Belted kingfishers make a prominent appearance along local shorelines with their loud, cackling calls and determined flight patterns. They are largely aquatic feeders with skilled diving techniques, using their long straight bills to catch their prey in the water. The birds are short, stocky, and bluish-gray, with a rock-star-quality crest on the head and white underparts. Males have a single blue band on the breast (like the fellow in the photo above); females have two bands –one blue and the other a reddish-brown.
Every year, from late September to early October, I look forward to the southbound Turkey Vulture migration from Vancouver Island to the Olympic Peninsula, when hundreds of birds make the 12-mile flight across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Along the coastline of the northern Olympic Peninsula, a relatively obscure rodent has been burrowing out an existence beneath stands of Douglas-fir and western hemlock for centuries. Known commonly as “mountain beaver,” no relation to the North American Beaver, has been called many names, notably “boomer,” “ground bear,” “giant mole,” or “sewellel beaver.”
Stinging nettle grows abundantly in North America, Europe and Asia, usually in rural habitats where moist soils are prevalent. All parts of the plant—stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots—offer numerous health benefits ranging from arthritis relief to more luxurious hair.
Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris) is a perennial of the Mint family. It can be found at low and middle elevations in June, often seen as a purplish ground cover in lawns and clearings. Traditionally, the plant has been widely used for healing purposes by native peoples. The Quinault and Quileute indians were known to put the leaves on cuts and skin inflammations.