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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shaw Island

We've gotten in the habit of going on a weekend camping trip near Keith's birthday, and this year the plan was to visit nearby Shaw Island. Amazingly, despite spending at least parts of every summer in the San Juans for the last 13 years and despite the fact that it's served by the Washington State Ferry, it's an island I've never been to. It was time to remedy that! Unfortunately, our plans got cut short due to Keith coming down with a bad cough and we had to bail early, but we still had time to enjoy the island a little bit.

Sign at the Shaw Island ferry terminal. Shaw became the 10th island I've set foot on in the San Juan Islands.
The campground, part of a county park and the only public lands on Shaw, is perched on a wooded cliff above the beach. Indian Beach is a rare sandy beach - most of our shorelines are rocky.

As we walked the beach, I saw something I've never seen before: a hummingbird taking a bath in a tiny waterfall!

Afterwards, it stuck its tongue out at me, perhaps for photographing such a private moment:

There were actually three hummingbirds flying about, as well as a recently fledged group of house wrens, olive-sided and Pacific-slope flycatchers, orange-crowned warblers, white-crowned sparrows, and spotted towhees.

It was amazing to see dozens and dozens of tent caterpillars crawling around on the driftwood. This year has seen an explosion of tent caterpillars, and many local gardeners are happy that their season is coming to an end. We actually found some cocoons that I've assuming are from the tent caterpillars.

We had a peek-a-boo view of the water from our campsite, where we could watch the ferries going by:

In the morning we knew we were going to pack up and catch a ferry back home, but we still had a couple hours to explore the island a little bit. We walked to Reef Net Point, where I heard a Hutton's vireo (163) to add to my year list. (I erroneously stated in an earlier blog post that I had added Hutton's vireo, but it was a typo on my part, as it was Cassin's vireo I added at that point!) In the campground I also heard a Steller's jay to add to my county list - not a species I'm likely to see or hear while on San Juan Island.

There were lots of foxglove in bloom everywhere:

Driving around the island, it really reminded me of Waldron Island, but with paved roads. The population on Shaw is about double that of Waldron (165 to 80 or so), but they both have limited public facilities (no lodging or restaurants - though Shaw does have a general store and public campground). Both islands have small schools, post offices, and grassy airstrips.

I also don't remember seeing a fire station on Waldron, but it doesn't look like this one on Shaw sees too much activity:

At least the weather was beautiful for our ferry ride back to Friday Harbor. We had a stop at Orcas Island and I took this photo that I love of the Orcas ferry landing:

Here's the scene as we pulled back into Friday Harbor:

After a fairly sleepless night, we both has to spend part of the sunny afternoon taking a nap, but I wasn't about to let the entire day go to waste. After dinner I headed down to American Camp, where I was amazed at how much I saw in one hour before sunset - the next post will feature photos of that excursion!


Dave Wenning said...

In the 1960's, I went to school with a girl who would become the teacher on Shaw Island. We were Gig Harbor expats, I guess. Enjoyed the post and the nice photos. Thanks.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

My dad was head teacher (of three teachers) in a country school like that...not much bigger than the small office I'm sat in now! Sadly closed now and turned intro a private house.


PS You're catching me up!

Vera said...

Very amusing photos of the hummingbird and I was happy to see that in spite of having to "bail" on the camping trip, that you still had a chance to explore some. Looks like a peaceful little island and now it's my turn to go and check it out!

Jill said...

I camped on Shaw over Memorial Day weekend and likely near your campsite as well. Noticed the tent caterpillars too. We kayaked around the island. Really enjoyed the mellow Shaw park/ferry terminal/ambience. Picked up an excellent cookie at the general store. Nice pics as usual!