Wildlife 1574 results

NEXT WEEKEND: Nighttime low-tide beach walk at Constellation Park

(December photo by James Tilley)

They did it in December, and Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists are returning for another nighttime low-tide beach walk at Constellation Park south of Alki Point. They’ll be at the beach next Saturday (January 29th), 7-9 pm. The tide won’t be out quite as far it was during the December beach walk, but far enough for (careful) exploration: -2.4 feet at 8:39 pm. No need to pre-register – just show up.

WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: From bay to branches

Thanks to everyone who’s sent photos enabling us to publish another Sunday bird gallery! Above, Stewart L. spotted a flotilla of waterfowl in Elliott Bay. Below, Tom Tulin caught a lone duck ready to take the plunge at Lincoln Park:

Matthew Olson photographed a Belted Kingfisher keeping a lookout onshore:

Moving inland, two Northern Flickers, courtesy of Chi K Photography:

From Trileigh Tucker, a Townsend’s Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler:

Three divergent perspectives of Anna’s Hummingbirds feeding – photographed by Bandit, sipping from rosemary:

Jon Anderson, with an aerial view:

And Jerry Simmons, in silhouette:

Theresa Arbow-O’Connor‘s resident Steller’s Jay struck a pose:

And we conclude with an honorary guest, though photographed outside West Seattle, in Seward ParkBette Horishige is a fan of the bird galleries and sent in this Pileated Woodpecker

We appreciate all the photos, from birds to breaking news and beyond – westseattleblog@gmail.com is the best way to send something non-urgent – thank you!

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: 4 seals in 1 day as Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network’s busier-than-usual winter continues

That’s a harbor seal photographed during a visit to Alki (yes, with a long lens) by David Hutchinson with Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We asked him about other seal reports we’d heard this week, and he said a busier-than-usual season continues:

Every year is different, but traditionally the winter months see a tapering off in the number of Seal Sitters’ responses. Yesterday was an exception, with 4 calls to our Hotline about young harbor seal pups hauled out on West Seattle beaches.

The first was at Lincoln Park and after a period of time, it was decided to call in support from our partner, SR3 (Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research). Veterinary staff arrived, did a health assessment, and after consulting with Seal Sitters it was decided that the pup was in need of additional medical diagnostics and treatment. The pup was transported to their marine mammal hospital in Des Moines. SR3 responds at the request of marine mammal stranding network members, not from the general public, so if you come across a seal the first step is to call the Seal Sitters’ Hotline.

The other 3 calls concerned pups at different locations along Alki Ave, one of which was scared into the water by people and a dog coming too close while the reporting party was still talking with the Hotline. Harbor seals and other marine mammals are protected by federal law, and just a reminder that dogs are not allowed on Seattle Parks’ beaches. It is normal for these animals to rest on the beach, with young vulnerable pups not realizing the dangers of coming ashore in a dense urban area. The photo is of one of these Alki pups, where a protective perimeter was set up and staffed by volunteers who provided information to passersby.

If you come across a marine mammal, alive or dead on a West Seattle Beach, please keep back, ask others to do the same, and call the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.

If this helps you remember that number – it’s also 206-905-SEAL.


James Borrow, who often shares photos of interesting offshore sights, photographed that boat off Alki on Tuesday. We asked the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife what kind of research its crew was doing. Here’s what WDFW’s Chase Gunnell found out for us: “Our understanding is that boat is contracted by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to do test fishing (also known as catch sampling) for Puget Sound winter Chinook (also known as blackmouth) and other salmon in coordination with WDFW during the ongoing Marine Area 10 winter salmon season.” That season opened on New Year’s Day and is scheduled to run through the end of March, allowing fishing on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, with a daily limit of one salmon. Gunnell says WDFW has its own boat out test-fishing those three days, as well, and has staff doing spot checks at area boat ramps including Don Armeni – here are the charts of what they’ve found.

SIDE NOTE: This past weekend, we learned from Gunnell, some of the people fishing off West Seattle were participating in the annual Tengu Blackmouth Derby – a derby with an 85-year history. Here’s the story.

WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: 10 photos and a request

To commemorate the last Seahawks game of the year, here’s another “football Sunday” bird-photo gallery, thanks to WSB readers who have sent more fab photos of West Seattle sightings. Above, Mark Dale photographed two Pileated Woodpeckers in High Point. Below, a Belted Kingfisher, from Ann Anderson:

Jerry Simmons found a Steller’s Jay with what appears to be a frosted peanut:

Bald Eagles are in view around West Seattle – James Tilley photographed a not-yet-mature one:

Eileen Wurst was surprised to see one high up in a Highland Park tree, near 8th/Holden:

Another surprise sighting – Jon Wright says it’s unusual to see a Northern Flicker at his feeder, but one showed up in our recent snow:

On the water – Matt Olson photographed a Rhinoceros Auklet off Duwamish Head:

Great Blue Herons are always a mesmerizing sight – this photo is from Stewart L.:

This one’s from Tom Trulin:

Finally, a hummingbird photo from Jerry Simmons, and a request:

Community naturalist Kersti Muul is gathering data on how extreme weather affects hummingbirds – if you found any dead hummers, she has some questions for you in this survey

Meantime, thanks again to everyone sharing their sightings! westseattleblog@gmail.com is the best way to get us newsworthy photos of all kinds (if it’s urgent/breaking, text our hotline at 206-293-6302).

VIDEO: Cougar sighting reported in West Seattle

Watch the lower left of that enhanced security video and you’ll see what is reported to be a cougar (aka mountain lion), caught on camera near Westcrest Park in September. The video has just surfaced along with word of other suspected sightings – not on camera this time. We received the video and information via community naturalist Kersti Muul. She tracked down the video and the person who recorded it after first hearing about it earlier this week. After talking with him, she reports, “He has lived there for 40 years and has never seen anything like this. His house backs up to the greenbelt; a good travel route for the cougar.” She added in our email exchange, “I am assuming the cougar has moved on, which is good for all involved. It is my understanding that they don’t stay long when in urban areas. There were a few more sightings in the same area (Olsen Place SW/Westcrest Park/Roxbury) but none recently. To my knowledge, this is the FIRST confirmed Mountain Lion sighting in West Seattle.” Not the first in the city, though – for example, our friends at My Ballard noted one in Discovery Park a year ago. Find out more about mountain lions via the official state Fish and Wildlife Department page about them.

SNOWBIRDS: Your photos of frosty feathered neighbors

Thanks again for all the snow photos – including enough bird pics for a “snowbird” gallery before the night’s out!

Above, Michelle Green Arnson found a Golden-crowned Sparrow who didn’t seem terribly happy with the snow. Below, some birds were just hungry:

Robin Sinner photographed those Bushtits swarming suet. Fluid feeders were popular with hummingbirds today when the feeders’ keepers found ways to keep them from freezing:

That photo is from Rose De Dan, who says that’s her resident male Anna’s Hummingbird, and notes that these birds have to feed frequently to stay alive. Jerry Simmons photographed an Anna’s in daylight:

Two from Greg Harrington – a Chestnut-backed Chickadee:

And a Dark-eyed Junco:

And as we’ve seen in photos and video from Alki, the wintry weather reached down to the shore too – that’s where James Tilley found this Sanderling:

Thanks, bird photographers! P.S. As usual, we’ve linked all the species names to their pages on the Seattle Audubon BirdWeb site, where you can find out more about them, and you can even hear them.

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: The sight commonly mistaken for an orca

Thanks to Stewart L. for excellent photos of an offshore sight often mistaken for an orca – “sailing” sea lion(s). He photographed these earlier this week, “relaxing in style along the fence line just north of Don Armeni mid-morning. Very close to the shore because of the super high tide, which makes getting photos easier.”

We’ve featured this before, but seldom with this close of a view. As explained by David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network in this WSB report from 2019, sea lions raise their flippers to regulate their body temperature.

But if you do think you’re seeing wildlife in distress, not something normal like this, SSMSN is at 206-905-SEAL

WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: Christmas Day walk

Thanks to Jon Anderson for the woodpecker photo. If you love birds, and will have free time on Christmas afternoon, one of your neighbors is organizing a bird walk in Lincoln Park, 1 pm to 3 pm Saturday. “No experience necessary; all levels of expertise are welcome!” says volunteer naturalist Merle, who sent the announcement. We’re mentioning it in case you miss it among all the holiday info in our calendar. Full details here, including where in the park to meet.

Dead deer at Constellation Park

We’ve received multiple reports about this, and more are likely to see it since today’s sunshine is likely to bring out more beach walkers: A dead white-tailed deer is on the beach at Constellation Park, and it’s been reported to authorities. Deer sightings, dead or alive, are not common around here. Last deer report we had was in 2019, on Pigeon Point; in 2016, we chronicled weeks of sightings of a deer that WSB readers dubbed “Westley.”

