I’m so excited I cannot even write about it. These two share my joy.
I’m so excited I cannot even write about it. These two share my joy.
Lots of things make me feel small but let’s start with Tim – and his friends.
We had a wonderful visit with Tim’s childhood friend and his wife. Lots of great conversation and laughs while we shared the island with them. But look at me! I’m a little person in the group.
The eagles may not be bigger than me but they carry themselves so well.
The sky dwarfs me. I’ve taken a new interest because we now have to provide twice a day weather reports in preparation for a burn later in the month. We have to estimate the cloud cover; make a subjective observation, objective. But if you hold your arms above your head and imagine the diameter of a circle, you can estimate the amount of cloud cover in your little world.
We also have to report whether or not there is fog.
One day had little cloud cover but lots of fog. Imagine that.
The seagulls look down on me from their perch on the roof.
Not only am I small, I am outnumbered: 80,000 birds to 1 human (really 2 if I include Tim).
This old tree knows how to stand alone.
These colors remind me of a sweater I have started.
Never a dull moment.
It was inevitable. Here we are, living smack dab in the middle of a seagull colony, invading their space for a few months. Tempers are high as parents try to ensure their offspring survive. And the odds are none too good. Numbers are already down around the cabin. Three have already died around the cabin. Yesterday we saw a battle outside the kitchen window when an interloper got too close to the nest.
And just look at how cute the chicks are.
Those two shots were taken with my iphone through a telescope, no easy feat.
But I digress.
Here it is … don’t go any further if you are eating.
Tim was shat upon as he cleaned the solar panels outside the cabin. YUCK!!! It has encouraged me to wear my goofy USFWS volunteer hat again. It was bound to happen. Better than being dive bombed I guess!
I heard a call from across the country from the leader of my tablet weaving group for bands to display at a show in Vermont. She sounded desperate. Any bands would do. It encouraged me to finish a couple that were literally hanging around and I’ll send them today when we head off island en route to Victoria.
We took a boat ride around the island to make sure boats weren’t getting to close to the nursing seals that are strewn along all the beaches. They blend in so well it is hard to see but here is a shot from the road.
And one from the boat. The whole gang was involved. Mother, baby, seagulls and chicks. We saw the Harlequin ducks swim over on our return to the marina.
We went to inspect a crab bouy to make sure it wasn’t too close to the island and had to do a double take. It is topped with a cheery flower. Ah Washington! Sort of sums it up right there.
That’s all from our cheery outpost on Protection Island on another gorgeous sunny day. I think we have now had about 45 consecutive days of sunshine. Who knew?
Parents always keep a watchful eye on their offspring. Even when the young appear to be independent and off on their own, there is a noisy set of eyes about. It is still not enough though. We have seen broken eggs and dead chicks right around the cabin. It’s a bird eat bird world here on Protection Island.
The smallest try to stretch their wings.
Seal pups stick close to their mothers. We’ll be out on the boat today and may get better photos but here’s one from the dock.
The mule deer and the eagles, especially, keep a sharp lookout.
Here’s the ruckuss an eagle stirs up when it flies into the seagull colony.
Tim tried to reduce the noise around the house by making one lookout less popular. Notice he’s in full protective gear.
Then three small planes flew around in formation making their own buzzing and stalling noise.
As Roseanne Anna Danna used to say, “It’s always something”.
My latest diversion is telling Siri, “I see a little silhouette of a man”. If you were a fan of Queen, tell her and see what she has to say about it.
First of all baby, mom, dad, brother and her Pops are all doing well. She was discharged to home yesterday after a brief stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. I’m usurping her dad’s photo recently shared on facebook, here she is.
Isn’t she precious? I only have one sleeve left to knit and she will have a sweater. Hat and booties are next.
While the family bonds on the east coast, I continue to be the only person on this island, and it is fabulous. I am finding that I experience it differently on my own. For one thing, it makes me realize how many little things Tim is always doing – spraying seagull s**t off the house and solar panels, dishes, and just being a wonderful companion. But … I am not making as many dirty dishes because my meals are very simple and desserts are fewer.
