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Hanging Out w/ Transients~

Here they are coming over to say, “Hello!”

These orcas are part of a transient pod that hunt mammals in the waters off the coast of northern Washington.

This area used to be the territory of healthy pods of resident, salmon eating orcas. Many of these resident whales are now starving because their principal food source, salmon, have declined dramatically.

Their territorial waters are being taken over by transient whales who hunt local seals and seal lions.

Resident salmon eating orcas, and transient mammal eating orcas have evolved separately, speak different languages (yes, whales have languages), and have different behaviors and social structures.

The starvation of the resident orcas of the pacific northwest is yet another environmental tragedy endangering the lives of wild species.

Above you see a mother and calf kissing each other.

Then Mama and baby both decide to do a upside-down-under-boat-swim, so close to the hull , you could almost lean over the boat rails and touch their glowing blue bellies. They did this twice!

Why do you think?

And the most amazing thing? A grey whale did the exact same thing on our next trip.

We took two reasonably priced trips out of different parts of Washington, one for a full day, and another for a half day. On both trips we were allowed to spend about twenty minutes watching the orcas from a distance of about two football fields away, usually in fog, rain and rough seas. It is quite difficult to get decent orca photos in these conditions, but these rules are important because they protect orcas from harassment. Despite the limitations, we thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend both trips.

There are a variety of other tours available which allow you to spend more up-close time with pacific northwest orcas, but they can be very expensive, and maybe more intrusive. One three day trip for photographers for example cost $2500.00 per person. You can also book tours out of British Columbia, which we did years ago. On the Canadian tours we were accompanied by a orca biologist and were able to spend more up close time with the more plentiful Canadian orcas for a reasonable fee.

If you want to see wild orcas, do your research, and select a company that will best meet your expectations.

Cheers to you from the gorgeous orcas of the pacific northwest~

Quinault~

Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park, Washington state, was built in 1925. You can see Jim walking in front of the historic old building.

The lodge lies on the shores of Lake Quinault and is nearly empty this time of year, which makes it an ideal time to visit the park.

Olympic National Park encompasses one of three temperate rain forests in the United States. Quinault receives an average of 12 feet of rain per year, making it the wettest place in the lower 48.

This rain creates a luscious forest full of ferns, hanging epiphytic mosses, wild roses and violets, and old growth trees, some over 1000 years old.

The lake itself provides safe harbor to over 100 bald eagles and a myriad of bird and mammal species, including the unique Roosevelt Elk. Quinault is home to four types of salmon, including giant chinooks weighing up to 126 pounds.

There are over fourteen different hiking trails in the Quinault area alone, making exploration of the stunning rain forest easily accessible.

You can hike to the olderst Sitka Spruce tree in the world, and explore The Valley of the Giants, home to six of the of the world’s largest trees of their species.

Cheers to you from stunning Quinault in Olympic National Park~

(Sorry, if I am off line and slow to respond. We are traveling in the Pacific Northwest and often out of wifi range. I will check in with you when I can. Until then, be well and take good care!)

Valparaiso Open Air Art II~

The city of Valparaiso Chile is full of over a thousand large scale open air art murals, some like the one above, cover the walls of multi-story buildings.

The first murals were painted by art students from a local university in the 1960’s and 70’s, in an area of the city called Cerro Bellavista.

This area is now a landmark named El Museo a Cielo Abierto (The Open Air Museum).

Valparaiso in entirety was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

Walking in this city wide open air art museum, one is struck not only by the talent of the amazing artists,

but also by their appreciation of the beauty,

joy, and humor of life.

To this day, artists are continuing to add their talented contributions to this remarkable city.

Valparaiso is a magnet attracting artists of all kinds. Their artistry makes visiting here a pure joy.

Cheers to you from beautiful Valparaiso and her amazing artists~

Chilean Buteo~

Who’s fixed his fine eyes on you?

A Chilean buteo, thats who!


Buteo is a general term that includes all gliding raptors. This guy came to call and stayed with me for a spell, in Valparaiso Chile.

I think, but am not sure, that he is a Swainson Hawk.


He might also be a Rufous Tailed Hawk, which is a rarer, southern version, of the North American Red Tailed Hawk. The rufous is a threatened species.

If anyone can help with identification, I would be most grateful and will post the clarification.

All I know is that he is a gorgeous buteo from Chile who hung out with me much closer and longer than Holler hawks ever do!

Cheers to you from Chile’s friendly hawks~

Serenity in La Serena~

El Parque Jardin del Corazon (Garden of the Heart) is the largest Japanese garden in South America.

It is located in La Serena Chile.

La Serena is Chile’s second oldest city, know for its historic neocolonial architecture.

The garden was built in 1994 as a cooperative effort by businesses in Japan and Chile to celebrate La Serena’s 450th anniversary.

It is full of lagoons, waterfalls, and native Japanese flora and fauna.


This is a Spot Flanked Gallinule, native to distinct areas of Chile and South America, making himself quite at home in the lush Japanese gardens!

Note: There are Golden Carp swimming in the gardens, but I photographed the Koi in San Diego and added them, feeling they fit in nicely with the landscape ambience.

Cheers to you from Chile’s Garden of the Heart~

Incas~

In a world chock-full of beautiful birds,

Inca Terns have to be some of the most stunning,

and unique.

Their looks are matched by their winsome personalities.

Inca Terns are the only member of their genus, Larosterna.

They are restricted to areas enriched by The Humboldt Current, off the coasts of Peru and Chile.

They are a near threatened species.

Cheers to you from the always wonderful to find, Inca Terns~

Peru’s Sulas~

Sulas, more commonly known as boobies live on both the Palomino and Ballestas Islands off the coast of Peru. This is picturesque Pisco Harbor, gateway to Islas Ballestas.

There are six different types of sula species. They are commonly called boobies because of the comical method in which they land, often stumbling over their large feet, and because they were incorrectly assumed to be not be very intelligent. These are quite smart Peruvian Booby adults and juveniles on Islas Ballestas.

Peruvian Boobies are confined to areas near The Humboldt Current, in Peru, Chile and Ecuador.

They have pure white heads and chests.

Blue Footed Boobies have brown heads and the famous blue feet. 50% of them live in the Galapagos.

The rest are distributed from the Gulf of California to Peru.

Sulas are rather tame birds, and will let a cautious and respectful visitor approach closely.

Cheers to you from Peru’s fascinating, and quite bright, sulas~