West Seattle Blog... » Wildlife http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:32:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Miss this weekend’s orca visit? See them on video! http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/miss-this-weekends-orca-visit-see-them-on-video/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/miss-this-weekends-orca-visit-see-them-on-video/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 06:02:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=293061

No West Seattle sightings today that we’ve heard of, but Saturday, Southern Resident orcas passed our area headed southbound in the morning, and then back northbound in the afternoon (as reported here – thanks again to everyone who shared location updates!). “Diver Laura” James was watching from the Brace Point area during the northbound pass, and shares the video above (we mentioned it briefly in last night’s sea-star report but you might have gone right past the link). Note that the boat with the orcas in the last two minutes was carrying researchers.

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West Seattle scenes: Sea-star sighting, and a video review http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-scenes-sea-star-sighting-and-a-video-review/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-scenes-sea-star-sighting-and-a-video-review/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 11:46:01 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292938

A sea star wasn’t always such a memorable sight on a tidepool walk. Saturday night, though, we were glad to hear some were spotted in Constellation Park during a nighttime low-tide walk with Seattle Aquarium naturalists. The photo is by Antonio Ventimiglia, shared by Tom, who spotted the exploration event (sorry we didn’t have it on our calendar; turns out two more are coming up in December and January, and tonight you might just want to explore the beach yourself, as the tide will be out to -2.3 feet around 11:20 pm Sunday). Back to the sea stars; you’ll recall a new report earlier this week suggested a not-so-new virus might be factoring into the massive die-off. “Diver Laura” James, who has long been watching and investigating the sea star situation as a “citizen scientist,” went back to survey in Cove 1 near Seacrest shortly afterward; she shares this video spanning 8 years, from a time of plentiful starfish, to now:

Before and after Sea Star wasting syndrome – Cove 1 West Seattle – footage spanning 8 years from Laura James on Vimeo.

P.S. Laura was out whale-watching Saturday afternoon, as were many others – here’s her video, featuring a multitude of spouts as the group of orcas swam in nearby waters.

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West Seattle whale watching: Orcas traveling past us again http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-headed-this-way/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-headed-this-way/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:53:11 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292857

(Photo by Trileigh Tucker)
8:53 AM: Southbound orcas were seen from the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry about half an hour ago, according to a thread on the Orca Network Facebook page. That could place them off our shores now or soon. Still blustery out there, so you’ll almost certainly need binoculars (also, sounds like they’re closer to the east side of the Sound). Let us know if you see them!

9:38 AM: In comments, Gary noted them passing Alki Point, and we’ve since received Jeff Hogan (Killer Whale Tales)’s text report of a Lincoln Park-area sighting, still southbound. This time of year, they are chasing the chum salmon run – same one that has brought net fishers into view in the past few weeks – so here’s hoping they are finding the food they need for survival.

(Photo by Paul B)
2:27 PM: See comments for the orcas’ travels since then. Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail has just posted on Facebook that they’ve turned back northbound and could be passing south West Seattle shores again by 3 pm if they continue their current path. We’ve also added photos from earlier.

3:37 PM: Donna just called – the whales are visible from Lincoln Park, with the blows visible from this side, and she’s off to the South Alki area in about 10 minutes – look for a pod of people watching from shore (she brings excellent binoculars).

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West Seattle salmon: Help Puget Soundkeeper scout, and save, Longfellow Creek coho http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-salmon-help-puget-soundkeeper-scout-and-save-longfellow-creek-salmon/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-salmon-help-puget-soundkeeper-scout-and-save-longfellow-creek-salmon/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:04:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292765

(Photos by Torin Record-Sand for WSB, unless otherwise credited)
Tomorrow morning, you’re invited to join Puget Soundkeeper Alliance for a walk along Longfellow Creek in North Delridge, as the group continues to investigate the health of local salmon. We got a preview by joining Kathryn Davis and Michelle Piñon from Soundkeeper on Wednesday as they were joined by Elissa Ostergaard, a creek steward from South King County.

