Bird Sanctuary (Home school nature notebook)

Date: December 17, 1998

Thursday, 11 am, blue sky with white and gray cumulus clouds, no winds (amazingly!), 3 Celcius, 1 to 1 inches mixed snow and hailstones.

Peter, Wendy, and I (mom) walk along Trumpeter Drive side of Deltakla slough. We saw 2 groups of geese, about 1 to 2 dozen birds in each group, swimming in the middle of the slough. Flocks of small birds were grouped along the far (western) shoreline, and groups would rise and fly parallel, close to the ground, and then land farther down the shore. They made a sound like “gwak, gwak”.

The huckleberry and salmonberry bushes are bare of leaves, but the salal are still dark glossy green. Some salmonberry bushes have new buds. Rose hips on bare wild rose bushes are shiny and red, but squash easily underfoot.

Small burgundy-red berries stand on slim upright stems rising from the moss. A few are shriveled but most of the berries are firm and red. There are no leaves on the stems.

Many different kinds of moss can be seen on the bare branches of alder and other trees.

The tide is quite high, the water calm, and clear near the water’s edge. Bare gray spikes of alder rising from the water remind us of the change in the water level since the causeway has been breached, allowing the tides to return, and bringing back with them the bald eagles and many other bird species that were disappearing as the tidal mud flats became overgrown with scrub alder and grasses.

We saw an empty crab shell. Could it have floated in on the tide, or was it perhaps dropped there by a human, or by an eagle?

A flock of small birds is feeding along the bird-walk path. They allow us to get quite close before flying off into the bushes.

A few chunks of fungus grow on an old evergreen stump. They are about 3 inches thick at the thickest point, and quite lumpy in shape, with coloring ranging from yellow to brown.

An elegant black bird with deep blue tail watches us from a tree branch. Peter points out that the crown and crest are blue also. Our bird book identifies it as a Stellar’s jay.

As we return home we observe seagulls — some white with gray backs, some a speckled light brown (the bird book identifies the speckled ones as the young) — as well as ravens and crows feasting on the remains of cockle shells thrown on the roadshide by humans.

In our yard we observe some paw prints in the snow. They seem too rounded to be from our cat and definitely are not dog prints. The children suspect they are raccoon prints, as we have often seen ‘coons in our yard. They lead in a straight line, one by one, down the length of a log laying in the yard.