Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Give Input Today On City's' Proposal To Allow Homeless Encampments In Parks, Schools, And Other Public Areas

The City Council is voting tomorrow on proposed legislation, Ordinance #124747 authorizing “transitional encampments” on public lands for homeless including parks and green spaces, throughout the City of Seattle.

Citizens can send comments before tomorrow to City Council members listed at the end of the post.

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) voted unanimously to oppose the measure at its last meeting.
If approved the proposed legislation would:
  • permit homeless camping on public or City owned property, including Parks and Schools
  • limit the City’s ability to remove tents from sidewalks, unsafe locations and School property as Police officers would need to provide 30 days notice before removing an encampment
  • restrict the City’s ability to address encampments associated with criminal activity

Here is the Council proceedings on the Seattle Channel.

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information from a citizen who attended the City Council meeting yesterday:

The City Council was aggressively trying to proceed with their plans to allow encampments on City-owned public areas for up to 30 days continuous. The only Council member who opposed the legislation was Tim Burgess
Legislation includes among many requirements that the property of individuals who are living in the encampments is to be insured by the City for up to $250. If there are more than 5 people in the encampment, the City is to provide them with facilities such as honey bucket and waste disposal. There was a fair amount of debate over what constitutes a "suitable" encampment, which would be any structure which does not interfere with public ingress or egress and does not pose a safety risk to the camper or to the public. It seemed to be a very broad definition. 
Additionally encampments can pop up in school yards. While they say that technically the School District has the authority to remove encampments, Seattle police are not able to enforce this, as long as the encampment is "suitable." Additionally, the School District does not have its own police force.  So when school is out for the summer, the school yards could very well become tent cities.  
References were made to University of Washington police, State Troopers, WSDOT, and Port of Seattle Police, who may be able to remove tents from the respective properties.   
The most concerning element of the entire discussion was the disregard for public comment.  And the number of emails that the Council has received regarding this ordinance is 10 - 1 opposed. Yet, they are continuing to proceed. They are blatantly choosing not to represent the interests of their constituents.  
There will be a vote tomorrow, September 28th. Given what has transpired I strongly encourage those of you who are opposed to this ordinance to make your voice heard. If the ratio is 20 to 1, 50 to 1, or 100 to 1, it will become harder and harder for the Council members to push this through.  
I believe that this legislation does not solve the problem, it only feeds the problem. There are other solutions, such as having a larger budget to manage mental health issues in the state of Washington or having a tax structure, which allows us to provide the services to the people in this state might help solve this problem.  
Simply allowing people to camp and providing them with Honey Buckets, garbage disposal services and other City services wherever they choose to call their home is not a solution to the problem. On the contrary, it will encourage migration of individuals from Snohomish, Kitsap, and Pierce counties to the city of Seattle where the services will be provided to them and they will have unlimited access to our public Commons, they need only bring their tent and sleeping bag.

Another citizen provided this letter that was recently sent to Magnuson Park tenants:

The City Council is considering legislation which could have a large effect on Magnuson Park and other areas by opening City parks and green spaces to unauthorized camping.  

