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Saturday, February 27, 2010


What a whirlwind it has been the last few weeks. Work has been suddenly very busy and I have not had the opportunity to get out for my walks most days. I see that the Public Works department is getting ready to do some digging at my pond, so I am not sure I am going to be able to see Spring fully unfold in this pretty corner of my workaday world.

A place the yields pictures like this

A jaunty Fox Sparrow male. His female was inside the blackberry bush

or this beautiful macro of a plum (?) blossom. I am hopeless on garden ornamentals.

and this sleepy Mallard framed by a Gum tree getting ready to be glorious.

But no matter, there are plenty of places to explore on the weekends. Last weekend after working a morning pulling invasive blackberry at the Wilcox Flats parcel for the Nisqually Land Trust, I visited the Mima Mounds preserve. This unique area is home to interesting geologic formations and, in a month or two, interesting flowers. I will be revisiting and doing a whole article about this mysterious place.

I will probably include some dry theory on glacial out wash and earthquakes forming the landscape. I learned last weekend that there is a devoted group that holds true to the theory that this place was formed by the Giant Blue Gopher. The GBG is a mysterious animal that only emerges from underground, for the purpose of mating, in the light of a blue moon. Followers meet on the site during the blue moon to keep watch.

Today I didn't need to be at work and had no commitments, so I dashed up to Port Townsend to visit Pt Wilson / Fort Worden.

Fort Worden was made famous in the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman". It sits on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula at the mouth of Admiralty Inlet. This marks the end of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and, after passage through the inlet, the beginning of Puget Sound. The old protective gun placements are great for exploring. There is a matching facility across the inlet at Fort Casey, on Whidbey Island. This is a great place for kids to have fun.

On the seaward side of the placement, the bunkers are hidden by dunes of sand and rock breakwaters. The banks are planted with gorse which in theory would have helped slow down invaders on foot. At Fort Casey the gorse was particularly thick, the last I visited many years ago. In the picture below , the battery is inside the grassy area between the trees.

The inlet is subject to regular disruption of the intrepid little ferry that crosses to Whidbey Island. Severe winds and currents as well as extremes of high and low tide levels will shut down runs. When you see this tiny boat, a throwback to the early days of the ferry system it is easy to understand the caution. I have ridden the ferry on a day with weather worse than today. It can best be described as thrilling. Water splashes over the bow and if your car is first on, you might get a free front end wash with your passage.

Today the wind was really whipping. It is easy to see the effect of these winds on the trees.

The beach is a nice rocky one. There was very little evidence at high tide of shells or tide pool life. The rocks are colorful and varied. This small collection was gathered by a woman strolling the beach. She told me she liked to collect pretty and interesting rocks from beaches she visits. She takes them home for her rock garden. I love this idea. I often take away a particularly interesting rock for my aquarium.

The birds of Wilson Point can be pretty exciting. I have seen Puffins here as well as Snow Buntings on the sandy beach. Today there was little evidence of bird life on shore. Out in the water it was possible to find Surf Scoters and Barrows Goldeneye. I saw a flock of Robin fly over and they progressed sideways more than forward. Overall the bird life was pretty sparse and I figured most were further west in Dungeness Bay, well sheltered from the battering winds and waters.

The flowers of Pt Wilson can be fun to discover. There is plenty of Seashore Lupine not yet in bud. I found these tiny Small-Flowered Blue Eyed Mary in the sandy protected habitat. I would have missed them if I had not been seeking any blooming item. The flower cannot be more than 6mm across and flat on the ground. (I love my digital macro)
Near the Fort Worden housing there is a Rhododendron garden. One unfortunate issue is that the bushes are not labeled. Many were full of buds and will put on quite a show in the coming months. There were several that are in full bloom now.

The grove was filled with Robins, Varied Thrush and Junco.

Pt Townsend is really a little gem as far as Washington cities are concerned. There are many Victorian era buildings and homes, well preserved. This is a the clock tower from the Jefferson County courthouse. It almost appears, from this angle, to be an interesting ogre.

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