One sunny afternoon: ArboretumWatch

I went canoeing this weekend, and hit the magic photographical trifecta — birds, turtles and waterlilies.


Pied-billed Grebe plays peekaboo.

It’s getting really crowded out there, folks. Along with the UW folks renting out canoes and rowboats, Moss Bay rents out kayaks, rowing shells, and sailboats. That’s in addition to everyone who has their own, of course. I try to stay out of everyone’s way, but still there’s sometimes a line waiting to go under one of the many foot- or car-bridges in the general area, and then of course, everyone gets to watch me paddle frantically while going around in circles.

This year, for whatever reason, there are a LOT of waterfowl around the arboretum area, and everybody’s nerves are frayed. The mother mallards are protectively shepherding their growing ducklings with half patchy feathers, half duckling fluff. We watched one of them bodyslam a goose whose only crime appeared to be “diving for water weeds too close to a baby.” Ever been peacefully diving and then get smacked in the stomach? You can be assured that everyone got splatted a big splash of water for laughing.

As we slowly paddled along, we were accompanied by a little pied-billed grebe, who whistled provocatively at us. Silly me, I thought that he was playing peekaboo, but my more observant husband pointed out the grebe’s wife and one visible chick, sitting on top of a matted nest in the middle of the bay. So we pretended to be terrified and paddled, shrieking, out of the general area. It’s always good to build up the little guy’s confidence. His wife probably gave him an extra cuddle that night — chasing off two humans AND a canoe!

Anyway, just keep in mind, it’s crowded out in the lake. Lots of little diving things might come up real close and get smacked by a paddle. Obviously you should be keeping an eye out for the big things, such as the various boats crossing the Montlake Cut. But spare a thought for our little grebe, who the husband has dubbed “Nessy”. And keep clear of the chicks.

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