Unfortunately this is already affecting Magnuson because the controversy and conflict over this policy has had a negative impact because it has allowed City staff to stop giving notice and removing camps including one at Magnuson. .
Until recently park and City policy has been to remove unauthorized camps after giving 72 hours notice, but under the proposed legislation the City would be required to give 30-days notice in most cases and at least 48 hours in cases of "clear hazard."  
A problem is that the impact of camps tends to increase and more vegetation or other infrastructure is damaged as time passes and even a few more days can make a significant difference.  There is also a tendency for camps to increase in size or draw additional campers as time goes on.  
Within Magnuson this has resulted in no notice or action for removal being taken on a new camp located about 200 feet north of NE 65th Street and about 150 feet east of 62nd Avenue NE in the north woodland of the Park's forest remnant zone. This camp has already harmed some of the work done by the hundreds of volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours to restoring the woodland over the past decade and is likely to harm more as time goes on.  
A suspicious number of bicycles of questionable origin are in the camp or concealed in vegetation nearby it. This camp is also close to the problematic parking area on 62nd Avenue NE immediately north of NE 65th St. That parking area which has been an area of concern over the past few months due to suspected drug sales or other criminal activity and some car camping impacts.  
About a month ago a vehicle from there crashed eastward through a fence and downhill into the north woodland leaving behind debris or destroyed and damaged trees and shrubs. A person who passed by while walking a dog described the debris as looking like items likely to have been stolen in smash and grab crimes.  
Keep in mind that future homeless camps won't necessarily be limited to natural areas and could be in other portions of the Park.  
If you have concerns about this proposed legislation please let City Council members know right away.  And if you have concerns about the process of removing camps from the Park having been halted please contact the Mayor.

In a memo signed by a Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole; Catherine Lester, Director of Human Services; Scott Kubly, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation and others they wrote: 

The proposed legislation does not strike the right balance and would authorize camping throughout the City of Seattle and would open City parks and green space to unauthorized camping. The practical impact of the legislation would be dramatic.  We are deeply concerned about the potential impacts of the proposed legislation.

The proposed legislation would: 

  • dramatically restrict the City’s ability to address unauthorized camping on public property
    inhibit the City’s ability to address tents that block sidewalks or are in unsafe locations
  • prevent the City from removing tents from school property and other public entities’ properties
    limit the City’s ability to address unauthorized tents or derelict vehicles associated with criminal activity
  • cost tens of millions of dollars annually to implement
  • divert resources from the programs that experts say work best to reduce homelessness
    expose the City to significant legal liability

Here are news articles on the proposed legislation: 

Here is contact information for City Council Members: 
Rob Johnson - sponsor of the proposal
Rob.Johnson@seattle.gov and Staff member: Geri.Morris@seattle.gov
Twitter: @CMRobJohnson

Lisa Herbold

Bruce Harrell

Kshama Sawant

Debora Juarez

Mike O'Brien

Sally Bagshaw

Tim Burgess

Lorena Gonzales

Neighbor Reports Large Pine Dying Around Neighborhood Due To Bark Beetles And Lack Of Rain

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information:

There have been several trees, in the neighborhood, that have been the victims of the last couple, hot summers. I was told by an arborist that they've been "stressed and vulnerable to disease."  
Bark beetles are big culprits when there has been insufficient rains as we've had the past few summers. This has been a huge problem in California and Oregon forests, now is it our turn?
We hated to see a large pine  in a yard in the 4000 Block of Surber Drive/Belvoir be removed. If you drive on Surber, you'll notice a big hole where it used to stand. Others have been scattered throughout the neighborhood.  Another  "victim" was on the 3700 block of 42nd. Avenue Ne. It has also been removed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Homeless Man Seen Regularly In Laurelhurst, Known To Chase People Home And Act In Aggressive, Frightening Manner

Photo from Neil Wright

The Laurelhurst Blog Staff has received, over the last many months, numerous emails about a homeless Caucasian male, 27 years old with shoulder length brown hair, that has been seen frequently walking around the neighborhood, as well as in other northeast Seattle neighborhoods.

The individual, named Andrei Peter Strejac, was for many months, wearing very dirty tan pants torn at the bottom, dark jacket, at times a blue poncho, knit hat times a surgical mask over his face, hiking boots and wears glasses.

More recently he has cut his quite dirty hair to above the shoulders, still has a scraggly beard and now wears jeans along with the same black jacket and more recently white tennis shoes.

Andrei told a neighbor that graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2008 and attended Laurelhurst Elementary School and that's why he likes coming back to the neighborhood. He added that he had never been on an airplane and this his mother lives outside of Seattle and he doesn't know where father is. 