SALMON IN SCHOOLS: The cycle begins again

(WSB photos)

Just weeks after the end of the biggest spawning season in nine years on Fauntleroy Creek, the Salmon in Schools program is starting another year. Teachers whose classes raise salmon for spring releases picked up eggs this week, distributed by longtime program volunteers Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland. Pickens explains:

Coho eggs arrived early for the 10 West Seattle schools participating in Salmon in the Schools this term. Schools normally get their eggs the first week of January, but warm water at the state’s Soos Creek Hatchery caused eggs to develop more quickly. Teachers and volunteers scrambled to settle their eggs in cold aquarium water before leaving for the two-week winter break. Students can expect to return from break to find alevin absorbing the food that sustains them for their first few weeks of life.

Students will help care for their fish while learning about salmon biology, habitat, and culture, then release them in upper Fauntleroy Creek in May. Habitat in the lower creek will be reserved for “home hatch” left by the 244 spawners that came in several weeks ago.

In our second photo above, Our Lady of Guadalupe School‘s Kelsey Fish is one of the teachers who stopped by to pick up salmon eggs. Other participating schools include Louisa Boren STEM K-8, Gatewood Elementary, Pathfinder K-8, Roxhill Elementary, Sanislo Elementary, Westside School (WSB sponsor), Fauntleroy Children’s Center, Cove School, and A Child Becomes.

FOLLOWUP: About the dead sea lion at Lincoln Park

10:15 AM: Last week we mentioned a dead, decomposing sea lion that had been seen floating in West Seattle waters and then turned up on the beach at Lincoln Park. It’s still there, and we’re still getting calls about it. Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network says it’s so large that Seattle Parks will need heavy equipment to remove it. We’ve been trying to find out about Parks’ plan and finally heard back late last night: A crew was planning to go out today to assess the situation and figure out what to do. They promised to let us know what the crew decides, so we hope to have an update later.

12:41 PM: Parks says the crew determined it’s too big to remove with the equipment they have in the area so “they are asking our Heavy Equipment crews to help. However, the renderer will not be able to get out until Thursday because of other commitments and tides.” (“The renderer” is for carcass disposition, as was also done with a dead seal at Alki last week.)

FOLLOWUP: Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network’s busy day on West Seattle beaches

That’s the Steller sea lion who showed up on West Seattle’s shore Wednesday, during a day when a dead California sea lion also drew a lot of attention. David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network sent this update (with photos) on their Wednesday responses:

Even though Harbor-seal pupping season is winding down, Seal Sitters had a very busy day yesterday. It started in the morning with a Harbor seal on the beach along the Alki promenade. Juvenile and adult Harbor seals are typically very skittish and choose quiet unoccupied beaches to hang out. After a brief rest, this seal returned to Puget Sound. Next came a report of a sea lion on the rocks along the shore of Elliott Bay near Duwamish Head. Sadly the day ended with a response to a California sea lion carcass that was washing ashore at Lincoln Park.

The sea lion on the rocks was of particular interest, as it turned out to be a live Steller sea lion, which we don’t see very often locally. It’s also very unusual to see any sea lion actually on the shore of West Seattle. I’m sure you’ve noticed all the California sea lions that prefer the tie-up buoys in Elliott Bay. Adult Steller sea lions are huge animals as you can see from the photo below [taken some years back] showing one surrounded by a number of California sea lions.

Yesterday’s Steller has some health issues and Seal Sitters will continue to monitor his condition if he keeps frequenting our local beaches. It’s important to remember that sea lions can be aggressive if ill or injured and can move fast on land. Do not approach if you come across one. To learn more about Steller sea lions check out the following link to NOAA’s fact sheet: fisheries.noaa.gov/species/steller-sea-lion

We want to thank all of you who reported these animals to the Seal Sitters’ Hotline yesterday including reports of the sea lion carcass at Lincoln Park. Seal Sitters depends on the public to let us know the location of any marine mammal you might come across on West Seattle beaches (alive or dead). We can then quickly get a volunteer on site to assess the situation. As a member of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Seal Sitters is authorized to request specialized assistance if necessary from our partners, SR3 (SeaLife Response Rehabilitation and Research, WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife), and World Vets. Our hotline (206-905-7325) is staffed by volunteer operators from 8 AM – 8 PM, 7 days a week. If calling outside those hours, please leave a detailed message.

In case you see it too: That’s a dead sea lion. (Update: And a live one too)

12:12 PM: We’re getting multiple reports today about this, so in case you see it too: What looks to some like a “dead baby orca” is actually a dead sea lion, likely the same one that’s been seen on and offshore for a few days now. Kersti Muul gave us first heads-up about it yesterday. The decomposed carcass appears to have a light patch, so that’s why some have mistaken it for an orca. If it washes onshore again, it can be marked with paint, and “hopefully scanned,” Kersti says. If it washes ashore in West Seattle, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network here is Seal Sitters, 206-905-SEAL; in other areas, the regional hotline is 866-767-6114.

