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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walk in the Woods

The other day I went for a walk in the woods at San Juan County Land Bank's Lime Kiln Preserve, as well as near Westside Lake across the road from there. With the lush forests filled in with green, it proved easier to find the birds by ear rather than by sight, but luckily there was a lot of singing going on.

Olive-sided and Pacific-slope flycatchers could be heard everywhere, but proved very difficult to locate. Orange-crowned warblers were abundant, and the occasional Swainson's thrush could also be heard singing their beautiful cascading song that I strongy associate with a San Juan Island summer.

One highlight was a chipping sparrow at the exact same bend in the trail where I saw the species in June of 2007 - the only other time I've seen them here on the island, although they are reported to be common from May-August. I also located a house wren nest, with parents actively going to and fro to feed the calling young. A turkey vulture kept an eye on my progress by occasionally soaring overhead.

Northern flickers, belted kingfishers, and red-winged blackbirds could be seen and heard calling near the pond. Violet-green swallows cruised overhead, and a mother wood duck tried unsuccessfully to keep her brood of eight ducklings corralled. I think only seven of the eight are visible in the photo below:

I'm pretty sure these holes were made by the Northern flicker's larger cousin, the pileated woodpecker. I've seen several around lately - they are such a cool bird to see, as they are very big and strikingly colored - but none on this trip.

In total, I heard/saw 23 bird species. Not bad for a short afternoon hike through the woods. As we get closer to summer proper, some new wildflowers are also emerging, like these oxeye daisies (Anthemis cotula) that are now abundant on the island:

I also spotted a small patch of twinflower (Linnea borealis), a trailing shrub with pairs of small, pinkish-white flowers. Every book I've looked it up in talks about what a sweet fragrance the flowers have, though I have to admit I didn't notice it. I was down on hands and knees face to face with the plant, but they are very tiny flowers. It is also reportedly one of the all-time favorite plants of the famous botanist known as the Father of Taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus. One of his patrons named this species in his honor, and he is shown holding a sprig of Twinflower in several portraits.

From the outside the flowers look pale, but they have very bring interiors!

Finally, I don't know who jumped higher, me or the deer, when we unexpectedly came face-to-face on the trail. Luckily we both regained our composure quickly and this youngster turned around to give me one last look (and in the process posed very nicely) before trotting off deeper into the woods:


Warren Baker said...

nice woodland post today Monika. Those pilated Woodies must be pretty big fellas!!

julie said...

what a refreshing time outside! i have too quickly returned to my chaotic life at school but enjoy reading how your summer on the san juans is progressing.

so, are you pretty good at the "birding by ear" thing? i never seem to remember the songs but it's a great skill for the woodland birds.

Mistlethrush said...

Thanks for a lovely walk