During a visit to Whidbey, we stopped off at Fort Casey to have some lunch. After eating, we walked downtown the hill from the lighthouse towards the main fort area. There was a ground of people flying kits on the grass down there. They clearly were experienced flyers and were flying routines in formation. There were three of them at first and they were very slick. A fourth joined in but I think was less experienced than the others. Even so, they were still doing a good job.
I got a few photos of them as they practiced. However, stills are not so good a way to give the feeling of kite flying so I went with a little video too. A little of the video is below.
I have been doing a lot of riding my bike this year and have been gradually expanding how far I go. I decided I wanted to do a longer ride but figured I should not combine that with lots of hills in case I overextended myself a touch. I figured it might be a good time to try out the Centennial Trail. This is a trail that starts in Snohomish and runs 30 miles up past Marysville and Arlington to the county line with Skagit.
An out and back seemed like it could be fun and it is a converted disused rail line so it wouldn’t have hills. (That isn’t true of course. It does have hills but the grades are gentle. I wondered why I was slow for a while and then found myself zipping along so clearly the grades were noticeable.). I started early one morning which meant I avoided some of the busier traffic that comes later in the day.
It was a fun ride. Once out of Snohomish, the trail only occasionally crosses any roads so you can trundle along without much interruption. Since it is an old rail line, there are some old rail bridges to cross occasionally when you get to rivers. There are mile posts to let you know how you are doing and even areas where horse riders can cross when hoof marks have been set into the surface. Aside from a brief stretch through Arlington’s more industrial areas, it is a pleasant ride. A nice park in Arlington itself provides a stop off if you need it and the end of the trail is at a barn seemingly in the middle of nowhere. A good ride to get 60 miles under your belt!
On our most recent trip to Orcas, we had an unusual experience during the ferry crossing to the islands. The crew announced that there would be a rescue boat drill and that we weren’t to worry or do anything. The ferry came to a halt in the open water and the crew manned up the RIB. Fortunately, the RIB they were using was the one mounted on the side of the ferry we were parked on so I was able to lean out through the opening of the car deck and watch the launch.
Two crew members got in the boat and then the davit was swung out and the boat lowered to the surface. They got the motor going, let out the lines and zipped off in to the distance. I figured they would shortly be back but they seemed to go quite a way off and then disappear from view. Instead, the ferry powered up and continued on its way.
As we got closer to our first stop at Lopez, we caught up with the RIB and, after bringing the ferry to a stop again, the process was reversed and the boat was brought back on board before we resumed our normal crossing. Reading the Washington State Ferries news emails, it appears that rescues are a pretty regular feature with the ferries picking up various water users that have got themselves in to trouble. Good that they keep well practiced!
With the feeders in our backyard, I have been able to shoot plenty of photos and videos of the hummingbirds coming in to feed. This has been a lot of fun but it has always lacked a little something because of the artificial nature of the environment. Our recent acquisition of new hanging baskets for the backyard has changed this a bit. They are plenty of tiny flowers in these baskets and these have appealed to some of the hummers.
Not all of them, though. The majority still seem to prefer the sugar water in the feeders but some like to work their way around the flowers. This requires a lot more flexibility from the hummingbird to get in to the flowers but they make it look so simple. The flowers are only in sun for part of the day so some of the shots I have got have been in shade while others have been better lit. What matters, though, is that a bird against a flower backdrop has a far more natural feel to it than when they are feeding from one of the artificial food suppliers.
I spent most of the time getting stills of them working around the flowers. It all looks good when you are watching it but only certain angles make for good photos. I did get some video too so a little edit of that is included below.
I never fail to be amazed at the crap that large birds of prey take from smaller birds. The eagles fly around here with crows and other birds swooping in at them and trying to drive them away. The strangest part is that the eagles barely do anything about it. I have seen how agile an eagle can be in flight and a rapid turn to point some talons at an incoming crow is well within their capability but they just don’t bother. I was down south of Seattle recently and heard the familiar call of a bald eagle (not as cool as you might think). It was sitting on a tree top. Crows were coming in to hassle it regularly and it barely flinched. I shot a small video clip to show the crows working as a pair and that is included below.
I was riding along the Sammammish River Trail back in to Woodinville one weekend when the noise of geese suddenly filled the air. On the other side of the river from the trail are fields which often are filled with geese feeding. A large flock was gathered there on this day but their grazing had been interrupted by the arrival of a bald eagle. It flew across the area and barely changed course as it did so but it certainly startled the geese and they all took to the air.
They flew around in circles for a while waiting for the eagle to get safely out of the area. Then they gradually calmed down and more and more of them settled back in to the fields to resume eating. However, this was a slow process as they had clearly been spooked and weren’t going to relax easily. This was all starting as I cycled up but I did manage to pull my phone out and get a bit of video of this happening so here is the brief burst of excitement before things settled down again.
When walking along the shore at Mukilteo, I will often see one or two Murrelets diving for food in the shallows along the edge of Puget Sound. They are not rare but nor are they particularly abundant. Consequently, I was rather surprised when at the new ferry terminal to see a large number of them swimming in the water around the new pier structures. There was a constant stream of them diving down and surfacing again.
I can only assume that something is growing on the surface of the steel posts that support the new loading spans. The birds would swim up to the posts, dive straight down for a while – presumably as they grabbed the food – and then surface at an oblique angle. The result was a cycle of birds going down and back up again. It looked really strange and seemed like something that would stop but there must be plenty to eat as they just kept going. I figured video was the best way to show what was happening so below is a short clip of them feeding away!
I have posted a couple of times with ferries at Guemes Island and Lummi Island. While I mainly was shooting stills at these locations, I did get some video too. When the boats are being tossed about, I figured that video was a better way of conveying what the conditions were like. Below are a couple of videos I edited of the two ferries.
It seems like we get one big snow storm a year where we live. It might not last long (although it has once) but it can give us a decent dump of snow. This year was the same thing. We got about a foot of snow. The weather warmed up soon afterwards but for a couple of days, we had lots of snow. I took a walk around to see what it was like. Quite a slow walk given how deep the snow was in places. Here are some shots from that weekend. I also took some video while I was out so the video clip is below too. The best bit was the guy with the ATV pulling a bunch of people around on sleds! They looked like they were having a blast.
The arrival of the balloon in Woodinville resulted in a previous post of the balloon flying in and another of the crew once the balloon was on the ground. I didn’t just shoot stills during the post landing time, though. I also decided to get a little video of the process of deflating the balloon. I was surprised how long it took but, while there is a large vent on the top of the balloon, once the envelope is lying on its side, the vent is no longer at the top and the air needs to be squeezed out. Here is the video I put together.