4:28 PM: As Kersti noted in comments below, there’s a live sea lion on the Harbor Avenue shore, too – a Steller sea lion, not as common in our area. Stewart L. sent this photo while it was back out in the water:

WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: Postgame gallery

Thanks to WSB readers, we have enough bird photos for another “gameday gallery” – postgame, this time. First – two flashes of color – above, a Downy Woodpecker photographed by Michelle Green Arnson; below, an Anna’s Hummingbird, by Jerry Simmons:

Robin Sinner photographed this Bushtit:

Trileigh Tucker‘s photo shows Peregrine Falcons in Lincoln Park:

Dana Brown spotted a leucistic Crow along Beach Drive:

And we have three shorebirds – a Common Loon, from Rick Rasmussen:

Sharon Wada zoomed in on a Cormorant, dining:

And Matthew Olson photographed this Black Turnstone at Alki:

Thanks again to everyone who sent photos! And we’ll also remind you, there’s still time to sign up to participate in the Seattle Audubon Christmas Bird Count December 19th – even if you’re a casual bird-watcher and can only tally who shows up in your yard/at your feeder – can sign up here.

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seen during Friday night’s beach walk

(Photo by James Tilley)

Thanks for the photos! Last night turned out to be an excellent night to join Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists exploring the shore south of Alki Point during low-low tide.

That’s an orange snail fish, according to Brandy DeWeese, who took that photo and the ones below:

The beach naturalists will be at Constellation Park again on January 29th, 7-9 pm. If you want to explore on your own (carefully!), the low-low tides are even lower, and later, the next few nights – here’s the chart.

FOLLOWUP: Near-record coho count as Fauntleroy Creek salmon-watching season wraps

(Spawning pair, photographed by Tom Trulin)

By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog

The longest salmon watch since counting of coho spawners in Fauntleroy Creek started in 1999 ended Sunday with a near-record 244 fish.

(Photo by Judy Pickens)

The seven-week watch began in mid October, and a month later watchers were about to call it a day when the count stood at 10 – a typical number for this small creek. Then high tides, an “atmospheric river” weather system, and perhaps barometric pressure brought in the most spawners since 2012, when the tally was 274.

Read More

WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: Nine feathered neighbors – afloat, aloft, alighted

A Bufflehead coming in for a landing, photographed by James Tilley, starts this gallery of West Seattle bird photos shared by WSB readers, a periodic feature on football-game afternoons. Also seen in local waters, Harlequin Ducks, photographed by Michael Fischer:

Sharon Wada zoomed in on this Common Merganser snacking at Alki:

Two owl sightings:

Above is a Northern Saw-whet Owl that visited Jill Duffield‘s yard; below, @muddelicious tweeted us their photo of an owl (Barred?) just hanging out on a Delridge fence:

The ever-regal Bald Eagle is represented well in Mark Wangerin‘s photo:

In White Center, Samantha Burton photographed a Crow that neighbors have nicknamed “Beaky“:

That bird’s corvid cousins, Steller’s Jays, hang out – raucously – in Theresa Arbow-O’Connor‘s yard:

And we conclude with a daintier, speedier backyard bird, an Anna’s Hummingbird, photographed by Jerry Simmons:

Huge thanks as always to everyone who has shared their photos – westseattleblog@gmail.com is the best way to send us pics unless it’s breaking news, in which case you can text 206-293-6302 – thank you!

P.S. Bird lovers interested in participating in the Seattle Audubon Christmas Bird Count December 19th – even if you’re a casual bird-watcher and can only tally who shows up in your yard/at your feeder – can sign up here.

FOLLOWUP: More salmon show up in Fauntleroy Creek, and another chance to try to see them

As of this morning, the sudden surge of spawning salmon into Fauntleroy Creek has brought this fall’s total to 87. The last 11-foot-plus high tide for a while is at 3 pm today, so this might be your last chance for a look – Judy Pickens of the Fauntleroy Watershed Council says instructions are the same as yesterday, at or after 2 pm:

If you want to take a chance on seeing spawners, come to the fish-ladder viewpoint (SW Director and upper Fauntleroy Way SW, overlooking the ferry terminal). Catch the attention of a salmon watcher below and you’ll be invited down to the creek. Children must come with a parent, and dogs must be on leash. You may stay as long as the watcher does.

