Friday, July 20, 2018

"Reptile Man" At The Park Wednesday


The Summer Series at the Laurelhurst Park continues on Wednesday at 11am with "The Reptile Man".
The information says:
Snakes, turtles, iguanas OH MY!  Come to this fun experience and learn about live reptiles!  The reptile man will bring his impressive lineup of reptiles for you to see, hear and even touch.
The show is $5 per family for up to 4 people, and $2 for each additional person. The show will be outdoors weather permitting, so something to sit on is encouraged.

(photo courtesy of Community Center)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mallard Family At Union Bay

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

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

Duckling Distraction
On Thursday while I was heading home, I happened to notice this female duck brooding her young. She looked like a mallard, although generally the females have at least some orange  on the outer edge of their bills. The all dark bill made me question myself. I wondered if this duck might belong to a different species.
In any case, the dark bill gave her a uniquely, beautiful look. I found her beauty and mystery mesmerizing, plus the ducklings crowding under her breast where also pretty hard to resist.
A few minutes earlier, one of the ducklings took a moment to peer out at the dangers of the world before turning tail and snuggling back under its mother.
My focus was broken by the splash of a duck diving below the surface.

There were three birds in the water between us and they were all diving below the surface.

Their splashes were quite distracting. I had seen the same three ducks a few minutes earlier. 

They looked like miniature mallards. Their diving behavior bewildered me because Mallards are classified as dabbling ducks, as opposed to a number of other species which are referred to as diving ducks. Later while doing research, I would learn there are a few references to Mallards diving. If you click on the previous link and look under the heading, Feeding Behavior, you will see one such reference.

Having never seen Mallards behave this way, I attempted to photograph their unusual behavior.

They dived with essentially the same speed as Western Grebes, quickly.

 This left me with numerous photos of water splashing up in the air.

 Occasionally, I actually caught a bit of a tail before they disappeared below the surface.

They would stay under water for 3 or 4 seconds before resurfacing. I never saw any food in their bills, so I am guessing they were swallowing something relatively small while still submerged.

When one swam in front of a full grown female Mallard, I realized this was an excellent opportunity for a comparison. The diving duck looked to be roughly the size of a Green-winged Teal, relative to the adult female.

When one of the young climbed totally out of the water I noticed the white sprouts of feathers on the left 'hip', in an area which will ultimately be covered by wing feathers, when the duck matures.

Relatively small wings might actually make it easier for young ducks to propel themselves underwater. However, since I could not see what they were doing below the surface I have no data to support this possibility. Still, I wonder if juvenile ducklings might be more inclined to dive due to a temporary optimal sizing of their wings during their development. 

Even though the young ducks were close to the size of Green-winged Teals, their bills where far more similar to Mallards than the thin little black beaks of Teals.

I found it hard to believe these young ducks were anything other than Mallards.

 I visually reviewed Sibley's drawings of all the dabbling and diving ducks.
I have found no other likely candidate species.

After a few minutes, the last of the three 'diving ducks' splashed its way out of sight.

Back on shore, one of the very young ducklings decided to leave the crowded basement and climb upstairs for a better view.
Later, I would learn there were seven other siblings huddled under the mother duck.

You can hardly blame the little duckling for wanting some fresh air and a more personal relationship with its mother.

Ultimately, the mother could only take so much movement and squirming. She headed for the water, giving the adventurous duckling a short ride to the shore.

Seeing the Mallard duckling on its mother's back was a first for me. It reminded me of a previous post regarding Pied-billed Grebes. It was titled, The Mother Ship.

Seeing the blue speculum on the mother duck removed any doubts that she was a Mallard. Click on the highlighted link to see examples of various identifying duck speculums.

 The young ducklings followed the mother to the water.
Looking at the spots on the young ducklings made me wonder if the whitish 'hip' feathers on the juvenile diving ducklings might be the remnant of the last yellow spot which we can see on these much younger birds.
The mysteries continued. The mother and her ducklings wandered close to a full-sized female Mallard. The large female appeared to nip at the smaller, black-billed mother duck. This seemed to prompt the mother to fly away.

The ducklings went on about their business of searching for food.

I can only assume the mother will be back. But I find myself bewildered by the size difference between the two 'mature' female mallards. There is far more going on in nature than I understand. Could it be that the smaller female is the result of a Mallard breeding with some smaller species of duck? or Could the size and bill color differences just be natural variation inside the Mallard species? 

Watching one of the young ducklings diving under the water sure seems like a fitting conclusion for this bewildering set of experiences.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Movie, "Language Arts" Being Filmed In Neighborhood For Several Weeks

film production and equipment vehicles 
on 48th Avenue NE

"Language Arts," a movie based on a book of the same name written by a Seattleite, who reportedly lives in Laurelhurst resident, has been filming in the neighborhood the last week. The screenplay is written and directed by Cornelia DuryĆ©e’s with Seattle based Kairos Productions.

Currently the 50+ production crew and cast, including reportedly Barbara Reed, who plays a nun, has been filming in St. Stephens Church, as well as several neighborhood residences. The production manager put out a request recently for auditions for a house to film in built before 1962 with a kitchen that matches the same time period.

Three medium size trailers, one for hair and make-up, another for wardrobe, and the third with restrooms and 2 additional cast dressing rooms, and a very long trailer housing 8 cast dressing rooms have been parked on the west side of 48th Avenue NE just below the park. Several trucks housing production equipment are parked on NE 45th Street in front of the church.

