Monday, February 7, 2011

1/30 Pierce County - Point Defiance

Sunday afternoon, and the kids wanted to hit the zoo.  Point Defiance Zoo is about 40 minutes away for us, and just over the county line into Pierce, so I got a little start on the list for that county.  Went up Ruston Way instead of taking Highway 16.  Declan likes to know that we're going the 'right way' so this threw him off a little bit!  So instead of strip malls, we saw cormorants, gulls and goldeneyes.

In the zoo itself, one of the more interesting birds I encountered was a Northern Pygmy-owl.  This is a species that is found in most parts of the state, but the range map under the owl claimed that its range extended only up to Mexico.  Hmmmm....

Someone asked me if this counted as one of the 39 birds for me for Pierce county - nope.  Alive, wild and unrestrained are the magic words for this.  This bird is pretty restrained at present.  An escaped wedding dove made its way to my back deck one day - same deal.  The Olympic National Forest is where I saw my first Hairy Woodpecker, but it was in the hands of a park ranger who had found it injured - same deal.

Grabbed cocoa at the zoo, and was surprised not to be offered a lid or straw, then remembered that they are composting nearly everything that comes through their food service, and have been for a couple of years.  Very cool.  They also had a map showing where their food comes from (below).  Nice to see it, and nice that it's not locavores gone crazy - just because you can make a pineapple grow here doesn't mean it's saving any energy to make that happen!  Not the first time I've been in an establishment that advertised this either.  Boundary Bay listed their local providers, as did more than one place I stopped in the San Juans.  Washingtonians could eat quite well just off of things grown here - part of what I love about the state.

Finished with a drive around Point Defiance Park - five mile drive around it that gives views of the sound.  Sadly I blew my last picture on some raccoons - then the batteries died.  This park is pretty marvellous, with lots of big trees.  Betcha there's some owls in here.. hmmm... Not a lot of birds down in the water, though, and a lot of them were too tiny for me to ID.  Did have a Rhinoceros Auklet, though, and a few forest birds like Pacific Wren and Spotted Towhee (Winter Wren and Rufous-sided Towhee if your bird books are out of date - my first one is - both of these were split from their eastern cousins fairly recently).

Do 'wild' raccoons accept handouts?  This one does!
Maura needed the facilities on the way home, so we stopped in Fife.  Hit the little ponds off of the freeway as we left.  Not a lot there today, but it has had some really good shorebirds in recent years, so I'm sure I'll visit it down the road!

Some kind of hermit crab that I am unfamiliar with...

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