Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Skagit Valley Morning


From Fir Island in the Skagit River Delta, Mount Baker presides over fog-shrouded Cascade foothills.  Click on the photo to enlarge it and look carefully.  You will spot Snow Geese flying past the Poplars.  Every fall, the geese return from the Siberian Arctic to spend the winter.  You can set the cosmic clock by their arrivals.  Altogether, the flocks are estimated to number between 60,000 and 75,000 birds.  While in North America, they divide their time between the Skagit and Fraser River deltas.  They are citizens of three countries.


These photos were taken from the Fir Island Farms Reserve which is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Shortly after arriving, I caught the geese moving from the Skagit Bay shoreline to a field near Fir Island Road.  Their movements are accompanied by a symphony of woodwind sounds.  Encountering the geese is always a marvelous and memorable wildlife experience.  This chilly autumn morning was no exception.  If you come to visit the site, be sure you have your Discover Pass.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Regatta


This past weekend, Indian Summer was in full bloom in downtown Anacortes, Washington.  Catamarans were also blooming at the Cap Sante Boat Haven.  Apparently there was a regatta underway, the U.S. Sailing Multihull Championship.  For landlubbers, it was a great photo-op.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Old Town


Anacortes, Washington on the northern end of Fidalgo Island was incorporated in 1891.  In the same year, Benjamin Harrison was the U.S. President and Victoria was Queen of England.  New York's Music Hall (now Carnegie Hall) opened with guest conductor Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes appeared in print for the first time.  In the year before, Vincent Van Gogh died in Auvers-Sur-Oise.  With a population just under 16,000, Anacortes is the second largest city in Skagit County.


The area north of Twelfth Street is known as Old Town.  The neighborhood features late nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture which has been carefully preserved.


In the heart of Old Town, the Watermark Book Company is a local favorite.  The elephant statue is new.


I haven't found the story behind this little statue, but according to feng shui, elephants near the front entry will bring happiness and prosperity.


Romanesque revival is one of the architectural styles of the Victorian Era.  It is characterized by semi-circular arches and horizontal belt courses.


Commercial Avenue is the main business district of Anacortes.  I am discovering how power lines seem to be a feature of almost every block.


This place is part museum, part modern hardware store and a popular destination for boaters.  I am told if you are looking for something old and rare, you will probably find it here.  It has operated continuously since 1910.


Anacortes industry includes boat building and repair.  The nameplate reveals the ferry to be the M/V SealthWe saw this boat sailing north in the Strait of Juan de Fuca last month.  This must have been where she was headed.











This Majestic Inn and Spa was built in 1889, the same year Washington gained its statehood.  I wish their website provided information about the history of the building.











Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fog


I woke up to fog this morning.  In the photo, Whidbey Island is almost completely obscured.  Around the Puget Sound region, September and October are the foggiest months.  Sometimes it can last for several days in a row.  At the time of the photo, the air temperature was 49.8° F (9.9° C), dew point 49.0° F (9.4° C), and the relative humidity was 97%.  Remember that fog will form when the difference between the temperature and dew point is less than 4° F (2.5° C), and the relative humidity is close to 100%.  Earlier, I couldn't see anything beyond the two fir trees.  Since I had to go into town this morning, I decided to go early and check out the Anacortes Cap Sante Boat Haven.  I wanted to see what the new camera could do in the fog.


We have seen the marina here before.  Cap Sante is a hook-shaped headland that creates a natural harbor adjacent to downtown Anacortes.  It is a large facility hosting both pleasure and commercial craft.  I think the total dollar value of the boats moored here would be an astonishing figure.  Enjoy this album of photos of Cap Sante in the fog.

There is a gull in one photo and a heron in another.  Can you spot them?













Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mount Baker


Contrary to folklore, the sun does come out in the Pacific Northwest.  Such was the case this past week and the day beckoned for a hike up the beach into Similk Bay.  I intended to do some beachcombing, but as I rounded the bend, Mount Baker came into sight, demanding my full attention.  I couldn't take my eyes or camera lens off of her.


Like Mount Saint Helens, Baker is one of the active volcanoes in the Cascade Range, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire.  This chain of volcanoes reveals the region affected by the Cascadia Subduction Zone.  Baker has been at rest since 1880, only occasionally emitting steam through vents at the summit.  The height of the mountain is 10,781 feet (3,286 meters), the third tallest in Washington State and the fifth tallest in the Cascade Range.  From my viewpoint, she is about 20 miles (32 km) away.


To the Native American Lummi, the mountain was Komo Kulshan, a handsome young man.  The Nooksak called it White Rock Mountain, Quck-Sam-ik.  The English name Baker honors a Lieutenant on Captain George Vancouver's ship HMS Discovery during the Vancouver Expedition.  As it happens, Kulshan's favorite wife was Duh-hwahk, whom we know today as Mount Rainier.


Two cormorants and a gull rest and dry their feathers under Baker's stoical gaze.



Weather Statistics for September, 2011

TemperatureHigh 76.3° FLow 46.2° FMean 59.0° F
Rainfall0.43 inches
WindHigh 34 mphAverage 1.5 mphDom Dir SW

Observed at South Fidalgo Island (See Climate page for complete climatological data)