Tag Archives: seagulls

Full: SOLC #9

Tuesdays are our playground day. We get the use of the playground equipment for 15 minutes each week–and our day is Tuesday. It’s also our late break day–for the same reason. And our break time is a half hour later than our usual time, but for the playground the third graders are all in!

Most days students are “starving” by the time our 9:15/1:05 break roles around. But by 9:45/1:30 on Tuesdays food isn’t what is on students’ minds. They often leave their snacks on the nearby field and rush to the climbing structure.

Today as I watched the kids play, I caught sight of the seagull out of the corner of my eye. Both seagulls and crows are wily creatures. They not only know that the kids have food, but they seem to know how to open zippers on lunchboxes, how to snatch and open bags that hold sandwiches and pretzels, and generally how to spread food all over the place as they sneak in for the steal!

I’m in a habit of taking and posting a photo every day–but lately on teaching days I have struggled to find something new and interesting to photograph. Today I had my phone out, snapping a pic here and there as the kids played. So when I noticed the seagull sneaking up near the abandoned lunch boxes, I turned to try to get the photo. Wearing a mask means it takes me a minute (or what seems like forever) to get my phone to unlock since obviously the face ID does not work.

I missed the picture the first time, the seagull took off when I finally got my phone to open and framed my shot. But a few minutes later, I heard a commotion (not coming from the kids) and turned with my phone open and caught seagulls and crows converging on the sandwich.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the telltale piece of food hanging off the seagull beak. But what you can’t see is the bird who got the sandwich and took off with it flapping in the breeze as it hung from its beak.

And lucky for my students, no one even batted an eye–they were full, totally satiated with their playground time. No food needed. Not on Tuesday.

SOLC: Headlong into the Storm

I’m not sure why I need an “official” challenge to keep up the daily writing, but whatever the reason…here is day one of my entry in the Slice of Life Challenge.  Thanks to those at Two Writing Teachers for offering this annual event.

After a week of above average temperatures, the weather suddenly turned yesterday afternoon.  The wind picked up, the clouds gathered, and meteorologists are predicting winter storms.  That actually means we have a chance of rain here by the coast and there are forecasts for snow in our local mountains!  And as much as I love the summer-like mild temps and the fact that I have been venturing into open-toed shoes in the last week, we really need the rain and snow!  Drought is unfortunately too common here–and drought means the likelihood of a fierce fire season.  And that is terrifying!

I’ve been trying to walk everyday, for both my physical and mental health.  My camera is my motivation…and the beach is my favorite location.  I wasn’t sure I would squeeze my walk in today–my husband isn’t too keen in walking in the wind–and I had resigned myself to a lazy Sunday catching up on some work that got neglected during an overly busy work week last week.  I didn’t even pick up my camera today.  But as we headed out to run a couple of errands and to grab a quick lunch, conversation turned to the possibility of a walk–and I wasn’t saying no!  My camera was at home–but my phone was in my pocket.

I love the moods of the beach.  The sky and surf, the birds and wind, the sand and rocks create an ever-changing kaleidoscope of views and conditions.  I pulled my hood up against the wind and set off down the beach.  The seagulls were swirling and squawking above me as the salty wind rushed against my face and sunglasses.  The waves chased me…teasing as the tide moved the shoreline away from the cliffs with an occasional push higher, threatening to drench my shoes.  The sun played hide-and-seek, dancing with the clouds, swinging out now and then to brighten the day.  I couldn’t resist a little game of chase with the ever-present seagulls…grabbing my phone to capture a photo or two of them in motion.

Can I maintain both a daily walk and a daily slice of writing through the entire month of March?  I’m going to try!



Paint Chippin’: NPM 2019 Day 17

After watching Molly and Margaret playing with paint chip poetry and writing amazing poems, I gave in and ordered by own box of paint chips (and some metaphor dice too). They arrived this afternoon…too late to use with my students this week, but just in time for me to experiment on my own.  I picked three paint chips and got started.


I squeezed in a quick walk this afternoon between my late-running meeting and an appointment to get my hair cut.  As I walked along the beach, seagulls caught my eye…and my camera lens.  They became the inspiration for today’s poem draft.  (I suspect I will come back to tinker with this–I already have a couple of other versions, none that I am completely happy with!)

