Category Archives: wildlife

The Motion Of A Caterpillar

I have recently come across a couple of caterpillars during my wanderings.  One of them was in the parking lot at work while another was out on a trail.  Caterpillars are strange creatures because they only have a few “legs” which are bunch up together with one other at the other end of the body.  No doubt, a specialist would be cringing right now at the inadequacy of my description.  The result is that the motion of the body is quite complex.  Video is the best way to demonstrate this so I used the phone to get some footage including when the sun angle really helped to emphasize the complexity of the movement.

Slapped Around The Head But Still Swallowed

When watching the herons hunting in Juanita Bay, you never know exactly what they are going to catch.  Something like a stickleback will be a relatively easy thing for them to swallow once they have caught it.  On one occasion, though, a heron caught something a little longer.  I am not good with different fish so can’t tell you what it was but it had a long body and a tail with some power.  The heron had the front of the fish in its beak but the back end was still flailing around.  The heron was hoping to win the battle but the fish made sure to give it some healthy whacks around the head before it finally succumbed.

Close Encounter With A Swan

One of the nice aspects of mirrorless cameras is using the tilting screen to see the shot while holding the camera away from you.  I took advantage of this when I was near a swan at Mottisfont.  We were walking alongside the water and the swan was swimming towards us.  I wanted to get a close shot from low down but swans are not always the most friendly beasts.  Getting myself down there didn’t seem like a good plan.  Holding the camera out while looking at the screen seemed a better idea and the swan, while not totally enthusiastic, was less annoyed that way.

What Spooked All Of The Gulls?

Just off Cattle Point on San Juan Island, there is a small island which, on the day we were visiting, was very popular with a load of gulls.  While we were standing, looking in that direction, all of the gulls took off at once and were circling for a few minutes before they settled down again.  I had assumed that a bird of prey was nearby to cause them to get airborne.  There are plenty of eagles in the area.  However, I couldn’t make out anything specific that had caused them to be startled.  Maybe just one of them decided to take off and the rest followed just in case!

Killdeer Versus The Worm

While I was down at Juanita Bay one weekend, a killdeer was hanging out on a muddy flat near me. It was busy extracting worms from the mud to snack on.  The worms were not totally onboard with this plan and they were doing their best to stay in the mud.  Some times the killdeer won the struggle and sometimes the worm did!

How Close Can I Get To The Hummingbirds?

We had a quiet time with the hummingbirds in our back yard for a while.  I am not sure where they went but they were not on the feeders very often.  However, that has changed as summer has rolled on and we now have a ton of them in the yard, often fighting with each other over who gets to feed.  I decided to go and stand out near one of the feeders and stay still to see whether I could get closer to them or not.  Little did I realize how uninterested in me that they were.

After I had been there a few minutes, they came in to feed and also to check me out.  They would fly up to me and then move around me, stopping as they went.  I seemed to be a curiosity for a moment and then they lost interest.  Instead they would start sparring with each other.  Some dramatic aerial jousting would take place, often around me.  It must have been something to see from our deck because it felt amazing being there.  No pictures of that because it all happened at high speed but I was able to get some shots of them as they hovered near the feeder at the times when they weren’t in battles.

Heron Swallowing Its Lunch

Herons hunting for their food have been on here before.  I have often been trying to get good shots of them making the strike as they go after a fish in the shallows.  The effort to then eat that fish has also been covered here.  Therefore, I am going to be repetitive today.  I happened to be a lot closer than usual to a heron when it was fishing and I got some good close up shots of its head as it swallowed its meal.  Looks like the fish didn’t have much of a chance!

Baby Red Wing Blackbird

Earlier in the year, I got to see the red winged blackbirds nesting in Juanita Bay Park and then defending their nest from threats real and perceived.  The humans were not causing them any problems but the herons were happy to much on a baby blackbird.  It wasn’t long before these babies had fledged and were out with their parents.  As with many baby birds, they were very demanding regarding food and not interested in getting it themselves.  I came across this parent and child along one of the boardwalks.  The chick looks like it should be able to take care of finding food but instead it just hung around making a ton of noise while the parent was busy trying to find something to keep it quiet!

Salmon Climbing The Ladder

The salmon that come through the locks in Ballard come in three waves according to the park rangers.  There are three types of salmon and each type comes at a slightly different time of year.  (I’m sure the sales like this so they get three feeding times!). Within the fish ladder, they have a viewing gallery which allows you to see the fish as they loiter for a while before surging up the next step in the ladder against the flowing water.

It is quite impressive to see how fast they can go when they make an effort.  They swim gently against the current in the viewing area waiting for a time that seems appropriate to them.  Then they align themselves with the inlet port through which the water is rushing.  This needs a dose of acceleration to avoid being pushed back into the gallery and then, once they are stabilized, a surge of effort and they zip up the port.  Photos don’t do it much justice but video is a better medium.  The reflections off the glass are not ideal but you will get the idea.

Jumping Chickadee

Tracking moving birds can be tricky, particularly if they are small ones that are very agile and move fast.  There was a chickadee perched on the railings of one of the platforms in Juanita Bay Park and I got a few shots of it as it hopped along the wood.  A couple of times it launched into the air as I was tracking it.  The shots are not that sharp as I was not prepared for it to move and it was quick but I found the look it is – as if it was jumping up – to be rather interesting.  A cute looking bird.