In case you don’t see them or can’t go look, here’s video by Tom Trulin (who also took the top photo):

Last year, volunteer watchers only counted two entering the creek; the last big year was 2012, when 274 were counted, but other recent years have brought smaller showings, especially 2015, when none were seen. The creek’s mouth is on private property near the Fauntleroy ferry dock, and it’s undergrounded through a culvert beneath Fauntleroy Way, daylighting beneath the overlook mentioned above. The Fauntleroy Watershed Council stewards the creek – we reported on the group’s 20th anniversary, and its hopes for more community involvement, in September.

FAUNTLEROY FISH: Storm draws salmon to creek. Here’s how to see them

(Photo by Palmer Richardson)

12:37 PM: More word of recent rains drawing salmon into local creeks! This time we have an update from Fauntleroy Creek, courtesy of Judy Pickens:

Nearly a month ago, volunteer salmon watchers began seeing a few coho spawners come into Fauntleroy Creek. After several days with no new fish, we were about to call it quits at seven but, because of tides at or exceeding 11 feet, we decided to keep going. By Sunday (Nov. 14), watchers had tallied 10 – a good year for this small creek.

Yesterday’s high tides were still high enough to give spawners easy access from Fauntleroy Cove. Watchers braved rain and gusty wind and were rewarded when spawners began to pour into the creek.

(Video by Dennis Hinton)
By dark, the tally had jumped to 48, the most in nine years. And it may not be over. Watchers will be back this afternoon to see if another very high tide brings in more.

If you want to take a chance on seeing spawners, come to the fish-ladder viewpoint (SW Director and upper Fauntleroy Way SW, overlooking the ferry terminal). Catch the attention of a salmon watcher below and you’ll be invited down to the creek. Children must come with a parent, and dogs must be on leash. You may stay as long as the watcher does.

Judy says a watcher is expecting to be there by 2 pm.

ADDED TUESDAY NIGHT: Thanks to Michelle Green Arnson for the photo of a fish she saw there today:

WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: Not another turkey, but close … maybe

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: First, a post in the WSB Community Forums noted a bird sighting believed to be a grouse – a bird that’s in the same family as turkeys. Then today, we received the photo above from Lisa, after a backyard visit near 35th/Andover. Our favorite source for bird ID’ing, Seattle Audubon BirdWeb, lists six species of grouse in the region. We can’t narrow it down. Can you? As Lisa observed, “It certainly wasn’t a normal thing in the neighborhood.”

FRIDAY NIGHT: Commenters’ consensus seems to be ring-necked pheasant.

Three seal pups rescued from West Seattle beaches are swimming free again

The report and photos were sent by Lynn Shimamoto of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

Seal Sitters is happy to announce that three seal pups rescued from West Seattle beaches have been successfully returned to the wild.

Back in August, Zach Ward happened to see Seal Sitters responding to “Cascade” at Alki across from Starbucks, and he took this photo of the emaciated newborn. Cascade still had an umbilical stump and was estimated to be 2-3 days old. Knowing the pup would die without immediate help, Seal Sitters captured Cascade for treatment at SR3’s marine wildlife hospital in Des Moines.

(Photo of Cascade by Zach Ward)

Seal Sitters took two more pups to rehab because of unsafe conditions. “Piccolo,” another very young pup prematurely separated from her mother, was picked up at Lincoln Park. “Sprinter” kept hauling out at busy spots from Alki to Seacrest where she was harassed by a dog. On Tuesday, all three were deemed healthy enough to go back in the wild. SR3 released the trio at a secluded beach on Vashon Island, along with a fourth pup nicknamed “Maury.”

(Photo by Lynn Shimamoto – Cascade at top, Piccolo at bottom, Sprinter and Maury not pictured)

Seal Sitters is thrilled that these pups were nursed back to health and given another chance at life.

If you see a marine mammal on a local beach, or one offshore that appears to be in distress, please call Seal Sitters MMSN at 206-905-SEAL (206-905-7325).

VIDEO: Salmon sighting in Longfellow Creek

MONDAY NIGHT: Thanks to Jacquelyn Crumpler for sending the video! Jacquelyn wrote, “Look what I found trying to figure out the dam by Dragonfly Park! This seemed to be the only one, but I only watched for 5 or so minutes.” A short guide to Longfellow Creek salmon-watching (including a map) is here; this creek has been less hospitable to salmon survival than Fauntleroy Creek because of factors including toxic urban runoff.

ADDED TUESDAY: John McIntyre also sends word of a salmon sighting and suggests the footbridge at Yancy Street (east of 28th) as a viewing spot.