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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Orcas Island Birthday Weekend ~ Part 2

We stayed at The Cabin on Spring Bay, and spent the afternoon Saturday hiking the trails on the property or enjoying the views out the front windows. Here's a picture I took from the water's edge looking back towards the cabin:

The property sits between two ridges, and the trail we took started by climbing up one of the ridges and looking over towards Obstruction Island:

There seems to be more deer on Orcas Island than on San Juan. On Saturday we counted more than 30 for the day! Many of those were at Spring Bay.

Not all the mule deer on Orcas Island look like our San Juan deer, either - numerous animals are speckled with varying amounts of white. I assumed that maybe this was from in-breeding, although I questioned my own theory since I know deer do swim between the islands, which should help diversify the gene pool. After doing a little research, it sounds like the story is that at some point there were one or several pure white deer introduced or otherwise brought to the island. These cross-bred with the native mule deer, creating these variable color morphs. Doesn't this deer also look a little small (young) for this time of year?

There were so many deer around, it seemed like anywhere you looked, you could find one if you looked hard enough.

Back to our hike around Spring was one of those great walks where there's lots of everything to look at. Mushrooms:

Mammals - this is a native Douglas squirrel, much nicer than the large non-native fox squirrels that are most common around Portland. We don't have squirrels on San Juan Island! (Okay, there is a small population of flying squirrels on San Juan, but I've never seen one.)

And birds - the highlight was this barred owl:

We talked to the owner and he said he's only seen maybe three barred owls in the 20 years he's lived there. Nice find! Some other highlights included a pileated woodpecker, and the horned grebes and hooded mergansers that spent a lot of time in the bay itself. Overall, we saw close to 30 species from or around the cabin.

The Saturday evening sunset was pretty stunning:

Right before we left to have a delicious celebratory birthday dinner at the New Leaf Cafe in Eastsound, the moon became visible, too.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend!


Patricia Lichen said...

Oh my gosh, what a day, what a birthday! Fabulous photos!

Vera said...

Great post and amazing photos!

BuckMountain said...

The story we were told was that the white deer swam over from John Wayne's old hunting preserve (Spieden Island). 5 years ago there were still a few deer that appeared all white. (I have a picture of one around somewhere.) These days we just see the "appaloosa deer" as they like to call them here on Orcas.

Jessica said...

Beautiful photos! I love all the little deer. :)