Category Archives: Uncategorized

Year List Through February 16


1 Brant – Branta bernicla Three Crabs US-WA 16-Feb-14
2 Cackling Goose – Branta hutchinsii Nisqually NWR US-WA 2-Feb-14
3 Canada Goose – Branta canadensis Ruston Way US-WA 19-Jan-14
4 Egyptian Goose – Alopochen aegyptiaca Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
5 Gadwall – Anas strepera Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
6 American Wigeon – Anas americana Levee Pond Park US-WA 20-Jan-14
7 Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
8 Northern Shoveler – Anas clypeata Levee Pond Park US-WA 20-Jan-14
9 Northern Pintail – Anas acuta Nisqually NWR US-WA 2-Feb-14
10 Ring-necked Duck – Aythya collaris Nisqually NWR US-WA 2-Feb-14
11 Lesser Scaup – Aythya affinis Levee Pond Park US-WA 20-Jan-14
12 Surf Scoter – Melanitta perspicillata Penrose State Park US-WA 9-Feb-14
13 White-winged Scoter – Melanitta fusca Penrose State Park US-WA 9-Feb-14
14 Bufflehead – Bucephala albeola Levee Pond Park US-WA 20-Jan-14
15 Common Goldeneye – Bucephala clangula Ruston Way US-WA 19-Jan-14
16 Barrow’s Goldeneye – Bucephala islandica Penrose State Park US-WA 9-Feb-14
17 Hooded Merganser – Lophodytes cucullatus Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
18 Common Merganser – Mergus merganser Puyallup River Loop US-WA 24-Jan-14
19 Red-breasted Merganser – Mergus serrator Penrose State Park US-WA 9-Feb-14
20 Ruddy Duck – Oxyura jamaicensis Fort Steilacoom Park US-WA 15-Feb-14
21 Common Loon – Gavia immer Penrose State Park US-WA 9-Feb-14
22 Horned Grebe – Podiceps auritus Penrose State Park US-WA 9-Feb-14
23 Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus Puyallup, 1013 4th Street Northeast US-WA 18-Jan-14
24 Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias Ruston Way US-WA 19-Jan-14
25 Great Egret – Ardea alba Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
26 Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura John Wayne Airport US-CA 4-Jan-14
27 Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus Sequim, 4876-4896 Sequim-Dungeness Way US-WA 16-Feb-14
28 Sharp-shinned Hawk – Accipiter striatus Puyallup, 1919 West Pioneer Avenue US-WA 6-Feb-14
29 Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii Puyallup River Loop US-WA 24-Jan-14
30 Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus Ruston Way US-WA 19-Jan-14
31 Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
32 American Coot – Fulica americana Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
33 Black Oystercatcher – Haematopus bachmani John Wayne Marina US-WA 16-Feb-14
34 Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus Three Crabs US-WA 16-Feb-14
35 Willet – Tringa semipalmata Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
36 Marbled Godwit – Limosa fedoa Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
37 Surfbird – Calidris virgata Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
38 Sanderling – Calidris alba Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
39 Western Sandpiper – Calidris mauri Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
40 Pigeon Guillemot – Cepphus columba John Wayne Marina US-WA 16-Feb-14
41 Heermann’s Gull – Larus heermanni Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
42 Mew Gull – Larus canus Three Crabs US-WA 16-Feb-14
43 Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
44 Western Gull – Larus occidentalis Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
45 California Gull – Larus californicus Three Crabs US-WA 16-Feb-14
46 Glaucous-winged Gull – Larus glaucescens Ruston Way US-WA 19-Jan-14
47 Rock Pigeon – Columba livia Newport Beach, 100 48th Street US-CA 2-Jan-14
48 Eurasian Collared-Dove – Streptopelia decaocto Puyallup River Loop US-WA 22-Jan-14
49 Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura Newport Beach, 222 Old Newport Boulevard US-CA 2-Jan-14
50 Great Horned Owl – Bubo virginianus Nisqually NWR US-WA 2-Feb-14
51 Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
52 Allen’s Hummingbird – Selasphorus sasin East Lake Village Clubhouse US-CA 3-Jan-14
53 Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon John Wayne Marina US-WA 16-Feb-14
54 Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens Nisqually NWR US-WA 2-Feb-14
55 Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus Puyallup, 1013 4th Street Northeast US-WA 18-Jan-14
56 Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus Clark’s Creek Park US-WA 3-Feb-14
57 American Kestrel – Falco sparverius Levee Pond Park US-WA 20-Jan-14
58 Merlin – Falco columbarius Puyallup, 414 5th Avenue Southwest US-WA 6-Feb-14
59 Peregrine Falcon – Falco peregrinus Renton, Washington 167 US-WA 8-Feb-14
60 Black Phoebe – Sayornis nigricans Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
61 Cassin’s Kingbird – Tyrannus vociferans East Lake Village Clubhouse US-CA 3-Jan-14
62 Steller’s Jay – Cyanocitta stelleri Sumner Veterinary Clinic US-WA 5-Jan-14
63 Western Scrub-Jay – Aphelocoma californica Kalles JH US-WA 14-Jan-14
64 American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
65 Common Raven – Corvus corax Quilcene, Washington 104 US-WA 16-Feb-14
66 Black-capped Chickadee – Poecile atricapillus Puyallup, 1013 4th Street Northeast US-WA 18-Jan-14
67 Bushtit – Psaltriparus minimus Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
68 Red-breasted Nuthatch – Sitta canadensis Home/5th Av. NW, Puyallup, WA US-WA 25-Jan-14
69 Pacific Wren – Troglodytes pacificus Firgrove/Ballou Woods and Wetlands US-WA 25-Jan-14
70 Marsh Wren – Cistothorus palustris Nisqually NWR US-WA 2-Feb-14
71 Bewick’s Wren – Thryomanes bewickii Puyallup, 1013 4th Street Northeast US-WA 18-Jan-14
72 Golden-crowned Kinglet – Regulus satrapa Home/5th Av. NW, Puyallup, WA US-WA 11-Jan-14
73 Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula Puyallup, 1000 7th Avenue Southeast US-WA 15-Jan-14
74 Western Bluebird – Sialia mexicana Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
75 American Robin – Turdus migratorius East Lake Village Clubhouse US-CA 3-Jan-14
76 European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris Anaheim Hills Post Office US-CA 2-Jan-14
77 Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
78 Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
79 Spotted Towhee – Pipilo maculatus Puyallup, 1013 4th Street Northeast US-WA 18-Jan-14
80 Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia Puyallup, 1013 4th Street Northeast US-WA 18-Jan-14
81 Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis Home/5th Av. NW, Puyallup, WA US-WA 5-Jan-14
82 House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
83 Lesser Goldfinch – Spinus psaltria Yorba Regional Park US-CA 1-Jan-14
84 American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis Puyallup, 601-649 3rd Street Northwest US-WA 5-Jan-14
85 Evening Grosbeak – Coccothraustes vespertinus Firgrove/Ballou Woods and Wetlands US-WA 25-Jan-14
86 House Sparrow – Passer domesticus Anaheim Hills Post Office US-CA 2-Jan-14

