Climb trees with a certified guide at Deception Pass State Park

I spent a serious amount of time as a child in a subjectively old apple tree. The lowest limb was just the right height to get started upward, and the leaves provided some cover against parental eyes. The highest perch gave me a “see for miles” view that led to in-my-own-mind adventures.

I don’t climb trees anymore, much to my grandchild’s dismay as she calls, “Come on, Grandma, it’s fun!”

Sigh.

Times have changed in tree-climbing. Ziplines have taken us from tree to tree, and now guide-led tree-climbing is offered by Washington State Parks and AdventureTerra at the Hoypus Point area of Deception Pass State Park.

Paid activities such as this are due to the mandate from the Legislature to generate more revenue for the parks. The cost is $149.

A certified tree-climbing guide oversees technical roped climbs and provides all the gear from helmets to harnesses, foot holds to ascenders. After orientation and instruction, you can climb a tree (that sound was my inner child giggling) and enjoy a view from your highest perch in the tree’s canopy.

Have a snack, then rappel off the tree.

I can hear grandchild now: “Come on, Grandma, it’s fun!”

A state parks arborist determined that, with careful anchor placement and care not to compact the soil at the base, the operation did not pose a threat to the trees. Climbers will not disturb moss and lichen communities by sitting on the tree branches because they will remain in their harnesses.

The activity is open to ages 7 and up. Some people with disabilities can participate with the help of a guide and an assistant line.

For information, go to www.adventureterra.com.

Fun news, bad news. The SeaDoc Society (www.seadocsociety.org) offers both. Recently SeaDoc board member Kirsten Gilardi received a text from her brother-in-law, who had discovered a Washington crab buoy on a tiny island, between Hawaii and Guam, about 4,000 miles away.

On the down side: Historically, tufted puffins have had more than 40 nesting colonies in Washington. A recent survey, however, found only 17 nesting sites, with an estimated puffin population of fewer than 1,000 birds.

Help wanted. Reader Cindy Kew sends in a question: “I always read your column in the Everett Herald and enjoy it very much. I live in Marysville and lately we have been hearing dove calls. Until this morning I’ve only had a few glimpses of them in a tree.

“This morning a small flock, maybe 10-12, landed briefly on my fence. They didn’t stick around long enough to get a picture. They are a small dove, close to the size of a starling. Maybe a little larger but not as large as a robin, for sure. They are brown, some darker than others. They had markings but I didn’t get a long enough look.

“I think they are too small to be a mourning dove or a white-wing dove. My guess was a ground dove, based on size and color. My bird identification book and online searches say that Marysville is way out of their range. Any guesses what they are?”

Thanks, Cindy. Washington’s mourning, white-winged and ground doves are in the 11-12-inch range; a robin 9-11 inches; a house sparrow about 6 inches. A common ground dove is 6-7 inches and would be a rarity in this state, and as of 2005, when “Birds of Washington: Status and Distribution” was published, there were no verified sightings.

Without markings to go by, let’s ask our readers: Has anyone spotted similar birds and has identified them? Let me know and I’ll pass it on.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or songandword@rockisland.com.

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