Thursday/ my new animals

My shipment from Amazon Japan* has arrived: a chess set, which I will show later, and three animal figures to add to my collection.

*German international courier DHL picked the package up in Tokyo, flew it to their hub in Cincinnati, and then on to Seattle where it was put on the delivery truck. Yes, I know, I am a bad person. I should not burn fossil fuels to buy a product that is made from fossil fuels (plastic). Sorry.

I had to get the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), because I had one in my hand in the Yodobashi store in Tokyo, and put it back on the shelf. There are fewer than 2,000 pandas left in the wild. An additional 400 are in captivity, most of those in China. Pandas play an enormous role as ambassadors for China, and to generate goodwill towards the country around the world. (Model is Schleich 14772 Giant Panda, Male. Introduced 2017).
The gray wolf (Canis lupus), a native Washington State species, nearly became extinct in the state in the early 1900s. The Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife reported in 2019 that there were at least 145 wolves living in 26 packs in the state. (They are elusive and hard to count). (Model is Schleich 14821 Wolf, Introduced 2019).
And my collection did not have an American bison (Bison bison) until today, so that could certainly not stand! The vast herds on the North American continent are estimated to have had 60 million animals at their peak. They were just about hunted into extinction by the animal called Homo sapiens: by 1889 there were 541 left. Recovery efforts were put in place, and today there are some 31,000 in the wild. (Schleich 14714 American Bison. Introduced 2014).

Sunday/ scenes from Gas Works Park

I felt like a change of scenery today for my walk, and went down to the Gas Works Park area on Lake Union.

Looking south here. That’s Interstate 5 and the Ship Canal Bridge with its double-deck truss (opened Dec. 1962). On the left edge is the fishing vessel Peggy Jo, built in Tacoma in 1966. This may be a fueling dock. I believe that orange ‘float’ line is to keep accidental oil or gas spills from spreading out further on the water. Look for the Space-Needle-in-a-haystack elsewhere in the picture.
A view across Lake Union to the southeast. Merrymakers on the water and a lone sailboat. That prominent square building on the horizon, towards the right, is St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. Its intended architecture was never completed. The reason is the fateful date of its groundbreaking for construction: Sept. 1928, a year before the start of the Great Depression. Construction was incomplete when the cathedral was dedicated on April 25, 1931, and the parish was in default on its mortgage throughout the 1930s. The cathedral was foreclosed upon in 1941 and shut for the next two years. From 1943 -44, the US Army used the cathedral as an anti-aircraft training facility. The mortgage was finally paid off in 1947. [Source: Wikipedia].
This raft of waterfowl is a group of American coots (Fulica americana). They are not ducks: they belong to the rail family, Rallidae.
I finally arrived at Gas Works Park: a 19.1-acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, located on the north shore of Lake Union at the south end of the Wallingford neighborhood. [Wikipedia]
Just some interesting geometric lines to look at. Maybe a cylinder or some other structure had rested on these as a foundation.
Needles, all the way down?*. A view from the little promenade that overlooks Lake Union.
*It’s my picture – but I’m borrowing the title from a similar picture that I had seen a while ago on Reddit.
And the clear view, almost due south, of the ever-changing city skyline. That’s Queen Anne Hill on the right, one of the highest spots in the city at an elevation of 456 feet (139 m).


It’s Caturday, as ailurophiles (cat lovers) like to say.

Look at those beautiful eyes. A picture posted in Nov. 2020 on the popular Instagram account ‘missenell’ from Copenhagen, Denmark. On the left is Gilbert, a 4-year old Bengal, and on the right is Nelly, a 5-year old Birman-Ragdoll mix.

Saturday/ going for the gold

I took these pictures on Thursday, when there was a break in the rain.
These are Anna’s hummingbirds (Calypte anna), medium-sized as hummingbirds go.


After they were done with the mahonia’s flowers, the little birds sat on the power cables that run into my house for a long time.

Their feathers are mostly green and gray. The male’s head and throat have feathers that light up in a stunning iridescent reddish-pink when the light strikes it at just the right angle.

Monday/ winter is here, and a little snow

It’s winter here in the North, officially.
The city has had plenty of rainy, windy weather yesterday and today (1.58 in. measured in 48 hrs at Seatac Airport’s gauge).
.. and hey! the snowflakes coming down in the mix tonight, formed a thin layer on my back deck.

There was a break in the rain this morning, and I spotted this Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) outside, attracted by the budding yellow flowers on the mahonia behind it. The rain and wind picked up again soon, though, and the little bird was gone.

Wednesday/ golden mushrooms

I did have a few of the large fly agaric mushrooms in my backyard in October (red with white spots), but they were not as big as last year’s.

I have not seen these golden ones before in my backyard, though. Looks like they are golden Pholiota (Pholiota aurivella).  They are supposedly edible; some people report that they taste like marshmallows without the sugar.
(That does not sound tempting .. and as I’ve said before, the only mushrooms I eat are ones from the grocery store!).

