Thursday, March 18, 2010

Goldfinch and willow

The willows at the north end of Golden Gardens were full of trilling American goldfinches,the state bird of Washington, Iowa and New Jersey. It ties with the robin (Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin) for the fourth most popular state bird, coming in behind the Mockingbird (Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas), the Western Meadowlark (Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wyoming), and the grand champion state bird, the cardinal. (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia.)
I'd prefer if each state would have a bird to itself. There are 888 species to choose from in the country, after all. So, let's give the goldfinch to New Jersey, let Iowa take the indigo bunting or something, and find another bird for Washington. My first pick would be a corvid. British Columbia has the Steller's Jay, so I consider that taken, but the raven is up for grabs.
Still, even the most playful raven isn't as endearing as these fluffy yellow things trilling in the pussy-willows.

And for more morning cheer: brant in the waves.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New! Exciting! Geeky!

I have a new blog, called Figure One, in which I find cool pictures/charts/graphics and then gush about why I like them, or don't.
Ideally, I'd like it to be kind of like Go Fug Yourself, but instead of celebrity outfits, I'll have maps, graphs and a wolverine named Xena.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Voyage of the Guillemot

On Sunday I had the great privilege of taking a trip on Guillemot, a fine old wooden motorboat owned by Peter Mann and his wife, Nancy Everds. Nancy takes truly amazing wildlife pictures, and she also photographed the trip. If she posts any, I'll link to them and we can all gaze in awe.
Anyway, here are some pictures that I took:

Here's the wake of the Guillemot on the glassy early-morning water of the Ship Canal.

Double-crested cormorant drying its wings. (And doing the bat-signal.)

Mr. and Mrs. Common Merganser, perhaps charmed by the cuteness of the vessel, consent to be photographed.

Surf scoters out in Puget Sound.

There was a big flock of western-grebes. We could hear their trilling calls above the hum of the engine.

A pair of bald eagles looks on from Blakely Rock, off Bainbridge Island.

Two pelagic cormorants and three sea lions share a buoy.

Brant on Blake Island.

Brant with Mount Rainier in the background.

A yellow-faced bumblebee, I believe. Spring continues.

If you moor at Blake Island, make sure your boat is secure.

There are curious characters about.

Another pelagic cormorant.

Harlequin ducks, off West Seattle.

Dead harbor porpoise, Discovery Park

My son and his buddy came across this on Saturday morning on the south beach. Something has obviously had a meal of it, but there were no crows or gulls skulking around, and it didn't smell. Poor thing.