Moon Spotting

Through the looking glass

of my camera lens

I spy them:

a gaggle of gossips

black and white wings against

the puddle of sky

Without warning they rise

pounding the air

like the rushing waters of Niagara Falls

I hear them and look up

the almost-full moon winks and smiles back



A Rainy Day Walk: SOLC 2019 Day 6



After the school day ended

and my flock of third graders scurried out the door

taking flight

to this activity and that

I alight on my usual perch

and descend

to the beach

for my rainy day walk

Raindrops and salty sea mist

run rivers down my face

as I breathe in and out

matching inhales with strides

dodging (sometimes unsuccessfully)

pools of sea water

Further down the beach

I find another flock

and they squawk welcome

then like my third graders

scurry and stretch their wings

flying into a rainy afternoon

©Kim Douillard


Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

How many photos is too many to take of the beach? That question runs though my mind as I take photo after photo at this place I treasure. Looking through my lens I see the constant change…in light, in tide, in surf, in people, in rocks, in sand, in shells, in surfers, and more.

The unseasonably warm temperatures (80’s in February) and convenient after-work low tides collided to make perfect conditions for walking and taking photos all week long.  I found the most unexpected treasures as I walked.

The warm temps created different layers in the sky…and early in the week an almost misty condition.  These seagulls seemed to be playing tag, chasing each other into the sun.  I love the golden glows in this treasure.


Early in the week the tides were particularly low, exposing large expanses of reef.  I walked way out toward the end of this outcropping where the treasures of tide pools were exposed.


Walking north instead of south another day revealed the treasure of tiny shells instead of rocks under my feet.  I love the colors and textures of the thousands of shells.


There are lots of varieties of seagulls too.  These guys always crack me up…I swear they look like Groucho Marx with their thick eyebrows and funny hairdos.  And I caught this guy in quite a pose!


And thanks to my husband and my friend Janis, I can’t walk the beach without noticing the trash that washes onto shore.  This was a week for interesting trash…shoes, pvc pipe, electrical cord, and many surfboard fins.  I’m kind of a trash snob, I prefer to photograph and pick up the most exotic trash…like this piece of shoe that seems to be turning into its own island!  (Thanks #litterati for featuring this one as your Facebook and Twitter photo of the day on Thursday.)


Yesterday as I bent down to photograph this fin, I was in the perfect position to catch the surfer in the background.  I can imagine him thinking, “Where did that fin go?”  Once photographed, I pick up the trash and carry it to the trashcan (or sometimes take it home–I seem to be starting a surfboard fin collection!).


And I can never resist taking my favorite shot as I head toward the parking lot…one that features the sun setting behind the lifeguard tower, truly a treasure to behold!  (Complete with sun flare)


So where do you find your treasures?  Are they revealed as the snow falls?  As you dig in the garden? Exposed by the light shining through the window of your house?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #treasure for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

The beach revealed many treasures for me this week.  I can’t wait to see the treasures you find through your lens!

Learning Season

Officially I guess you can call this the off season for many teachers, the time when schools close for the year, graduations happen, grades are posted, and vacations scheduled.  But there is no off season for learning.

In my few days between closing my elementary classroom and beginning a fast-paced four weeks facilitating our SDAWP Summer Invitational Institute, I have taken some time for myself (most notably, a morning lounging in bed well past my usual 5:30am wake up time)…and for some off season learning.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time driving the freeways between San Diego and Los Angeles over the last week, experiencing the traffic flow (or lack of flow), talking with people who live in the LA area, and spending time exploring this rich and varied place.  In some places driving great distances is the norm.  I have cousins in Washington state who think nothing of jumping in the car and driving for hours across the state to have lunch with a friend or relative and then head back home.  And then there are people in my own community who resist a drive south of the racetrack because they don’t want to deal with the traffic that is common on the nearby freeway interchange.

As I planned a trip to the LA area to visit my son this week, we brainstormed interesting things to do and places to take photos…and there are many.  I carefully planned my own commute to try to avoid morning rush hour (or is that hours?), and found myself thinking about the factors that essentially wall people in their communities…and traffic and transportation are definitely some of them.  With the luxury of a car, I can go places without scoping out bus stops or worrying if someone peed on the seat of the train (had a conversation about this with a lovely young woman who had to buy a new outfit at the conference I was attending because of this issue). But honestly, I’m not so sure just how far I would travel if I had to deal with this kind of gridlock daily.

