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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Yellow Island Trip ~ 2013

Last weekend, as part of my parents' visit to the island, we took an excursion over to Yellow Island, the 10-acre Nature Conservancy property north of Friday Harbor in San Juan Channel. While it is known for the amazing wildflower blooms that usually peak in April and May, it's a beautiful place to visit any time of year. In addition to some lounging harbor seals, we saw a nice variety of bird life including a pair of olive-sided flycatchers, numerous rufous hummingbirds, and lots of singing white-crowned sparrows:

It's an idyllic place, with beautiful scenes no matter which way you look:

As you can see in the above photo, just because the peak wildflower season is over doesn't mean there aren't still wildflowers to be found. The fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) in particular was both abundant and beautiful. One stretch of the trail involved walking through a fireweed jungle, with the densely growing flower stalks tall enough to be towering overhead. I had to spend some extra time there....

There was still evidence of some of the flower species the island is better known for - they've just all gone to seed. Here are the bulky seed pods of the chocolate lily (Fritillaria biflora):

A few of the other species I saw were gumweed (Grindelia sp.):

...and nodding onion (Allium cernuum):

....and harvest brodiaea (Brodiaea coronaria):

As always, it was another great visit to Yellow Island! My friend Phil is the caretaker there and always provides lots of great information and hospitality - thank you to him too!

A few other recent sightings...on June 29th I heard a willow flycatcher (164) at Land Bank's Westside Preserve, the same place I added to the year list last summer. Also, while birding with my dad at Cattle Point on the 30th, we found 15 Heermnan's gulls (165), a species that arrives this far north after it concludes its breeding season down in Mexico.

Last night, on July 1st, Keith and I went for an after dinner walk at American Camp. I'm inspired to get out there more around dusk after my last spectacular sunset visit! As expected, the wildlife was again active, like this rather tame (and probably human fed) fox in the parking lot:

We saw other more skittish foxes out on the prairies, as well as these interesting insects, which I believe are ten-lined june beetles (Polyphylla decemlineata):

A woman we saw who seemed scared of the foxes thought they were hunting gulls - unlikely. More likely is they were hunting these beetles, which I've seen them eating before and are large enough to provide at least a little bite-sized protein.

I've already got some other great blog posts lined up, so there will be more posts following in the near future!

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