This weekend I went down to Whidbey Island to attend Fin Fest, an event put on by Orca Network and Whidbey Watershed Stewards to celebrate the return of orcas and salmon to Puget Sound (the Southern Residents, especially J and K Pods, spend part of the fall in Puget Sound feeding on salmon after spending most of the summer further north in the Salish Sea).
The day after the festival I had some time before I needed to head back to catch my ferry, so my mom and I visited Earth Sanctuary, which is described as a nature reserve, meditation parkland, and sculpture garden. It is a 72-acre privately-owned preserve that is open to the public as a place to enjoy nature and experience a spiritual connection to the Earth via several sacred sites throughout the grounds.
While the weather was windy and rainy for most of the weekend, it let up while we were hiking some of the trails through the sanctuary.
There was quite a lot of bird activity including many mixed flocks of black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadees, a pair of mallards on the lake, multiple spotted towhees, the ubiquitous American robin, some song sparrows,
winter Pacific wrens (recently renamed after the winter wren was split into western and eastern forms) here and there, a Bewick's wren, and a large flock of European starlings. There was also one very different-looking thrush that I think may have been a veery, but I'm just not 100% sure.
Given the time of year and the dampness, it's not surprising that there were also mushrooms everywhere. Below are some turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) growing on a fallen tree:
I've never seen mushrooms growing like this before:
This is one of my favorite shots from the day:
There were even some mushrooms among the artwork, with these being cleverly crafted by placing rocks on top of tree stumps:
We also visited many of the sacred sites throughout the reserve, which included a dolmen, a labyrinth, and a Tibetan prayer wheel. My favorite spot was the Native American medicine wheel, which is a place of prayer "symbolizing the totality of existence". You weren't allowed to take pictures there, however, so instead here is a photo of the cottonwood stone circle, a meditative site based on the stone circles of ancient Europe:
Overall it was a very beautiful place to visit!