For many months in the early spring and summer, Andrei was regularly seen walking eastbound on NE 45th Street in the late afternoons, sometimes walking northbound on 46th and 47th Avenues NE and usually walking around the Park many times in the early evening.

The last few months he has been seen less frequently in the park and surrounding streets. He was most recently seen at the Rite-Aid in Wedgwood on Friday. Neighbors report seeing him regularly on the Burke-Gilman Trail, asking for food at various restaurants, such as St. Helens and  over the summer was seen in Bryant, Wedgewood, Hawthorne Hills.

This summer, Andrei was seen many times sleeping in the Laurelhurst Park near the Tennis courts, sometimes sleeping next to another male.  He has also been seen sleeping amongst the bushes by the garbage enclosure just outside of the Community Center to the south.    Neighbors said that he hides his brown sleeping bag in a clear plastic bag under the brush during the day.

The Laurelhurst Blog received many reports from neighbors, one in particular who reported, as detailed below, being chased by Andrei to her house in Laurelhurst from the Burke-Gilman Trail.

In November, 2010 Andrei followed a North Seattle man home and tried to steal his bag from the man's porch. Andrei was charged with attempted second-degree robbery.

The information says:

A North Seattle man is in hot water after he allegedly became angry at a fellow bus rider, followed him home and then urinated on the man's porch. He then tried to steal the victim's computer bag and punched him, according to charges filed in King County Superior Court.  The victim said he followed the men and Strejac dropped the bag. But one of the other men began threatening to fight the victim. Strejac then punched the victim in the face, breaking the man's glasses, charges said.

Here is a record of Andrei being booked by King County Department of Detention in March 2016.

Here are reports regarding Andrei in the last year as received by the Laurelhurst Blog: 

I was walking the Laurelhurst Park track loop and saw a dog rushing out of the big bush area just south of the Community Center, next to the garbage enclosure. A homeless man was growling at the dog, chasing him away. The dog didn't hurt the man. He fled from him.


The homeless man behaves aggressively toward neighborhood dogs, gawking at young girls and ladies in shorts playing at the Park and around the neighborhood. We saw him look into a bag holding athletic supplies once at the park.

We have called the police about this young man. Police encourage 911 calls if he is seen behaving suspiciously or inappropriately in our neighborhood. They also say to call 911 asap if he's seen camping anywhere in Laurelhurst as this is illegal. 911 calls must be made immediately, upon observing him. They encourage the calls so this man doesn't become entrenched in Laurelhurst as a homeless resident.

Unfortunately, I didn't stop one of my morning walks to call 911 when I saw this man leaving his camp site in the trees at the Park and growling at a dog.  I believe that most neighbors need to be told and/or reminded to call 911 immediately upon seeing any unsavory behavior or sign that he's camping in our neighborhood so we can nip this in the bud, before this man and/or any other homeless folks become entrenched in our neighborhood. I believe we all need this reminder and information that he's become a "regular" in Laurelhurst - camping in our park. This would help us become aware of the situation and stay on top of it.

I saw the homeless man sleeping on the grass strip, opposite Chase Bank and the condominiums, above the gas station, on NE 50th Street. He goes in the various shops for candy and has asked for coffee at Windermere.  He also hangs out at the bus shed at Sand Point Village resting about mid day. He's been s fixture for quite a while. I am worried for him, not about him.  Neighbors have been wondering where he sleeps.
I don’t know if he is a threat or not. He certainly looks healthy, but ragged. 
The Laurelhurst Blog Staff contacted Seattle Police Department's Officer Michael Lanz (michael.lanz@seattle.gov) with pictures and reports of his behavior who responded saying:
Regarding Suspicious male in / around park. Officers did a check of the Park and spoke to Parks Department staff, who reported they had seen this male before and they are aware of him (they do not know his name).   He is seen at times in the Park and at time in other areas of the U-District.  I did a check and it does not appear Officers have made contact with him yet.   I will send this information to district officers so they are aware and can do more checks of the park.  I will also pass this info onto our CRT unit (who looks into subjects possibly suffering from mental issues).  If people using the park see him and are concerned about his behavior feel free to call 911 and have an officer come out. If the suspicious / homeless man is seen and there is some public safety concern / or the male is some kind of crisis call 911.   Request contact with the officer to give them all details necessary and request the officer document the incident in a police report and get a case number for the report. The police report should get forwarded to our Crisis Response Team (CRT) for follow up. Remember, all police officers are trained in Crisis Response.  Officers have the training and resources to make the appropriate decision if the person is contacted.   The parks department is aware of this information as well.

