West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip to keep an eye out for orcas today – as of a short time ago, “Orcas are northbound again at entrance to Colvos Passage. Two groups today – one went south and is at Pt. Defiance.” That’s Tacoma, so you might not see them any time soon, but Colvos Passage is along the west shore of Vashon Island, so if those whales continue heading northbound, they will be in view from here. Let us know if you see them!
Lots more news in the pipeline … but more great bird photos have flown in lately, so here are nine:
Above, David Hutchinson explains, “This pair of Bald Eagles has been scavenging on the carcass of a young harbor seal (last year’s pup) on the beach along the 1500 block of Alki Ave at times the last two days. The sight has attracted a lot of attention from passersby and Seal Sitters has placed informational signage up along the walkway.”
Might be one of those same two in this photo from Gene Pavola:
Next are Raven fledglings at Lincoln Park, from Mark MacDonald:
He also photographed a Caspian Tern, the seabirds with prehistoric-sounding cries:
Mark Wangerin photographed a colorful Western Tanager:
From Ryan Minch, a leucistic Crow at Cormorant Cove during low tide:
And rom Larry Gilpin – even the ordinary House Sparrow can be eye-catching:
Big thanks to everyone who shares these photos reminding us who and what else lives on our wonderful peninsula!
Thanks to Laurence Shaw for this series of photos from Alki during low tide earlier this week.
He says, “I was lucky enough to witness a pair of Great Blue Herons battling over a spot of lunch near the 1300 block of Alki Ave SW.”
“Happy to report that the bird who made the catch ultimately held on to its prize.”
7:19 PM: Two tips in the past ~20 minutes report a whale northbound off west-facing West Seattle, toward Fauntleroy at last report. No report yet what species. Let us know if you see it!
7:45 PM: Humpback, says tipster Scott.
7:51 PM: Just got a call from Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail, who says it’s a juvenile humpback, moving quickly, should be off Alki Point soon.
By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
When school closures started in March, most of the 72 teachers leading Salmon in the Schools projects across the city immediately released their tiny fish into the wild on the chance that some might survive. In West Seattle, however, most salmon teachers found ways to keep growing their fish and to share releases electronically with their students.
Arbor Heights Elementary‘s tank tender Kristin Waitt Hutchinson spun into action as soon as the closure notice came. She quickly got a freshwater tank ready in her garage for the 150 coho fry she had been helping teacher Angie Nall care for at the school. Two months later, she brought the robust fish to Fauntleroy Park, where Angie shared the release as it happened with her students on Zoom. Read More
Thanks to Kersti Muul for word that there’s a humpback whale in the area, seen in Elliott Bay off Duwamish Head, a few hundred yards out. (If you’re not sure how to ID a humpback, check out this page from The Whale Trail‘s species guide.) Let us know if you see it!
It’s Wildlife in the City Week! Great reason to showcase more West Seattle bird photos:
Next two are from Mark MacDonald – a Wilson’s Warbler at Lincoln Park:
And a (corrected) juvenile Bald Eagle over Alki:
From Ann Anderson, mom Crow feeding baby:
You can learn all about Crows’ nesting/mating/etc. in this recent post by a Seattle Animal Shelter naturalist.
Speaking of which, if you’re out doing yard work, be careful! Don’t accidentally bring down a nest. Kelly Howard was out working in her yard and noticed this:
Her research suggested it might be a Bushtit nest.
Thanks as always to everyone sharing photos, from birds to breaking news – firstname.lastname@example.org or text 206-293-6302!
(WSB file photo of Jeff Hogan presenting Killer Whale Tales at a local school)
Learning can be fun … and free … AND focused on fascinating wildlife. Here’s an update from Jeff Hogan of West Seattle-based educational nonprofit Killer Whale Tales:
I have added two additional classes to our weekly lineup: Fish and Chips (what are whales eating and where it is coming from) and the Orca Acoustic Game Show (Learn individual whale calls and win prizes!) .
Classes are open to students of all ages and are designed to meet Washington State Science Standards. A full description and registration information is available here. All classes are being offered, as always, at no cost to the participant!
(Still time to get in on “Game Show” at 12:30 pm today!)
In the big group below are Surf Scoters, photographed by James Tilley:
The next two photos are by Mark MacDonald – first, Sanderlings:
Next, a Horned Grebe:
You’ll of course recognize the Bald Eagle, photographed by Raul Baron:
Hans A. sent the photo of American Goldfinches (our state bird):
And adorable baby waterfowl by Jim Clark:
P.S. Seems birdwatching is booming these days.
