With mum visiting from the UK, we took a walk along the Sammamish River Trail. The river was very high as a result of the heavy rains we had experienced in the preceding days. The river has otters living in it and I was hoping we might see one. As it turned out, we saw four. A group of four otters was moving up river diving for food as they went. I wished I had brought a longer lens with me but you go with what you have. Of course, they chose to stay on the other side of the river for much of the time but it was fun to watch them anyway. They got a lot of attention from the other people on the trail too.
We flew across Lake Union on our way back to Kenmore so went over the top of Kenmore Air’s base there. It turned out to be a busy time for the base. There were a bunch of planes on the water heading in and out of the base with others tied up awaiting their next flight. Having watched ops at the base on a number of occasions, the view from above provided a very different perspective to what I have seen before. At some point I hope to fly in there to experience it for myself.
I had a work day up in Vancouver. I finished up in the office at the end of the day just when rush hour traffic would be at its worst. The sun was out and the temperature was still nice so I figured I might delay my drive home for an hour or so and head to Stanley Park. It is a nice place to hang out, there is always plenty going on in the harbor and the floatplane departures might have factored in to my decision making.
There is a bit of an evening rush of departures but, with the days getting shorter and floatplane operations being a very visual thing, I figured they wouldn’t be going out too late if they were to be back before dark. I was actually pretty lucky as there was a wave of departures shortly after I got there and then, when I thought it had all wrapped up, another burst of flights headed out. Meanwhile, there were arrivals coming overhead for landing. It killed a bit of time and made for an easier drive home when I headed back south again.
A couple of Kenmore Air planes departed from Kenmore while I was at Log Boom Park. The conditions were pretty damp and humid (and were about to be joined by pretty heavy downpours of rain!). This meant the departing planes had a good chance of pulling some streamers from the prop tips. Sure enough, when the Otter took off (and it started the takeoff run a little early which helped the shooting angles) the prop was streaming some vapor. The shape of the cone of the tip vortices as they flow across the fuselage was quite interesting.
A little while later (and just before the downpour began), a turbo Beaver came out. It, too, pulled some nice vapor from the prop tips as it accelerated across the water. A bit of a cross wind was apparently coming in (no doubt related to the impending storm) and they got airborne one float at a time. At this point we retreated to the car – but not in time to avoid the rain entirely!
Getting an Otter at Kenmore is not a challenge. The Kenmore Air fleet returns to their home base each evening so a steady stream of them can be relied on. What I hadn’t seen before was two showing up almost simultaneously. I was watching the first on final approach when I saw a second appear in the background. It provided a slightly more dynamic view of a regular occurrence.
A sunny Sunday afternoon seems like a good time to go for a stroll. It was not supposed to be a wildlife photo trip. I did have the little M6 with me in my pocket, though, and, since the 55-200 is pretty small, I took that along too. I was rather glad I did too as, while walking along the river, we saw a family that were peering in to the river. There were ripples on the surface so we stopped to see what they had seen, Soon we could see the outline of a pair of otters swimming about. We watched for a short while and were about to move on when they swam down towards us and climbed out on to the bank.
One of them had caught a fish – a pretty big one in comparison to the otter itself. It started crunching noisily in to the meal while the other otter seemingly stood guard. They were on the bank for ages so we watched them for a while and then left them to enjoy their lunch. A short distance further along we came across a couple watching another otter so I guess this stretch of the Sammammish is pretty popular with otters!
While walking along the harbor in Victoria, I happened to be looking over the edge when three otters came out from under where we were and dropped into the water. I was quite surprised by this and we watched them swim out a way into the water before the dived. It wasn’t long before they popped back up with their catches in their mouths. They then climbed up onto the jetty for one of the ferries to enjoy their crab lunch and to play around as otters are prone to do!
Harbour Air is the big player in the Victoria floatplane business. Most of their airframes were in standard colors but one of them was painted up in a nice Canadian Flag color scheme. I first saw it moored up against the jetty but later, when walking down near the water, it taxied out for departure. The takeoff run is a bit far out but I got some shots of it as it went on its way.
The top of the Space Needle is a good place to watch the floatplane traffic in to Lake Union. They tend to fly really close by. Shooting through the glass is not ideal but the passing Otters are too good to pass up. If you can, getting to the gaps between the glass is a good idea but it is hard to do this and get a good angle on the planes as they pass. Boeing also helped out with an Oman Air 737 Max taking off from Boeing Field and coming our way.
While the Space Needle is a great place to view the city of Seattle, it is also good for seeing floatplanes. Lake Union is a base for many floatplane operations and the routes take the planes close to the Needle. On the day we were there, the wind was quite strong from the south so the planes were water taxiing to the other end of the lake before taking off. We had quite a procession with a stream takeoff from a couple of them.
Once airborne, the commenced a turn towards Elliott Bay which took them just north of us and pretty close. I wasn’t well set up to get shots but I managed to get a few. I tried my best to shoot through the gaps between the glass panels but sometimes I shot through the glass which was surprisingly good. You get the feeling of being air to air, even while standing on something solid.