Tag Archives: Stories and Articles

Western Grebes in 48 North this month

I’m always months late posting these stories. This one is as close to being current as it gets – it’s still in stores for another day.

Here’s the text:

If I were Mother Nature, designer of all things wild, I would have felt proud completing the western grebe – a job well-done. First, it’s just a beautiful creature, but parts are combined to make an amazing machine. That bright red eye helps see underwater and bulbous feet allow it to move faster than fish can swim. Those funny over-sized feet also make it possible to run OVER water and even walk upright on shore like a Dapper-Dan in a black and white tux. Then there is this double-jointed neck that curves backward and can act like a spear. It bends back and – wham, into a fleeing fish. This is quite the bird, and it’s here right now for you to see in the Salish Sea. Look for these gregarious birds in quiet bays. They’ll be in flocks, almost never alone.

During spring and summer breeding season, western grebes are found on freshwater wetlands far to the north and east of our coast. In the fall, they fly south and west to salt water, often during the night. Once they get to the Salish Sea or other warmer lakes and bays along the West Coast, they congregate in large flocks, sometimes in the thousands. I once saw western grebes on Clear Lake in California, a mass of birds from shore to shore covering many miles of water. During spring courtship, these birds are known for their elaborate rituals and displays. Pairs both react to some private signal (a wink?) and both rise out of the water in unison and run together, side by side, in a flutter of feet defying gravity. Having spent their energy, they ‘land’ in the water again and act as if nothing has happened. Well, it probably hasn’t, yet.

All the rest of these, five years worth, are here in a new section on my website:

Salish Sea Stories 48 North magazine

Thanks for reading this week – and the entire year for that matter.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Stories from the Salish Sea on the website

I’ve recently gotten requests for back pages of my monthly magazine page in 48 North in Seattle. I often forget to post them, and going back through 65 months, I found I only had maybe 12 on the website. So, now they’re all up HERE so you can binge read them all, five years of them – as if you would. It was actually fun to go back and see how they’ve evolved, much tighter art now, looser in the writing. 48 North is a magazine all sailors from the Northwest read from time to time. It’s the ‘pickup’ mag we get in boating and marine supply stores everywhere, and I’ve gotten fan mail all the way from San Diego and Hawaii for my stories. Kind of fun to see the ‘legs’ of something published.

Below is a sample of what the printed page actually looks like with the text.

And here’s the link again in case you missed it.

Thanks for reading this week – and the entire year for that matter.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Red-throated Loons – My 48 North story for November, 2017

This is my 48 North magazine story for November. I thought t he subtle colors of this beautiful winter bird came out fairly well. Here’s the story:

“On the Port Townsend ferry, we crossed those notorious tide rips out in Admiralty Inlet and I spied quite a group of large striking birds, all milling about and diving for dinner in the turbulence. The red-throated loons are back from the north for winter in the Salish Sea. At about 24” long, these are the smallest of the three species of loons we see here, but they are still large birds. Easy to identify in flight, they have a hunchbacked look unlike any other Salish Sea bird and appear to fly very fast. Specialized bodies with legs placed as far to the stern as possible make for fast underwater swimming as they chase down and catch small fish. As with many species, they have evolved into a very specialized and successful fishing machine.”

“They arrive here in winter plumage, basic tux black and white with a very subtle mix that would drive a painter wild trying to portray. As winter progresses, they change profiles completely and sport a dramatic red-orange front and overall soft look of doe skin. Then they’re off for the long flight to the far northern lakes to nest, and here is where it gets interesting. These birds, with legs placed so far back on their bodies, make them almost unable to walk. They cannot stand upright! So, the loons push vegetation around to create a floating nest or simply push themselves up on a low shore. How the eggs stay warm enough to hatch is a mystery to me, but somehow it works – and next November we’ll see the results here with more red-throated loons to enjoy.”

Again, here’s the link to the NEW new puzzle I talked about last week.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Crater Lake Institute website – A Side Project

I’ve posted about Crater Lake Institute before, but we reached a sort-of milestone the past couple of months and I wanted to share. As a side project unrelated to painting, I build and maintain the website for Crater Lake Institute, a non-profit that helps Crater Lake National Park located in southern Oregon. This is a great bunch of guys who used to work for the park and now supply an amazing resource, the best single web-based library about the park – and I’ve supplied art, publication services and lots of work building out this website to the organization.

Winter at Headquarters, photo by Ranger Dave Grimes, March 16, 2016

This past three months, we’ve now reached web visitation levels worthy of mention. We’ve been averaging over 600,000 hits and over 80,000 individual visitors per month. That’s a LOT of eyeballs – at least I think so. This past year we’ve partnered with REI Trails, NPSHistory.com and others to broaden our connections and I’m fairly proud of what’s happening with all of it. Thanks, Ron and everyone else at CLI for involving me. It’s been great fun and I sure know a lot about this amazing park because of it.