As we headed out toward Malibu to explore the coastline, my son explained that he tries not to go more than 15 miles from where he lives (and sometimes that 15 miles can easily take an hour to traverse), that it just takes too much time and effort. And there really is no off season for traffic in LA.  But he’s a good son and humors his mom, and we did work to time our trip to avoid the peak traffic times.

Not too many miles from the urban centers of LA are long stretches of beautiful beaches and magnificent canyons.  I love the character of piers–it seems that each has its own personality. And in the gray overcast that if typical coastal SoCal June gloom, we met up with these seagulls who posed perfectly for my shot.


They’ve learned that most people are more interested in taking photos than in bothering them, letting us get quite close.  One of the things I hate most about the coastal grays of May and June is the way it washes all the colors out of the surroundings.  But looking down below the pier, I was able to see the turquoises, greens and blues of the water.


And some miles further north we found Matador beach, a place with huge rocks that jut out of the sand.  Gray weather doesn’t deter determined beach goers–there were plenty of people at the beach.  The tide was fairly high and people were tucked into openings along the cliff face watching children race the waves in hallways carved from rock.


In one of the openings sat a couple of lobster traps washed up on the shore.  I leaned in close with my macro lens to capture some of the complexities of the trap…and very nearly drenched my shoes with the wave that snuck up.  Luckily, I had a graceful moment and lifted my foot just before the wave broke…and still got the shot!


Rather than finding the freeway to get back, we headed down a canyon with majestic views of the hillsides.  In spite of the drought, you can see that we’ve had some recent rains.


And I love the way that urban flowers (some might call them weeds), find cracks in the asphalt to grow and blossom.


And like the urban flowers, humans also find ways to grow and blossom.  LA has a variety of unique communities and many many walls painted with murals, colorful artwork that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit.


And if you look closely you can find the beauty in the ordinary–the shadows cast on old brick buildings, the way the light plays in the treetops as the sun begins to dip…


And if I had been able to stay late enough, I would have seen these chandeliers lit as they hung from the old oak tree…but there is something beautiful and interesting about seeing them in silhouette on among the longest of days this year.


It’s hard to believe that I have lived most of my life in Southern California and only recently begun to explore Los Angeles.  You don’t have to go far to travel to new heights and experiences…mostly what you need to fresh eyes, and it doesn’t hurt to have a camera handy!  I love that there is no off season for learning…it’s a daily adventure!

(And #CLMOOC starts today…more ways to learn and play!  Feel free to join in the fun.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Study


Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows that I spend plenty of time on the beach. And with my camera in hand, I find that I often begin to study the things that I see through my lens.  I’ve been drawn to seagulls lately…as evidenced in the photo gallery above (all images posted on my blog over the last few months).

And as I take photos of seagulls, I have also studied them.  Noticing their habits, their preferences, their personalities…and more.  As I walk along the shore, I am drawn to the crowd of seagulls.  They seem to be social creatures, gathering together to hang out.  They seem to have some favorite spots…and I walk through them on a regular basis.


I love the way they casually walk away from me as I come near.  Seldom do they take flight as I approach, they just seem to shuffle over a bit as they keep a close eye on my movements.

I am always surprised by their adaptations.  The runoff from the storm drains flows into the ocean near the lifeguard station at our local beach.  I am assuming that this is fresh (ish) water (at least not salt water).  I often see seagulls taking a drink from this runoff–in spite of the fact that we humans get regular warnings to stay away from this water–especially after the rain because of the risk of bacteria.  I caught this guy in action, taking sip from the flowing runoff.


I love to watch seagulls in flight.  They seem so carefree and graceful in the sky…when they are not squabbling with one another over a bit of food.  This guy today was nice enough to fly right in front of my camera.


And there are times when it seems that the gulls take to the sky in a carefully choreographed dance, floating on the air waves, dipping and turning, swooping and gliding.  I notice this most often in the late afternoons when I squeeze a walk in after I am done with work.  There was a beautiful performance going on this afternoon as I headed back to my car for my drive home.


So…what are you studying through your lens?  Nearby birds? The light in the afternoon?  The way snow melts? The plants in your garden or the tree you pass on your way to work each day? If you haven’t yet studied…this is your week for a mini study!