Now I am responsible for keeping things running. I’ve been mowing, weed whacking, doing some projects for Fish and Wildlife, filling the water tower, and cleaning the boat and dock, and filing reports. I’m keeping active with long walks every day. And of course I weave and knit.
The seagulls are in full nesting mode around the cabin and I do my tasks quickly while one or two guard gulls yell at me. I hope I don’t have to don the hard hats I see lying about. The barn swallows have little ones in a nest directly over the picnic table, which cannot be moved for a variety of reasons, and are making a big mess there. They poop before they land in the nest and right after they take off – on the picnic table. We’ll reclaim the table when they leave.
Yesterday I awoke to thick fog. I couldn’t see beyond the edge of the lawn. I heard water dripping off the windows and roof but the air was thick. As I drank my cuppa in the cozy cabin, I looked outside and saw the two river otters exit from under the porch, scamper across the lawn and head to the bluff.
The fog cleared around the cabin mid morning and I went to the other side of the island to do some work. I could tell fog was rolling in again because I could hear ships’ foghorns, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The sound was wonderful, I felt more than heard the low tones of the various horns. I went to the bluff to try to see them but it was too socked in. There is an app for the phone called Marine Traffic. Commercial boats and some pleasure boats have Automatic Identification System (AIS), automatic transmission of their name, location and course, ideally to prevent collisions. I use the app to identify ships I see off the island. It shows photos, course and final destination. Cruise ships leave Seattle and sail by on their way to Juneau all the time. Here’s this morning’s screen shot. You can see marine traffic anywhere in the world.
The other day I saw a dozen eagles flying together, off the bluffs near the marina fighting over some bounty.
I’m especially mindful of my own personal safety now that I am here alone. I wear a life vest when I clean the dock. Look at this toxic plume I created yesterday from seagull s**t.
And I found a perfect way to listen to my music, podcasts, books without bursting my ear drums while I mow and weed wack. Before, I just turned the volume way up. Then I found these babies and can hear my music, etc. at a normal volume. But I can’t hear the fog or the foghorns.
where about 80 mule deer, or black tail deer, are reported to roam. We’ve seen 2 fawns and the males are sprouting fuzzy antlers. Happily there are NO deer ticks on the island. I’m so used to avoiding tall grass at home where Lyme disease runs rampant. Yesterday I combed through chest high grass for a few hours to highlight a path for a tractor that will thrash it down, without a care in the world.
The fog rolled in and we are on our own.
In contrast to Saturday.
Seagull shenanigans have slowed down a bit but they remain ever present.
And the eagles keep a sharp lookout.
All’s well on our home front.
I’m an eternal optimist, perhaps bordering on pollyanna-ish. But in my experience if you expect good things, good things happen. Perhaps it’s just about being open. What follows is a very small example, but I assure you I have had bigger examples as well, it happens all the time.
We received some food, including a jar of apricot jam, when our research neighbor completed his work and left the island. Then I received an email, with a recipe for Almond Puff Loaf, that needed jam(!) and sliced almonds, which I just happened to have on hand. Today I whipped up a loaf to have with coffee. It was simple, delicious and photogenic.
And now for the birds. I saw this eagle join its buddy at the water’s edge. I’m not sure what they were investigating.
We spotted these two eagles feeding on a seal when we went out in the boat the other day. A young eagle was off to the side and a third adult was waiting in the “wings”,
This group seems pretty content. Who wouldn’t be with that view?
This heron had a surprise visitor with ruffled feathers.
The house that formerly stood here may have been a little too close to the bluff. This fence now stands at the edge of a 200 foot cliff.
I liked this vanishing point.
And that loon we saw the other day is no Common Loon. It’s a Yellow-Billed Loon, identified by people other than me who know. It’s relatively rare with less than 10,000 left in the world. And one is here in our little marina. Ah, the universe.
Comes a rainbow. Something else to look at other than seagulls copulating on the front lawn. It rained for about a day and a half. I got to work weaving a replacement straps for my little boat bag, which is gradually disintegrating.
That jumble of sticks and strap combined with my body makes up the loom. I control tension by leaning forward or back. It’s been a process learning this super portable way to weave.
