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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

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

10/30/09 - View From The Bluffs

We took a short stroll at the Dungeness Bluffs, from the main parking lot to the big field near the entrance. The bluffs look much the same, which means that they are still crumbling into the strait. At points you can see the overhang. Here and there the trail has been "adjusted". They try to keep the safety fence up to date, but the bluffs give them a run for the money.

The bluffs offer a great view of the waves below, and we couldn't help noticing that the waves meet the beach with a scalloped front. It is much more noticeable from up on the bluffs than when one is down on the beach. The shape is persistent, from wave to wave, and is probably reinforced by the shape of the beach and the land underwater. From the bluffs, you can't see the subtle shaping that guides the waves, but you can't miss its effect.

You can really see the scalloping as the waves recede.

The trail moves now and then as the bluffs collapse.

The waves come in.

Keywords: dungeness, science

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

01/10/09 - Tree Down Dungeness Dike

There was a tree down across the Dungeness Dike Trail. It is a bit of a mess, but you can scramble through. A couple we met claimed to have heard the tree crack during a wind storm a day or two ago. It was probably quite a noise given that a trunk two or three feet in diameter simply cracked through. It's easy to underestimate the power of a wind storm and overestimate the strength of an old tree.

Keywords: dungeness, dungeness dike trail, weather

12/17/08 - The Dungeness Dike Trail

We've been doing some shopping for our Christmas choucroute, and our errands took us down Towne Road, so we stopped to take a jog along the Dungeness Dike. There was a bit of snow, some brilliant sun, and some great scenery.

The trail was pretty clear.

One of the barns

A view of the mountains - Our apologies for the lens flare: it is unavoidable at this latitude.

Keywords: dungeness, winter

10/27/08 - A Quick Trip Into Seattle

We made a quick trip into Seattle and flew Kenmore Air. It was a great flying day, and we had window seats, so here a couple of pictures from our flight, and one picture from Seattle proper. It seems that summer is over in the city as well.

Dungeness Spit

The Dungeness River - Can you see Dungeness Valley Creamery down there?

A city scene

Keywords: dungeness, dungeness spit, flying, seattle, autumn, kenmore

08/07/08 - Return To The Lighthouse

There have been some good tides at Dungeness Spit lately, so we wandered out to sea dryshod. The going was fairly easy, so we walked and walked, and before were knew it we were approaching the light house. The Dungeness Spit lighthouse hike is always a bit dreamy, but we were well rewarded with eagles, seals, gulls, terns and sea and sand.

Near the lighthouse we heard the gulls in an uproar. There was a cloud of hundreds flocking about. Then we saw the cause of this commotion. Two young bald eagles were being mobbed with gulls flying low over them and trying to force them from the sky. It wasn't exactly a concerted action, but it was effective. The young eagles were driven east.

Then the skies quieted. We walked onward to visit the lighthouse and pay a call on the seals who were not far off the spit near the lighthouse walkway. As we noted earlier, the Dungeness Spit lighthouse hike is always a bit dreamy.

Keywords: dungeness, dungeness spit, tides, 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

10/30/07 - A Calf is Born

We were recently out at Dungeness Valley Creamery, and as well approached we noticed a cow lying on her side in the field near the farm store. We had never seen a cow on her side before. She wasn't down on all four, but on the ground lopsided as if she had fallen on one side. Curious, we asked about her. It turns out, she was extremely pregnant and about to deliver.

We bought some milk, and some cheese, and did some Christmas shopping for a friend of ours. Meanwhile, we could look out the window and watch the cow having contractions as she tried to deliver. It looked like hard work which is probably why they call it labor. One of the spectators, not one of us, remarked that it looked like she was having a cow, which indeed she was.

Suddenly, after a series of contractions, the calf was ejected. It was wrapped in a membrane and looked like something from a science fiction movie, perhaps Calf Cocoon II - The Cow Horror Continues. The calf didn't move much, but we could see she was breathing. Sarah Brown went to check her and announced that the baby was a girl, and then left her with mom.

Grandma was in the next field bellowing advice, and she was joined by a few other cows who watched for a while and then drifted off. Meanwhile, Mom set out to the serious business of licking her newborn while her newborn tried to figure out how to stand up.

We watched for a good half hour. Mom did a good job licking, and the cocoon disappeared to reveal a wet calf. Then the wet calf turned into a dry calf despite all the licking. Meanwhile the newborn rested a few minutes, then tried to stand, then rested a few more minutes, and so on. In the nature documentaries, they use ellipsis. A calf is born, then the calf stands on its shaky legs and nurses. With Dungeness Valley Creamery milk the calf had additional impetus to get to the nursing stage.

Mother and child
First, the calf tried her front legs a bit. Then, after a lot more licking, she tried her rear legs and actually managed to get her hindquarters in the air. Unfortunately, standing requires all four legs working together. It takes a human baby with our incredibly advanced brain, and only two legs to deal with, the better part of a year to get this right, so we were probably expecting a bit more than a calf with a cow brain and four legs to deal with could accomplish quickly.

