Washington State Park (December 28)

Time to stretch our legs! After a few days of staying close to home, we packed a picnic lunch and ventured a little farther down the coast for a day at Washington State Park. The park is in a great location, a small peninsula of forested trail completely surrounded by water. It was a bit chilly, the weather was a little dicey, so we packed layers and planned to take it easy and not venture too far from the truck…At worst, we figured a drive-with-a-view and lunch-in-the-fresh-air would be reward enough! But, God served up more than we bargained for, exceeding expectations as always!

Our first stop was a picnic area overlooking the bay. The meadow was a bit soggy, but still good for a runabout.

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And Asher soon made a feathered friend! He immediately identified the Golden Crowned Kinglet (which we’ve never seen before, but he remembered from the bird book). Females have a bright yellow stripe on their crown, while males have fiery orange as well.

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These little guys are busy-busy-busy! They hop-and-peck and hop-and-peck and hop-and-peck, following small insects I guess…They work a small patch then flutter a couple of feet to another patch, always lively, always in motion…And they do not have time to be distracted or interrupted by us!

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It was perfect – though the kinglets were not looking for handouts, they blissfully went about their activities without any fear or wariness, often approaching Asher close enough to gently peck his boot or pants leg. It was so cute to see the joy on his face, getting to be so close to one of God’s creatures! And a great reminder that, though we often generalize, God has made each creature with its own personality, and so an encounter always holds the possibility of a surprise! 🙂

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The rocky shoreline was lovely in the cool, misty weather, tastefully decorated with lichens and snails.

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It was a great viewpoint to sit and watch the ducks swim by…

There were Goldeneyes…

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And Harlequin Ducks! We hadn’t seen Harlequin Ducks in the wild before, and the shimmering teal and rust-colored feathers were amazing.

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These two were a hoot, paddling serenely along, cruising and diving for snacks. Then the male would get feisty and chase the female around, nipping at her tail feathers while she splashed and flapped away. Then they would settle down again to their calm and dignified cruise. Men!

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And another new creature, which sent us to the book for identification. These distinctive orange bills belong to Surf Scoters, and it seems we are lucky to have seen them, as they are not common in our area.

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And oh my goodness, who can resist these big eyes? A sweet little Harbor Seal was hanging around nearby, popping up from time to time to check things out.

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He’s looking at us because he thinks we’re crazy 🙂 It’s only about 40 degrees and windy where we are walking, while he’s enjoying comfortable water temperatures around 50 degrees…The water seems cold to me, but to him, it’s not significantly different from its summer temperature…So we have a stand-off – I think he’s crazy to be in the freezing water, and he thinks I’m crazy walking around in the freezing air!

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After we finished our lunch, we decided to drive a little further along and spend some time at the beach.  A Chestnut-Backed Chickadee welcomed us with a song at the path down to the shore…

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And down at the beach the water was fine!

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(Photo courtesy of Spencer)

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Asher ranged up an down along the shoreline, exploring and checking everything out.

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Spencer took photos….

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Genevieve took one look at this pebbly beach, and thought…

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“What a perfect place to roll down the hill!”

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Right?

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The afternoon sun backlit the clouds and islands…

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And with a kind of lazy, relaxed reluctance, we realized it was going to be getting dark soon and we should probably head for home.

Around the point of the island, we stopped at one last overlook. The kids, having gotten their feet wet at the beach, were barefoot and snuggly in the truck. The area looked over a steep channel, and Joe and I left the binoculars with the kids while we took a short walk out to the end. As we reached the end of the path, I said to Joe “Look! I think those are porpoises!” And then we heard the truck door open, and Asher’s excited yell from the doorway “Mom! Dad! Porpoises! There are porpoises down there!” It was pretty funny. I let the kids pad down the path in their bare feet, where we found a grassy area to sit and survey all the evening activity unfolding below…

A pod of Harbor Porpoises, surfacing in twos and threes, close enough to hear the sound of their blowholes…

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Two Harbor Seals, relaxing along the shallow edges…

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And a Bald Eagle, fishing.

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What a way to wind up the day! He is a God of grand finales!

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