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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Catching Up

I've been so busy with a few different projects lately that I haven't had much time to get out and bird or whale watch, let alone take photos and blog! When I've needed breaks I've still managed a few short trips out, however, and here are some highlights of what I've seen....

Last week I spent an hour down at Cattle Point on an overcast afternoon. It was pretty quiet bird-wise, but a flock of about 20 sanderlings flew in, which was a nice surprise.

Also, right near the Cattle Point Lighthouse I found two American pipits (196), a migrating species I was hoping to catch sight of this month as they pass through the island. It was a only a brief look so I didn't have a chance for pictures, but here's a photo of the lighthouse instead :)

I went down to Seattle for a three-day conference, and on the way made a stop at Fir Island in Skagit County for a little bit of birding. At one of the Skagit Wildlife Areas there were lots of western sandpipers, a few least sandpipers, and two more American pipits. There was also an adult bald eagle perched nearby, which reminded me that I haven't seen many eagles on the island in about a month! That's not unexpected, as after fledging their chicks in August they head over to the mainland to feed on the salmon runs over there in the fall, but they should be coming back to the island soon.
A walk at the Skagit Game Range also proved to be productive bird-wise. Walking on the dikes, it was amazing to be surrounded by many hundreds of calling and singing red-winged blackbirds in the trees and marshlands all around. It was an almost dream-like experience to be hearing nothing but blackbirds in all directions. There were also wood ducks, mallards, and a few northern shoveler, plus a couple of calling greater yellowlegs. The most unexpected find was a shrieking great horned owl that I would have never seen had it not been yelling every few minutes. It didn't seem to mind our presence, as after giving us a stare-down it closed its eyes and yawned.

I got back home to the island this weekend and yesterday went out near dusk in hopes of seeing some whales off the westside of the island. Amazingly the morning fog still covered much of southern Haro Strait so I wasn't able to see the whales, but the water was calm and the lighting was beautiful so I just sat and enjoyed the view for a while.

The sunset was stunning with some of the fog blowing in the evening wind:

Things should calm down considerably as the week goes on, so hopefully I'll have some more time to get out. I would love to see the whales a few more times, but sightings will probably start to drop off pretty quickly as we approach October!

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