Surf’s Up


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.


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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3 Responses to Surf’s Up

  1. James L Mason says:

    Another great photo! We saw the first Junco(snowbird), but no snow yet.jameslmas

  2. Gary Grantham says:

    Nicely written, as usual.

  3. Brad Snyder says:

    Excellent! By the way my mom has a Cooper’s hawk who is hanging out in her tiny back patio of her condo for 3 hours at a time on her Maleleuca tree. Just about 8 feet from her door. Kind of amazing. I guess she or he loves the garden and bird feeder potentiality! Any thoughts on this behavior? I have had them hang around for maybe an hour before but not for such a long time. This has been going on for 3 weeks now.


    Brad Snyder | Senior Account Executive | WAXIE Sanitary Supply
    T: (858) 292-8111 ext. 428 | F: (858) 707-0409 |

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