Stephanie Kallos' writes on her website about her book:

Charles Marlow teaches his high school students that language will expand their worlds. But linguistic skill cannot help him connect with his autistic son, his ex-wife, or his college-bound daughter. He’s at the end of a road he’s traveled for years when a series of unexpected events force him to reflect on the lifetime of decisions and indecisions that have brought him to this point. With the help of an ambitious art student, an Italian-speaking nun, and the memory of a boy in a white suit whose friendship both saved and condemned him, Charles may finally be able to rewrite the script of his life.

Filming will move to Laurelhurst Elementary School from July 28th to August 7th and August 21, weekdays 7am-9pm. All the production and equipment vehicles will park on 46th and 47th Avenues NE.

An informational sheet was left at residences living on those streets which said (in part):

"No parking" barricades will be erected at least 72 hours in advance of each restricted parking time, with no parking dates and times clearly indicated. 
Most of our filming activity will be inside the school. However, we will be filming exterior on a couple of the dates. We will also be staging our equipment and some lights outside, and will film several exterior and sidewalk scenes with intermittent pedestrian and traffic control (while the camera is rolling). We have a noise variance for when we may need to have a crew arrive a little before 7am. 
We have on-site staff to assist with any access mitigation you may need, in advance of, and during the filming. Contact the Production Office phone at 206-219-9121. 
We are working with the Seattle Office of Film and Music (206-233-3948)to obtain permits and all the assistance needed to make our go fast and smoothly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tomorrow Kids Gardening Class At Children's Hospital

Children's Hospital is holding an organic gardening class tomorrow for kids 10-15 years old.

Here is the information:
Children gardening

Class Details 

  • Prepare and eat fruits and vegetables from the organic garden.
  • Help create a healthier future for your family.
  • Organic produce, freshly picked.
  • Take home your very own soil, seeds and plant starts.
  • Have the skills to start your own garden at home.
  • Have fun planting, tending, harvesting, watering and eating.
  • Enhance your knowledge with a short gardening and nutrition lesson.

Classes are for children ages 10–15. Parent/caregiver participation is required.

For more information go here.
  To sign up, email 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tomorrow Audubon Bird walk At Magnuson

Seattle Audubon Society is holding a bird walk  tomorrow morning from 9-10:30am with Leader Joe Sweeney  and Karen Wosilait.  
The information says:
Magnuson Park offers a variety of habitats, including ponds, forest, fields, and a lake named after a president. This outing is very suitable for beginner bird-watchers, including children under 18 (with an adult).  
We will walk 2-3 miles on mostly level terrain, searching for birds and bathrooms along the way. Bring binoculars, hat, snacks, layers, rain gear and a sense of humor.  
Meet at the Promontory Point Environmental Learning Center, the red-metal-roofed shelter next to little drive-in road at the west edge of parking lot E-1. It is marked with a pink square on the Magnuson Park map.

For more information go here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Seattle City Light Finishing Upgrade In Webster Point Area

Seattle City Light has been upgrading the capacity and reliability of the electrical system near Webster Point, beginning in March 2015.

The workwhich affected 84 residences in that area, included installation of underground conduits, vaults, and equipment in order to replace outdated 4kV electrical equipment with its electrical cable buried directly in the ground, to a new 26kV infrastructure throughout Webster Point.

Seattle City Light told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff recently that crews are completing the final improvements to the capacity and reliability of the electrical system this month, that was previously started. 

The current project will install 27 underground transformers throughout the Webster Point area.  

Seattle City Light said:

Planned power outages are necessary to do the work safely. A few customers will experience up to three planned power outages during the work. Affected customers are being notified in advance by letter, which includes the date, time and duration of the outage(s). 
“No parking” signs will be placed at some electrical vaults. Customers are asked to respect them so the work can proceed efficiently. 

Besides the increase in capacity and reliability, the new 26kV system with its conduit and increased switching points will make for easier and quicker maintenance when it is required.   
Seattle City Light appreciates the patience of its customers during the completion of the project.

For questions contact Dennis Dolezal, Customer Service Representative, at 206-684-4977 or

Typical view during construction: Conduits under sidewalk

Typical after: sidewalk restored

(photos courtesy of Seattle City Light)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

UW Student Works On Restoring Vegetation and Habitat in Union Bay Natural Area

The UW Botanic Gardens newsletter: recently published a post about a UW Masters Student who has  been working to restore different sites in the Union Bay Natural Area along the western shore.

The Union Bay Natural Area, also known as Yesler Swamp is located near the Center for Urban Horticulture and bordered by NE 41st Street and Surber Drive.

The Friends of Yesler Swamp has published a variety of posts regarding the history of Yesler Swamp including history of the area from settlement, sawmill, town of Yesler, historic photos, videos, source notes and more, on their website.

Friends of Yesler Swamp and the UW Botanic Gardens have been working together for over a decade to restore the native plants of Yesler Swamp, located near the Center for Urban Horticulture and bordered by NE 41st Street and Surber Drive, as well as construct a handicapped-accessible natural wetland trail, which also serves to protect and conserve swamp wildlife and minimize human impact on the wetlands.  The  boardwalk was completed on October 16th of last year with a celebration.

The Seattle City Council approved a Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund award of $88,887 to restore Yesler Swamp and help with the cost of construction of the boardwalk.  And the King Conservation District provided a $31,940 grant for construction of a Viewing Platform and more. 

Friends of Yesler Swamp said on their website that the trail "offers views of the wetlands, the beaver lodge and the lagoon, while protecting wildlife by directing human foot traffic away from these sensitive areas.  

Joe-Neumann-600x200.jpgJoe Neumann in the 76-acre Union Bay Natural Area at the Center for Urban Horticulture