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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lopez Island Visit

I know I've mentioned it before, but it's amazing how rarely we get over to visit some of the other islands. Today, on a last-minute whim, we decided to visit Lopez Island, a place I haven't been in several years even though it's just a hop, skip, and a ferry ride away.

It was a drizzly day, but that didn't deter us from walking around a couple of different parks. Our first stop was Spencer Spit State Park, where I spotted my first barn swallow (145) of the season. Here is the view from the spit, as seen through the covered picnic shelter window:

Walking back along the spit, a drab bird larger than a sparrow caught my eye as it perched on top of a piece of driftwood. Much to my surprise, it was a female mountain bluebird (146), a bird I have never seen in San Juan County before. Too cool! It is listed in one of my field guides as being a rare migrant visitor to the islands between late March and mid-May, a time frame we are right in the middle of now. I have read of some other reports west of the Cascades as well, so maybe they are migrating a little further to the west this year.

After a stop for a bite to eat, we went to Shark Reef Sanctuary, my favorite place on the island. The first part of the trail meanders through the woods, where I found a couple of beautiful snails, like this one:

Then the trail comes out to the coastline, where you can look one mile across Cattle Pass to the Cattle Point Lighthouse on San Juan Island. I don't see the view from this side all that often! There were lots of harbor seals on the nearby rocks, and some beautiful yellow, blue, and white wildflowers in bloom which brightened the otherwise gray afternoon. Here was the view across the channel as a sail boat made its way up the pass:

There was one other surprising find here which I'll save for a separate post, but before long it was time to head back towards the ferry landing to catch a ride home. On the way we stopped to drive out along Fisherman's Bay, and while I had hoped to turn up another shorebird species, it was something completely different that had me pulling the car over....

Wild turkeys (147)!! Granted, these turkeys are relatively tame compared to their more skittish counterparts on the mainland, but the fact that they were out in the open isn't going to keep me from counting them. They were of course introduced to the islands, but as far as I know the population on San Juan Island has disappeared in recent years.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

All to play for now Monika - 147 each...

Have fun


BuckMountain said...

Next time you are on Orcas, give us a call. 7-1413. We live up on the top of Buck Mountain and there is a wetland up here that might have some new birds for your list.

I have Beach Watcher's class on Tuesday and Thursday but any other day we could come pick you up at the ferry so it wouldn't cost you anything.


Ron & Shelly Kinner