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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting to Know Third Lagoon

The San Juan Island Trails Committee has been hosting a series of Know Your Island walks where naturalists, historians, and others share information with locals during a guided hike at one of our island's numerous recreational areas. Last Saturday I went along on the hike exploring Third Lagoon to share information about birds. Third Lagoon is probably one of the least visited trails on the island, despite being a beautiful access to both deep forest and the shoreline of Griffin Bay. I was surprised how many islanders I told about the hike said, "Where is that?"

It was a rainy Saturday, but we still had 20 people show up for our hike. In addition to birds, others talked about trees, lichens, and mushrooms. I definitely learned a thing or two!

Shaggy mane mushrooms
My friend Kari knows quite a lot about mushrooms, and had a sharp eye for finding them too! She collected a whole basket of chanterelles - all of which I probably would have walked by without seeing.

Kari with a chanterelle
There is an amazing variety of trees at this part of the island, and we saw a couple of species I'm not that familiar with that I didn't know we had here - quaking aspen and Douglas maple.

Douglas maple (Acer glabrum)

Our two youngest participants got particularly excited over this tiny tree frog found among the detritus. I thought it was pretty cool, too.

The rain held off for the first part of our hike, but it started an earnest as we headed out into the open near the lagoon itself, which was where the best birding was. As a result I don't have any pictures of that part, but we saw lots of harlequin ducks, red-breasted mergansers, and horned grebes, along with a couple of black oystercatchers, common loons, and a great blue heron.

It was supposed to stay rainy all weekend, but Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous (if chilly) day. I went back to the south end of the island again, and had to pull over when I noticed these California poppies in full bloom - at the end of October! This looks more like the type of photo I would take in July:

One final sighting to share is that last week we heard and then saw two barred owls right from the deck of our houseboat! I couldn't believe it. Their call is accurately described as "Who cooks for you?" but that doesn't really capture the booming quality when you hear it, especially in the middle of a cold night. Get a feel for it by listening to the audio recording from Bird Web here. It sounds so cool.


Vera said...

I had to listen to the owl call over and over again. So cool!
Also really like the mushroom photo...and the poppies.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

We call em shaggy ink caps or layers wigs which are still worn in UK courtrooms.
BTW what is a salmonberry bird? Was watching a programme about native people on Vancouver Island and they said they didn't pick the salmon berries until they heard the bird sing back from its migration in the spring


Monika said...

Dave - The salmonberry bird is the Swainson's thrush. Their melodic call is one of the symbols of early summer in the Pacific Northwest, and I guess it was usually timed with the ripe berries.