Sea Lions Fishing

On Monday’s trip to Westport’s docks I kept hearing an explosive splashing. I followed it to find two large sea lions diving and splashing around the end of a large ship. Despite standing at the very end of the dock for over a half hour balancing on a sloping dock, I was never able to get a better shot of either of the sea lions than this one, mostly because I could never predict where they would emerge next.

Sea Lion

Frustrated, I went back to photographing the birds I’d come to photograph.

Sea Gull Landing

However, in the process of photographing seagulls, I began to notice that large numbers of gulls were landing in particular areas, and flying up and down, as if waiting.

Sea Gulls Floating in Circle

While focused on one of those groups, I saw a tremendous splash, immediately followed by gulls taking off and landing. If you look closely you can see a fish right behind the dark gull just taking off.

Sea Lion and Sea Gulls Waiting for Scraps

Unlike me, the gulls could predict where the sea lion was going to emerge with a fish in its mouth, and were waiting for scraps of salmon that were thrown about in all the thrashing.

All I had to do was focus on the circle of gulls and eventually I would get a shot of a sea lion emerging with a fish in his mouth.

Sea Lion with Fish in Mouth

Follow a single stand devotedly enough, and you begin to unravel a little more of nature’s mysteries.

Birding at Tokeland

Yesterday was one of those warm-sunny Fall days when you’re almost ready to pack up and move to the Ocean to retire. (Once you’re home, you remember that winters on the Coast are miserably wet, with a lot of cold, driving rain, and that perhaps it’s best to drive there every chance you get and to stay in a motel overnight when really tempted.)

Though Tokeland is probably my least favorite place to photograph, I’ve certainly got the best photos there the last three times I’ve gone to the beach, making it difficult not to return there every time I go. I don’t have to do anything to get photos other than drive there, get out of the car, and stand on the dock, and wait for miraculous things to happen. And they usually do, at least photographically.

For instance, this is the first time I’ve ever managed to get a shot of a Western Grebe, and there was a flock of them just aways off shore. Unfortunately, they never came as close as I would have liked, but I’d be an ingrate to complain about shots like this:

Western Grebe

Equally exciting, though not the first time I’ve ever managed to get a shot of a Common Loon was the fact that the loons were closer than I’ve ever seen them before, and they were busy fishing, so they paid virtually no attention to me, just going about their business of catching meal after meal:

Common Loon With Fish

And what would a good day birding be without an unidentified birds like this one

Unidentified Shorebird

that was hanging out with a large flock of Marbled Godwits at Tokeland, but doesn’t look like any Marbled Godwit I’ve seen.

These Old Bones

I dragged these old bones to the beach today and had a great time, such a great time that I haven’t had the energy to process all the photos yet.

So this is a placeholder for the day. I should manage to get back to work by tomorrow afternoon, though the sunshine keeps drawing me oughta the house.

Dead tree trunk on the beach

No Mas

After last Tuesday’s classes at the Y I knew I was sick, but the heater repairman was scheduled to come “between 2 and 4” (and I was sick enough to actually believe that). Around 4 I called Leslie and told here she would have to come home and wait for the repairman because I was going to bed.

She did, I did, and I didn’t get up again until late Thursday. The only reason I got up then was I remembered that the last time I spent three days in bed I ended up with pneumonia. By Friday, however, I was feeling almost well, well enough to take Skye for his usual brisk 45 minute walk. By Saturday morning I was well enough to go see Gavin’s soccer game, go out and get a new thermostat, and install it.

I was even well enough to look forward to Saturday afternoon’s Huskies football game with Notre Dame, hoping this would be the first win of the year. I should have known better. I certainly should have known better when Notre Dame scored on their first possession. I did know better after they quickly scored their second goal mere minutes later. Before the end of the first quarter I began to feel as bad as I did Tuesday night. I hung on as long as I could, but at the end of the third quarter I told Leslie I’d had enough and handed her the TV controller and sought out the cold comfort of my computer screen.

I should know enough to avoid watching the Huskies anymore this season, but old habits die hard and I grew up watching their games with my Dad who played for them shortly. Graduating from The U probably didn’t help, either. The Huskies are the only team I’ll actually try to work vacations around. If I were a real fan I’d buy season tickets, but I’m not that much of a fan, especially when I remember the traffic jams after the game when I went to college there. And they’ve almost doubled the number of seats since then. If the Huskies are on TV, I’m going to watch the game! Is there any other reason to have cable TV?

I was one of those foolishly optimistic people who thought Ty Willingham should be given another year with “his players” to prove that he could win at the end of last season. Perhaps it’s because I see quite a lot of my Dad in Willingham. He’s a stand-up guy who builds his team on character. He’s “old school,” and it’s easy to see him in a Hemingway novel, living by “The Code.” And dying by it. Santiago’s got nothing on Ty. Who doesn’t admire the way he’s stood up to increasingly hostile Husky fan and sports writers.

Still, it’s hard to admire an 0-7 season. I’m tired of feeling like the driver who slows down on the freeway to look at a accident every time I turn on a Husky game. Can administrators deny Ty is “deadman walking?” They aren’t going to defy increasingly hostile supporters and retain him for another year. Of course, I’d feel sorrier for him if he wasn’t walking away with 1.5 million for the last year of his contract, more money than I made in my 30 years of teaching high school English.

The truth is that it’s nearly impossible to recruit the caliber of players this team needs to turn this program around as long as high school players think that Willingham might be back, not that it’s going to be much easier without knowing who the new head coach might be. But it’s pretty clear from the way this season has gone that recruiting isn’t one of Willingham’s strengths. Maybe not enough high school football players have read Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.

Perhaps they just don’t want to go down with a sinking ship.

UPDATE: Apparently I wasn’t the only one who said “no mas,” as Coach Willingham was forced to resign today, but will finish out the season.