Where Canada Geese Come From – Plus a UFD!

It ain’t Canada. Well, at least, considerable numbers of them aren’t Canadian. One of the most remarkable sights we saw when we went to Grand Coulee was the goslings. There were so many goslings, people! It seemed like every park we drove by or stopped at in the coulees was filled with geese and goslings. You’d see a handful of adults and infinite seas of babies. I have never seen this many goslings in my life.

Image shows a bit of Banks lake and the grassy shore. There are two geese and seven goslings on the grass in the foreground. On the lake are two adults and sixteen bebbes.

A small sample of the sea o’ geese at Steamboat Rock State Park.

I’ve seen little goose families scattered about western Washington, but this was like coming across Quiverfull colonies. You can see why they’d come here to raise families, though. Lotsa sunshine, abundant food, beautiful bodies of water, and bonza scenery.

Image shows a goose family swimming on the lake, with the green trees of the park shading the water. In the background, one of the cliffs of Grand Coulee rises majestically.

Goose family life on Banks Lake. Gorgeous!

Steamboat Rock State Park seems to be a favorite home for a lot of birds – we saw so many. But they were all outnumbered by the geese. Squee factor: near infinite. Look at these little gosling bums!

Image shows a bunch of feeding goslings, bend down with their little bums waving at the camera.

Look at those fluffy little bottoms! D’aw!

The grassy lawns were full of large goose families. So was the water.

Image shows three goose families swimming on the water between the shore and the dock. Another wall of Grand Coulee rises beyond.

Taking the kids for a swim. Playdates for everyone!

I think the houses in the background may be on top of a giant gravel bar from the Missoula Floods. There is so much awesome around here, you guys, you don’t even know. I think the only thing for it is for all of you to come stay with me so we can go trekking together. I want to show you this for reals! Come in May so we can go see the bebbes! It is so beautiful.

Image shows an adult goose herding a tight cluster of babies across the water.

Goose family in evening.

On the way home, B and I stopped by Dry Falls and Sun Lakes. Guess what? There were more geese! Shocking, I’m sure. As we were driving back from Deep Lake, we saw a goose family swimming in a huge puddle beside the main road. Alas, by the time I’d stopped the car and got the camera unslung, most of the family was headed across the road to have dinner on the lawn. But one little baby was left behind with its face in the water!

Image shows an adult goose crossing a two-lane road with its babies. One gosling in still in the roadside puddle, head buried in the water.

Left Behind, gosling edition.

It suddenly caught on it was being abandoned, and scrambled after its bros and sisters. Our UFD looks on.

Image shows the lone gosling scrambling after the others, which have almost completed their crossing. A smaller gray bird looks on.

“Geese, lemme tell ya.”

You’re going to tell me it’s a female American Robin or similar, aren’t you? It’s going to be a bird I should know backwards and forwards, I just know it. Look, people, I can recognize geese instantly. Isn’t that enough?! Also, I identified a dove on the wing. Shame I was driving and couldn’t pull over in time to get a pic at the time.

Anyway, speaking of goslings, there are so many photos! You can find them on Flickr. Enjoy muchly!

Greetings From Castle Rock! Pocket Gophers Did Wut Edition

We took a chance with the weather for you, my darlings, and we are now lodged in a ginormous jacuzzi suite in Castle Rock. Tomorrow, we’re hoping our favorite volcano will be visible so we can bring ya’ll some great photos. Today, we took the slowest trip we’ve ever done between Seattle and Castle Rock so we could get a late start (Misha wanted cuddles), wander around Olympia (ZOMG so many waterfalls in the center of the city!), see what pocket gophers hath wrought (mystery: solved!), and wander around Silver Lake near sunset, where all of the birds were magnificent.

We ambled down to Tumwater Falls Park, which is a fabulous place to see some geology if you’re wanting to take a break from I5 for a bit. I saw a tiny part of it for about three minutes when my ex-roomie and I were driving from Arizona to Washington, and I’ve meant to get back ever since. This is a remarkable stretch of the Deschutes River (no, not the Oregon one, we’ve got one of our own!). It goes hurtling over bedrock, plunging over three major falls and several rapids before melding calmly with Capitol Lake. Here’s Upper Tumwater Falls:

Image shows a wide waterfall, broken into two parts by a tree-sized bush. The river flows out below in a series of rapids over (probably basalt) bedrock.

Upper Tumwater Falls. Yes, that is a huge bush growing between the two halves.

