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05/30/11 - Dungeness Spit Update

It was a five foot tide, not exactly low, but the beach was surprisingly walkable. There was lots of sand, and the sand was firm, so we walked for a couple of miles, bird watching and beachcombing.

One of the eagles we saw

The view out

A dried starfish

Two mystery birds - Our bird atlas is no help.

Lush green along the redone trail to the spit

Keywords: dungeness spit, birds, eagle


03/16/11 - A Gathering of Eagles

The trees were full of bald eagles at the Dungeness Dike Trail. There were at least eight, more likely a dozen of them. Was it the season? The river in flood? We had seen a couple in one of the trees along Towne Road, but the spotting was even better along the dike itself.

A Bald Eagle

Another Bald Eagle

There's scenery too (and probably bald eagles in those trees).

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, birds, eagle


12/13/10 - Winter Eagles

While we aren't the biggest fans of winter, we do like the way it reveals things. Most of the trees around here keep their leaves, but there are enough deciduous trees so that the forest seems to open up for the season. There are all sorts of things hidden in the canopy, like this eagle nest near the Dungeness River, shown with its two proud owners.

Keywords: dungeness, winter, birds, eagle


03/05/10 - Dungeness Spit - The Rocks Are Back

We took advantage of the good tides and sunny weather to hike along Dungeness Spit. The tide was low, but the beach was rocky, with a lot of erosion. We've walked the spit when it was worse, but it was rough going.

We also noticed a bird survey team. They puttered along in one of the beach jitneys. Then they'd stop, lug their spotting scope up to the refuge border and take notes for a while. The outside of the spit is for us walkers, but the inside is for the wild birds who breed there. This is just as well. As rough going as the beach was, the going looked even rougher on the other side.


The bird surveyors

The view out

The view back

Keywords: birds, dungeness spit, tides


02/04/10 - Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit is not always an easy hike. The tides vary by eight feet in a typical day, and during high tide the beach is not only small, but rocky. In the winter it is worse. Not only are there fewer good tides, but the winter tides often wash out the sand, so even at low tide, it can be rough going.

This year, however, is a good year for hiking the Dungeness Spit. The beach is broad and sandy, so it is easy to avoid all the rocky patches. The strait is full of seabirds, loons, scoters, cormorants and many others beyond our limited identification skills. Oh yes, there are eagles, lots of eagles. There's no point in waiting for spring to hike the Dungeness Spit. It's good walking even now, and, as a bonus, the Indian plum is already in bloom.


An eagle

Dungeness Spit

Indian plum in bloom

Keywords: birds, dungeness, dungeness spit, spring, tides, winter, eagle



They're back!

01/13/10 - Dungeness Valley Swans

The swans have returned to Dungeness Valley. They seem to like the fields on either side of Towne Road. It's good to have them back.

Keywords: dungeness, birds


10/31/09 - Something To Grouse About

Autumn is the time for game birds. For those of us who cannot be trusted with firearms, that means D'Artagnan, the specialty food provider founded by Arianne Daugin, the daughter of one of France's great chefs. This recipe calls for four grouses, or perhaps four grice, if that is what are available at your market. It also calls for a head or two of savoy cabbage, twelve rashers of the best, smokey bacon you can get, a tart apple, at half a stick of butter, dried thyme and/or marjoram, pepper and salt.

Grouses, or perhaps grice

Shredded savoy cabbage
Clean the grouses, or grice. Save any good insaginnies. Clean the cabbage and save eight of the largest leaves for wrapping the grouses. Shred the rest of the cabbage using the slicing blade of a food processor. Cut up four rashers of bacon into 1/2" bits. Toss the shredded cabbage and bacon with a teaspoon or two of thyme, marjoram or both, and some salt and pepper. If there were any hearts or crops, chop them up and toss them in as well.

Cut up the apple into eight pieces. Put a piece of apple, a chunk of butter and as much of the cabbage mix as you can into each grouse. Put the remaining cabbage mix into a flat roasting pan. Put each grouse, breast side up, on a cabbage leaf. Drape two rashers of bacon over it and cover it with another cabbage leaf.