Teaching is Like a Box of Chocolates

Yep. You guessed it. You never know what you’re gonna get.

This year I appear to have gotten a box full of caramel peanut clusters. Yeah, there are one or two of the ones that are filled with the liquid fruit-flavored stuff, but I can deal with that. They’ll cleanse my palate to help me appreciate the others even more.

And there are close to three dozen of them altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. I work really hard to make sure all of my chocolates feel like they are the expensive variety, even if they are full of artificial flavors and colors. I will strive to help them meet the standards that the state chocolatiers have set for them.

It should be a delicious year.

Why I’m Voting for Obama, and Why It Isn’t Easy

It’s simple. I agree with more of Obama’s policies than Romney’s. I believe that the extremely rich should be taxed at a higher rate. I believe that abortion should remain safe and legal. I also agree it should be rare, which will be a lot easier with easy access to birth control through our health care plans. We should be building the energy infrastructure of the future now, with emphasis on alternative sources of energy which are currently underused. Government needs to get involved in creating jobs directly since our corporations aren’t and instead are sitting on their fat profits. I believe that women should be compensated equally with men who are doing the same work. I believe that everybody should have access to a fair health care plan.

But here’s why I’ll be holding my nose as I mark my ballot: The Democrats are killing public education. It is dying a slow, agonizing death. I believe it can still be saved, but we are going down the wrong road. Twenty-six years ago I thought I had found my true calling when I entered the Seattle University (read that as “expensive”) teacher certification program. I dedicated my life to teaching at great sacrifice to myself. Now I struggle to do the best I can for my students while feeling like I’m being attacked from every side.

