The highlight of this weekend’s trip was exploring Frenchman’s Cove but it really starts in Seabeck. And my first trip to Seabeck was some years ago when I was helping a friend and guide Kiwi with a project he had set up for a local photo instructor.
This was Theresa’s first trip out to this small community and the wildlife did not disappoint. All the usual suspects made an appearance. It was a bit unusual to see 4 Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) fishing wingtip to wingtip, or at least I’ve never seen that many in such close proximity. It’s been my experience that they prefer to hunt solo. Hunting Great Blue Herons wade slowly or stand statue-like, stalking fish and other prey in shallow water or open fields.
In contrast to the slow-moving heron was the Purple Martin (Progne subis) with their swift jet-fighter like swoops and dives. Foraging Purple Martins hunt insects higher in the air than other swallows, but in the afternoon and evening, they may feed low and close to nest sites. An interesting fact is that this bird not only gets all its food in flight, but it also gets all its water that way too. It skims the surface of a pond and scoops up the water with its lower bill.
Sitting around camp and consulting the topo maps I came across Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve. The reserve encompasses 184 acres of walking trails and has access to Hood Canal.
Its historic name is Frenchman’s Cove named for the first settler in the area, Henri Querrette who owned a cabin on the northern shore of the cove. It was renamed Guillemot Cove after the Reynolds family purchased the property in 1939. Apparently, Mr. Reynolds was quite the bird enthusiast.
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When the Reynolds family purchased the Guillemot Cove property, it was run-down. Once open areas were overgrown with alders, and abandoned shacks built by farmers in the 1800’s (who also had cleared the once open areas), were falling into ruins. The Stump House, which legend said a criminal called Dirty Thompson had built to hide out in from the law, was then without a roof. The family spent summers there cleaning up/ the useless shacks were burned down. The previously cleared spots, which were over-grown, were won back with difficulty. The scrubby alders were felled and pigs were used to root out the stumps.
The Stump house is quite the sight to behold, but I couldn’t verify that there was any criminal named Dirty Thompson, but my search was limited to online sources. Could have happened I suppose but I’m inclined to put this story in Urban Legend category. Either way, it’s well worth a visit to this area.