Watchman Peak at Sunrise, March 17, 2016 by Ranger Dave Grimes

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

My 48 North story for October

In the midst of three large paintings – you can’t say yes too many times I guess.  But then I saw this in the local boating store and thought it printed pretty well, so I’ll share it here. Next time I’ll post some of the painting-stuff.
If you’re reading this on the web, the top image is the little boat I built when I was 15. Leaked like a sock, but at least I did it!

And here’s the text that went with the art.

Seagulls. Sorry, but there is no such thing. Gulls are found in the desert, high mountains, northern Canada in the spruce forests – so how could that bird be a SEAgull? Got it? Now –onward. Our most common GULL in the Salish Sea is the glaucous-winged gull, a big, brash and aggressive yeller that will take a French fry bag right off your table at Iver’s. Glaucous means bluish-gray, a good description of these pale-looking gulls. But in the fall, another gull arrives from its breeding grounds in the boreal spruce forests of Canada, Bonaparte’s gull. They’ve spent their summers far to the north, first courting along the shores of fresh water lakes and then building nests of twigs and moss on branches of short spruce trees. In early autumn after raising gull families, they head south as winter closes in. Many come to the Salish Sea.

This is one of the smallest gulls in North America, just a little over 13 inches long and weighing in at less than half a pound. Compared with the locals that measure in at 27 inches long and almost 4 pounds, they’re like little half-sized miniatures. They fly like ballerinas, gracefully turning and dipping, almost flamboyant in their aerial work and can easily be mistaken for a tern. Look for them along tidal rips and shallow shorelines where they plunge-dive for forage fish – unlike our big local gulls that couldn’t dive if their lives depended on it. Their dark heads lighten to white in winter except for a small dark ear patch, and then come Spring their heads darken again, the legs and feet brighten, and they head north for another summer in the spruce.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of beautiful photographs

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

My 48 North Magazine Story for the Month – A Dancing Gull

2015-11-Dancing-Gull

After watching a little song-and-dance on the beach, I wrote this for my monthly page in 48 North magazine. You can read it online at their website too.

Here’s the text for the story:

A recent beach walk showed us something we’d never seen. Meandering along a sandy stretch that had just a gentle bit of wave action, we joined a glaucous-winged gull (the most common gull in the Salish Sea) who was walking here too. It seemed to know exactly what it was doing – looking for something right where the little waves were breaking. Soon it stopped, turned to face the incoming water and started doing a little dance. Dabble, dabble, dabble it went for about 20 seconds, turning slightly but keeping it up. As each wave came in, the gull used the rushing water to prance ever deeper into the sand – and then it looked down – and began to grab the mole crabs and other small burrowing crustaceans it had forced to the surface in the wash zone.

Mole crabs like to bury themselves right at the tide line where food is abundant. They sense when the tide is receding and slowly follow it out, a few feet at a time. This young gull had learned the crab’s ritual and realized that just a little dance, up and down, left and right – and lunch would magically appear. We watched it long enough to realize that it was nothing but normal for this smart bird, and then wondered why all the other gulls didn’t do this too. Maybe it was evolution happening right before our eyes. Most of the time, watching nature isn’t seeing a giant whale surface or an eagle dive on a salmon, but it’s the small rewards of seeing daily lives of creatures that share our world that is normal – if you’ve smart enough to see them.


I took a couple of phone videos of this little guy dancing along at the surf line. Click to see one here on YouTube.  Sorry, it’s a bit shakey in the wind but you can still see the little guy dancing away while Nancy does commentary.

Thanks for reading this week. My big mural is coming along just fine. Next post I’ll show you how it’s going.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of beautiful photographs

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Fin Whales – My 48 North Story this Month

2015-10-Fin-Whale2

Here’s my story in 48 North magazine this month, available far and wide. I’ve been told people even get this in the boat stores in Hawaii. This story is about what was undoubtedly the biggest living creature that’s ever come so close to our little meadow here in Port Townsend!

This is the text:

In early September, the Puget Sound Express whale-watching boat crew spied a rare fin whale off Whidbey Island, the first one spotted in the Salish Sea in decades. The Fin is the second largest mammal on the planet and named for its slender, fin-backed shape. I honestly didn’t know much about them, so I did some reading – and this is such an interesting creature that I wanted to share what I found. These whales are gigantic, for sure, and can become almost 90 feet long and can weigh 165,000 pounds. How big is this? A single fin whale could produce 660,000 whale burgers, or enough for every person in Seattle with leftovers. Don’t worry, I’d be willing to bet most of us would order something else.

Like other whales, this one was hunted (and still is), and it’s reported that between 1905 and 1976, 725,000 were slaughtered in the Southern Hemisphere alone. Fins, or finbacks have been described as the greyhound of the sea for their slender body that is “built like a racing yacht … which can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship.” What caught my eye was the somewhat hidden description of the Fin’s eating style. Being a baleen whale, it filters small fish and crustaceans, shrimp and krill by simply opening its mouth wide, lunging forward and taking in whatever is in front of it – and then straining out what’s unnecessary (including about half the ocean). But it’s not just a dainty mouth! My drawings tell it all, and by this technique, a fin can consume about 4,000 pounds of food each day, probably explaining how it can grow so large in the first place.