When I ate at Sand Point Grill on a Friday night he was at the inside entryway.

The homeless man  is seen very often recently in Laurelhurst. Several neighbors and I have seen him daily in Laurelhurst Park, sleeping under bushes near garbage enclosure, behaving aggressively toward neighborhood dogs, gawking at young ladies in shorts.   I saw this man leaving his camp site in the trees and growling at a dog several days ago. 

I have seen this man in the neighborhood many times, including walking up the hill from the Beach Club, walking by Laurelhurst School and walking up NE 45th Street toward the Park. Because we have been told to phone 911 for activity like this, I phoned 911 and was switched to the non-emergency line. I waited 45 minutes on hold to report this man since it's illegal to sleep in our Park. 
Laurelhurst Community Club Security Patrol reported that on May 18th, they "followed up with the Seattle Parks Department and Community Center regarding transient in the park - he moved along out of the park." 

Laurelhurst Elementary has reported him to police more than once this year, Eckstein Elementary has reported him several times for trespassing and not leaving when asked, and have heard from other neighbors that other schools or organizations have as well.  
Laurelhurst Elementary School sent this information to parents:  
Over the past few weeks, we have received reports of a “homeless man” lingering around the neighborhood. As a result, we stepped up our security (you may have seen our Head Teacher biking the perimeter in the mornings) and responded that if he ever steps foot on campus, or is perceived as a threat, we’ll call district security and/or the police. Today, at about 12:00, a man approached our kitchen door asking if we had any spare food. We immediately radioed for staff to keep their eyes on him and called security who advised us to call the police. The Head Teacher followed the man for a few blocks until he was called off by the police. Again, security is our paramount concern here, so thanks to all the vigilant families and neighbors who called the school to alert us of this situation. We have been advised by security and police that if you see an individual or situation that feels suspicious or threatening, call the police. Don’t confront or engage, as you could be putting yourself in harm’s way. After you have reported it to the police, if it is something that feels relevant for the school to know, please call or email the school office to keep us informed. 
I saw him and another homeless man asleep in Laurelhurst Park one morning.  Another man was asleep under a blue tarp next to him and he looked like he had most of his clothes off and there was debris and food and alcohol bottles scattered all around them.  The homeless man obviously needs social services and ignoring his needs may lead to his further decline. We noticed that a young jogger was scared of him, saying he was walking erratically. 
We were walking our dog one early morning in the park and saw two homeless tents.  They were set up on the north west side between the soccer field and the tennis courts.  The next day the tents were gone.   
The homeless man knocked on our door and asked if we needed any help with yard work.  We told him that we didn't and he proceeded to step forward towards us, becoming angry, aggressive and argumentative telling us he really needed the work and that we weren't nice.  From this experience we feel this man is threatening and scary to interact with or be near. 
I am a female and about 7:30pm one evening, Andree chased me while I was jogging on the Burke Gilman trail all the way to my home on the corner of 49th Avenue NE and NE 50th Streets.  He was walking on the trail towards me and then turned around before I passed him to face the same direction as I neared the Princeton bridge. He even looked back to see if I was still coming before I quickly passed him. He then apparently followed me running as I ran up the steep hill on 50th Avenue NE by the gas station and Chase Bank to my home, about a ½ a mile and most of it is up hill. I didn't look back to notice and even ran across Sand Point Way from the trail ramp to the trail. When I got home and certainly wasn't thinking he would have run up the hill after me, I was in my front yard fixing plants before I took out me key to go inside. When I looked back and before putting the key in my door, there he was across the street watching me. I am a competitive runner and he must have been running fast to chase me. It was very scary. I called the Police, but it took them almost two hours to arrive.   He isn't safe as many thought. We have learned from a neighbor he is schizophrenic.   Be careful and walk in the neighborhood and on the trail with a friend. I now run on the trail and in our neighborhood almost daily, with a lot more caution.  Andrei not only knows where I live, but he is targeting random people who are alone in the neighborhood. We don't allow our children outside, to go to the park or even around the block without an adult or at least one other older person.  I was fast enough in my running to get home and when I turned to look he was behind me, but many won’t be fast enough.  
We talked to him one evening and he told us he went to Laurelhurst Elementary School and graduated from Roosevelt High School, so he may have grown up in the area. He said he doesn't know where his father is and his mother is in Federal Way but said "she can't help me."  Perhaps he isn’t looking to leave since he is from this area. 
This man is not stable and has trespassed at three northeast neighborhood schools, more than once, and his actions are getting more aggressive.  
I have seen this man in the neighborhood while walking many times.  He appeared to be minding his own business then started chasing me.   
Several neighbors have said that he has tried to jump at them while they have been biking on the Burke-Gilman Trail, trying to knock them off their bikes.  
I heard that he has yelled obscenities at the Safety Patrol crossing guards at Laurelhurst Elementary.  
He's been around the University Village and Viewridge area for several months.I've seen him go in local restaurants in area to use the restroom. Sometimes he stays for tea or coffee.  
He and another guy have been trading off sleeping on the previous bus stop bench on the north side of NE 45th Street at 43rd Ave NE. I saw the other guy leaving the bench at 6am.  
My concern is we have two schools very close and many kids around. My friends daughter was walking their large dog in the morning and left when she saw him as she was scared. Where is the neighborhood private Security Patrol we pay for?  
I will be calling next time I see him. I feel bad for him and he obviously needs help.  
The police walked through Laurelhurst park on May 23rd with a photo of Andrei and many of those in the Park confirmed they had seen him and that they saw his things by the tennis courts. The police found the items but not Andrei.

