forest section well-stripped by beavers, using their powerful front-teeth (unsure of how many beavers, but do work in small numbers). Much of that wood is used to create a lodge; a dome-like house made from sticks, grasses and moss-plastered with mud. One lodge is sufficient for a whole family of beavers, to live comfortably and produce/raise their offspring. Such lodges are built slightly above water level along river and pond banks, like the one seen here.

20181230_124029

Beavers also use that wood to build dams, to better manage and trap water to create large ponds. Beavers also feed off the trees for food, eating the leaves, roots, and bark. They also digest some surrounding aquatic plants. Nothing seems wasted in a beavers world.

I did a little research and reading on the conflict between the tree-raiding troublemakers and the human settlers of Bowen Island. The dam work of beavers has in the past, disrupted homes and yards of private areas, with flooding. The early actions by locals were to trap and kill the little critters. But in the last decade, a more humane solution popularized, to build special fences to prevent the beaver-building of dams in needed areas for water to flow.

That protection, and other solutions to help the island’s natural habitat creatures have been put forth by the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, or Fur-Bearers. For more on beaver fences and the volunteer work of the Fur-Bearers, visit thefurbearers.com.

Meanwhile, here is a fascinating BBC video on the hard work and rewarding results of those busy beavers.

 

– Orion T

Natures’ Complexity

photo dec 30, 3 25 05 pm

“Complexity is the property of a real-world system that is manifest in the inability of any one formalism being adequate to capture all its properties. It requires that we find distinctly different ways of interacting with systems. … Therefore complex systems are not fragmentable”

– D. C. Mikulecky, Professor of Physiology at the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University, THE COMPLEXITY OF NATURE

The picture above is from an awesome little hike on Bowen Island, in Vancouver, Canada. Bowen Island is a peaceful area of tranquility, roughly an hour away from the big metro area, by road then ferry.  Deep within, is a complex ecosystem to observe and study. I will share more on this and other notes of the trip soon.

– Orion T

Along the way, deep into the forest trail

img_5892

I recently posted about my hike to Annette Lake, a serene lake high in the mountainous region of the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie forest.

The lake being serene and amazing, was enough to behold for its own posting. Now, I would like to share a bit more on its trail to and back. It’s a path as awesome as its destination.

The 7.5-mile round trip Annette Lake trail has wonderous sights, rich in the best of the Pacific Northwest nature land preservations, and another reason I love the Washington State. Here, dedicated hikers will step across towering huddled trees, fallen trees with new life taking upon, rocks of all ages, countless waterfalls, old wooden bridges, and patches of snow along the top in this late spring.

The sunlight through the blue sky intensified the green, illuminated darker pathways partially covered full-grown branches, and gave sparkles to the streams of water running down. You can also enjoy the sounds of the trail varied from noisy waterfalls, chirping birds up high, and peaceful void of preserved stillness.

Here are some choice pics along the path…

 

Overall, the Lake Annette Trail is a good hike I highly recommend for those physically able to withstand a moderate uphill exercise binge, with a worthwhile destination of the lake itself to rest for a bit.

My tips for the trail: go early, so you’ll have time to rest and enjoy some views. Bring a water bottle or two, with snacks of nuts and dried fruit. Go in a group, and maybe bring your dog (allowed on the trail). Wear good hiking shoes fit for stepping over small rocky pathways and snow patches. Don’t rush, as parts of the path are narrow, and other hikers will be frequently passing on the good days. Much of the path is upon step hillsides, with an easy fall into deadly grounds. Rest easy at the lake for a good time before heading back.

For more on the Lake Annette Trail, visit the official Washington Trails site at www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake.

– Orion T

Colorful Views at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

img_5552

A few days ago, me and local friends ventured out north in the Washington state to the rural area of Skagit Valley by Mount Vernon, to check out its annual Tulip Festival. This wonderful time throughout April is when the tulip farms are at their colorful peak, growing miles of freshly blooms tulips and daffodils. Designated areas for up close viewing are open to the public, with a small admission charge

For the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival of 2018, there are multiple areas to visit and check out, as I entered the Roozengaarde Display Garden and Fields. Stunning place it is, even with the gray weather and muddy grounds (rained hard the day before). I admired and learned much of the tulip life and care that goes into them. I also took some pictures, of which the fields are shared below (click on each to fully appreciate):

The festival time goes on until the end of the month. The tourism on the weekend can be a bit heavy, especially if the rain is gone and the sun is shining. So, be ready for a slow drive when close and lines at the entrance and foot court. It’s all well worth it with friends and family.

