Monday was my dad’s birthday, and we got to spend part of the afternoon birding around San Juan Island. It was sunny out, but windy, which left a chill in the air.
The first highlight of the day turned out not to be avian, but mammalian. On the trail towards Third Lagoon at the south end of the island, we spotted a mouse. Much to our surprise, it didn’t seem skittish at all. It soon became apparent that there must be something wrong with it – it seemed like it was blind, and possibly deaf as well. It was moving around all right and feeding, but surely its days (hours?) were numbered. It did provide a unique opportunity to observe one of the island’s small mammals up close, however, and after getting home I was able to identify it as a white-footed mouse. Here’s a photo of it, clearly unafraid with the feet of other human observers in the background:
Next stop was Cattle Point, where I was delighted to find a mixed flock of shorebirds. It was mostly black turnstones, but mixed in were a few surfbirds (year bird 144) and dunlin. Nearby was a pair of black oystercatchers, and out in Cattle Pass were the expected horned grebes, red-breasted mergansers, bufflehead, harlequin ducks, and surf scoters.
On the road back towards town we were delayed by an adult and immature bald eagle that were scouting out some road kill at the side of the road. The immature, as some young bald eagles do, had an amazing amount of white on it:
After a stop for something warm to drink, we went to Jackson Beach where we succeeded in finding what my dad considered a birthday present: a greater yellowlegs to add to his year list, which now stands at 137. We made one more stop at Turn Point County Day Park on Pear Point, hoping to find some interesting seabirds, but the highlight was a displaying male rufous hummingbird. These guys get very territorial, and indeed it buzzed us, our car, and another hummingbird while we were there. He also perched atop a tree long enough for me to get some photos. I was happy for the opportunity, because while the hummingbirds have rediscovered my feeder a couple of days ago, they are always backlit. It was nice to photograph this one in a better light:
Next up, a short trip to Seattle includes a side trip to twitch a rare bird for the area. Find out what I went looking for and whether or not I was successful in the next post!