We hung around for the next half hour trying to be encouraging, and there were definitely signs of progress. Mom seemed to have satisfied herself that her baby had been adequately licked. Her calf could rise on her hind legs, and we could see her struggling to get her two front legs into position for that critical coordinated push.

All of the other cows had left some time ago leaving mother and child on their own, or rather, with us humans and our longer attention spans. We had other errands to run, so we decided that things were likely to turn out for the best. Sarah, having determined that the newborn was a girl, wasn't worried, and the calf looked helpful, so we assume that things worked out for the best.

Trying to stand

Keywords: dungeness, science, shopping

Cute little baby seal

08/01/07 - Dungeness Spit

We were out on Dungeness Spit today. Low tide was around 11:30, so we got an early start. We really didn't intend to walk all the way out to the New Dungeness Light, but the day was so bright, the air so clear and the water so blue that we just kept on going. Still, we didn't make up our minds until the three mile marker, with only a mile and a half to go.

Around the one mile point, we saw a large seal splashing about, breaching like a whale, and otherwise putting on a spectacular show, but the real charmer was the baby seal we saw on the beach on our way back. We also saw a bald eagle perched on a post, and the terns were having one of their raucous sabbaths.

There has been serious erosion out near the lighthouse. In the past, we have approached the lighthouse across the even beach, but today there is a long row of wooden pilings lining the beach, and a steep sand clip up to the lighthouse level. We assume that the posts were part of the ground work done to provide a stable area for building the lighthouse and setting up its grounds. It pays to explore. There is something new every time.

Perfectly parallel waves

The Dungeness palisade

Dungeness Spit scene

The lighthouse and the mountains

Keywords: animals, dungeness, dungeness spit, eagle

07/10/07 - Death Cake 2007: The Best Ever

This year's death cake was special. Instead of good old fashioned Baker's chocolate, we used 100% Plantations Arriba chocolate from Hands down, this was the best death cake ever!

Of course, some of the difference may have resulted from our using Dungeness Valley Creamery milk and Dry Creek Farm eggs. If you study our recipe, you'll see that an important component of the cake is a chocolate pudding made of milk, brown sugar, egg yolk and chocolate. We used a full bar and a bit more of a Plantations bar (over 4 oz), and the chocolate flavor had a magnificent bitter note that was missing in earlier death cakes.

We also used a bar of chocolate for the fudge Cockaigne icing. It didn't dissolve all that well. There was a bit of chocolate residue that formed while we brought the batch to the soft ball stage, but the icing was creamier and richer than usual.

The death cake can be a challenge to make, but the proof is in the eating. As far as we Kalebergs are concerned, this is the best chocolate cake ever.

Keywords: food, dry creek farm, dungeness, milk, recipe, kale

07/05/07 - The Dungeness Dike Trail Revisited

We were in the Dungeness Valley today and decided to stretch our legs on the Dungeness Dike Trail. Those cows are the Jerseys at the Dungeness Valley Creamery. Those mountains in the distance are the Olympic range. The trail along the Dungeness River dike is easy going, and there are several paths down to the river itself, but we spent most of our time admiring the view.

Keywords: dungeness, trails

06/05/07 - Dungeness Valley Creamery Development Rights

According to the Peninsula Daily News, Dungeness Valley Creamery should be staying a dairy for a while now. The Friends of the Fields and the North Olympic Land Trust say they've raised the money to buy the development rights! We've been following this for a while. There's a state matching grant involved, and most likely a number of hurdles remain, but the grant has been matched, and preservation is on the march.

Keywords: farms, dungeness

05/17/07 - Goslings on Dungeness Spit

This is the season for baby animals, and that includes ducklings and goslings. We were out at Dungeness Spit and nearly stumbled over this charming family scene. It was an hour or two after low tide, and there they were, right along the water, a family of goose, gander and goslings. They were resting on the sand when the waves came in, and they all scrambled.

Keywords: birds, dungeness spit, animals, dungeness

05/01/07 - Eagle Watching at Dungeness Spit

We took advantage of the morning low tide to explore the Dungeness Spit. It was a real low tide, with lots of beach, so we were able to walk out to the two mile marker and back mostly on nicely compacted sand.

In the winter, the tides tend to be high, so most hiking is done up at the high end of the beach near the piles of driftwood that collect there. In the warmer months, the tides tend to be lower, so we hike down towards the water, and driftwood is well up the beach.

That means that it's easy to get hypnotized by the sand and restless water, and not notice any eagles perching on the driftwood above. This time, we looked up, and there's a photo of the bald eagle we spotted on the left.

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

12/24/06 - The Dungeness Dike Trail

We were exhausted from all our Christmas preparations and just wanted a place to stretch our legs so we checked out the Dungeness Dike Trail off Towne Road. It is right near the Dungeness Valley Creamery and Nash Huber's farm stand, so we could get some exercise and do some shopping.

The trail is a little gem. We had seen cars parked at the dike access area, and we had heard that this was a good area for birding, but now we have discovered another little treasure. Read our report for more info.

The Dungeness Dike Trail

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, farms, trails, christmas, dungeness, nash huber, shopping

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