 

And just to make a size comparison, here’s my little boat sailing along with its typical line-clutter everywhere (a quick boat has lots of strings attached). An adult fin whale would be 5 times longer than the boat and eat 6 times more than it weighs!Thriller

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of beautiful photographs

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Our Lassen Book Goes Into a Third Printing Today

Lassen-cover
Thought I leave the crop marks and color bars on so you can see the process. Click to enlarge.

 

Today a newly revised and up-to-date book of ours was delivered to Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. This is our third reprint of their most popular book, and it was fun to work on it again. To tell the truth, I haven’t even looked at it for a few seasons and when I came back to work on it again, I thought it was pretty good. I think there are about 100 paintings of mine scattered throughout, and it’s a very colorful publication. First published in a 2007, Nancy and I spent some fun times here learning about the park.

Lassen-cover-2
Click to enlarge. This is the back cover.

It wasn’t the first time with us and Lassen, as I’ve painted a large visitor center mural, did some site guides (the sort you carry along with you as you hike around) and a bunch of other projects. It’s been a long and joyful ride with this place – where I first learned to cross-country ski on the icy park road sometime in the late 70’s.

Least-Chipmunk1
Least chipmunk – one of the illustrations in the book.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of beautiful photographs

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Caspian Tern – My 48-North Story for August 2015

2015-8-Caspian-Tern

This month’s sketchbook and published story in 48 North magazine is about Caspian Terns. These few summer weeks are the only times I see these birds while I’m sailing about Port Townsend Bay. Actually, I almost always hear them first, then spot these big guys, and since I try to paint what I see, this was an easy choice for August.

Here’s the story:

This is a sound I hear often on quiet summer sails. Kaaaaarr – like a smoker attempting to clear a raspy throat. I instantly know that sound, and always turn and look up to find the hacker. Then, here it comes, flying fast and high, head down studying the water for a vague shape that indicates dinner. Seeing this, I know two things: it’s summer, and the Caspian Terns are back! I watch as the fast and effortless white bird glides past. Then, fish spotted, it goes into a corkscrew spiral, then into a dive and fully submerges – out the tern comes and quickly takes off with young salmon in mouth (unlike similarly sized gulls that are unable to truly dive).

Most Caspian Terns in Washington nest at the Columbia River estuary, and after family duties are over, both young and parents spread out to spend the summer fishing along the coast and into the Salish Sea. Their numbers are expanding, mainly due to dredged materials that offer new nesting islands, and since terns have a fondness for young salmon – well, you see the problem. Dredge the Columbia River estuary and suddenly you get more birds, the birds eat the salmon, we’re spending millions trying to save salmon. Some Caspian Terns in Washington are medium-distance migrants, wintering on the coast of California, while others travel greater distances, wintering as far south as Colombia and Venezuela. But between now and October when these elegant birds head south, I’ll enjoy them here very much indeed.

Larry Eifert paints and writes about wild places. His work is in many national parks across America – and at larryeifert.com.

Direct link to the article

Larry

Thanks for reading this week. Send this to someone who might appreciate what I’m painting and tell them to sign up. An email will work.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of beautiful photographs

And Click here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Crater Lake Institute – a side project

CLI-home-page
Front page of Crater Lake Institute’s website

I’ve not posted anything about this small side project, but it’s far enough along for me to brag a bit. For the past year, I’ve been rebuilding the Crater Lake Institute’s web presence. Currently, it stands at 3588 pages and counting. That’s right, 3588 pages.

Who and what? Crater Lake Institute is a group that works to enhance Crater Lake National Park, Oregon in many ways. They’ve collected more historic stuff about this park than anyone, bought equipment for the nationally-recognized Ski Patrol, commissioned over a dozen murals of my art for many places around the West, hosted rim-side interpretive walks, created publications about the park no one else has even considered doing. The board (that I now am on) is a bunch of retired NPS folks, amazing in their knowledge of this beautiful place.

I was approached to rebuild a very aging and almost dead website – but little did I realize how massive this thing was. In fact, it’s the largest digital and free collection of Crater Lake material anywhere. Huge sections are here on what to do in the park, Geology, Natural History, Oral Histories, Art, Weather, a giant collection of historic photos, stories, newspaper accounts going back into the 1800’s. I’ve also added my art here and there, sprinkled it with magic dust and – Oh, I could go on!

Because of this, the never-tiring park-painter has learned more about Crater Lake than probably any park I’ve ever worked on. Just ask me about the hand grenade death in the 80’s, the secret trails few park people even know about, the inside scoop on more stuff than my little brain can handle. And the best part is that I’ve gotten to know founder and board president Ron Mastrogiuseppe, fondly known as M13, one of the most genuine and interesting park people I’ve come across.

CLI-home-page-2
More of the front page

Thanks for reading this week.

Spend a moment and look at the site – then tell me what you think. http://craterlakeinstitute.com
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web.  And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of beautiful photographs

And Click here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.