Last Tuesday afternoon, the last day of our very warm weather, I got out after work and walked around Three Meadows Marsh. In the back of my mind was still the chance to find the yellow-headed blackbird (which I didn't), but I also figured that in the bright sunshine there would be lots of bird species singing, and I wasn't disappointed. I took an hour and 45 minutes to walk around the marsh, pausing here and there to stand still and listen or sit in the sunshine and look. In that time, I turned up more than 40 species! The highlight was the wide variety of warblers - six species in all: orange-crowned, black-throated gray, Townsend's, Wilson's, common yellowthroat, and yellow (155).
After the six warblers, there were five swallows: northern-rough winged, violet-green, tree, cliff, and barn. Four finches: purple finch, pine siskin, red crossbill, and American goldfinch. Three sparrows: savannah, white-crowned, and song. Two wrens: marsh and house. And one heron for good measure: a great blue.
On Thursday after work we went for a walk at the Friday Harbor Labs, and it was a surprisingly birdy walk considering the dense woods there are often pretty quiet. More orange-crowned, black-throated gray, and Townsend's warblers were singing, as well as house wrens, brown creepers, and red-breasted nuthatches. I was surprised to find three woodpecker species: a couple of northern flickers, a pileated that came quite close where we stopped to sit on a mossy knoll, and a hairy woodpecker that was a new one for my county year list. We came back along the shore trail where the only sea bird present was a trio of rhinoceros auklets. While walking along this part of the trail we also heard a pair of barred owls (156) calling to each other - such an impressive call with their booming Who cooks for you, who cooks for you? Then back at the car I heard a single olive-sided flycatcher (157) call just before we left.
Today was gray and a bit drizzly, though still pretty warm at close to 60 degrees. I don't know if it was the rain that drove them in or what, but our feeders were extremely active all day after having been very quiet for weeks. Our sunflower seed feeder and bag of thistle seeds were bustling with pine sikins, red crossbills, and American goldfinches all day. I didn't want to scare them away (whenever a gull flew by, they flushed, then didn't come back for a while), so I just took this picture through our dirty glass door, but there's more than 15 birds of the three species here:
Occasionally we've had the pleasure of watching a mink come by. It runs down the rocks, dives into the water, then resurfaces a little bit later with a fish or shrimp or some other prize in its mouth. We've regularly seen it running down the shoreline with its food, making us wonder if it's carrying it back to a den. I wasn't able to get a photo of the mink today, but while trying I noticed there were numerous very large California sea cucumbers around - much bigger and more abundant than usual for right here!
During a break in the weather (and a break in the playoff hockey that also took up a lot of the weekend), I headed out to go for a walk at the quarry at the Limekiln Preserve. There were a few target year birds I was hoping for, and one of them, a black-headed grosbeak (158) showed itself briefly on a fence post on my drive there. Westside Lake was pretty quiet when it came to ducks (just a pair of mallards), but there were lots of birds singing including a mourning dove and a pair of warbling vireos. As I walked the loop by the quarry, I also heard a Cassin's vireo, Pacific-slope flycatchers, and the regular assortment of warblers, sparrows, and finches that have been abundant of late. I saw both Anna's and rufous hummingbirds and a few violet-green swallows swooping over the cliffs. No luck with turning up any other year birds on this walk, but I did find a stunning cinnabar moth:
The manroot was also abundant on the cliffs and seems to be in peak bloom:
Looks like we're tied with Dave at last count as we both sit at 158 - amazing how close our tallies stay throughout the year! And while I'm a good 30 species up on my dad on the year list challenge at the moment, he's got me worried because he's about to embark on an epic two-week, cross-Canada trip that will include some visits to a few birding hotspots. I'll enjoy his bird sightings vicariously while keeping watch for some more new species for me here on the west coast.