Baby Food

A white-breasted nuthatch holds a multicolored Asian ladybeetle in its beak as it clings to a mossy tree in Bower Slough at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in June 2011

Another picture from 2011 and from another place near-and-dear to my heart, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This white-breasted nuthatch had snared a multicolored Asian ladybeetle (not native to the Pacific Northwest, I don’t think I ever saw a native ladybug in our many years there). While nuthatches do eat insects this meal I suspect was destined for the hungry maw of the babies in the nearby nest. I wish the picture had more depth of field but I was shooting as wide open as I could since I had forgotten my tripod at home and the light was dim under the canopy so I needed as much speed as I could muster.

Otters at Play

Two river otters play in Bower Slough

At the dog park this morning two young dogs were playing when suddenly in their rough play a line was crossed and things got more serious. Their owners separated them and the aggression quickly dissipated and hopefully each dog made a little progress in their socialization. These two otters were part of a family group catching fish in Bower Slough, and thus were quite familiar with each other, but even so when one otter grabbed the other by the scruff of the neck I wondered if this playful move was a bridge too far. But as you can see the otter’s skin is loose with plenty of fat underneath and the victim took it all in stride.

Wren-sized Hole

A house wren peers out of a cavity in a tree where it was making its nest

In terms of its own health, this tree had seen better days. Partly covered in moss and lichen, its cracked bark was dotted with holes from woodpeckers either seeking insects or creating shelter. But there was still life within this tree, and soon there would be lives within it, as this house wren found a perfectly sized entrance hole into an old cavity where it could make its nest and soon, raise its young.

Cold Confusion

A double-crested cormorant walks beside a frozen Bower Slough

I wasn’t sure what I was seeing when I first spotted a dark form walking along the opposite shore on a cold winter morning. It took me a moment to recognize it as a double-crested cormorant as while it’s a bird I’ve seen many times, it’s always been flying or swimming, not walking. I wonder if it was as confused as I was, as we had a rare day cold enough to freeze the water of the slough, icing over its favorite fishing hole.

Crossing Over

A river otter surfaces with a fish in its mouth

When car shopping a couple of years ago, I only considered cars where it was easy to cross from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s seat. I was specifically thinking of situations like this at the auto tour at my local refuge, where I saw a family of river otters to the right of the car and the best views were from the passenger seat. Thankfully crossing over is easy to do in the Subaru Crosstrek we bought and I was able to watch the otters for quite a while as they groomed and played and ate. I was struck by how, even in the midst of vigorous play, the siblings would catch a fish when the opportunity presented itself and enjoy a quick snack before resuming play.



While driving past Bower Slough I came upon a family of river otters that were fishing and preening and playing. After a while a family of raccoons came meandering down the shoreline but they bolted for the trees when the otters saw them. After the otters circled the trees for a while they moved on and eventually the raccoons descended back to the ground. This one initially got caught behind some wire mesh that had been put around the base of the tree to protect it from beavers, but it climbed back up past the mesh and hopped into an adjacent tree and then to the ground.