After my scary incident being chased from the Burke Gilman Trail in May, the police contacted me and said that Andrei had been brought in by police for an outstanding previous warrant just a few days before we talked, but let out again, which the officer said usually happens with not enough evidence.  The Officer added that Andrei has had “extensive dealings with the police” with the incidents escalating in the past few years. The officer said that in the past three years, more reports have been filed against him and that they had been escalating in type of incident. The Officer shared that if he and his family lived in this neighborhood, he would want to know about this and share with his wife and children to be extra careful, never walk or exercise alone in the surrounding neighborhoods. The police can’t bring him in unless he actually touches someone or does something more aggressive than chasing people, but can’t bear to let that happen to anyone. It was scary enough being chased as a full grown adult when the sun was still out. I no longer feel safe in my own neighborhood. Thank goodness I am ok but my family has been in lock down mode, per Police advice.  This man has been known to be violent in the past and possibly off his mental health medications.


A friend said that Andrei had tried to scare him, by jumping towards him on the Burke Gilman Trail while he was riding his bike, to try and make him fall. He barely got by him and headed home.   
Following up again after the May scary chasing incident with Andrei, the SPD Officer continues to be in touch with me to see if I have seen him near my home lately. My friends and next door neighbor say he continues to walk by.

Several neighbors report that they wished they had immediately called the Police as they were  threatened by Andrei while riding on the Burke Gilman Trail near the Princeton Bridge. Others have seen him many times walking around the neighborhood.   
I have seen a white male approx age 25-30, dark brown almost  black hair leaving on a bicycle in the morning from Laurelhurst. Yesterday he was on bicycle with a backpack and wheeling a blue suitcase along side him.  He was coming from the Center for Urban Horticulture area.   
I was driving next to him and the light at NE 45th Street was red and when the light changed the homeless man crossed NE 45th Street and went into the Lakeside Medical Dental building covered garage. Another time we saw him  carrying several items in his hands while riding a bicycle and came from Surber Drive.  With Laurelhurst burglaries and car prowling, I found this behavior suspicious. 

