Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21 ~ rising water

You’ll be forgiven if you think it is always a beautiful sunny day at the Estuary.  I can assure you that is not the case!  The past few days have brought torrential rains with them.  It isn’t that I don’t venture out in inclement weather, in fact I prefer it ~ but I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had a chance to get down there until today….

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here we are in the boat launch area.  Compare this picture to the one in the previous entry and you will see the water level is much higher than it was….thanks to all that rain.

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I’m standing right on the path and there is water in this low area right up to the path…but fortunately, not on to it.  This is one of the lower spots and is the first place to fill up with water and the last spot to dry out after water events.

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There was a lot of carrying on as I took the water level picture.  I could hear Killdeer but I also spotted these 4 shorebirds at the edge of the water.  Even with my binoculars I couldn’t be absolutely positive, but I think they are Pectoral Sandpipers.  I have seen Pectoral Sandpipers out on the estuary in the past, a few seem to pass through most years.

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By now we’ve reached the first bay and you can see that the gravel bars have pretty much disappeared and the bay itself, that was dry, is now full of water.

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Here is looking back into the bay itself.  The viewing platform isn’t visible behind all the vegetation but it is there, and take note of those big Poplar Trees ~ we call them the ‘Eagle Trees’ and the reason for the name will become obvious over the next few months.

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Just another look….at where the water level stands…

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I’m tossing this picture in at this point…this is called ‘King’s Cup Gentian’ and I can honestly say I’ve never seen it growing anywhere but the grasslands here at the Chehalis Estuary.  I’m sure it must grow in other similar habitats  in the general area, but the problem is that there aren’t that many similar habitats, which is why this area is so special.  King’s Cup Gentian are just coming into flower now and will flower into October.  The flower never opens any further than what you see here.

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While at the first bay, I watched a flock of about 20 American Pipits land…there are at least 3 of them on the foreshore of this picture ~ American Pipits are commonly found out on the flats, especially during the fall.  I will try and dig out some better pictures of them to post, but for today, this was the best I could do.

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So now we are at the log bay.  Remember how I said those logs made good water measuring sticks?  well compare today with the last entry and you’ll see what I mean.

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The area directly out from the log bay was high and dry….today it had Canada Geese swimming on it.  The Harrison River is no longer an invisible entity along the base of Mt. Woodside (hill in the picture), but has now spread right over the entire area.

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The geese were having a wonderful time splashing and bathing….but didn’t manage to capture any of them actually in the act!

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There had been one Great Blue Heron in the area, fishing, when another flew in….this resulted in the ‘fishing dance’….this is ‘my’ area! not yours!  The other one flew a bit further along where he also huffed and puffed and strutted about.

No pictures of them but I should mention that there is a fairly large flock of Evening Grosbeak in the area right now, there has been 1 Band Tail Pigeon hanging about for a few days and the numbers of Dark Eyed Junco are on the rise while the Barn Swallows and Swifts that have been around for the past few weeks seem to have headed south.

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