Let’s start with charter schools. Supporters like to call them “public” charter schools, though they are often run by private corporations. Who attends charter schools? Those who are able to enroll, that’s who. Not every student in a predefined attendance area as in traditional public schools. Parents have to make a conscious decision to enroll a child in a charter school. Right there is the main advantage for a charter school. They aren’t getting the students from families that don’t give a damn about education, or those who are too busy working 55 hours a week at three jobs and don’t have the time or energy to help their child with their homework, or are out of the information loop. What’s amazing to me about that is that those schools still manage to fail in all too many cases. And in the meantime, the surrounding traditional public schools have had many of the more capable students sucked out of their classrooms.

Next, teacher evaluation based on high stakes tests. Sounds good on the surface, right. After all, if the kid doesn’t pass the test, the teacher must be lousy, right? Then please explain the student who by all measures is a star with a great future, who fails all sections of said high stakes test. Please explain how it is fair to count the test of the student who has hated school from day one and puts no effort into that test. If a student enters fifth grade reading at a first grade level, how can it be an accurate measure of learning to expect him to read at a fifth grade level by the end of the year? When the parent of a student likes to brag about how successful he is despite doing poorly in school, how much effort is that student likely to put into learning? These scenarios are all real. And the only way I think it is possible for them to all succeed is if someone is cheating.

All the previous example apply to the concept of merit pay as well. And added to all this is the fact that teachers are constantly told how to teach by their administration. They are given little latitude for selection of learning materials, teaching methods, student grouping, scheduling, and much more. Yet we are responsible for the outcome.

In short, the Democratic ed reformers are going about this all wrong. We are going down a road to the end of public education, and my candidate is out front leading the way.

Republican Party has No Chance at the White House

I will say it now: Barack Obama can look forward to a second term in the White House. That is not to say that he is my first choice for president. I would take anyone with a better understanding of public education, the environment, labor, and human rights before I would choose Obama.

What I am saying is that the Republicans have no viable candidates at present. Here is my summary, see if you can identify the candidates. By the way, this is how I believe they are perceived by large numbers of potential voters, not necessarily their true character.

1) A corporate raider who tells you what he thinks you want to hear.

2) A disgraced, narcissistic former congressman on his third marriage.

3) An extreme right wing religious zealot who equates homosexuality with beastiality.

4) A fringe-dwelling oddball with no problem associating with the John Birch Society.

Again, this is what I believe is the widespread perception of the public, which in my opinion reflects a need for better campaign management.

And the worst they have to say about Obama is, “Muslim,” “socialist,” or “foreigner.”

Lotsa luck GOP.

Portland schools see more children slipping from middle-class to hungry |

A story related to my recent post on children in poverty.


Portland schools see more children slipping from middle-class to hungry |

Certain signs, symptoms could be childhood depression

Published in the Puyallup Herald: 10/19/11 6:00 am  


Children generally aren’t afraid to let you know how they are feeling, what they like or dislike, or what their dreams and fears are. Sorting out facts from imagination can be a challenge, especially with kids through early elementary-school age, but it’s important to listen carefully.

I know someone who, around second grade, began to suffer terrible nightmares, gained significant weight, became extremely sensitive to teasing and rejection, and frequently missed school due to illness.

His parents tried to get him help, but only time managed to alleviate those troubles.

Today, a good medical professional would consider examining such a child for depression.

When you bring up mental illness, people react differently than they would if the topic was cancer. Some people believe it’s not an illness at all, but rather a character flaw. Others are uncomfortable discussing it at all.

Thanks to increasing coverage about this problem in the media, however, more people seem to understand that mental illnesses deserve the same attention and care as any other illness.

According to, about 2.5 percent of children suffer from depression. When compared with some sources, that number appears to be low.

For those younger than 10, depression is much more common among boys, but by age 16, girls outnumber boys.

A partial list of signs to look for includes irritability or anger, continuous feelings of sadness or hopelessness, physical complaints such as stomachaches or headaches which do not respond to treatment, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, social withdrawal, fatigue, and vocal outbursts or crying.

This is by no means a complete list of symptoms, so be sure to check with your physician if anything concerns you about your child’s behavior.

Couple any of these symptoms with a family history of depression, or a recent traumatic life event, and the case can be compelling.

Treatment is available for children, but be an advocate for your child. Do your research before you agree to a treatment regimen.

Not every medical professional knows everything there is to know. If you have doubts, get a second opinion.