As WSB readers had reported earlier this month, they say they’ve seen many coho in the creek. We didn’t see any live fish on Wednesday, perhaps because of the semi-long dry spell (now over), but we did learn what you can find out from a dead fish, once one was spotted:

First, Ostergaard pulled it out of the water:

Then it was measured – and finally, Kathryn looked inside:

That one spotted underwater just north of the “fishbone bridge” was believed to be a hatchery-bred female that had spawned – no eggs found inside. Soundkeeper is focusing on pre-spawning mortality, in hopes of supporting further work to clean up the creek and keep out toxic runoff that can kill a fish within hours of contact – read more about their work here. Two weeks earlier, Davis told us, they had done another spot survey, finding 10 dead salmon:

(Photo courtesy Puget Soundkeeper Alliance)
She told WSB, “Of the 8 females, 5 had died before spawning. It is too hard to tell with the males, although both still had milt in them.” Today’s rain could bring more salmon in from the creek’s “mouth” – a pipe opening on the Duwamish River – and/or it could surface more dead salmon that we didn’t see on Wednesday. Join the walk tomorrow at 10 am and you never know what you’ll see:

RSVP to michelle@pugetsoundkeeper.org if you see this in time – or just show up at Dragonfly Pavilion, which is at 28th SW and SW Dakota. And if you’re inspired to take better care of our waters …

tox-ick.org has simple advice on what you can do, personally, for starters. (You can also ask Soundkeeper about volunteering for a full-scale salmon watch on Longfellow next year.)

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Reader report: ‘Construction project’ in Lincoln Park treetop http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/reader-report-construction-project-in-lincoln-park-treetop/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/reader-report-construction-project-in-lincoln-park-treetop/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:19:59 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292643

Thanks to West Seattleite Art Cazares for the quick clip and this report:

It has been one or two years since I last witnessed the birth of a new clutch “eaglets” at Lincoln Park, in West Seattle. I watched meticulously last time the Bald Eagles produced their clutch resulting in two chicks; one which died or fell out of the nest. Even more exciting, was to witness the successful raising on the one chick who grew into young adulthood and eventually flew away. Many at the park marveled each day and set up cameras and lawn chairs to witness the daily feedings and events.

Well, I’m pleased to report that the eagles have returned and once again; the warbled communication of their cries can be heard as they rebuild the nest that was partially destroyed by wind storms just a couple of months ago. I’ve included footage that i took just yesterday as the female returned to her nest with twigs and branches. It’s exciting to see that this mated pair might be planning for a new family next year. I’ve been to Lincoln Park 3 days in a row in the early morning to witness this rebuilding.

If you stand below the nest (which is about 100 feet up), you can see many branches sitting at the base of the trunk of the evergreen tree…auspiciously, the eagles have done some remodeling! :)

Cheers and best of luck to the “love birds!”

Just might be the same eagle photographed by Trileigh Tucker and shown here two weeks ago (or that eagle’s mate)! (She also documented, 2 years ago, the eaglet that Art mentions.) Read more about bald eagles here.

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Sea-star deaths: New research points to not-new virus http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/sea-star-deaths-new-research-points-to-not-new-virus/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/sea-star-deaths-new-research-points-to-not-new-virus/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:23:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292374

(File photo courtesy Laura James)
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James, who long has worked on the sea-star die-off mystery as a “citizen scientist,” for the tip on this: New scientific research says a virus is the likely culprit in the deaths of so many of what are commonly known as starfish. The Seattle Times (WSB partner) published a report this afternoon, pointing to the research paper itself (read it here), which concludes, “Based on our observations, the densovirus, SSaDV, is the most likely virus involved in this disease.” However, the researchers note, this isn’t a new virus, so they still don’t have the big picture of what’s happening and what it might lead to.

P.S. It’s been a year since Diver Laura first pointed out die-off evidence on West Seattle shores/in West Seattle waters, and she’s continuing to follow up on what’s happening now.

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Fauntleroy Creek coho season: Not just about the fish http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/fauntleroy-creek-coho-season-not-just-about-the-fish/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/fauntleroy-creek-coho-season-not-just-about-the-fish/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:45:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291755

That short clip by Elizabeth Butler shows the first two coho spawners spotted this fall at the mouth of Fauntleroy Creek south of the ferry dock, back on October 25th. That’s how the volunteer salmon-watchers’ season started; now, after more than a week without sightings, it’s ended. Here’s the wrap-up report from Judy Pickens, including the visitor count as well as the fish count:

Salmon Watch 2014 on Fauntleroy Creek closed Nov. 7, a week after volunteers documented the last of 19 coho spawners to come into the creek.

Eleven volunteers watched for nearly three weeks, recording the first fish on Oct. 25, a day ahead of the annual salmon drumming. They noted spawning behavior at two locations and saw a third pair heading upstream at dusk with enough energy that they may also have left fertilized eggs. Spawning locations will be monitored in late January/early February to see if fry emerge to start feeding in the creek.

In addition to the fish, volunteers welcomed at least 190 visitors to see the action and learn about salmon and the creek habitat.