There’s a wonderful loop trail, which I’ll walk you through in detail eventually. I even took videos for you! I loved the whole park, but I think the lower falls is my favorite.

Image shows me standing in front of the lower falls. You can see the thick whitewater curtain, and there is a downed tree lodged over the top. Mist is rising from the falls.

Moi at Lower Tumwater Falls. That water is unbelievably powerful, despite the fact it’s only going over a short drop.

Afterward, and seeing as how the weather was so very unexpected lovely, we decided we would visit Mima Mounds. A lot of people get very excited about Mima Mounds, probably because they are so mysterious. Alas, the mystery has been solved: they are the “Great Pyramids” of the pocket gophers.

So, this:

Image shows a wee gopher being held in a person's work-gloved hand. It's got very long but thin claws. It's got its little mouth open and rather looks like it's singing. So cute!

The Mazama Pocket Gopher (Thomomys mazama). Image courtesy USFWS – Pacific Region (CC BY 2.0).

Ermagherd it’s so tiny and cute!

Created this:

Image shows me standing in front of several grassy hills. They're just a bit higher than my head.

Moi at Mima Mounds.

See those hills behind me? They’re over eight feet tall and thirty feet wide. Tiny little critters you can hold in your hand did this. Wow. So yeah, that was neat. The people shooting guns just across the mounds, not so much. It would’ve been a very serene place if not for the sound of constant gunfire – I hope that’s not a regular thing there.

But it was still pretty neato, and we shall talk more about that soon, too.

After that, we decided to head on down to Castle Rock, and since it was still early, ambled around Silver Lake for a bit. That’s my favorite lake created by a lahar that is now more like a wetland. The birds were out in spectacular force. We saw a ton of swifts (too swift to photograph), red-winged blackbirds, the cutest duck family ever (I’ll do them a separate post when I have time to edit the video for you), and heard so many others it was like being in an avian symphony hall. I was photographing distant mountains peeking through storm clouds:

Image shows the marsh-plant filled Silver Lake, a conifer-covered ridge, and mountains poking up in the distance from beneath a layer of dark clouds. A heron is just visible in the marsh plants.

Look at the pretty mountains! Mount St. Helens wasn’t visible, alas.

And I, by chance, caught a heron and a blackbird. Yay!

Cropped image shows the heron in greater detail. A red-wing blackbird is visible on cattails in the background.

Dinnertime for birdies!

If you ever get a chance to walk round Silver Lake near sundown, take it. And then go have a good meal, and enjoy a jacuzzi suite. I cannot recommend jacuzzi suites highly enough.

Wish us luck for tomorrow, my darlings. We’re going to attempt the Hummocks Trail. We will be walking over what was at the time the largest landslide ever witnessed by human beings. Wowza.

 

Mystery Flora + Cryptopod Double-Header: The Sweetest Little Things

Even the desert blooms in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, of course, all sorts of deserts bloom. The ones I grew up in did, but it was only for a few weeks. Here, you can find flowers just about any time, even in dry country. May is a great time to find yourself some blooms everywhere, because about twelve trillion plants have just gotten some nice spring rains and are feeling pretty perky. You also get baby insects, so sometimes you end up with wee bugs on wee blooms and it’s completely adorable.

When B and I visited Dry Falls, we walked a little ways out into the desert along the rim, and found an abundance of flowers. These little purplish-pink sprays were everywhere.

Image shows three pink stems growing along the rocky ground. Bell-shaped flowers with flaring pointed ends are clustered at the ends of the stems.

Mystery Flora I

They seemed to like stretching out just above the ground. A lot of things in this area stay low down so they can conserve water and not get whammed by the wind.

[Read more…]

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Bird AND a Plane!

I’ve been sorting Grand Coulee trip photos in between doing other necessary things. B’s working on your next Christianist education post, and I’m working on our new pyrite article. Alas, neither will be ready in time for this morning, so I shall tide you over with some more outtakes. Gives me an excuse to post them, doesn’t it just?

While we were at Frenchman Coulee, checking out the ginormous erratics on Babcock Bench, a gigantic plane flew overhead. Okay, maybe not that gigantic, but it was pretty big compared to the usual size of low-flying planes we see. [Read more…]

The Heck is This?

B and I took a walk at Richmond Beach by way of getting some healthy exercise while we plan our Mount St. Helens trip. The tide was pretty far out, so we got to do lotsa walking along the beach between the Sound and the railroad tracks. There’s always fun and interesting stuff to see, like this Eye of Siva somebody painted near a manmade waterfall.