For the past month we are seeing more homeless in the playfield. Please be aware and be cautious. Some parks have developed serious problems with drugs and needles.

We saw Children's Hospital Security parked on NE 45th Street near the Park with their lights flashing and they said that Andrei had been looking into cars and trying to get in to some in the Hospital parking lot.  Security was parked there as they were waiting for the Seattle Police to arrive talk with him about the incidents and remove him from the Park where he was sleeping near the tennis courts.

I am the female runner who was chased in May.  We still see Andrei in the neighborhood.  We don't let our children take the public bus to school, as we know Andrei takes the City bus as we saw him around 3pm on a Wednesday walking into the back side of Children’s to wait at the bus stop. 

Have You Seen A CD Binder With CDs?

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information:
We'd appreciate the Laurelhurst Blog's help in locating an item that we lost on Saturday morning, 9/24, when we left it on the back of our car and then drove off. 
It is a black CD binder (12 inches high by 4 inches wide and perhaps an inch or so thick) with many sentimental CDs.  
It was probably lost on 48th Avenue NE between NE 40th and NE 45th Streets or somewhere along NE 45th Street.  
We are offering a reward.  
Please contact laurelhurstblogger@gmail.com if you have information.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Neighbors' Responses Regarding Person Recently Asleep At Waterway 1 Basketball Court

The Laurelhurst Blog received these responses regarding yesterday's post about a young man sleeping on the basketball court at Waterway 1:
To the neighbor who happened by the young man lying on the basketball court, who asked "Should we call into Police non emergency and ask for medical aid?"  Yes. Make that call to 911 if you are concerned.  I was walking the dog one cool, rainy night and found myself in exactly the same situation.  I found a young man (teen?) lying on a sidewalk who had vomited. He was incoherent and not dressed for the cold night. I was concerned that he might be at risk of toxic overdose and of exposure to the cold, so I called 911 and asked for medical response.  The 911 operator thanked me for making the call, and assured me that they do want to be called when someone's safety appears to be at risk.  It's a tough call, but someone who is lying outdoors and who is incoherent, might need urgent attention for an overdose, a stroke, a head injury (our neighbor described a man with a skateboard) or some other medical emergency. It would be devastating to ignore a situation like that and later learn that a neighbor family had lost someone do to head injury, overdose (or whatever).  Every minute might matter.  Call 911 if you are concerned. 
Call the police. It's illegal to camp there, and as you noted he was likely coming down off of a drug of some kind. Given the rash of property crimes in the neighborhood we need to react promptly to incidents like this and make it clear that Laurelhurst isn't a place to crash and that folks are paying attention.
I saw him too and did not know what to do. I did make sure he was moving, but I had my two nephews with me, so that is all I did. By the time I got back down to see him, he was up and moving on. I was planning on calling the police so that they could check on his well-being/possibly get him help. I felt sorry for him, not at all threatened and felt rotten for just passing him by the first time.  
In response to our neighbor's question about how to respond to this type of incident, by calling 9-1-1 you follow the Good Samaritan Law in Washington state AND relieve yourself of moral duty (you're most likely not a medical professional who could assess the situation medically).   Thanks for reporting this situation in our neighborhood and opening up a discussion of Good Samaritan Laws and First Aid Response in Washington and here are a few websites of interest with further information regarding this topic:


Montlake Bridge Closed This Weekend To Drivers, But Not Bicyclists And Pedestrians , And Some Bridge Openings Allowed

The Montlake bridge will be closed 5am Saturday to 5am Monday.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) published this information:

WSDOT maintenance crews will be replacing sections of the aging grid deck, or roadbed across Montlake Bridge.
The bridge will be closed to all vehicular traffic. However, bicyclists and pedestrians will still be able to cross Montlake Bridge. 