For more info, check out tulipfestival.org.

I meanwhile, also show many great up-close shots of the tulips in their enclosed garden area, of which I will share in another post. Look forward!

– Orion T

 

 

 

Fallen Blossoms in the Early Spring

img_5410

The Seattle weather has been very fickle lately. The sunshine remains infrequent and the rain a familiar thing that happens 2-3 days a week. Below, are the cherry trees of early spring, reaching the peak of bloom throughout the Emerald City for this year.

Locally, more blossoms have fallen into scatters. The recent rains dampened many, keeping them moist until the groundskeepers collect. Until then, here are some shots last Sunday morning through a local stroll in Seattle’s Freeway Park…

Orion T

Fall Colors in the Kubota Garden

img_7860

For those dwelling around in the Pacific Northwest, there is a medium-sized park, open to the public in Seattle, to view the best seasonal colors in nature. You should go there now, while the scenery is very Fall-tastic.

This place is the Kubota Garden, a 20-acre Japanese garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. The park is named after Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese emigrant and horticultural pioneer who blended his Japanese design techniques with North American materials here, starting off in 1927. Fujitaro died in 1973 at age 94, hoping the land would eventually become public. In 1981, the land became a historic landmark.  In 1987, the land became public, and since became an attraction for visitors. In late 2017, it was my turn.

Kubota Garden is beautiful with every step inside. The walkways are crooked and intertwined, leading to little sights worth a long gaze. Such are small ponds, little structures of wood and rock, bridges, waterfalls, with a variety of uncommon trees and shrubbery. All quiet and peaceful, leaving the noise of the world to the distance.

I came here on the advice of a friend, who suggested this as a place to relax, and avoid the troubles of the world for at least an hour. By public transport, this was an easy destination (about an hour if taking the rail from downtown, then a short bus transfer). I arrived, not considering the grandness of the place, or a map.

This brought me much joy in the heart, to explore, and not finding any particular pattern or sense to the pathways of the place. I felt lost and didn’t want to be found for a while. I found many little partially mossed benches, shadowy coverings by spidery trees, and open grassy spots perfect for a picnic. I would stop here and there, sitting down and watching birds and dogs being walked by. And perfect for this day, was the amazing colors of the Fall season, with an awesome variety in every view.

The only regret here is my arrival so very late in the day. The evening was close, and I had to leave for a meeting. I did take some pictures, showing the amazing Fall-ness of it all. Click on each for a full look:

I shall come back here again, for a longer visit and for every season.

-Orion T

A Fallen Bloom

Photo Jun 01, 7 32 32 AM

Above is a time last week, between the sunshine and gloom. The morning brought some Spring rain, gentle and calming for an otherwise busy week.

I passed a tree with fresh pink blooms, a casual wonder to behold. Upon the ground, were freshly fallen blooms still wet from their recent shower….

Photo Jun 01, 7 31 19 AMPhoto Jun 01, 7 30 25 AM

The location is within Freeway Park in downtown Seattle, by the Cultural Landscape Fountain. You may find me there on the weekdays, walking through on the morning or evening. Sometimes there, I sit down on a nearby bench and ruminate.

Orion T

See the Black Squirrel…

photo-jan-04-12-00-47-pm

Here above is a squirrel in black, for which I have not seen this pigment until my recent visit to Vancouver. I watched them, and perhaps they watched me.

Their behavior differed a bit from the normal gray city squirrels of the Pacific Northwest US, of which I have seen around the University of Washington campus. The black squirrels seem shy to the cameras, and seemingly a bit faster and slightly smaller.

I learned through local folk and the googling, much about these squirrel mutagenic variants. Such are uncommon to see unless in some collective habitat (Midwestern and some Mideastern US, Eastern Canada), parts of the UK). However, I came across a gathering of many scuttling about through the center of Stanley Park, in Vancouver, Canada. Such are offshoots of the common gray and fox squirrels, leading to the darker gray to the very black. They can endure the cold weather better, and blend in with the dark. I heard these are not originally native to the Vancouver area but brought over some decades ago (possibly in 1914 according to one Wikipedia source), but I have yet to find the exact info.

Here is another one, living the simple life…

photo-jan-04-11-51-16-am

and a short bonus video of more, recently put upon my Instagram (travelingorion, follow me there!).