A clump of golden Pholiota (Pholiota aurivella). These are gilled mushrooms that reproduce with spores. The bamboo stick in the ground is about ½ in. thick.
These are a little more mature, with their brown scales that contrast with the golden cap color.

Tuesday/ a late rose

The beautiful little rose on the bush in my front yard must be the last of the season.
I expected it to be red, but no – let’s call the color salmon (a nod to the Pacific Northwest).
I don’t believe this bush has grafted shoots on, so this could just be the red from spring & summer, that has faded into salmon & pink.

Sunday/ here’s my reindeer

Behold the latest addition to my collection of Schleich animals: a reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).  In North America, we call them caribou.

Some arctic regions still have huge migrating herds of reindeer. The Taimyr herd of migrating Siberian tundra reindeer (R. t. sibiricus) in Russia is the largest wild reindeer herd in the world, varying between 400,000 and 1,000,000 [from Wikipedia].

No, his nose is not red, and his name is not Rudolph! (In traditional Christmas legend, Santa Claus’s reindeer pull a sleigh through the night sky to help him deliver gifts to good children on Christmas Eve).

Thursday/ claws out

It’s National Cat Day. Yes, I know: these are not your garden variety house cats!
BeArizona, a popular wildlife park near the Grand Canyon, adopted these two jaguars in October 2018.

Nacho is the black one (melanistic) and Libre is the spotted one (rosette). They are brothers and will turn six years old on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Fancy that, the same day the presidency of the United States will be clawed back from The Orange Imposter.

Tuesday/ a dromedary

Oh, look! A dromedary had landed in my Amazon order of last week (for light bulbs, and a hub ethernet switch).
OK, I confess: I picked the camel and added it to my order.  I needed to brighten up the shipment’s mundane content.

The 2019 dromedary from German toy figurine maker Schleich. Very nicely detailed, as always from Schleich. Dromedaries make up 94% of the world’s camels. (The Bactrian camel with its double hump make up most of the rest. The wild Bactrian camel is the third species of camel, and is critically endangered).

Thursday/ the fattest of them all

It’s Fat Bear week in Katmai National Park in Alaska, and the winner has been announced: Bear 747, nicknamed ‘Jumbo Jet’. Rangers post pictures of the bears online (just a handful of the more than 2,000 in the park), and fans get to cast a vote for Fattest Bear.

These last few weeks bears could gorge themselves one last time before winter sets in, on the salmon swimming upstream to spawn in the Brooks River, in Katmai National Park. Bears can lose up to 40% of their weight while hibernating through winter.

Here’s Bear 747 aka ‘Jumbo Jet’, a 16 yr old male, photographed in June. Already looking good, but there was still a lot of summer left in June. [Photo: U.S. National Park Service]
And this picture is from September. Bear 747 is said to be a very efficient salmon catcher. (They can eat up to 30 salmon in a single day). 747’s voluminous visage is estimated to tip the scales at some 1,400 lbs (640 kg).  [Photo: U.S. National Park Service]

Monday/ so long, summer

It’s the last day of summer here in the North.
Summer will swing by again next year, of course .. but for now we need the rain and cooler temperatures, so that the fires that still char up the West coast can be put out.

These flowers are from my walk yesterday.
From top to bottom: garden cosmos, English marigold, African daisy and dahlia.

Saturday/ rain, and clean air

There was rain this morning, and more tonight, and the weather system that swept in from the Pacific, brought in fresh air as well.
Man! it’s great to be able to go outside and breathe clean air.

Mr Spider from my garden – European garden spider (Araneus diadematus). There are still plenty of spiders active outside, but I’m sure they will curtail their web-spinning activities soon. It’s a myth that outside spiders come into the house when it gets colder in fall. They stay outside, slow down and search for hiding places to survive the cold of winter. Some species go into hibernation, but not all.

Thursday/ canola fields forever

Here’s a beautiful bird’s eye* view of the canola fields just outside Durbanville, South Africa. Look for Table Mountain and Lion’s Head to its right, in the distance.
*Picture was taken with a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone.
[Photo from ‘Die Burger’ newspaper, submitted by Dirkie Heydenrych]

Thursday/ a little welcome rain

There was a little welcome rain this morning, with mild highs later on (70 °F/ 21 °C).

Pinks in the sky tonight, and in this hollyhock flower (genus Alcea). Alcea is a genus of about 60 species of flowering plants in the mallow family Malvaceae. This one is about 6 ft tall.

Monday/ toasty

There was nary a cloud in the blue sky today, and at Seattle-Tacoma Airport a high of 94°F (34.5 °C) was recorded.

My asters (genus: Kalimeris) don’t seem to mind the heat.

Sunday/ a flower, aflame

It’s going to be warm (for Seattle, that is) this week — 87 °F (30.5 °C) on Monday, and slightly cooler on Tuesday.

Whoa .. is it a flameball? Is it a flower? A dahlia, that I found here on 18th Ave.