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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Third Lagoon and More

I'm still, ridiculously, without internet at home. Here's a post I wrote yesterday and am posting from the internet cafe. I hope I'll be back in regular action soon! Then I can catch up on all your comments and blogs as well as post more often.

The other day I said it seemed like we had been experiencing all four seasons in the span of a couple weeks. Here’s a photo that demonstrates the meeting of winter and spring: some blossoming purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) half-buried in the results of our torrential hail storm :

In my recent post about wildflowers at Cooper Mountain I misidentified purple dead nettle as self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), the same mistake I made last year! Whoop! I blame the deceivingly similar photos of them in my primary plant field guide. I did, however, succeed in identifying the mystery purple wildflower. I should have taken the four petals as a clue it was in the Brassica, or mustard, family – it’s oaks toothwort, also known as beautiful bittercress (Cardamine nuttallii).

The weather has remained windy every day, and cloudy every day except one. I took advantage of that afternoon to head down to Third Lagoon near the south end of the island. On the way there, I had to pull over to take a photo of this impressive cloud formation looming over Vancouver Island.

It was beautiful at Third Lagoon, where we were partially sheltered from the breeze.

There were some neat plants and intertidal creatures that I’ll feature in my next post, but the bird-watching was pretty good as well. Several small flocks of bufflehead still in the bay, and some green-winged teal in the lagoon being watched over by a belted kingfisher. Check out this photo of a foraging great blue heron with a feeding sub-adult bald eagle in the background. A black oystercatcher was nearby with a limpet in its beak, but I couldn’t quite line all three up in the same photo!

Here’s a closer look at the young bald eagle:

On Tuesday it was back to being overcast and chilly, but I still wanted to get out a bit to bird watch. I went to South Beach hoping to see a loon, grebe, or duck species I hadn’t yet picked up this year, but what I found was even better! As soon as I set foot on the beach three black-bellied plovers (135) flew by – a bird I have only seen once before, and that was 10 years ago in California! I followed them a way down the beach in hopes of getting a better look. I did, and much to my surprise right with them were also three sanderlings (136). Those two finds, as well as the northern shrike I saw later on my drive around the island, made for a more than decent hour of birding despite the weather!


Warren Baker said...

You are ahead of Dave in the bird race Monika - I think! He doesn't post much about his year list ;-)

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Warren - button it!!! - it's 136 each!!! Tighter than a tight thing from Tightsville; Arizona! 267 days to go...
Monika - can't believe I didn't spot your Self Heal mis ID as both grow in the garden here at Base Camp.



Monika said...

Dave - you'll have to post a photo of self heal when it comes up so I can compare. The ones in my field guide are no good and I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it myself!