View this post on Instagram

#squirrels #squirrelsofinstagram #citynature @reside.outside

A post shared by Orion T (@travelingorion) on

I love squirrels 🙂

– Orion T

Pictures and notes by Traveling Orion, (Orion Tippens). For external use for public use, please contact and obtain permission first.

Pictures of the Fall 2016, Leaves Away and Soon Gone..

photo-nov-05-1-01-31-pm

My favorite part of the Fall is the scatter of leaves. They bring a sense of serenity in the midst of changing weather, with new winds and storms ushering the cold ahead. There can be a bit of melancholy about them when you apply character. They had their run and now must rest until there is wither and end. But first, take in the beauty of the loveliness shown with the sort of lush greenery and return to nature brought, especially in the cityscapes of which I often pass through.

They add to the quiet, and for some also the loneliness of mundane life. You can become part of it, and be still. Let it all sink in, and watch as more leaves gather. Especially on a Sunday, the simplicity of it all brings serenity before the usual workweek schedule takes over.

Like many wonderful things, there will be an eventual end. Fall to me can be warmer than spring to the emotional spirit feeling loneliness within. The leaves make good friends when my feet are among them until taken away by landscapers with their leaf blowers machines and crude metal rakes, or withered by time; hard to decide which is the crueler. The trees above will be stripped to face the coming cold, naked and silent until the rescue of spring next year. I shall empathize with them until then. But for now, I shall take more walks and love the Fall moments while they last…

– Orion T

Pictures above and below, taken at the Jim Ellis Freeway Park in Downtown Seattle, by me in the early November at different days and times…

photo-nov-12-8-39-29-am photo-nov-12-3-05-36-pm photo-nov-12-3-07-45-pm photo-nov-20-11-46-18-amphoto-nov-05-1-12-52-pm photo-nov-05-1-06-51-pm

 

 

Picture of Today 6/29/16, Hello Summer


I’m a little late waking up, and so is the summer. Yet, here we are now with blue skies and shady trees.

I hear the weather down in much of the southwest US has hit triple digit Fahrenheit. Coming from there the Southern California regions, I do not miss that sticky heat. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the summer works better on me. I now feel upper 70s, early 80s F weather, with occasional surprise showers. Such would be prefect, if I didn’t spend so much of it cooped indoors, doing grown-up things like working and figuring out finances. Still, the summer is early, and I think more of these good warm days will be waiting. I shall strive to not miss them..

– Orion T

Picture of Today 6/9/16, Today is still Spring..

image

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”  – Robin Williams

Though I look forward to Summer as the extension of Spring, so it’s an extra long party. Fall will be the hangover.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 4/6/16, Squirrel!

Photo Mar 25, 1 39 31 PM

A little friend in the park, who knows things and sees things.

We shared much in common, very busy with much to hide. We know many ways to the same destination but prefer the long way around very often. We enjoy big bags of trail mix, and take time to enjoy the calling sunlight. We pretend to be simple, though it can be easier said than done.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 3/25/16, Big Squirrel on Campus

 

Today, at the University of Washington in Seattle, I took time out to admire the cherry blossom trees within.

And so did many others, including Sam Squirrel. Before the bushy-tailed agent of N.U.T.S scurried about on some mysterious mission, there was time to ponder the changing of Spring since the days of barely a week ago. There seemed more rain than last year, and the air a bit colder. The blossoms seemed somewhat thinner, and the trunks with more moss. What could it all mean? Perhaps nothing, Sam ruminated. The sight of it all must simply be enjoyed for as long as the peace shall last. 

Orion T

Picture of Today 3/2/2016, Afternoon Delight

Photo Mar 02, 4 08 39 PM (1)

This American Robin is a simple city bird within the noisy and complex Downtown od Seattle. Yet, it makes the most of the local city park behind the Washington State Convention Center, taking time to enjoy the small pockets of nature between the concrete floors in the shadows of the surrounding towers. For the afternoon, it goes the healthy route and eats small berries, one at a time. Soon it will flutter away, perhaps to its nest to relax and read something.

I try and do the same.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 2/7/16, the Winter Wonder of Mt. Rainer..

 

Along the 90 freeway to Bellevue over Lake Washington, earlier today…

In the distance, I see Mount Rainier with more snow upon than last year. It’s a beautiful sight, as its surroundings from the passenge seat I sit to the peaks yonder, astound and delight. I love especially how the top seems hidden, leaving little mystery to those who dare imagine the nesting dragons above.