From wildlife watchers:
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: The photo taken earlier this week is from Bob Karnofski, who writes:
A seal pup was resting comfortably at Don Armeci boat launch. Seal Sitters – who I’ve volunteered with – aren’t staffing perimeters at this time, but the dock has barricade tape up as the pup has been here often. I was watching from a distance as a lady and her small child strolled down the dock to get a better look. This frightened the seal pup, who arose and dove into the water. Can you please remind readers that seals are protected and to leave them be and admire from a distance? Thank you. I took this shot with a zoom lens. You can see the pup looking up and getting anxious.
WATERFOWL: It has been a long time since we got photos of Common Loons – and this week we received two! From David Hutchinson, at Lowman Beach:
And from Mark MacDonald, at Lincoln Park:
WHAT THE HERRING LEFT BEHIND: Remember the recent herring-spawning event that drew seals/sea lions and birds off our shores? “Diver Laura” James has sent photos of the eggs on offshore sargassum:
Learn more about herring here.
P.S. More wildlife/bird photos this weekend – along with the rest of the news!)
Up for some evening whale-watching? Kersti Muul sends word that transient orcas are in view off Constellation Park (south of Alki Point) right now – “on a kill,” so no particular direction. Let us know if you see them!
A baleen whale has been making its way slowly northbound along West Seattle’s west-facing shores. The person who texted us from The Arroyos said it looks like a gray; now it’s off Point Williams in Lincoln Park, where Kersti Muul says that’s just been confirmed. If you’re near, or north of, there, be on the lookout!
It’s a bit blustery out today so you might not be going out on that neighborhood-nature walk. No worries – photos we’ve received will bring the wildlife to you! The photos above and below are from Mark MacDonald -above, a Bushtit; below, a Towhee:
Next, the local Golden Pheasant made an appearance in Matt S‘s Charlestown Hill yard:
Kyle Riley in Seaview sent this view he identified as a Red-Tailed Hawk:
Lura Ercolano photographed this Great Blue Heron:
From Brian Michel – you’ll recognize this species:
And Barry J. White shared this video of hummingbirds in a white pine near their home:
(Yes, we asked, and Barry assures us the drone was only used for views of the tree AFTER the nesting babies were gone.)
Thanks to everyone who’s sharing what they’re seeing!
Another amazing sight off West Seattle’s west-facing shores …
That photo by David Hutchinson, and the one below by Matthew Olson, show Bonaparte’s Gulls, not often seen around here, apparently drawn to our section of Puget Sound by the herring-spawning event we noted last weekend.
You can hear them in Robin Sinner‘s video:
We don’t know if these were the same birds, but the waters have drawn flocks for days – Jonny L. sent this sighting from last Saturday’s sunset:
On Sunday, “Diver Laura” James recorded this aerial view of how the spawning changed the water’s color:
As we showed you that day, it was also a big draw for sea lions – Diver Laura photoggraphed them too:
Jamie Kinney shared an aerial view of one as tt swam:
If you walk on the beach sometime soon, watch out for herring eggs – our 2017 story shows them close up.
12:22 PM: Those are just a few of the sea lions hanging out off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4503 Beach Drive SW) this midday, some “sailing” while taking a break from an all-you-can-eat brunch. Birds too:
Consensus so far seems to be that they are feeding on spawning herring.
That would seem to be borne out by the water color difference you can see in this reader-contributed video from Terence:
P.S. Thanks for all the tips on this!
ADDED 4:32 PM: Kersti Muul sends this photo of herring eggs on the shore:
And from Erica Sokoloff, two more Beach Drive sights – first, a tern (those are the birds with the prehistoric-sounding screech); second, a sea lion nosing out of the water:
ADDED LATE SUNDAY: Aerial view from “Diver Laura” James:
We asked Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s David Hutchinson about the phenomenon:
The Hotline has had a number of calls recently about sea lions offshore, with people expressing concern that they were entangled or injured. We encourage people to call and report these sightings to the Seal Sitters Hotline (206-905-7325) so we can keep track of this activity and just in case a sea lion is actually in distress. A couple weeks ago, our contact at WDFW reported there were herring spawn events in the area (Purdy, Indianola, Case Inlet) which are likely attracting those large numbers of sea lions. Most of these animals will be heading out of our area within the next month.