I can understand why people who live where the weather is always nice grow bored with it. The clouds and sky were dramatic before and after the front passed through. We had hoped to get out to watch the Race to Alaska go by but it was raining and foggy. Check it out at here. It is a boat (loosely defined) race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska, 750 miles. The main requirement is the boat cannot have a motor. There were canoes, kayaks, lots of trimarans and stand up paddle boards!! That’s right, SUP 750 miles, sometimes in open water. Oh my. They left the harbor with large oars for power. The first day didn’t have much wind and the rowers did very well. My favorite boat name is, “What the Fuca”. First prize $10,000, second prize, a set of steak knives! Gotta love it.
And then the beautiful full moon rose. It was still light out at 10 pm. The whole gang was out to enjoy it. They took a break from their primary activity.
But they are at it again this morning!
A pair of caretakers we met in Tasmania said every day they tried to do something for themselves, something for the island and something physical. They had a cute acronym I can’t remember, PIG (physical, island, growth); CrEW (create, exercise, work); CARE (create, activity, read, enhance; or caretake, activity, read, exercise). You get the idea, something like that. We’ve found a pretty nice balance.
We have to clean the dock and boat every day, not as bad as it sounds. It uses water pressure mostly and is fairly gratifying. I proposed we sit and spray the seagulls before they even soil the dock instead but it’s probably frowned upon on at a bird refuge.
We keep the cabin tidy and mow the grass around buildings.
We worked as migrant labor for a few days and dug up 15 gallons of daffodil bulbs. No easy task in chest high grass. I’m only mildly broken. Hope the sale goes well.
Tim practices piano a couple of hours a day. I knit, weave, bake, and read. I’ve completed two sweaters, one was basically done before we got here and has come in very handy. We either wear long sleeve wool shirts or sleeveless shirts. There doesn’t seem to be an in between.
I bake bread, pizza, pies and crisps. Have to keep my partner happy.
I usually weave a bit in the morning. I finished a belt, am trying to learn Andean pebble weave on a backstrap loom, and have some card weaving projects in mind.
I knit up a bag to use on our bikes when we go shopping from leftover scraps.
Now I’m trying to finish a lace shawl I started in 2015 for my dear daughter. It may happen.
And I take pictures.
The island and its inhabitants are very photogenic.
Quite literally. We woke up to hear a funny chirping outside. It sounded like it was coming down the stove pipe, but happily there was no bird in the woodstove. Tim went outside to investigate and sure enough, the eagle was perched on the cabin’s stove pipe. No photo to prove it though.
Weather was dramatic yesterday; winds to 40 knots.. The cabin shuddered and creaked but didn’t blow down. One door blew off one of the outbuildings, the roof was lifting off another but overall we fared fine. The boat was still securely tied to the dock the last we looked.
The wind was whistling but at least the sun was out. We went to check on the daffodils we were assigned to collect but they haven’t yellowed yet.
I often see things in nature. The rocks of Deal Island have fabulous character, a mouse lady and dragon among others. Well here, we’re surrounded by 20,000 birds. So what do the clouds look like?
A feather! Imagine that.
We stopped by to talk to the seagull researchers. They confirmed what Tim thought. All the seagulls leave the island after dark. They won’t once they have eggs but at the moment, all the colonies leave as a group and raft on the water about 3 km away. How do they know this? They stay up all night and watch and listen. They are also looking into the ovulatory cycle of seagulls. It seems when times are tough, they all lay eggs together. Less chance of 1/1000 eggs being snatched up then 1/10. Interesting stuff. And a small increase in the water temperature, due to climate change, is enough to make this happen.
The wind didn’t stop shipping traffic or affect the wildlife too much.
I got a chance to try out this hand powered food processor in the kitchen. My first attempt to mash potatoes with it was a disaster. I guess it is not a ricer. But it grates and slices hard veggies like a champ.
So we enjoyed a carrot craisin salad and I didn’t even get any skinned knuckles from grating the carrots.
Another great day in paradise.
Or as Tim likes to say, “There’s no such thing as paradise”. We did use the windy day to check the septic tanks and I am happy to report all is well.