Orion T

Pictures of Last Sunday, A Ducky Day

Photo Jan 01, 12 17 49 PM

Just pictures of ducks today, to bring about the calmness that comes forth before and after the busy work week (plus one Saturday of leftover plans and needed shopping). Sunday is the day we are supposed to stress a little less and be like the lazy ducks here.

And for today I did some sitting of my own, and watched the Seahawks vs. Vikings NFL game. That crazy and very cold (- 6 degrees Fahrenheit) game that had us off our tailfeathers, from the kickoff to the ridiculously close end deciding the advancement of the playoffs through one failed field kick. Go Hawks!

Pictures here, are from last week’s adventure in Vancouver, Canada on the beach edge of English Bay by the Central Downtown area. I like these shots, as I think they deserve a posting of their own, expressing my current state of mind.

Photo Jan 01, 12 17 17 PM Photo Jan 01, 12 17 11 PM

Orion T

Carkeek Park Adventures, Part 1

IMG_1976

A weekend adventure outside the concrete jungle life..

This time at Carkeek Park, a small 220 acre woodland to the north of the Ballard district of Seattle. The area has much greatness hidden through its joggable trails; wetlands, orchards, grass picnic areas, and a beach with so much more. But for me it had a lot of peace and quiet, which I needed for much of this weekend.

I also took pictures (below)

I stayed on mostly two trails, The Piper Trail to my destination, and the South Ridge on my return trip. Most of these trails are easy and friendly for the casual hiker or jogger. The signs aren’t always at all the fork splits, so it might be good to have a printed map. This is not so much for getting lost, but to make sure you reach the right destination point, or to leave where you walked in (I took the bus here).

IMG_1976

Soon on the Piper Trail, the Piper Orchard. A series of fruit and nut trees planted over 100 years ago by the Piper Family. There are bags tied around the fruits, with signs kindly asking people not to take.

IMG_1977

Lots of moss here in the late summer. I love seeing moss on trees.

IMG_1979

A creek where salmon are known to travel, in the past at least. The running water keeps me calm.

IMG_1981

My favorite thing about woodland hikes, the odd tree formations and collapses. One could just let their imaginations run wild with this.

IMG_1982

I also love to see some crazy root action when on the upper trails. This was on the South Ridge trail after an upward crawl.

IMG_1983

Half a tree..

IMG_1986

I wanted to capture some pics of birds here. I can hear them all about up high. But here I think, the birds are shy and keep their distance from the constant humans passing through. I can hear many, see nothing. But, I enjoyed what I had anyway..

IMG_1988

A variety of life, and some death.

IMG_1989

Still no birds, and not much in sects either. But I had plenty for the imagination..

IMG_1990

Not a medium park trail unless someone leaves a visible message somewhere..

IMG_1992

The end, or beginning of things. This was my destination and rest area, the beach area of Carkeek Park. I am immediately reminded from the sky of the wildfires throughout the Pacific Northwest, causing this hazy sky. More on that, as I will post pics and notes of that in Part 2, coming soon.

IMG_2010

  – Orion T

Big Bird in a Big City – last weekend in San Diego, California

  

I was in San Diego, with feathered company.

And I was constant with busy activity, with a huge comic convention and other business going on. I stayed on a boat during that last weekend with new friends for some days. I wrote and photographed quite a bit of that trip for another web site (strangerworlds.com), and will feature some of that work with personal commentary on that, in my next posting here.

For now, enjoy with mild amusement these pictures, of what I believe is a blue heron..

  
   

– Orion T

Meanwhile, at a small wildlife santuary..

Big birds!

Here are two pictures shot from a recent stop in Bothell, Washington (north of Seattle). I, and friends birdwatched through a dense and swampy wildlife sanctuary near the Kenmore Park and Ride bus Station.

Here we have: a bald eagle (above), and some blue herons in a nest (below).

Orion T

Picture of Today 6/13/15, Descending Sparrow

 

I believe this is a White-Crowned Sparrow. I observed it chirping high on a small tree in a local Seattle park. 

No filter, no edit spur of the moment shot by me. I really like this particular still. 
– Orion T

Picture of Today 6/12/15, the Consealed Seal

 
A small seal I saw, off the shores of the Seattle city. 

I knew those slippery mammals were out there in the Eliot Bay waters, but rarely ever see one. This sighting was near the rocks at Myrtle Edwards park.

And, I think it saw me. It quickly ducked below the water after this quick pic. The Seattle seals seem to be a shy sort, or perhaps they also have that Seattle Freeze attitude..