All ready to bake, except for the top cabbage leaves

Grice, or perhaps grouses, in the cabbage patch
Add perhaps a quarter inch of water to the baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 325F. Check the birds. They should be cooked through and getting tender. We raised the temperature to 350F at this point and gave them another 15 minutes. A lot depends on your oven.

When the birds are basically cooked, remove the upper cabbage leaves. Slide the bacon down to the sides of each bird so it doesn't burn. Raise the oven temperature to 450F and give the grice another 10 or 15 minutes. This should brown the birds nicely. They can be served straight from the oven along with the cabbage.


Ready to eat

Keywords: autumn, birds, grouse, recipe


02/03/09 - Swan Amongst the Swine

If you've ever been down Towne Road in Dungness, you have probably noticed the swine at Delta Farm. These are what you get when you order a pig share from Nash Huber. On some days, you'll also see swans, usually in large flocks. They seem to enjoy grubbing around in the same fields as the swine. We haven't been able to photograph them together which has fed some speculation as to their secret identities, but we figured we'd point out that these magnificent birds are visiting our region. You might want to check out the area, the swans, the farms and maybe even the swine.

Some swans

They settled in great herds. They're too big for flocks.

The setting

Keywords: birds, dungeness, farms, nash huber



01/17/09 - Kim Chi Pancakes and the Port Angeles Farmers Market

The winter isn't a great time for the Port Angeles Farmers' Market. It is still held every Saturday in the Clallam County Courthouse parking lot from 10AM to 2PM, but there are only a few farmers and venders there. The regulars include Westwind Farm, Dry Creek Farm, Tuna Dan and Nash Huber.

Harley at Dry Creek Farm says his hens are laying through the winter thanks to his new henhouse and the new breed of hens he has. He sold 100 dozen eggs in perhaps an hour this last Saturday, so come early. Also, in February, he will be selling stewing hens. He says the new lot is not quite as fatty, and the birds are a bit smaller, but we know that there is nothing quite like a good old stewing hen, braised for a winter dish.

A new regular at the market is the Korean kim chi and garlic lady. We haven't gotten her name yet, but she sells great big heads of garlic which seem to be much stronger than a lot of local garlic. She also sells jars of kim chi, Korean spicy pickled cabbage, and kim chi pancakes. We haven't tried the kim chi proper, but the pancakes are delicious. No, they aren't horribly spicy, but they have a nice light burn.

We don't expect a lot of action at the market this time of year. We've been enjoying the steelhead from Tuna Dan, and we've been rounding up the usual vegetables at Westwind and Nash Huber's. Things may be a bit slow, but the market is open, and it is still worth a trip.

Keywords: dry creek farm, farmers' market, nash huber, port angeles, winter, westwind farm, birds, garlic lady


01/08/09 - Great Weather For Ducks

With all the rain and melt lately we have to admit it has been great weather for ducks. Here is a photo of some ducks enjoying the weather.

Some happy ducks

Keywords: birds, lake crescent, weather


09/21/08 - Hurricane Hill As The Summer Ends

We really appreciate the the Hurricane Ridge webcam. Even when the weather is cloudy and rainy down in town, it is often quite nice up at the ridge. Without the webcam, there is no way to tell, but with the webcam, we often decide to drive a mile up and above the clouds to get some sun in the Olympic Mountains.

Just a few days ago it was cloudy in town, but the webcam showed fairly good weather. We drove up Hurricane Ridge Road which is almost completely repaved now. We pulled into the parking lot on the ridge, and the conditions were nearly whiteout with thick white fog. Despite this, we decided to press on to the Hurricane Hill trail which starts about a mile and a half past the lodge. We made our way, cautiously, to the far end of the big parking lot. The road dropped and the fog lifted.

Hurricane Hill was spectacular. The white fog had returned at the start of the trail, so we couldn't see any mountains until we made our way up to The Hamper, noted for all its dirty sock plant. Then, the views began with high, snow topped mountains rising out of a sea of cloud. Clouds pressed in from the Pacific, spilled through valleys, and washed up against mountain sides. Not everything was perfectly visible, but the views were spectacular none the less.


