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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Enjoying September

The weather continues to be awesome and the wildlife continues to abound, helping September to live up to its billing as my favorite month on San Juan Island. Here are a few scenes from the last week or so...

Down at American Camp I was pleased to find a vesper sparrow (194) - not an entirely unexpected species here but still a pretty rare sight on San Juan Island. Not a great shot by any means, but enough to see the eye ring, streaked chest, and dark cheek patch bordered by white.

There have been so many cedar waxwings on the island this summer. Also at American Camp I came across this single bird, and then a little later a flock of a dozen:

On Saturday I saw the whales from Land Bank. Word was all three pods were there, but they were very spread out and mostly backlit, so I wasn't able to get many identifications. Some groups of whales were way out in the middle of the strait. Most of the whales went north, but the L12s and L2s stayed south. This male decided at the last minute to go south, and cruised by quickly, but closer to shore than most of the other whales had been.

On Sunday we went out to see the sunset (hard to believe it sets at 7:30 already, and getting earlier in the hurry!). We saw a few distant whales to the south, some harbor porpoises surfacing in the flat calm waters, and a couple of small bait balls made up mostly of glaucous-winged gulls. Although my favorite sunsets usually have some clouds, this one was stunning in its own right.

Finally, yesterday I went out to South Beach hoping to find some migrating American pipits to add to the year list. No luck with the pipits, but I was thrilled to find a flock of a dozen horned larks (195). Not only was this a year bird, but it's the first time I've ever seen this species on San Juan Island. If they hadn't flown a little ways I never would have seen them, because their camouflage against the sand dunes is amazing! Again, not a great shot, but enough to show what it is - I didn't want to get too close and flush them.

What will the next week of September bring? Hopefully some more whales, and according to the weather forecast also some of our first rain of the month...

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