The south half of the bridge will be open to marine traffic with one-hour advance notice on Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be no bridge openings from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday or from 6 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. 
WSDOT Bridge Maintenance Specialist Tim Ditch said:“By replacing portions of the bridge deck now, we will save drivers delays in the future from emergency maintenance closures.  
For more information, go to the WSDOT traffic app, the WSDOT traffic Twitter feed or the Seattle area construction page.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Neighbor Encounters Person Sleeping On Basketball Court At Waterway 1

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information:
On Monday, September 19, while on my morning walk, I came across a young man at Waterway 1, where the basketball court is, who appeared to be nodding out on drugs.  
He was curled up on the basketball court with a dark blue hoodie pulled over his head, his shoes were off and his skateboard was by his side. I didn't know how to react and was unsettled by his behavior.  
I began to hurry by but then, my neighborly and motherly instincts kicked in as I was worried for his well being. I stopped and called out to him a couple of times, just a "Hey, how are you doing? Can I help in any way?" There was no response, so I asked again. He slowly lifted his hand with a thumbs up signal so I walked on feeling helpless.  
I saw a neighbor a few doors down in his driveway and stopped to share my account and get his opinion on what should be done. He listened politely and said that he would check in with him in a few minutes to reassess the situation.  I was comforted to know that other neighbors were around and were interested in helping, but was left feeling a bit alarmed in not knowing what I could do to help this young man.   
I am not sure what the outcome was with the young man.  He didn't look like the guy that has been seen and sometimes sleeps in the Park. This person was a bit too tidy and had different behavior.  
I guess what was really alarming to me was my indecision on what to do for help. Should we call into Police non emergency and ask for medical aid?  I'm not sure of the rights of individuals to nod off or sleep/camp in public spaces. I would like to be directed to a sight that might help me gain current knowledge on the best practices to help " neighbors in need"?

Apples Theme At Center For Urban Horticulture's Storytime On Saturday


Miller Library, located in Laurelhurst at the UW Botanic Gardens (3501 NE 41st Street)  is holding a story time on Saturday with the theme of "An Apple for the Teacher" from 10:30-11:15am.

information s
Apples are a delicious part of fall in the Northwest!  We’ll learn more about apples and make our own applesauce at this seasonal story program.

Books to be read are:
APPLE by Nikki McClure
APPLE PIE ABC by Alison Murray
OUR APPLE TREE by Görel Kristina Näslund


Storytime is geared towards children ages 3 to 8. All ages and their families are welcome.

The next storytime will be October 15  and the theme will be "Nature Walk."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Interesting Variety Of Bird Activity At Union Bay

Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

The Un-Snipe
Wednesday morning, the kingfisher chattered noisily, announcing my entry into its domain. 

The pied-billed grebe watched silently as I paddled north. The orange sun glowed fiercely as it fought to rise above the Cascades. Initially, the wind was still and the water mirrored the world above. I was hoping to watch our three young Union Bay osprey diving for fish. 

While gliding between islands of cattails, a small bird flushed. I caught a brief glimpse of its silhouette. Its disproportionately long bill was hanging down at a 45 degree angle. The word 'Snipe' immediately popped into my mind. I wondered, could it be anything else? 

The bird was oddly difficult to track. Repeatedly, it seemed to nearly stop in midair, before swiftly switching direction. The arc of its disjointed flight was as beautiful as it was unpredictable. The stop-and-go stuttering reinforced my initial impression. Excellent marksmen (or markswomen) are called snipers for a reason. Sadly, the bird was gone before I even thought about lifting my camera.

Near the osprey nest, the sunlight warmed the water creating an early morning mist.

