Thursday, May 28, 2009

Montlake fill

Urban wildlife is a contradiction in terms. How wild are creatures that exist in a human created environment? The answer is, that though their surroundings may be human made, the animals and plants are very wild indeed.
The Montlake Fill -- a reclaimed garbage dump that has become a showpiece for the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture -- is a study in those kinds of contrasts. Its ponds and paths are tended by some of the best minds in the state, but it is still an urban place, full of wanderers and runners, with a flock of starlings chattering in one of the cottonwoods.
And yet it is wild. That's why people come. Cottonwood seeds waft through the air, sparrows call from every shrub, and warblers lurk between the leaves (I spotted a common yellowthroat).

(I don't know what the flowers are, but I like the picture.)
Shoveler's Pond had northern shovelers on it, and the male was in the mood for courting, bobbing his head constantly.

Swallows (barn and tree) were out in force, and a Great Blue Heron fished offshore.

But the most entertaining birds were the red-winged blackbirds: males singing belligerently from cattails, males and females driving off crows, males joining forces with crows to drive off a bald eagle. The drama was all there.
Mount Rainier looked nice too.

One grim note: a dead beaver by the lake shore.

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