Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Abundance of riches

The tide is still high in the afternoons at the White Rock beach, so we decided to vary our routine, and walk down the pier, keeping our feet dry for once.

We got a bit side-tracked; as we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a sign; Museum Book Sale. We can never resist books. We spent half of our paid parking time filling a bag; great books, $2.00 each. Among others, I picked up a 1938 book on invertebrates, full of meticulously drawn illustrations. I'll probably end up using some of them on the blog. (The sale is on for the rest of this week; if you're in the area, drop in.)

So, as it turned out, we barely had time for a quick walk down the pier and back. (Except that I dawdled on the way back, taking close-ups of a friendly gull; Laurie ended up waiting for me beside the parking lot.)

It's a good time of year to be at the pier. The winter birds are back, swimming or resting in large flocks; we saw wigeons, assorted ducks, western grebes, surf scoters, and, I think, a few greater scaup, as well as the usual gulls, geese, crows and pigeons. The light, bright sunlight low in the sky, was against us. Mostly, we were seeing silhouettes:

Mostly surf scoters. And a sailboat.

Surf scoters, all male. Come to think of it, I saw no females.

The obligatory gull.

Mad dash for a few crumbs.

At the end of the pier, the dock was deserted, save for a couple of lines to crab traps. We crawled shamelessly around the pilings, Laurie balancing on precarious, bouncing boards, to see the life underneath us:

Short plumose anemones (Metridium senile) and a pale pinkish seaweed.

Another view of the seaweed.

Anemones and large black-legged barnacles. (Semibalanus cariosus)

Along the stone breakwater, gulls perched, mostly looking out to sea, and pigeons sunned themselves. I watched one disappear down a crack between the rocks; immediately a chorus of coo-coos burst out. A handy nesting site, safe and dry.

And a final treat; a sea lion surfaced beside the boats. I missed him, but Laurie saw him twice.

He seems to be smiling. Who wouldn't on such a good day?

Gull close-ups tomorrow.

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