This week’s photo, taken October 20, 2013 from the deck of a Washington State Ferry in Edmonds, WA, features an adult male SURF SCOTER, a duck with an unmistakeable bill.
On Sunday morning, after Laura and I board the ferry in Edmonds, we step out of our car and walk to the railing to scan the area for aquatic birds. Surprisingly close to our vessel, 40 – 50 SURF SCOTERS are relaxing on the water below. When the ferry engines start up, the scoters’ legs also begin to churn, as the ducks wisely decide to paddle away from our humongous carpooling watercraft. The ferry cruises across the Puget Sound in a mere 25 minutes, and when we arrive at Kingston, a familiar sight awaits us in the protected bay below: 40 – 50 Surf Scoters! It’s highly unlikely that the scoters of Edmonds took flight and raced across the sound to beat us to the other side; nevertheless, it’s fun to imagine that they did exactly that.
We drive south to Bainbridge Island and our destination for the day, Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre public garden and protected forest. While we stroll the preserve’s meandering trails, I notice that something is missing: any audible hint of cars, planes, leaf blowers or other human-induced disturbances to our sense of hearing. There are no flight attendants thanking us for flying their airlines because they know we have a choice when we fly, and there are no bank tellers asking us how our day is going so far. The absence of auditory annoyances greatly enriches our experience at Bloedel, and when a PILEATED WOODPECKER starts drumming on a distant tree trunk, the tapping easily echoes throughout the woods, for it competes with no other sound in the forest.