A few minutes later, Chester appeared with a second helping of food for his young. At this point, the two young males had food to eat. Sadly, their sister simply sat in the middle of the nest watching, waiting and begging. (None of the young birds seemed particularly interested in securing their own food.) 

Since watching their first flights, I have been thinking of the young male osprey as Wilbur and Orville. Later, when I learned how close the Wright Brother's were to their younger sister, Katharinethe names Orville, Will and Kate seemed very appropriate. It also seems fitting, that the last time young osprey learned to fly above Union Bay could have been about the same time the Wright Brothers were learning to fly above Kitty Hawk.

While watching the young osprey, a shorebird came and landed nearby. It was about the same size and shape as a snipe. It also used its long bill to search the mud for morsels of food. I assumed it was the same bird I had seen earlier.

There were hints, which I only noticed later, that this was a actually a different type of bird. 

I noticed how it shut its eyes while preening. I also noticed how the ends of its bill spread apart. Compare this photo with the previous and you will notice the incredible flexi'bill'ity. The tips of the bill have evolved into 'fingers' which can probe, sense and grasp small creatures hidden in the mud.

My attention was further split between red-shafted flickers, green-winged teals, red-winged blackbirds and of course the incessant cries of Kate, the young female osprey. Suddenly, one of the young males leaped off the nest and took to the air. Kate quickly assumed his spot at the table.

The young osprey landed on a light pole above the baseball field and confronted a much larger great blue heron. I have watched the parents harass herons, but this was the first time I have seen one of the young get involved. I think the essence of the issue was related to the light pole 'overlooking' the osprey nest.

A moment later Kate joined her brother and added a little weight on the osprey end of the scale. At this point, I began to wonder what would happen next.

When Chester joined the fray, I thought for sure the heron would take flight.

Surprisingly, the heron stood its ground.

Kate returned to the nest. I find it incredible that in young birds, nearly every feather can be perfectly pristine. Slowly, each of the osprey gave up and dispersed.

Finally, the heron dived off the light pole and headed toward the nest. I became a bit nervous. When the heron veered off towards the Carp Pond, I breathed a sigh of relief.

The 'unsnipe' took turns sleeping and feeding through all the osprey drama.

When it traded places with the killdeer, the light coloring under its wings and the color of its tail provided hints to its true identity.

Suddenly, a true Wilson's Snipe flew in and landed nearby.

At this point, I at least realized that there was a difference in the plumage of the two birds.

Take a moment and compare this photo of the snipe with...

...the 'unsnipe'. Both birds' necks go up and down so that difference is not significant.

You can even scroll back through the previous photos if you would like, to really search for differences between the two birds. 

With the luxury of photographs, I can see that the snipe has additional stripes across the top of its head, more rusty coloring on its wings and nape, an obviously orange stripe on its tail, 'vertical' white striping on it back and my Sibley guide points out that the snipe is darkly colored under its wing.

Later, Dennis Paulson confirmed my suspicion that the 'unsnipe' was actually a dowitcher. I also learned that in freshwater habitat a dowitcher is most likely to be of the long-billed variety, as opposed to the short-billed dowitcher - which looks very similar - but is usually found near salt-water.

The dowitcher flew right at me before veering off to the south. The snipe took to the air and followed. Later, as I headed home for lunch, I found the two birds again, side by side working in the mud.

While the dowitcher is most likely a migrant passing through, the snipe might very well be a resident bird, although rarely seen by me. I feel incredibly lucky to live near Union Bay and to share my time on Earth with so many wild and wonderful creatures. 



This week's post is dedicated to Dr. Sara Reichard. Dr. Reichard, director of the University of Washington Botanical Gardens, passed away unexpectedly at the end of August. Her vision, inspiration and leadership will be sorely missed. 

The following links will help you learn more about her exceptional life:

When visiting the Arboretum or the Union Bay Natural Area, when observing the diversity of plants and trees or when watching the young osprey we should all be thankful for Sara's leadership and guidance which has enabled life to continue to flourish in these very special places.