Full Moon rises over Mount Rainier at Sunset

Full Moon rising over Mount Rainier
View from Tumwater, WA
October 11, 2019

I have been to the top of Tumwater Hill many times to watch Mount Rainier as the sun sets. I have also been there several times to watch the full moon rise. And, each time I have been to Tumwater Hill to watch the moon rise, I have been disappointed. Weather, timing, atmospheric conditions and location have never been in my favor. 

On Friday October 11, 2019, luck turned in my favor. Sunset was 6:32 PM. Moonrise was 6:14 PM. The two corresponded perfectly. The moon would be rising above the horizon just as the sun was setting. The day was clear and beautiful. 

When the moon began to rise over the horizon, everyone at the park was amazed to see the moon rising perfectly over the left flank of Mount Rainier. As it continued its ascent, the moon moved up and to the right. At one point, it was nearly perched over Rainier's crater. 

We were all thankful for our good fortune. 

Chinook Salmon returning to Tumwater Falls Hatchery

Chinook Salmon returning to Tumwater Falls Hatchery
September 16, 2019

A sure sign of Fall in the South Sound region is the sight of Chinook salmon at Tumwater Falls Park. After making their way from Puget Sound and across Capitol Lake, the fish are making their final journey up to the top of Tumwater Falls and the WDFW fish hatchery. 

Although there are a series of fish ladders along this stretch of the Deschutes River, many intrepid fish prefer to try their luck with the falls. From the lake, the river climbs 82 feet, with the tallest waterfall measuring about 25 feet. 

On Saturday October 5, Stream Team will host the Return of the Chinook Celebration at Tumwater Falls Park. 

Chinook Salmon and Harbor Seals! Salmon Stewards at the 5th Ave Bridge

Salmon Stewards from Thurston County Stream Team watch as 
Chinook salmon gather at the Fifth Avenue Bridge in Olympia, Washington. 
Underneath the bridge is a fish ladder which lets the Chinook swim 
into Olympia's Capitol Lake. In a few weeks, they will arrive at
Tumwater Falls Hatchery at Tumwater Falls Park.

Harbor Seals feast on Chinook salmon. These hatchery raised fish were on 
their migratory path back to the Tumwater Falls Hatchery. 
Budd Inlet. Olympia, Washington

Cormorant in Motion

One Second is a Very Long Time - Great Blue Heron in Motion

When I watched swimming at the Summer Olympic Games in years past, I always scratched my head a bit at the timing. I found it really hard to believe that they could time the event to the hundredth of a second. Surely, they were just making it up. 

This was in the days before I began photographing birds. And, in the days before I had a camera which could record images at ten photos per second. 

These days, I find myself marveling at how much can happen in on second. The animation above takes place over 1.2 seconds. In this interval, the Great Blue Heron has gone from a placid standing position to taking flight and completely leaving the frame. 

What I find amazing is the sheer power of the thrust of the Heron's wings. You can see the force being exerted as the bird takes flight. 

The first frame below shows the Heron at rest. Next is the first part of the crouch. The final frame shows the bird in flight one-half second later. 

Amazing things can happen in less than a second. 

Purple Martin nest boxes at Budd Inlet - July 25, 2018

Purple Martin Nest Boxes at Budd Inlet
Olympia, WA
July 25, 2018 

A pair of juvenile Purple Martins signalling
emphatically that they are hungry and ready to be fed
Adult male Purple Martin brings a large darner dragonfly to feed its young
Purple Martins are the largest swallow in North America. In the Olympia area, they can be found in Spring and Summer at nest boxes on Budd Inlet near the Children's Museum and at Boston Harbor Marina. By mid-July, young Martins are beginning to mature; you can see them poking their heads out curiously. Their eyes scan the horizon, looking for an adult with a dragonfly or other morsel. The adults swoop in quickly, often taking less than 5 seconds to feed the growing brood before taking off again. 

Male Purple Martins are a luxuriously vivid violet-blue. Females are more understated with lighter blue and dusky gray markings. 

Purple martins winter in South America. The journey can be as long as 5000 miles each way, each year! Martins follow at least three different paths as they return each spring. Some move through Mexico on their way to the West Coast. Others cross the Gulf of Mexico, leaving from the Yucatan Peninsula or take a route through the Caribbean islands to arrive in Florida.

Fall migration can start as early as mid-July in some parts of the country. During the fall migration flocks of thousands of martins can form for the long trip south.

During the winter season these birds are apparently concentrated chiefly in the Amazon Valley of Brazil (Manaqueri, Barra do Rio Negro, and Itaituba) but are found in other parts of South America.

Two female Purple Martins perch outside a nest box while a chick
looks on, anxious for its next meal
Several adult Purple Martins perch near nest boxes
at Olympia's Budd Inlet

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