Raptor Day

Recently about 100 folks showed up at the Pacific Rim Institute on Whidbey Island to view a demonstration from local falconers. They were treated to awesome flying and a chance to talk to the falconers and get up close and personal with the birds of prey.

Steve, Sue and Brad put on quite a show. Three falcons and a Harris hawk entertained the group. The birds swooped and dove over the heads of the crowd as they attacked the lures flown by the falconers.

Afterward everyone had an opportunity to meet and greet.

The kids stood in awe of these magnificent birds.

It was an experience they will never forget.

Get out there and be amazed…

Walk in the Woods

Go for a walk in the woods. Before you know it winter will encroach, the holiday season gears up and you may not have another good opportunity till spring. There are often very nice days this time of year for a pleasant stroll.

A stroll it should be! No destination, no hurries, no cell phone turned on. 

Give attention to the details. Little things not often noticed when you are in a hurry. Mushrooms are in season. The autumn light filters through treetops. The sound of birds not seen.

Each step can be an adventure in awareness. Often its difficult to slow down. A stroll becomes a hike. Your watch nags you about the next planned event and your mind begins to hurry and scurry along. Let go of the plan.

Take a camera or a sketchbook. Notice someting interesting and stop to appreciate the moment. Delete the photos later or tear up the drawing. It doesn’t matter. Its the act of engagement that will give you that direct experience and create a spiritual connection with nature.

Get out there and be amazed…

Of Men and Mountains

Often we walk on this Whidbey Island beach that faces south. On a clear day you can see both Seattle and Mount Rainier. Seattle is at least sixty miles closer than Rainier.

Notice how tiny Seattle looks in comparision to the mountain!

If you have been in downtown Seattle, you know how large the buildings are and how vast an area is developed. Yet compared to Rainier, the city is puny.

Reflect on how humbling our creations are compared to nature.

Get out there and be amazed…

Winter Crab Season

The Salish Sea is glassy calm. A ribbon of fog floats just above the masts of the sailboats floating on their moorings. Opening day begins for the winter Dungeness Crab season.

Folks gather on the public dock to deploy their crab pots. Its a social scene where friends greet and new freinds meet. Occasionaly someone hauls in their pot. Eveyone gathers to see if any keepers are among the crabs. Keepers are male crabs at least 6.25 inches wide, daily limit five.

You feel a connection with nature. The dock moves up and down with the tide. Sealife and waterfowl abound. No rush, no timelines. Just waiting for the crabs to scurry by. The best chance of a catch is on the incoming tide when the tidal push brings the crabs.

Hunter-gatherers throughout time have shared the same experiences as they tune into the cycles of nature.

Soon we have our limit and look forward to a feast tonight. Currently crab meat is selling for $40 per pound, another reason to be a hunter-gatherer.

Get out there and be amazed…

Silvers are running

The tide is high, the sun is just coming up and the silvers are running.

In the midst of solitude you share the beach with folks you don’t know, yet have a common connection. The seagulls are crying, a sea lion breaks the surface. Cargo ships pass by as they begin their distant journey.
You settle into a repetitive rhythm casting your lure. Early autumn chill is offset by constant motion. A hypnotic state settles around you… sudden excitement and action

Get out there and be amazed… 

Plants as Pets?

Often they are invisible, the plants we keep. Some grow inside our homes, many grow in our gardens. Others live naturally in nature and have captured our attention. Unlike dogs, cats, birds and reptiles, we do not commonly associate plants as pets. We give plants attention and care. Feed, prune and nurture. If we don’t they often die or struggle. Yet we do not regard them in the same manner as our animal friends.

We should consider why this is the case. With what significance do we regard plants as lifeforms? The closer a life form is to our own human form, the more mindful we are of their significance. We regard chimpanzees, whales and elephants as almost equals, due to their similarity to our human thought processes. Insects and plants get little respect.

Why? Plants are fellow lifeforms. Intrinsically, they are based on the same model as animals. Organic carbon lifeforms, utilizing amino acid proteins which are produced genetically from DNA codes.

On the surface, most lifeforms are different from human, but deep, deep down at a fundamental level, every species is equally sacred. Each individual of every species is unique and is blessed with the gift of being alive and as such should be treated with respect.

So why not plants as pets. If there is a particular plant that you are drawn to, then consider it a friend and create your own personal relationship.

My friend Tina had a spiritual relationship with a tree. It was about a half mile from her house on the hillside. She would walk to the tree every day and then sit quietly over looking the surrounding valley. Tina named the tree the “Yew” tree.

I now live in the house that Tina once lived and have walked to the Yew tree many times to sit under it’s branches. The Yew tree died last summer in a wildfire.

Get out there and be amazed…

New Year, New Day

First day of 2015 and we are visiting the Skagit Flats, located just north of Mt. Vernon, Washington. Bordering Puget Sound and the Skagit River the surrounding lowlands are a prime wintering ground for waterfowl, raptors and other birds.

Mt Baker from Skagit flats

Mt Baker from Skagit flats

What a beautiful day to start the new year. First stop was to enjoy thousands of Snow Geese feeding on a field of grass.

A loud bunch, they were constantly bickering with each other over a choice morsel.

One caught our eye. This goose had a neck band, labeled x4.

Neck band, X4

Neck band, X4

Later that evening we submitted a sighting report to the Bird Banding Laboratory located at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Researchers trap and band many species of birds. Data is used to study the dispersal, migration, life span and population changes. The banding lab manages this data. They will enter this sighting into their database and send us a detailed report of this bird which was submitted to the lab at the time the bird was banded.

Short Eared Owls were hunting prey and harassing each other. They put on quite the airshow.

Short Eared Owl

Short Eared Owl

We saw Peregrine Falcons, Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and Herons, just to name a few.

Many people were out walking, biking and birding. This little guy, though not a bird dog, was also enjoying the day.


There are 364 days left in 2015. Get out there and be amazed…