Creatures of the Olympic rainshadow

20130816-DSCN2022 I really hate to admit that I watched the Twilight movies, but I did. I'm happy to say that I read only one of the books. Hopefully that gives me just a bit of street cred. Anyway, if you visit Washington--and I mean the Pacific Northwest--you totally feel like you're on the set of one of those guilty pleasure movies. The trees are gargantuan. It's humid, green. And everything is more alive under the canopy. I've never seen so many different mushrooms in my life.

This weekend's post will be a little different. We're pausing the birds momentarily so that you can experience this one tiny corner of the world that I found extraordinary.

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Let's start with the very old house pictured above. Cecil Dawley donated this house along with 130 acres to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife for use as a wildlife refuge in 2006. His family had lived on the property since the turn of the 20th century. If you'd like to read more about Cecil and his passion for birds from the perspective of his wife, Helen, click the following link: Cecil Dawley.

The inside of this house is beautiful. It has many rooms, an attached greenhouse, and the gardens around the brick goliath are well-maintained.

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I was lucky enough to spend a few hours adventuring on the property. I discovered many trees full of waxwings and became rather full on blackberries. The square footage of blackberry bushes was intangible.

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I hiked with the caretaker, Dave, across the highway and into the forest part of the Dawley property. This was one of my favorite short hikes. Ever. I promised you banana slugs. Here they are. I only wish I would have put my hand next to one so that you could figure the sheer size of these beauties.

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And if there are any mushroom hunters/experts (mycophagists) out there, I would love your help identifying these crazy huge mushrooms! The white ones were literally as big as a large frying pan and the last photo there is not of a mushroom after a forest fire. There were mushrooms like that all over. They appear to be burnt but are perhaps mimicking some natural phenomenon. Wild.

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I spent time on the Dawley refuge, just a short time, right after I had left Protection Island. Recall that I was basically by myself on the island for 3 months so returning to the mainland was emotional and awkward. The beauty of the refuge was a perfect transition back to my life. Not the one I lived watching grass grow and seeing the day-to-day changes that happen in a seabird chick. Not the raw, natural one. But my domestic life. See "reverse culture shock" for more details.

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Stop by Wednesday for the last part of the 2birdfeature series! And sidenote: as I'm writing this, I am hearing my first American Robin outside singing away. Spring? Is that you?