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Tag Archives: Washington coast

We went out to the Washington Coast to dig razor clams at the end of last month. Clamming was good the first three nights (yes, clam digging at night, in January) but then it slowed down for us. Still we managed to eat lots of them. I even made razor clam ceviche for the first time (yummers!) and we brought some home for the freezer. It was a good time.

During the day, we enjoyed long walks on the beach and Ken did some fishing for surf perch. The first two days we had some sunshine and a little bit of rain and then the last two days, it just rained. Oh well. It was January on the coast. We tried to see the Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse but a thin and then a thick overcast mostly obscured it.

We spent most of last week at the beach.

I’ve never been very good at identifying shorebirds. It used to be that I birded with some experienced birders and I could muddle my way through the peeps and such but not anymore. And this time of year, the birds are in winter plumage so very few clear ID marks stand out for me. Someday I’d like to go to Alaska in the late spring and see the breeding shorebirds decked out in all their fine feathered plumage. But for now I will have to settle for wintering birds on the Washington coast once in a while.

A lucky thing happened last month. There was a razor clam season during our vacation! Razor clams on the Washington Coast are carefully managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. If you want to know how they manage the seasons – read this. As far as I know razor clams are limited to the Pacific Northwest up through Alaska. They are considered a delicacy – a delicious clam for frying, baking at high heat and chowder. Unlike a traditional clam, they are rectangular – long and kind of flat looking. They are also strong diggers so when you are digging for razor clams you are also chasing them as they dig down into the watery sand. It’s quite fun! The seasons are limited to the lowest tides of the month and often times those tides are at night. The only other time we got to dig for them was in December a few years ago, after dark and the temperature hovered near freezing. It was quite the adventure but we were able to get our limits (fifteen per person per day) and our taste for them was whetted.

Razor clam digging seems to be tradition passed down from generation to generation. We noted many families with grandparents, parents and kids all digging and having fun. Dogs too!

 

The view from our room as the dig got started before the tide was all the way out

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Heading to their spot on the beach

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It can be a dirty job and proper clothing is important. Some people like this fellow, use shovels.

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Even with hundreds of people on the beach, it doesn’t seem crowded and there were lots of clams for everyone

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Dogs like it

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This dog looks like he wants to help

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This young man was clamming for the first time

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He was happy to show me his biggest clam

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Some people work alone

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A couple of clam guns. To use this device, you look for a clam show – a small dimple in the wet sand – and then carefully angling towards the ocean you center the cylinder around the ‘show’ and then push it into the sand. There is a tiny hole that you cover with your finger as you pull the gun, now loaded with wet heavy sand, out and with any luck, the clam will be in that sand. Or not. You may have to repeat. Or you may have to reach down in the hole and grab the clam as it tries to dig away from you.

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Classic digging style

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The tide will come in and all traces of the digging will disappear.

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They are using the team approach

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This dog was wet and dirty

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Family fun

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Another group heads out

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Now that we have our limit, what do we do?

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Cleaning clams is the hard part

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The clam and fish cleaning shack

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How much fun can you have at the beach? Since we rarely get to go, we managed to have LOTS of fun and even more fun when our friends and their dog joined us from Olympia!

 

Here’s Ken outfitted to catch sand shrimp

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There’s one!

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Up close with a sand shrimp

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Gulls are always close by, hoping something good to eat will be left behind

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Betty and Gregg join Ken in his quest for sand shrimp. The tire tracks are from people digging razor clams earlier in the day.

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Dixie wants to be part of it

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Sand shrimp are used for bait to fish for surf perch. Dixie is making sure Ken is doing it right

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Fishing

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An intrepid angler!

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Crows also wait on the beach

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Dixie is looking for one of her peeps

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Dune grass

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These volcano-like depressions are from sand shrimp

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Sand dollar

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Razor clam shell

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One of many creeks

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Another great day at the beach

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Lots of kites

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This one was attached to a log and flew by itself all afternoon

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We had fun with this kite

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At sunset, it’s time to put it away

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Gregg painted

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Betty danced

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Good times with good friends

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The end of another beautiful day!

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