Another year has passed and with it, more images and words have been published on Wingtrip. I’ve been busier and seen far more than I realized in the past year. This will be the third time I’ve done a photographic year in review. Reviewing is valuable because it allows me to contemplate my never ending exploration of the natural world. However, for you all, it’s a nice summary of what’s happened on Wingtrip in the past year in photo form. Enjoy them! (You can see my entire year of photos here on my flickr site).
In January I visited friends in Oakland, but managed to see the Cal Academy of Sciences. As someone who wants to spread the word about natural sciences, they are an inspiration. And the museum allows for great photo opportunities with sea nettles.
A bad photo of a pretty amazing bird for Southern British Columbia. This Red-flanked Bluetail showed up last winter in Richmond, B.C. I still count birds, but have mixed feelings about the whole thing.
Falconry is a sport I’ve never wanted to get fully immersed in; it eats your time and becomes your life. However, it’s fun to tag along on adventures with Simone and her Red-tailed Hawk, Chase.
I spent a good deal of time on the Olympic Peninsula working on an expansion of Seattle Audubon’s Puget Sound Seabird Survey.
In Puget Sound we’re lucky to have so many amazing waterbirds. The bulk of the brant who breed on Melville Island, in the Central Canadian Arctic, winter on Puget Sound. I’ve no more eloquent to put it, that’s awesome.
When I hear a place described as a county park I never get too excited. However, Salt Creek County Recreation Area outside Port Angeles is a beautiful spot for tide pooling.
In April I helped lead a group of eight high school students in Seattle Audubon’s Birdwatch program on a trip to South Texas. I always come away exhausted, but these trips are incredible. I even passed my (long overdue) 600th ABA mark with the Aplomado Falcon below (I’m tired of explaining bird listing, so just know that this is a pretty good benchmark). I started to write about it here but didn’t finish because I was frustrated with the potential for the program being cut (thankfully it didn’t get the axe). Finishing the writing is now a goal for the coming year.
This millipede was sharing the cliff I sat on, waiting with a few of the more patient high schoolers to see Black-capped Vireo. These birds are endangered, cryptic, and take some time to see well. As a pair below me circled around their territory in a series of laps, we had time to contemplate our surroundings in Lost Maples State Park. Immersing oneself quietly in a new place is a great pleasure but difficult to find patience for.
No trip to the Edwards Plateau is complete without visiting a bat cave. This one is in Concan, Texas. Seeing such large numbers of animals in their daily routine is always stunning.
Even though I don’t often write about it here on Wingtrip, I visit the San Juan Islands frequently. This is part fun, part work with a friend’s farm starting on the island. I can’t help but fall in love with a place so beautiful as Shaw Island; with clear nights and coralroot. (Spotted coralroot – pictured below – is a parasitic orchid that doesn’t photosynthesize [no green = no photosynthesis] but instead relies on snagging energy from the network of (fungal) mycorrhizae below the ground, which are in a symbiotic relationship with the trees above them. What a world we live in!)
Tyler Davis is a good friend and a wonderful birder. Along with our fellow guide at Evergreen Escapes, Penny Rose, we had a really long day of birding. A big day (one of two I did this year). Sure, we didn’t do so well, but it was still fun!
Every year I try to head to a gathering of like minded people at the Malheur Bird Observatory. I learn something new every year. Like how dwarf, a dwarf monkey flower is. What a newly hatched Killdeer looks like. And finally, how to take a decent night shot of a scene I’ve been a part of for quite a few years.
I began writing for Seattle’s Capitol Hill Times in the past year, which has taken some steam out of Wingtrip (You can see my images and words on a broader array of topics relating to the urban environment on their site). That said, they tend to let me write about nature, especially if it’s urban. This is a Columbia tiger lily planted in Seattle’s Pollinator Pathway.
Clark’s Nutcrackers are members of a favorite family of mine: Corvids. I wrote about them earlier in the year. I enjoy them anytime I encounter them.
No Northwest summer is complete without a couple visits to Mt. Rainier National Park.
Nor a view of Rainier from another mountain in the Cascades.
We have mountains, we also have the sea. Both are entangled, folded into the metamorphic bedrock of my imagination. These purple stars were along Hood Canal. They make want to scream “These are amazing creatures! How can you people stand it!?”
I can’t fathom living without wilderness. Being able to visit wild places is a massive privilege. No year would be complete without facing a land where man doesn’t (obviously) dominate.
Sooty Shearwaters happen to be one of my favorite birds. Washington’s Pacific Coast is an excellent place to witness their migration.
And like any year, I strive to see the unseen, to visualize the natural world in new ways.
I barely left the U.S. in 2013 but no matter. There’s lifetimes of stories to tell here. Going farther doesn’t mean you always see more (though it can and I will). Have you dug in the dirt lately and realized how little you know of the organisms that dwell there? In contemplation of the year past, I realize I have no resolutions. No matter the time of year I am learning, making art, and trying to improve the world, in short, by doing the things I love. I did a lot in 2013, despite feeling it was slow period. I think that means I can do much more without a slip in enthusiasm. Here’s to another year of exploring the natural world. Happy New Year!