Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Birding with plain brown hair.

I went birding for several hours at Spencer Island, just north of Everett. I had a great time, although I was silly and brought no water. My extreme thirst made the kung-fu part of my trek more unpleasant. I had to do some crazy stomping and kicking at blackberry vines on an overgrown trail while holding my arms in the air and turning sideways to avoid nettles and spider webs -- it was very Matrix-looking, I'm sure, but hot and tiring. After I pushed through all those vines and thorns and stinging nettles, I encountered a big sign that read, "BRIDGE OUT", so I had to turn around. I couldn't complete the loop around the island! Grrrrr. But really, I had fun! I just wished for a machete.

The nice thing about nettles (besides that they're good to eat in the early spring) is that they attract butterflies. There were many, many Painted Lady butterflies (whose caterpillars like to eat nettles), and several Red Admirals (who used to be called "Red Admirables", but people have lazy tongues).

I attracted mosquitoes as I crashed around, who, in turn, attracted huge blue dragonflies. I had several dragonfly escorts for the entire walk. Once in a while, one would swoop in and relieve me of a mosquito. Thank you, handsome dragonflies.

Last time I was at Spencer Island, an osprey was breaking off branches and putting them atop an electrical tower. It was the beginning of a new nest. Now that nest is complete, and an adult was standing in it (perhaps shading eggs or nestlings? Couldn't tell). Another adult flew directly over me while carrying a large wriggling fish. This looked pretty odd, since ospreys carry their fish facing into the wind (the most aerodynamic way to carry them, I guess). So the huge bird appeared to have a live fish swimming directly under her belly, like a remora under a shark. That, or the osprey was taking her pet fish for a fly in the sky. Strange, but cool-looking.

A quarter-mile away from the first nest, I saw another occupied osprey nest, apparently several years old, since it was much taller than the new one (ospreys add to their nests year after year). The fishing must be good at the mouth of the Snohomish River to support so many ospreys.

Do you know where ospreys go in the winter? Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you can guess SOUTH -- but do you know how far south? Argent-frickin'-tina! That's some long migration, huh? I love ospreys.

I saw an unusual bird today. Well, unusual for THIS area, common elsewhere: I surprised a single mourning dove in the path. You don't often see them this far north. They're a nice, soft brown, they have lovely long tails, and they have a beautiful call (which my brother, Luke, can do an awesome imitation of).

I had to sit very still for a long time to catch a glimpse of an elusive Swainson's thrush (though their etherial spirally song could be heard everywhere). Or maybe it was a gray-cheeked thrush. Hard to ID those thrush dudes, especially in think underbrush (which is the only place you're gonna see them).

I found a deer carcass that I suspect had been chewed on by a coyote. Coyote poop was right nearby. Is that evidence too circumstancial?

I saw lots of other cool stuff today, but my blogging is cut short at this moment by parental obligations.

But before I go -- I did something today for the first time: I dyed my hair in order to cover up all the gray I've been getting. I'm pleased with the results, I guess. My hair is sure a uniform brown, though. Should I get it highlighted or something, now? Huh.

More later.


  • At 2:01 PM, Blogger Chris said…

    I didn't know nettles were good for eating (by humans or only caterpillars?)... do tell more! I have a patch of them that I've been trying to kill off (because they're in donkey's pasture, and I don't think he likes getting pricked).

    I like to alternate the donkey with the goats between the two pastures (because they eat different stuff), but I can't. The lower pasture has a fence that the goats have "figured out" -- so I'll be trying to thwart their next escape attempt with more fence wire -- probably today in the near-100-degree heat. Ugh.

  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Forrest Cook said…

    Eh, mourning doves are some of the stupidest birds I can think of. Pretty birds, but pretty stupid as well. They routinely nest in the barest tree they can find it seems (they nest in one of ours, right next to a nice one that has more than two branches) and fly into our windows constantly. It's a good thing they're attractive, otherwise how would they get by in the world?

  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    Chris -- Nettles are fine eating for people (not just caterpillars), especially as a potherb.

    There are some good-sounding recipes for nettle soups on the web, though I haven't been bold enough to try them yet. Every spring I see people around here harvesting new nettle shoots with thick gloves.

    Here's an old Scottish rhyme about the health benefits of nettles:

    "If they would drink nettles in March, and eat mugwort in May,
    So many fine maidens wouldn't go to clay."

    Sorry that your goats are escape artists!

    Forrest -- Nope, doves aren't the brightest bulbs, for sure. :-)

  • At 2:08 AM, Anonymous chasmyn said…

    Yay! You posted! Sounds like an awesome day, too.

  • At 5:40 PM, Blogger Benevolist said…

    Man, I don't know whether its fitting or ironic that I imitate a stupid bird.

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger Khavren said…

    I always thought it was just thistle roots that were edible

    How about some blond streaks? I've always liked that color combo

  • At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Danielle said…

    I personally think you would look amazing with a more natural brown hair base with lighter brown highlights. You have the complexion to pull it off as well.
    I had to smile about your dagonfly escorts. Dragonflies always remind me of my Bailey.
    I've missed you. I'm happy to see you post.

  • At 5:06 PM, Blogger Adrienne said…

    I didn't even know that dragon flies ate mosquitos, hmm...shows how nature saavy I am!


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