The Resident orcas headed back out to the open ocean last Sunday night, and there haven't been reports of them since then. While the boats in the area have had chances to see transient orcas (there were Ts right off Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver yesterday!), humpback whales, and minke whales, those of us on shore have turned our sights to other creatures. It's been another beautiful late spring week and there's been a lot to see!
Monday while picking up my lunch near the Friday Harbor Airport I was thrilled to see my first chipping sparrow (162) of the year. I had gone out to several places I've seen them in years past looking for this species, but without luck. Then, later the same afternoon, I saw one from the office at work. Amazingly, I think, my bird list for species seen at work in 2013 is approaching 40 species.
Also at work that day I found another cool moth. We had the ceanothus silk moth a few weeks ago, but this time it was an eyed sphinx moth (Smerinthus cerisyi). It took me a while to ID it because in most of the field guide images it has its hind wings extended showing the "eyes" it flashes to scare predators. I guess I wasn't scary enough.
Wednesday I went down to Fourth of July Beach and did a COASST survey. As per usual, no stranded sea birds, but I did turn up a respectable 28 living species in the hour I was there. Northern rough-winged swallows, cedar waxwings, a gadwall, American goldfinches, and a few surf scoters were on the list, but the most cooperative when it came to taking pictures was a pair of killdeer. I've never seen a killdeer jump before, but that's just what this one was doing as it went from log to log:
Thursday night after work we headed out to Lime Kiln for another sunset. The colors were a bit more subdued than some other recent ones but it was still a beauty:
For some reason we've gotten in the habit of seeing how many of these four species we can find on every trip to the west side: killer whale, harbor seal, bald eagle, black oystercatcher. Only once this year have we gotten all four! On Thursday evening we only got one - bald eagle - but that was okay because it flew right past the crescent moon, giving it bonus points:
On Friday afternoon we went for a walk at Third Lagoon at the south end of the island and saw and heard another 23 bird species. Some highlights for me were a pair of hairy woodpeckers that looked like recent fledgling and also a pair of band-tailed pigeons, not a species I see too often here on the island. At the edge of the lagoon a line of colorful kayaks were laid out on the gravel:
On the drive back to town I had to stop at the pull out above South Beach to take some photos of the California poppies that have just exploded into bloom all over the hillside there:
I wonder what sights this weekend will bring?