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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yellow Island ~ 2014

Ah, it's been a bit too long since I've blogged! First, I need to report updates to the year list, which have just happened in the last few days: barn swallow, cliff swallow, and chipping sparrow put me at 154.

Last Sunday I got to take an excursion to Yellow Island, known for its spring wildflowers. I'm so lucky I've been able to visit the island for several years in a row after dreaming of going there for a long time!

Approaching Yellow Island

It turned out to be a great time to visit, not only because of the blue skies and warm sunshine, but because nearly all the main flower groups were in bloom. The fawn lilies, one of my favorite to photograph with the macro lens, were a little past their peak, but there will still plenty in bloom:

The shooting stars were also winding down; Yellow is a few weeks ahead of San Juan Island in terms of its flowers, as on San Juan the shooting stars haven't peaked yet.

By contrast, just starting to bloom were the chocolate lilies and camas.

I love the leaves of the chocolate lilies, and I liked this shot of it best in black and white:

The other abundant species is harsh paintbrush:


Careful observation also yields all kinds of other species, such as....


Blue-eyed Mary
Small-flowered prairie star
You need the macro lens to capture the beauty of individual flowers, but it's hard to portray the splendor of so many flowers in bloom across the hillside. I tried anyway:

I spent some time sitting on my favorite part of the path, surrounded by flowers:

Of course, with that many flowers, I wasn't the only one there. There were plenty of bumblebees and other insect pollinators, as well as more than a couple rufous hummingbirds. They sure do blend into the background!

While on Yellow Island, I got the excited news that K-Pod was headed into our inland waters for the first time this spring. When we got back to San Juan Island, that meant other afternoon plans were altered as there was a chance to see them from shore. I caught up with them at South Beach, where I watched them head south in their family groups. They were far away, but was it ever nice to see some orcas again!

The K13s off South Beach
Here's hoping that's just the beginning, with much more to come in the near future!