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Monday, April 16, 2012

April San Juan Sightings

It's been a busy month at work, but on weekends and on nice springtime afternoons I've still made sure to get out and enjoy spring here on San Juan Island. Here are a few photos and sightings from the last two weeks.....

Last spring my friend Katie and I found a barred owl roosting in a tree near her house. We thought it might be a nesting site and checked it out earlier in the year this year. No luck, but by early April an owl was again spending its days in the same tree hole. Like last year, only part of its face was visible, but it was still cool to see:

Spring migrants have seemingly been slower to arrive here in the rest of the state, but one afternoon out turned up both my first savannah sparrow (161) of the year, and my first sighting of western bluebirds (162). The western bluebird reintroduction project has completed its five years of relocations, but they are still monitoring the local bluebird population. When I saw this male and female, 8 pairs had been known to have returned to the island.

There have been some clear nights with impressive stars this month, and one evening I got home just in time to see this impressive moonrise across the bay.

The local farmer's market has started up for the summer again, and on the first Saturday it was open I came home with a fresh baked chocolate croissant which I enjoyed while sitting on the front porch in the sun. While I was eating it, I heard a noise nearby, and saw I wasn't the only one eating a late morning snack. This mink was busily foraging, and came up with an eel-like fish. It dropped it, and was here scoping me out before going to retrieve it:

Sevearl birding excursions around the island have turned up first-of-the-year sightings for me in San Juan County, though they're birds I added to the year list early with the trip to California. Orange-crowned warblers, osprey, turkey vultures, wood ducks, and common yellowthroat are some of the species that have arrived. As a result, my county year list has surpassed 100 species this month.

With my parents up visiting this weekend, I did lots of birding with my dad, and added a few outright year birds as well. The brown-headed cowbirds (163) have arrived, which is not an exciting sighting since they negatively impact so many other bird species. While doing a COASST survey at Fourth of July Beach, I saw my first three northern rough-winged swallows (164) of the season. Then, while stopping to see the alpacas at the alpaca farm, I was surprised to see a chipping sparrow (165) sitting on a fence wire.

Also at Fourth of July Beach there was a small flock of shorebirds made up of about 10 black-bellied plovers and 20 dunlin, both of which are always a pleasure to see. Both of them are also starting the transition to summer breeding plumage, and probably won't be around much longer. Here's part of the flock:

Across the way looking over the Strait of Juan de Fuca were some impressive clouds, which as I know from my black and white landscape photography week (see last post) can make for some impressive shots. Here's one:

Finally, a hike at British Camp turned up lots of singing orange-crowned warblers, a few remaining surf scoters, and this very wet dark-eyed junco that had seemingly just taken a bath:

Next up, hopefully some more time outside, and some more regular blog posts again!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Spring is pretty slow here at teh moment too - hope the floodgates open soon!
You're still 10 ahead though which will take some pulling back.
Any orcas back yet? No cetaceans for me, seem thin on the ground (in the water?) this year.



Monika said...

Dave - There have been some transient (mammal-feeding) orcas around, but not where I can see them from shore. The residents (fish-eaters) should be returning more regularly any week now!