Nature Notes: The fires of Siberia

Nature Notes: The fires of Siberia

For the last several weeks we have been treated to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The beach has been a sky cathedral, a St. Peter's of clouds with golden hallways and towering canyons of yellow and white lined with pillars of silver and black, while wispy red curtains slowly come down each evening on this often repeated display by Mother Nature showing us her hand at art.

Huge schools of bait fish, too small and too close to the beach to be within reach of the commercial draggers, ply their way north and are followed by tens of thousands of seabirds. One giant wheel of birds turning and banking over to dive for fish, hundreds hitting the water at a time, while others fly on, and many sit on the ocean surface munching their bonanza of fish.

A big stiff onshore wind blowing in from the southwest has the promise of rain showers on it's shoulder but the rain smell is missing, so perhaps no serious rain tonight. The seabirds are working their way south along the surf line to their roosts on the rocky headlands and secluded islands to the south of us, and they are full and heavy with fish. Flying slowly in tight formations to save energy and close to the water to stay in ground effect to reduce drag, they are smart birds those birds.

The sky's color that is painting the completely breathtaking backdrop to this avian drama comes to us at a huge price. Millions of acres of Siberia are on fire - dense primal remote forest, old and difficult to traverse are burning. Started by loggers to make forest access easier, the smoke drifts across the northern Pacific Ocean (that's over four thousand miles from here!) and we, with our absolutely spectacular sunset skies, are the benefactors of that huge and horrible fire storm in Russia.

One can stand on the edge of the land and on the edge of the water at the bottom of a sea of air and on top of a swirling crustal plate of geologically rushing rock, watching thousands of birds work for a living, while voices in the surf speak of ancient peoples who have all watched the same show long before we ever showed up in these parts.

Oh, and by the way, thanks to all of the beach drivers who didn't tonight. It was perfect and quiet and a sanctuary of the senses for the hundreds of people who walked out to see the show. Thanks!

Craig Sparks is director of NAWA and is a lifelong watcher of sunsets. Found injured wildlife? Questions? Call NAWA at 665-3595

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