The first step is usually counseling. If that fails to help, medication may be prescribed.

The important thing is to follow through with treatment once it begins. Talk it over with your doctor before you make any changes.

Childhood is a challenge even without a mental illness. So, as parents, we must be alert to help when children can’t help themselves.

Dreams can be dashed if a child has no ability to believe in himself. Ambition struggles to coexist with hopelessness. Telling an 8-year-old to buck up doesn’t always cut it.

The child I mentioned earlier might have realized that he enjoyed writing much earlier in life if he’d had the necessary treatment to deal with his troubles.

If your child is struggling, do all you can to help.


Our favorite family memories live on in special places

Published originally in the Puyallup Herald: 11/16/11 2:39 pm

Certain places have importance in our lives and families. I’m sure that, given enough time, I could list dozens of places the mention of whose names could make me smile, or maybe even tear up. But I’ll try to keep the list under control.

I’ll start with Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park. From the late 1960s through most of the 1970s, and a few times since, my family would make the long trek from the suburbs of Seattle to the highest point accessible by car in the park.

In large part, this was driven by my grandmother, a Norwegian immigrant. We tried to time these trips to coincide with the peak of wildflower season, because it reminded grandma of her childhood in Norway. My mom also loved Sunrise for its flowers.

It is no coincidence that the second place on my short list is also a national park. Dad was very drawn to them but tended to avoid the highly popular ones like Yellowstone or Yosemite.

Big Bend National Park in west Texas is one of the least-visited national parks, most likely due to its remote location. Named for the “big bend” of the Rio Grande River along the border with Mexico, it is mostly desert. It also features the Chisos Mountains, the only range located entirely within the boundaries of one national park.

We visited Big Bend a number of times when the Army posted dad in Texas. He really loved it there. Laurie and I returned about seven years ago and found it remarkably unchanged after 40 years.

A place that evokes mixed feelings is also in Texas. For about a year, we lived in Galveston, literally across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. My dad had been appointed the district engineer for the Corps of Engineers. I was just 4 years old at the time, but I remember thinking it was pretty neat to have a beach so close at hand.

In September 1961, our family was part of what was then the largest peacetime evacuation in our nation’s history. More than half a million people left low-lying coastal areas to flee inland from Hurricane Carla, now described as the most severe hurricane to make landfall in the United States. My sister’s school, Ursuline Academy, was destroyed by a tornado spawned in the storm.

Also destroyed in Galveston was dad’s chance of promotion to general due to a principled stand he took against a proposed Corps of Engineers project. A decade later, the project was the subject of a lawsuit brought under the National Environmental Protection Act. A reporter from the Houston Post was very interested in dad’s perspective.

I think of these places, and many others, often. At times, I wish I could rewind my life and relive the experiences I so treasure. But I’d have to take the bad with the good, and that I can do without.

All our veterans deserve to be honored this Memorial Day

The following was originally published in the Puyallup Herald

With the approach of Memorial Day I begin to think of all who have served in the military, especially friends and family. Technically, Memorial Day was established to honor and remember those who died in service to our nation, but I know of no family member or close family friend who I can so memorialize.

My father, grandfather, brother, father-in-law, and a number of uncles all served honorably in the military.

My maternal grandfather, Edward Bertram, was commanding officer at Vancouver Barracks when my parents met. It was 1941, and Dad was the new officer on base. He quickly charmed his way into Mom’s heart. Hal Brown and Kitty Bertram married after a short engagement.

A year later Grandfather Bertram was dead from heart disease and America was at war in the Pacific and Europe. Dad would return home in 1945 after serving in New Guinea and The Philippines, suffering from a combination of malaria and dysentery. He spent months in a hospital recovering.

Dad's 1944 Christmas Card to Mom

By this time he was also a dedicated smoker. There is some uncertainty as to when he picked up the tobacco habit. My sister thinks it was prior to his admission to West Point. I’m having a hard time reconciling that with the fact that he ran cross-country and was the number two miler on the track team.

What I do know is that many of our military men who served in World War II picked up the habit due to cigarettes included with their C-rations, or those distributed by certain non-governmental organizations.

In 1946 Dad was sent by the Army to the University of Chicago to study nuclear science. He received a Master’s Degree in 1948. During his time there, he was hospitalized when a canister of chlorine gas was accidentally breached in a lab while he was working in another part of the building. His lungs were blistered, leaving them scarred.