Image shows a culvert under the railroad tracks. There's a tiny stream flowing from a pipe, some driftwood piled on the thick granitic riprap rocks, and on one of the rocks is a painting.

Waterfall and rock art.

Here’s a nice closeup of it for ye.

Image shows the pyramidal top of the rock. Someone has used blue and white paint to paint an eye with fancy curlicues coming out of the top lid and inner corner. Underneath is painted the words, "Eye of Siva."

Image shows the pyramidal top of the rock. Someone has used blue and white paint to paint an eye with fancy curlicues coming out of the top lid and inner corner. Underneath is painted the words, “Eye of Siva.”

So that was nice. We dawdled on that side for a bit, then walked over towards the south, where my favorite rocks of all time are. Well, my favorites at Richmond Beach, anyway. Just beyond them, we saw this thingy stuck on the riprap. [Read more…]

Can You Spot the Dragonfly in These Frenchman Coulee Photos?

I spent a bit of Sunday afternoon sorting photos from our Grand Coulee trip whilst watching Misha explore the porch, and found these photos with a dragonfly. I swear that it’s there! See if you can spot it. You needed an excuse to procrastinate on something, right? I’m here to help.

Image shows a bit of the sagebrush-covered desert by Frenchman Coulee. You can see some of the basalt bones sticking up through the thin soil. There's a big sweep of blue sky with a few white clouds to the left. There's a dragonfly in the sky.

There is absolutely a dragonfly in this picture, I promise!

This is a photo I took when we were hiking the desert around Frenchman Coulee. We’d just come from a delightful shady place against the canyon wall where about six billion schoolchildren were being taught how to climb basalt columns. It’s very hard to navigate a trail full of middle-school kids – they’re so wrapped up in their own stuff they don’t notice you until the last instant. But they were adorable and sweet and did eventually clear enough space for us to sneak through. Poor B gets his anxiety triggered by thick crowds of humans, so it was a relief for us both to emerge into the deserted desert beyond, even though it was super-sunny. There was a nice, cool breeze, and it was only in the middle seventies (that’s mid-twenties to you Celsius-using people). [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Inspirations: (Un)Happy Biblical Mother’s Day!

It’s Mother’s Day today in many countries around the world. Many more countries have already or will soon be honoring mothers everywhere. Moms are important! Whether the moms you’re celebrating today are your biological, adopted, step, honorary, grand, great-grand, friends, cousins, or otherwise admired mothers, they’ve played a critical role in ensuring that a) there will be children and b) those children are (usually) at least somewhat civilized. I’ve watched my own moms and all the moms in my circles parent kids, and I’m incredibly grateful to them for doing that tough job. Some of them even do it mostly alone, which is even tougher! Massive respect, Moms!

In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s see what sort of inspiration we can get from the Book of Genesis. Sorry-not-sorry to say it’s mostly really terrible. [Read more…]

The Absolutely True History of Godzilla in Washington State, Set to Music

Come for the comedic song, stay for the unexpected geology at the end of the post.

Trebuchet shared a video that captures the very essence of the cities of the Great State of Washington, and explains what happened when a giant mutant reptile wandered through. Thankfully, the damage had been repaired by the time I came here to live. Alas, they preserved the character of those cities – which is rather unfortunate in some cases.

[Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: Moar Scablands Magnificence! Plus, a Robin Reprise Right Here

I’m back. I’m so damn tired. Misha doesn’t seemed to have missed me, except she couldn’t open her tuna cans her own self, so that’s the first and only thing she wanted. But she’s alive! I’m so happy.

B and I didn’t do all we wished, but we did lots today! We saw awesome great things. You can see some peeks here. And guess what? An American Robin was kindly enough to pose at Summer Falls so that you could have a robin reprise. I think it appreciates you being able to identify its compadre. [Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: Sneak Peeks from Frenchman Coulee!

B and I are on a short but sweet trip to the dry side. We hit up Frenchman Coulee and Babcock Bench, then headed on over to Grand Coulee. We’ve got so much great stuff for you already! Have a taste, and I’ll be bringing you more soon, my darlings!

Image shows me standing in front of a huge chunk of basalt ripped out of the coulee and dropped here on the long bench of land by the Columbia River.

Moi by one of the maclargehuge erratics on Babcock Bench at Frenchman Coulee.