Maybe old beachers should stay out of the sun; it addles their brains. Thankfully, a reader corrected a reference in a previous column that referred to foxglove as digitalis. That’s what comes of correcting a long sentence to clarify it and really messing up the correct information.
How nice to have mistakes corrected — seriously! It is not only a learning device but also a cautionary device for writers. God Bless those who point out corrections.
One thing that is correct is the glorious display of fireweed this summer. It’s definitely worth grabbing a camera and cruising the backroads of the North Beach area to record this year’s amazing flowers that supply a favorite-flavor product for the local honey bees. Be sure to take along a companion to stand beside those five-foot stalks of blossoms to document their unbelievable stature.
Suddenly in recent days, the roadside grasses have turned from emerald green to gold, bronze and tan seed heads. And the good crop of red huckleberries are just about gone. But, the clusters of green berries on the blue huckleberry bushes promise good picking for this winter’s pies.
Triplet raccoon babies are being hidden in shrubbery by their momma while she is out searching for food. All together, three of this year’s little critters barely are as big as a loaf of bread. In the past, twins have been rather common, but this year’s multiple births seem to be unusual. There are so many more fawns and more tourist traffic this summer, the City of Ocean Shores has taken to posting Wildlife-Slow signs around town.
Sunsets and odd evening seas have kept the locals going down to the beach at low tide armed with cameras and binoculars just to take in the sights of the colors in the skies, unusual currents and high offshore rollers tossing surf skyward.
Above average sea surface temperatures stretching east from Australia to our shores are rising. This may signal a winter with El Nino conditions from the past several years of La Nina. The change affects patterns of tropical rainforests from Indonesia to the west coast of South America and often results in too much rain locally for the beachers.
Black bears and berries
The warm weather has kept the black bears in the shady places so far. But berry pickers need to remember they are in the huckleberry and blackberry patches loading up calories for winter. The world’s oldest, wild black bear, No. 56, has spent her 39 years staying away from as many humans (and cars) as possible. But this summer, due to failing eyesight and hearing, she is using trails and roads to get around.
The average age for a black bear is 26 years. The resident of northern Minnesota has become a legend with many hunters rooting for her against less honorable hunters when bear season opens Sept. 1. One has to wonder, does she know that folks all over the U.S. look forward to her annual longevity report?
Who among the old beachers cannot help but think of Ralph Flowers and Bill Hulet, bear hunters and protectors of bears through bear feeding programs to protect trees. Flowers of the kind heart and Hulet with a rare, expansive, enjoyable personality.
The warm weather and longer daylight hours make folks more aware of the little brown bats zooming around back yards. These little guys, far from being a feared species, are good friends of beachers. They consume two thirds of their own weight in mosquitoes every night. And those who like to enjoy backyard beach fires hate the pesky bugs coming out of the bushes at night.
Many folks pick up plans for bat houses to place around their yards that are available free from the Coastal Interpretive Center in Ocean Shores.
The little guys are facing death in the eastern U.S. with fears in both the U.S. and Canada that the white-nose syndrome may quickly spread westward. More than 5.7 million little brown bats have been wiped out in North America.
The disease coats the muzzles of hibernating bats causing them to awake from hibernation. That, in turn, causes them to lose the energy to survive. There is concern the disease may jump into the western areas from a human vector. The biggest human threat comes from dirty equipment and boots. The U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service has introduced decontamination protocols that Canada has adopted. Economically, little brown bats save the U.S. agriculture industry $3 billion per year.
Hunting The Sink
Thinking back on The Sink area, Ralph Larson at Duffy’s remembers coming out to Point Brown to pay Ralph Minard a buck or so to drive down to the sink area for hunting. He well remembers the gap in the rolls of the World War II razor wire cut by hunters to get into the area for some great duck hunting.
Tax token lures
Seeing some bank fishers pulling in a few rainbows brings to mind the days the local sand pounders lived off the beach and the rivers. Too poor to go into town to buy fancy hooks and lures, tax tokens were sneaked out of Mom’s coffee can that held grocery money.
Each disc was bent a couple of times, then two holes were bored into the token with a hand-held drill. One hole was used to attach a hook and the other end the line. Folks used them successfully for both fresh and salt water fishing.
Fish Duck Lake
Locally, the Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife reminds fishers that Duck Lake offers fair to good fishing for stocked rainbow trout, with some nice carryovers available. The jumbo rainbow trout reared through a cooperative project with the Lower Chehalis Basin Task Force and WDFW that average 4-6 pounds each are also planted in the lake.
Fishing for largemouth bass and black crappie has been slow, while yellow perch and bluegill sunfish later in the season has been fair to good.
Public parking and boat launches with docks are available, maintained and patrolled by the City of Ocean Shores.
Failor Lake fishing
Up at Failor Lake, anglers should find good fishing for stocked 10-12 inch rainbow trout and some opportunity for resident coastal cutthroat trout. Jumbo rainbow trout reared through a cooperative project between the Chehalis Basin Fisheries Task Force and WDFW that average 4-6 pounds each are planted into Failor Lake prior to Opening Day.
The WDFW access site provides a gravel boat launch, vault toilet and ADA access.
If old folks with addled brains need to stay out of the sun for a while they should seek out a shady river or lake bank and just go fishing.