Some final summer flowers and early autumn color

One of many blue grouses (grice)

Another blue grouse

Autumn color and a sea of clouds

Mount Olympus (we think)

The sea of clouds

Brilliant colors

Keywords: autumn, flowers, hurricane hill, birds, grouse


09/13/08 - A Raven At Hurricane Ridge

We usually don't get to see ravens this close up, even at Hurricane Ridge. Ravens are impressive birds.

Keywords: birds



Low tide, but the beach is rocky.

06/24/08 - Good Hiking Tides at Dungeness Spit

There have been some good hiking tides at Dungeness Spit lately. Yesterday, there was a -0.6 foot tide around one o'clock, so there was lots of beach to walk on. Check our tide tables, or our little notice on the left banner of this page, to find some other good tides in the near future. We have to be honest and report that the beach, while broad, was a bit rocky, with lots of small stones that kept us hopping. Still, we made it pretty far down, and we'll try for the lighthouse later this season.

Looking back at the mountains.

Dungeness Spit is more than just seagulls.

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, birds, eagle



02/29/08 - Dungeness Spit Is For The Birds

We've been getting some good tides at Dungeness Spit, so we decided to do a bit of exploring. The tide was low and there was a lot of sand on the beach, so it was easy going. The view of the mountains was stupendous as you can see in the picture to the right.

There were two bald eagles, maybe a dozen yards apart, perched on the driftwood on the high ground of the spit. The older eagle took off shortly after we started taking pictures, but the young eagle stood his or her ground.


The mature eagle

The kid
The sea was full of ducks and duck like birds including mergansers, loons, eiders, and cormorants. They're a bit hard to photograph since they tend to dive when they hear your camera focus. Still, they're fun to watch.

We also ran into this little fellow on the right. We aren't sure whether this is pheasant season or not, but this guy was hiding out in the refuge.


Another kind of bird

Keywords: birds, dungeness, dungeness spit, tides, eagle


02/09/08 - Eggs At The Market

The winter is the slowest time of the year for hens, so it is sometimes hard to get farm fresh eggs. The good news is that Westwind Farm has been selling their eggs through the season, and they've been excellent. The other good news is that Dry Creek Farm is back with a new flock of chickens, so there are now two stands selling eggs at the market. Don't be surprised if some of them are double yolkers. Young hens often lay eggs with two yolks in them.

The final good news is that Dry Creek Farm is selling stewing hens again. For more on the glories of stewing hens and our coq au vin recipe, see our Stewing Hen Page. You can call Harley and arrange to pick up a frozen bird or two at 360 457 2943. These might be tough old birds, but they are delicious stewed.

Keywords: birds, dry creek farm, winter, farmers' market, westwind farm, recipe


10/17/07 - Otter Island

The Morse Creek Trail is what passes for an urban trail out in Port Angeles. It runs along the water from downtown near the Red Lion, the Victoria ferry docks and The Landing, past the Hospital, and then along the base of the bluffs before turning inland a bit before Morse Creek east of town. We tend to drive east on 101 to Morse Creek and park in the little parking lot there. We head west, crossing the wooden railroad bridge which was restored by local volunteers, and then down to the water. Given that the town is hard by a National Park full of some of the greatest wilderness in the lower 48, walking the Morse Creek trail still manages to take one away from it all. There is a little beach where the trail meets the strait, then a crumbling dike which is washed by the waves on stormy days. A bit past here, the trail is paved, so it makes a great bicycle trail. The view is of Ediz Spit with the Coast Guard Station, alien Canada and the city of Victoria, the San Juan Islands, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca itself, and in the distance Mount Baker looming like a meringue. There is also a lot of kelp which we tend to mistake for sea birds, and there is a bunch of rocks (see the picture below) which is now and then inhabited by local river otters (see pictures to the right). The otters aren't on their rock all that often, but when they are, it is a special treat.

Keywords: morse creek, victoria, birds, mount baker, otters


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