This fall marked the 20th anniversary of coho spawners in Fauntleroy Creek. Restoration activity happened just in time for a pair of fish to come in at high tide in 1994 and spawn a few yards up the creek. Since then, the number of spawners has fluctuated wildly, from zero some years to the record-smashing 274 recorded in 2012.

Thanks to Judy and to Dennis Hinton for sharing information and photos during the watch (not to mention other times of the year, including spring, when volunteers host schoolchildren at creekside, releasing salmon fry raised by their classes).

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West Seattle whale-watching: Humpback said to be back http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-humpback-said-to-be-back/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-humpback-said-to-be-back/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 17:02:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291381 Quick note for whale fans: We’ve received a couple reports that the humpback seen in the area recently is in the Lincoln Park vicinity right now.

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The Whale Trail’s Orca Talks: Southern Resident Killer Whales’ status next time; protection-zone proposal last time http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/the-whale-trails-orca-talks-southern-resident-killer-whales-status-next-time-protection-zone-proposal-last-time/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/the-whale-trails-orca-talks-southern-resident-killer-whales-status-next-time-protection-zone-proposal-last-time/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:16:19 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290503

(2012 photo by Rick Rasmussen)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Ten years after they were formally listed as endangered, what do we really know about Puget Sound’s endangered orcas, formally known as the Southern Resident Killer Whales?

Next Tuesday (November 11th), you’ll hear answers from Northwest Fisheries Science Center researcher Dawn Noren, during The Whale Trail‘s next Orca Talk in West Seattle.

One of the focal points of her research is how boat traffic affects the whales. And that was at the heart of The Whale Trail’s first Orca Talk of the season, last Thursday at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor).

During that event, Bruce Stedman of Orca Relief talked about his organization’s proposal of a zone in the San Juans where boats would have to keep a greater distance from whales than they do now. He said it’s not the only action that’s needed to help them – but it’s the one that could make a difference the quickest. Pointedly, he noted that the recovery plan originally envisioned up to 115 Southern Resident Killer Whales by 2015, but that is at this point beyond impossible … that’s three dozen more than the current population, which has had only one birth in the past two years, the calf that is now missing and presumed dead.

He says the protection zone (see it here) is “an idea that really has its roots in the regulatory process of 2009-2011″ in that “vessel noise and disturbance was one of the three major factors disturbing the whales,” which led to the rules about how far away boats had to stay from whales. “They also suggested a protected area of some kind,” which led to “so many negative reactions that they withdrew the (idea) before the regulations were finalized.”

The idea was supposed to be taken up “expeditiously” – but three years have gone by, and now the population is down to 78 whales, and time is running out.

Stedman was the first curator of The Whale Museum, and then had been away from the region for a long time. “When I moved back to Seattle,” he said, he was asked, to try to “take the next step on figuring out how to (help) the Southern Resident Killer Whales.” He and his group are aware that many don’t think there needs to be a protected area; he does, and hopes to win people over to his belief that minimizing noise and disturbance is “absolutely necessary for recovery.”

What would constitute recovery? In 2005, when listed as endangered, a recovered population would have 115 whales by 2015, 155 by 2028. “Clearly, we’re not even going in that direction.” Federally designated critical habitat “is there, but is not very effective.” The value of a restricted one is this, he said: “What we really need is to enable the whales to have a sufficiently free area for communicating, for resting, and in particular, for hunting.”

Right now, according to Stedman, the SRKWs “are no better off than they were three decades ago.” And, “the breeding-age females (16) are the heart of the matter.” The males are assumed to be able to breed the whole length of their life. Juvenile females are in dire straits, while juvenile males are in a slightly more promising pattern.

And as for the next generation: “It IS tragic that the baby who was born died but what’s more tragic is that there had only been one birth in the past two years.” There should have been three births in that time, with one or two survivors, he said.

Before the Puget Sound captures last century, the population might have peaked at 200 to 300 around 1900 – might possibly have numbered as many as 1,000 around 1700 – and there might have been 130 or so in pre-capture times, he said.

Low chinook returns, plus whale-watching boats, plus private boats, plus large ships, equal starvation, Stedman said. “They start to absorb their own blubber, because they are hungry,” and that means they absorb the toxins stored in their blubber. And all that leads to declining reproduction, he said. “And when you have a very weak population – which this is – they’re just sitting ducks for an oil spill or a disease outbreak.”

The remedies include steps that might not reap benefits for decades – “a lot more salmon, which everyone agrees with; and reducing the toxic load.” And then, to Orca Relief’s proposal: Reducing noise and disturbance with a whale protection zone can be done relatively quickly and with a lot of benefit, he said.