Not quite walking weather yet today – so enjoy some of these West Seattle bird photos! (Each species name links to more info.)
Next – by Mark Wangerin, a Red-breasted Sapsucker:
From David Hutchinson, a juvenile Bald Eagle:
And from Susan Romanenghi, an Anna’s Hummingbird on the lookout:
Thanks as always to everyone who contributes (we have more in queue, too!) – email@example.com.
Before Easter ends, bunny sightings from the inbox:
Along Alki Avenue this morning, Stewart L. saw that skateboarding “bunny.” Later in the day in Gatewood, Troy Sterk saw the more-common kind:
Also caught on video, more running than hopping:
Thanks again for all the photo contributions!
We’ve been saving up these contributed photos (THANK YOU!) over the past week:
Above, from Mindi Katzman; below, from Jeffrey Jones:
Below – if you saw this, you might think it’s a passing orca, but it’s not:
That’s a sea-lon behavior known as “sailing” (explained here in the past). Above, from Jim Spraker; below, from James Moore:
Later today, some great bird photos from the past week (not The Turkey, who by the way is still in Burien at last report!).
Thanks to Anne de Vore for the photo! Spending more time at home and in local neighborhood(s), you might be noticing wild rabbits. (She says that one’s been turning up in her yard around 5 pm daily; we’ve had one in our yard for a while too.) We don’t have stats but they seem to have become more common in the past few years. You can learn about bunny behavior via this state Department of Fish and Wildlife fact sheet.
As the one-year anniversary of its mysterious appearance nears, The West Seattle Turkey is back in the neighborhood where those early sightings happened.
WSB commenter “1994” texted that photo from north Arbor Heights tonight. Earlier, Emily K. photographed it in Upper Fauntleroy, near 36th/Cambridge:
Steve also reported a sighting there, while a texter saw TWST at 36th/Cloverdale: “I have always wanted to see her on a walk and then she appears right outside our yard! So cool!” The day began with Amy‘s sighting in Seaview:
TWST has covered a lot of ground in the past few weeks – south to Fauntleroy, then north to North Admiral, and now all the way south to Arbor Heights. BirdWeb says of the wild turkey, “They typically get around by walking although they can fly and often roost overnight in tall trees.”
The West Seattle Turkey is on the move again …
After hanging out a while in North Admiral, today we got three sighting reports from Genesee Hill. The photo above is from Larry; below, from Wendy, who explained, “Pleasantly perched in the upper right of the cherry tree, the famous West Seattle turkey! It’s the most exciting thing to happen to us in a month… ”
And via Twitter:
— Kristin (@kkSeahawks) April 8, 2020
Thanks as always for the photos!
More West Seattle bird sightings – thank you to all the photographers!
Above, the always-spectacular (and loud) Steller’s Jay, photographed by Mark Wangerin, whose photos we have featured so often with our daily calendar highlights – which are mostly on hiatus now in this eventless time! Below, a Brown Creeper, photographed at Lincoln Park by another Mark, from Nature’s Eye Photos:
And we’ve received several great views of Bald Eagles – here are two, first from Chris Frankovich:
And one spotted in mid-meal, photographed by Dan Ciske:
P.S. Want to help monitor how our current altered lifestyle is affecting birds? Check this out! (Hat tip KUOW.)
Thanks to everyone who sent photos of their encounters with The West Seattle Turkey, who spent the day in North Admiral:
Diane and Lorne Dyke sent that video of The Turkey at the door. Katie, meantime, found TWST on her deck:
Katie said, “He’s been here for hours and even our dog has gotten used to his presence.” Below, Grace Lee photographed a young passerby doing a doubletake:
Diana Niederberger sent the next photo, saying, “Thought readers would like to see the Turkey strolling on Sunset Ave in North Admiral.”
Jacob Bridge saw The Turkey at Sunset/Hill:
The Turkey apparently started the day near Stephen‘s house on 45th SW, around 6:30 am:
“My wife heard our dogs barking this morning and was thrilled to see The Turkey back in Admiral.”
TWST has now crossed the peninsula north to south twice – first turning up a year ago in Arbor Heights, eventually spending months in Admiral, then recently heading south for a stay in Gatewood, and now all the way to North Admiral. Where it’s originally from, no one seems to know.