Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Adventures in the land of the Snowy Owl

This afternoon I cajoled the kids into a small adventure up to the Skagit Wildlife area in search of Snowy Owls.  Typically, snowy owls live in the arctic but have been seen locally as part of a rare irruption into the region.  There was even one seen on the roof of the Ballard Library (I missed it).

NOT my picture:  From MyBallard.com 12/29/2011

We drove out at 2pm into light rain and arrived at Big Ditch Slough a bit after 3pm.  We had already eaten most of the jelly beans and the fresh-baked thumbprint cookies.  We played 20 Questions to pass the time and Frost was banned because he kept "thinking of" things that were tricky like "death", "Diamonds" and "a hand" and then giving us ambiguous answers to our questions.

Thinking of "A HAND"
Q:  Is it edible?
A: I guess its edible.  You wouldn't eat it but someone might eat it.

As Josh said later "What are you thinking?  Of course hands are not edible!"

And Thinking of "DIAMONDS"
Q:  Is it like a type of substance, like mineral?  Is it like stainless steel, or a metal or some type like that?
A:  No.

And then he did Gasoline
Q:  Is it man made?
A:  No, its natural.  Well, its both man made and natural.

Q:  Is it man mad or natural?
A:  Both.
Q:  But if humans had never existed, would it still exist?
A:  Yes.
Q:  Its natural then.  So, is it bigger than a minivan?
A:  It has no form, no mass.
Q:  Does it have energy?
A:  No
Q:  Is it an abstract concept?
A:  No.
Q:  Well, WTF!  I give up.  Its another of your odd ideas, isn't it?   What is it?
A:  Its DEATH.
Q:  You're kidding.  I told you SIMPLE.  Like, nothing that is not in a book teaching kids to learn the alphabet.  A = Apple.  B = Bear!!!  Frost, you are banned.

Later Josh said:   "This is remedial 20 questions" 

I complained that his Thought Burrito was not a mineral but a plant! He says the categories are Animal, vegetable and OTHER.  I retort that animal = things of animal origin but Josh feels that includes only living walking animals.  Vegetables are also only plants that look like plants.  Once you cook them they are MINERALS. 

I need my family to support my version of the game (which we call "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral" Josh, not Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and Other abstractions).

We didn't find an owl, although we wandered in the near sleet and found many bullet casings from duck hunters.  The boys are fighting over who has more winchester 12 guage cartridges in their collection.

We did find trumpeter swans which were gorgeous but it was icy and there were high winds so it was hard to see through the water blown into the binoculars.

Snow geese on Skagit fields below Fisher Slough (Stanwood area)

Later, we headed to another wetland access but again missed the owls.  I took some lovely pictures of the half-light under the stormy skies of a 4pm dusk.

On the way home we encountered dangerous conditions - high winds, rain and burritos which would not unwrap.  At one point our car windscreen was flooded and we could not see out at all for 3 seconds which has never occurred to me before. 

Joshua said I did well to drive straight and brake but I would say that was instinct and you would do the same if someone threw a blanket over your windscreen when you were going 60mph.

Stormy conditions on I5

We are now preparing for the return to school and work tomorrow and I have not given up on seeing a Snowy Owl.

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