The location where they propose a protection zone is six to 12 square miles, “less than half a percent of the entire critical habitat,” he said. “We want to focus the design on hot spots for feeding, important places for resting (and) communicating.”

He went into details about how the boats can affect the whales. And as far as whale-watching is concerned, he brought The Whale Trail’s land-based viewing enhancement into it – including proposed viewing sites along Vancouver Island. In the San Juans, he said, “there’s lots of precedent for this kind of thing.”

They want the feds to start a review process as soon as possible. They’re also concerned about a proposal to increase shipping traffic. But the proposal they’re making is mostly about smaller, whale-watching boats. And they want the Fisheries Service to start studying it. Also to be looked at: Conflicts with commercial salmon fishing. “We’re not saying there shouldn’t be any fishing in the protection zone, but (something has to be worked out) so that while the whales are there, the engines are affecting them.”

Other “regulatory things that need to be looked at” that he mentioned: Air pollution (from lots and lots of small boats), and, “We think there ought to be a permit system for whale-watching.”

Questions included how the zone would be “labeled” so that it could be enforced as necessary – it would be on navigational charts, for example, he said, and contended that it would not be detrimental to whale-watching industry, which he estimated includes 75 boats and 20 companies “from Anacortes to Victoria and Vancouver.”

It could be an overall tourism-industry concern, though, someone pointed out.

The reply: “At what point would you accept (rules) more rigorous because the decline is so serious? 70? 65? 60?” He also points out that a time might come when there are no whales in Puget Sound, not just because they are dead but because they are spending all their time on the outer coast. “Our intention is that sometime in the next year a public process would be established by the service, and then everyone will have the chance to comment.” For now, he said, he had a meeting coming up with an official involved in marine-mammal research policy; also, his group has an online petition. “(The orcas) might be able to eke through if they weren’t bothered all the time .. let’s get a zone in place and find out. It certainly can’t hurt.”

Sandstrom clarified that The Whale Trail has not endorsed the idea but “we are profoundly opposed to the idea of the whales going extinct … we cannot sit and watch this (decline) happen. … The whale-watching industry is a welcome participant in this conversation … I envision everybody at the table, and we come up with something that works for everybody and especially the whales … they’re going to disappear in 100 years if this population (trend) continues. … Everybody wants somebody else to do something; the thing I learned from Springer is, what can *I* do?”

‘Diver Laura’ James chimed in, “We are all stakeholders.”

Before Stedman’s presentation that night, here’s what attendees heard about:

THE WHALE TRAIL UPDATE: Sandstrom recapped her speaking tour since the last Orca Talk in April – beyond the Northwest. “Great crowds gathered to hear about the whales and learn what they can do … people are becoming aware of them and concerned about them,” and understanding that the future of the salmon, as far south as Monterey, California, is intertwined with the future of these orcas. The Whale Trail itself extends that far south now with “new sites and signs”; Point No Point in Kitsap County is the next site to be added, She said. “If you know a site that should be on The Whale Trail, let us know.”

Orca experts on hand, as Sandstrom pointed out, included West Seattleite Mark Sears, and reps from the Vashon Hydrophone Project and WildOrca.org, a pilot-founded organization that is working to get a Kenmore Air plane “painted like an orca,” Sandstrom noted.

SEAL SITTERS UPDATE: Lynn Shimamoto from Seal Sitters updated the group with sad news; the number of dead pups is way up, number of responses overall is way down. She talked about the first pup of the season, Luigi, who was newborn – a lanugo (premature) pup – but whose mom was never seen. He had to be taken to PAWS but they couldn’t save him. “So the start of our season was kind of distressing.” You can read other pupdates at Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.

DIVER LAURA/TOX-ICK.ORG UPDATE: “A whole lot of people are working really, really, really hard to reduce the flow of toxic runoff into Puget Sound.” But, we “all need to kind of buck up and do our part,” she said. She explained how she got involved with the “Don’t Feed the Toxic Monster” program – she’d been shooting underwater video of runoff, and now she could help people learn how to cut down on what makes that runoff toxic. (See the “7 simple solutions” here.)

AGAIN, THE NEXT WHALE TRAIL TALK … is next Tuesday with Dawn Noren, 7-8:30 pm November 11th, doors open at 6:15 pm, talk begins at 7, at C & P Coffee (5612 California SW). $5 suggested donation for tickets, kids free – buy online ASAP to guarantee a seat. Read more about the planned talk and the speaker on The Whale Trail’s site.