After finishing his degree, Dad spent the next several years building bombs in New Mexico. I don’t know much about the safety precautions taken around radioactive materials in those days, but I would hazard a guess that he was exposed to considerably more radiation than the average Joe working in a factory.

We can never know how many of our veterans died prematurely from service related injuries. Dad spent the final years of his life struggling to breathe, a nebulizer always at hand. No doubt the cigarettes he smoked for most of his life were to blame, but the chlorine gas cannot be dismissed.

So on Memorial Day I will be honoring those who died bravely in combat, but I will also be thinking of those whose fates are not easy to connect to patriotic duties: Those who returned from World War II addicted to tobacco; the veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals in uniform; those with mental illness due to post-traumatic stress who died alone on the street.

All deserve to be honored.


Music is more meaningful when it has a close, personal connection

The following was originally published in the Puyallup Herald.

Did you catch PK Dwyer’s show recently at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market? I didn’t. Had I known he was performing, I’d have been there.

Dwyer was a significant figure in Seattle music in the 1970s and 80s. Credited with being the first busker at the Pike Place Market, he also fronted the groundbreaking Seattle band, The Jitters. I know this because I own their 1980 LP, which leads off with the memorably titled song, “Don’t You Remember That You Are the One That Burned Down the Bridges That I Built Over Rivers of Tears That I Cried Over You.”

Once, when I was working at a fast food place in college, Dwyer and the other Jitters walked in and ordered some road food. He wore sunglasses, and if I recall correctly, jeans and a sport coat. But what made him memorable was his hair. It was light-brown or blonde hair, styled in a sort of unruly shag-do, his head nearly disappearing in its immensity.

Dwyer has been making music on his own terms for decades, preferring to perform on the street or in small, unique venues. His occasional recordings have garnered great reviews and an award or two. Oh, and nowadays that immense hair has migrated south to his chin, where he sports a Meeker-esque beard.

Kim Field in the 80s

But he wasn’t the only northwest musician I’ve been catching up with in the past couple of years. While digitizing some old negatives I shot at Bumbershoot, I wondered about the subjects of those pictures, a blues outfit called The Slamhound Hunters. With a little research I found out the harmonica player and lead vocalist, Kim Field, now fronts The Mighty Titans of Tone in Seattle, and published a terrific book on the history of the harmonica.

Then, while browsing Facebook looking for Field, I came across a duo known as Funk Mason. Carl Funk and Larry Mason had been key members of The Allies, one of the most successful Seattle bands of the 1980s, gaining national exposure on MTV’s Basement Tapes. After spending some time in New York, both came back to Washington. For ten years or so they played regionally as an acoustic duo.

A little more than a year ago they teamed with local boy and Grammy winner Eric Tingstad to form The Halyards. They released a well-received CD, “Fortune Smiles,” and have been performing regularly in the Puget Sound region.

The Halyards

At the U2 show at Qwest Field recently, I had my wife Laurie take a picture of me proudly displaying my Halyards t-shirt, with the gigantic stage in the background. U2 was an almost overwhelming experience, with the high tech audio-visuals and crowd of 70,000 roaring for the biggest rock band in the world. But the importance of musicians like Dwyer, Field, Funk, and Mason looms large in my life, pushing the megastars down the list of music I can’t live without.

Lesson learned: Check the Puyallup concert listings regularly.

All photographs by Michael Brown

Birding or Bird Watching?

I have yet to really embrace the verb “to bird.” I grew up knowing it as bird watching because that’s what Dad called it. Many bird enthusiasts have embraced the verb, as well as the noun “birder.” I tolerated that for some time, but not now.

About twelve years ago I took the Master Birding course from my local chapter of Audubon. It was a great course, with the identification classes taught by Dennis Paulson, a nationally recognized authority on shorebirds. Upon finishing the course, I was officially a Master Birder. Cool.

About four years later I was meeting some neighbors of my in-laws. One of them found my being a Master Birder to be quite hilarious, due to the fact that the term sounds similar to an activity not usually discussed in polite company. I am no longer a Master Birder. Nor am I a Master Bird Watcher. I’m just a bird watcher.

Even though I completed a course which entitled me to the rating of master, I’ve never really felt like a master. Advanced intermediate maybe, but not master. Frankly, I don’t know how some of my classmates have found the time in their lives to get the bird identification practice needed to become as proficient as some of them have. I’m more than just a little jealous!