Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lunching with a Peregrine in Nirvana-land

By Bob Ferris

Copalis Beach at sunset with dusting of dunlins.
There are times when you witness wildness.  It comes on you with scant warning, but you know.  Like when you almost step on a snake, stumble on to a deer during a dusky walk or feel that you are watched from forest’s edge.  We often forget about wildness, but are enriched when we remember and experience it.

Carlene and I were legally married on December 7th and had a beach ceremony on January 23rd to celebrate with family and friends.  Because of this double day we tend to have an “anniversary season” rather than just a day.  We also tend to celebrate that season with a honeymoon of sorts often to get warmth and sun.  This year we had two (it was our 10th after all) and the second one was to Copalis Beach on the Washington coast west of Aberdeen, Washington (hence the reference to Kurt Cobain in the title).  .

We are beach combers at heart often looking for beach glass and moonstones along with the wildlife we seek.  So Copalis’ broad, very flat and rock-less beaches were kind of change-up for us.  We had to adjust our search images and the angle of our heads to look for shorebirds and raptors.  And on our first rain-less day we scored on this beach.

Walking along the shore we spied a raptor that was eating a shorebird—pulling feathers to get to its meal.  When we stalked a little to get closer we were excited to find that it was peregrine falcon.  You’ll have to pardon the shaking video, but I have not yet mastered the seamless zooming while walking technique needed for these happenstances.

The peregrine experience was meaningful for me not only because of the story of its imperilment and
Whale bone on Copalis Beach
ultimate recovery under the federal Endangered Species Act, but because of memories of the Predator Bird Research Group at UC Santa Cruz (my alma mater) and the late Brian Walton its long-time coordinator.  Brian passed on in 2007 but not before materially forwarding peregrine recovery in the Pacific Northwest.  This dunlin-munching peregrine is likely fruit of this work or similar work of others as evidenced by the bright green bands on both legs.

All and all it was restful and productive week as we also had a chance to witness scores of folks using clam guns in their search for razor clams, examined the carcass of baby whale and watched the Seahawks pull the NFC Championship out of somewhere.

Off to more adventures, we will share with you soon.

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