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #study for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So take a look around…what are you noticing?  What questions does it raise?  Use your lens as a tool for closer study…  I can’t wait to see what you are learning as you study through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

One of the things I love about photography is playing around with composition…either while I am shooting or in the editing process.  The Daily Post this week focused their challenge on the rule of thirds…so I think I will piggyback this challenge with theirs.

You’ve probably seen more seagull photos from me than you ever wanted lately.  And I’ve been playing around with different angles and compositional elements.  Here’s an unedited one of a seagull standing on the rocks in the surf.


And this one is also unedited…on a gray day I captured this seagull in flight, in the upper lefthand third of the frame.


And it’s not always seagulls that capture my attention.  This pelican pair flew overhead, cruising the shoreline…they are almost in the bottom third of the frame.

IMG_4373And this egret was wading in the koi pond at Balboa Park…I especially love the colors and the way its mouth is open in this shot.


This was a favorite from the other day, taken with my iPhone…walking across the Target parking lot my eye was drawn to the gathering storm clouds in the sky…and the birds perched in this bare tree.

birds in a tree

And just to prove that all my photos don’t include birds, here is a shot of a monarch caterpillar munching its way toward creating a chrysalis.  This shrub was full of caterpillars…and people were delighting in pointing out the crawlers.  We also saw a bright green chrysalis and a few butterflies too.


So, for this week, let’s play along with the Daily Post challenge and work on shots that follow the rule of thirds.  (For more information about the rule of thirds, look here)  You can frame your shots as you take them or play around with the composition in the editing process.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #ruleofthirds for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So play around with composition this week and see how the rule of thirds impacts your photos.

Zooming In: Reflecting on One Little Word

Early in 2014 I decided that the word “play” would be my One Little Word (OLW) for the year…my muse, reminding me to make time to play and to plan for fun in my life and in my work. And I have loved my word.

And play I have.  I have spent an extraordinary amount of time at the beach this year and learned to see it in ways I wouldn’t have considered possible.  Photography has helped me play this year, encouraging my exploration, taking me outdoors, making me more observant, stoking my curiosity.

I mentioned the new camera in my life in this post, a Sony a6000, and with a new zoom lens, we set out for the beach yesterday.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my iPhone and have gotten quite comfortable with its photographic capabilities over the last couple of years.  So heading out with our new camera is a challenge.  So each trip feels like a playground filled with unfamiliar equipment.  I’m still mostly in the automatic mode, and with the zoom lens, trying to figure out the boundaries of focus…what is too close, what is too far, how to get a crisp image…

So zooming in, here’s a seagull in the light.

gull in light

I like the way the background is blurred while the one bird is crisp in the foreground.  And you can almost feel the warmth of the sun in this shot.

This guy, in contrast, is silhouetted against the water.  I like that you can see that he is wading in the surf, you can even see where his foot is displacing the water.

seagull silhouette

I was also playing around with action.  This particular camera is known for its quick focus, allowing me to focus and capture motion that I might otherwise miss.  I caught this gull gliding right into the edge of my frame as I looked out toward the horizon.

gull gliding

And this surfer almost surfed his way into my line of sight.  I love the energy of the shot even though he didn’t quite make it all the way into the frame.

surfing action

The last few days when I have been at the beach I have noticed seagulls flocking, gathering and swooping through the air.  Through my lens yesterday I was able to capture some of that energy and the numbers of gulls.


And in contrast to all of this energy, I also captured this moment of solitude as I zoomed in on this hiker with a full pack pausing to notice something in the rocks.  I’m not sure where he came from or where he was going, it is not usual to see backpackers on the beach.


There’s so much that I see when I am out taking photos that I am not able to capture in my digital images.  As the sun was setting last night, I was able to watch gray whales frolicking offshore as they migrated south.  We could see the spray from the blowholes in the distance as they surfaced and then the dark of their bodies as they breached, leaping up out of the water. It was like they also were inspired by my one little word!

And the sunset was beautiful in oranges and reds as the bird flew through.  (All of the photos in this post are unedited.)

colorful sunset

I’m still contemplating my word for 2015, searching for one that will inspire me all year.  I’m looking for a word that is active, encouraging exploration and possibility and that will work in both my personal and work life.  I’m open to suggestions if something occurs to you!