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West Seattle whale watch: Humpback travels past our shore http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watch-one-northbound-off-beach-drive/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watch-one-northbound-off-beach-drive/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 21:27:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291165

1:27 PM: Thanks to two tipsters who have mentioned a lone whale – believed to be a humpback – headed northbound, fairly close to West Seattle’s shore. By Me-Kwa-Mooks on Beach Drive, according to the phone call we just received. Let us know if you see it!

4:43 PM: As commenters noted, it traveled into Elliott Bay. Wade tweeted the photo we’ve added above.

THURSDAY MORNING: 7:30 am sighting near Seahurst in Burien, according to the Orca Network FB page.

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West Seattle coyotes: Yes, they come out in the daytime http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-coyotes-yes-they-come-out-in-the-daytime/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-coyotes-yes-they-come-out-in-the-daytime/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:03:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291138 Here’s the latest proof of that:

That photo is from Scott, who says the coyote was “right in the front yard” at 39th and Graham, 8 am today. *Added – an 8:20 am photo from Jamie, same area*:

Another sighting this morning, via Twitter:

And Robyn saw one “run west up the sidewalk on Rose Street west of 35th” around 5 o’clock Tuesday evening.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE ONE? As the experts advise – do everything you can to scare it away. Yell, wave, throw rocks. That’s what experts urge, to encourage them to keep their distance. And remove every source of food you can (that includes outdoor pet food as well as small pets themselves, although experts say they more often eat small wild animals such as rats).

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Happening now: Watch for coho at Fauntleroy Creek http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/happening-now-watch-for-coho-at-fauntleroy-creek/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/happening-now-watch-for-coho-at-fauntleroy-creek/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 20:47:54 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290763

19 coho so far this week but none yet today, according to Fauntleroy Creek steward Judy Pickens, who is out today along the otherwise-private reach of the creek, talking with visitors, until 3:30 pm.

To get there, walk down the private driveway that’s off Director, off the northeast end of the creek overlook that’s across Fauntleroy Way (and up the embankment) from the ferry dock, and go around the house to find the path down to the creek. Judy was at the second footbridge when we stopped by.

3:47 PM P.S.: If you didn’t make it there today, you have another chance tomorrow, 12:30 pm-3:30 pm. More than a dozen people already had visited by the time we were there; one visitor was visiting Seattle from Boston!

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Fauntleroy Creek salmon update, and an invitation http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/fauntleroy-creek-salmon-update-and-an-invitation/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/fauntleroy-creek-salmon-update-and-an-invitation/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 02:10:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290638 Volunteers at Fauntleroy Creek have now counted 19 coho this week, and since the weather’s cleared up and there’s a chance of more fish, they invite you to come take a look this weekend. From Judy Pickens:

Salmon-watch volunteers on Fauntleroy Creek invite anyone who is interested to come down to the spawning reach on Saturday or Sunday afternoon between 12:30 and 3:30. Seeing coho spawners isn’t guaranteed but this “open creek” will be a chance to learn more about salmon and their habitat. Children are especially encouraged to come. Park on upper Fauntleroy Way SW, above the ferry terminal, and access the reach down the private driveway at 4539 SW Director Place.

Here’s a map.

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West Seattle coyotes: Halloween sightings, and more http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-coyotes-halloween-sightings-and-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-coyotes-halloween-sightings-and-more/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 01:10:33 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290628 Two coyote reports this Halloween: Paul tweeted about one in Fauntleroy, at California/Director, and we got a text about a “skinny coyote” near California/98th in Arbor Heights. Other reports in the past week or so include another one in Arbor Heights last Sunday, in which a coyote was interrupted while killing a cat (39th/100th); Upper Morgan (38th/Morgan); Puget Ridge (18th/Myrtle). If you’re new or haven’t seen these reports before, over the past six years we have received reader-reported sightings just about everywhere in West Seattle. This information from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife explains what to do if you see one (short answer – scare it away). Our previous coyote reports are archived here.

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West Seattle birdwatching: Brown pelican seen off Alki http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-birdwatching-brown-pelican-seen-off-alki/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-birdwatching-brown-pelican-seen-off-alki/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:21:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290373

Thanks to Guy and Joy Smith for another unusual Alki Point sighting – a brown pelican. They report it “rested on the water just north of Alki Point (Wednesday) before it headed south around the point.” Though the photo is from a distance, it’s clear from the pelican’s coloring that it’s a mature brown pelican – the ones that are truly “brown” are juveniles, like this one that hung around West Seattle for a while in early 2013. They are more common the further south you go, but generally keep to the seacoast and aren’t often seen on inland waterways like ours.

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