Baby Pictures

Back in 2011, I wrote a post for Wild Fidalgo about Baby Pictures.  Blogger used to put a "Next Blog" link at the top of their pages for exploring other Blogger sites.  Every time I tried it, I always found myself mired in other people's baby pictures.  Not to be outdone, I wrote that post about Northern Flicker baby pictures.  I guess that's what Facebook is for now, and Blogger has removed the link.  I now have another opportunity to post my own "baby pictures" of sorts.

Meet Buddy

Buddy became my best friend last July through the services of the Washington German Shepherd Rescue group.  I haven't had a dull moment since.  He is estimated to be 2 years old, although some of us think he may be younger.  He acts like a big kid.  All we know of his history is that he was a stray.  All I know is that he is the most charming stray dog anyone could imagine.

Taking the photo above was an interesting challenge.  I am sitting with his ball held up in my left h…

Visit the Blog with a Secure Connection

Fidalgo Island Crossings may now be visited over a secure connection using the URL HTTPS://  Links and bookmarks using the unencrypted HTTP format should also work and redirect to the HTTPS environment.  If you are having difficulties, try switching the address to the HTTPS form.

Weather Data Missing?

Also, apologies are in order.  Visitors to the Weather page may have noticed  the weather data is missing.  The outfit that hosted this data was sold to a holding company.  On a day's notice all of their accounts were migrated to another host, something called Site5.  This immediately stopped the data feeds from the weather station.

At the new host, I had everything I needed except the remote path URL for uploading the data page.  For some reason, they could not simply tell me what that was.  Instead, I was confronted with pages and pages of confusing instructions and multiple options.  The bottom line, I was unable to get the feeds working with the new host.  Thei…

Landscaping the New House, Day 2: Planting

In the previous post, I described the gardens I found at the townhouse where I live now, and how they looked after the first day of landscaping work.  On the second day of work, several new plants were added to the beds.  As requested, the landscaper brought me five Rhododendron yakushimanum hybrids.  They're called "Yaks" in gardening lingo.  We planted one in the street-side bed.  Among my favorite rhododendrons, they grow to 3-4 feet high and wide.  The blossoms open a deep magenta, gradually turning pink, then white as they mature.  That little guy is obviously lonely in that bed.  I'll be doing some shopping to find him some companions that will add height, texture and color to this shady spot in front of the house.

The parent plant, R. yakushimanum comes from Yakushima Island, Japan, the namesake of the species.  The island has many features in common with Washington's Olympic Peninsula.  These include a temperate rain forest, a unique species of deer (her…

Landscaping the New House, Day 1

The 'Before' Garden

As I have mentioned previously, I moved last summer.  Part of my retirement planning included a smaller place that would be easier to take care of.  I found this townhouse in a planned community which was almost perfect for my needs.

I say almost perfect, because for an avid gardener, the plantings around this house were a bit of a disaster.  For starters, a small street-side bed (above) included a pair of overgrown rhododendrons that completely blocked the window.  My office is in that room, and it was frustrating to work at the computer and not be able to see out.  I don't know much about the history of the house or who lived here before.  I think it was vacant for a while before I moved in.  It may also have been a rental for a time.

The entry garden was in very sad shape.  A potentilla shrub (left) had died before I moved in.  They require regular watering, but it got none during last summer's drought.  On the right is a California Lilac, probab…

Confused Rhododendron?

This is a photo I took this morning of a rhododendron blooming in the cul-de-sac where I live.  It is the last day of January.  Several plants are doing this around the complex.  Prime rhododendron season is April to July.  There are a couple of reasons to see blooming at atypical times:
There are early/winter blooming rhododendron varieties such as 'Christmas Cheer' or 'PJM'They sometimes get mixed signals from weather or daylight which stimulate blooming The weather here this winter has been fairly typical although we have gotten more rain than usual.  Early this month, we had a cold snap where the temperature dropped to 27° F, -3° C.  Since then, the temps have remained above freezing and as high as 58° F, 14° C.  Our typical overcast has been broken up by several days with bright sunshine.
We had a few rhododendrons that pushed out two or three blooms early last fall.  That was most likely due to confused plants getting the wrong signals.  I have seen this in the p…

First Day Hike 2018: Deception Pass State Park

Lucky number seven describes this year's First Day Hike at Deception Pass State Park.  I have attended all seven, and once again, we were treated to a perfect rain-free New Year's Day.  This is one of the benefits of an Olympic Rain Shadow location.  Yesterday, however, all of western Washington had great weather.  At 10:00 am, we gathered in the meeting room at the West Beach food service building to fuel up with coffee, bagels and pastries provided by the Deception Pass Park Foundation.

Although the skies were clear, it was a chilly morning.  With the temperature at 27° F/-3° C, Cranberry Lake was covered with a skim of ice.  The picnic area and surrounding foliage were decorated with frost.

When we started the hike, the West Beach resident pair of Bald Eagles were in their usual spot overseeing the event.  Left:  Both could be seen in back-lit silhouette.  Right:  From a different angle, it's easier to tell they are Bald Eagles.  Its mate is hidden to the right behind …

Return to Kukutali

Between getting one house organized to live in and another one sold, I have not had much time for hiking.  This week, after a rainy weekend, I decided it was time to get out and get a look at early fall in the North Sound.  I headed over to Kiket Island in the Kukutali Preserve.  The Deception Pass State Park Newsletter (.pdf) indicated some new amenities were being installed, and I wanted to check them out.

Off Kiket Island, there is a swim float out in Similk Bay, about 100 meters away.  It can be seen from the causeway leading to the island.  It is usually populated with Cormorants and gulls, but something was different this time.  Zooming out to 400 mm, I spotted this pair.  They were at least twice the size of our little Harbor Seals.  I believe these are either young Steller or California Sea Lions, more likely the latter.  From this distance, I'm not sure it is possible to distinguish which species they are.  Cormorants can be seen swimming at the right edge of the photo, …