After a very gray January, the weather has been unbelievably mild this February, with lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 50s. That means I've done a bit more birding, though the year list has only creeped up a little bit. I heard a barred owl (85) at home, and added Virginia rail (86) and Cooper's hawk (87) at Three Meadows Marsh. A drive around the center of the island last Saturday turned up lesser scaup (88) and western meadowlarks (89), then Monday morning when leaving for work I heard a brown creeper (90).
The weather has also been conducive to getting out a lot on our new boat, Serenity. While I'm always hopeful for whales, I haven't had another orca encounter since February 12th (though one morning we went out looking after J-Pod had been heard on the hydrophones before sunrise and just missed them!) Still, it's been awesome to be on the water and there's been plenty of great wildlife and scenery.
|Sunrise in San Juan Channel|
|Steller sea lions in Spieden Channel|
|Bald Eagle on Spieden Island|
|Mouflon sheep ram on Spieden Island|
One of the best boat trips yet came last Sunday on February 22nd when I went out with some friends late in the afternoon.
|Monika, Julie, Katie, and Traci on Serenity - thanks for the photo Traci!|
After looping around Stuart Island looking for cetaceans (we did find a few harbor porpoise) we could tell by the clouds to the west that things were shaping up for a good sunset. We decided to hang out in Haro Strait to watch it, and that was a very good decision! At first the waters were glassy calm.
We cruised slowly down the shoreline looking at wildlife as the colors kept getting brighter.
|Pelagic cormorant hitching a ride on driftwood|
|A bald eagle perched above its nest|
As the Lime Kiln Lighthouse came into view, we couldn't believe our eyes: in clear weather we can see Mt. Rainier from the San Juans (about 130 miles from Lime Kiln as the crow flies), but I have never seen it like this! It was much clearer (and seemingly much larger) than usual.
Then as we cruised back up north, that's when the colors of the sunset really started to take off. It's been a long time since I've taken this many sunset photos! One reason it was so unique is that it wasn't just the oranges, pinks, and yellows, but there was still a lot of blue in the sky, too!
The reflections in the water were a worthy photographic subject in their own right:
It was my first sunset from Serenity, and it was a perfect one. We just sat floating in the strait taking it all in, and taking tons of pictures!
Even when it was finally time to go in, one more breath-taking sight awaited us.
|A great blue heron silhouetted against the sunset|
I'm sure loving this whole boat thing, and so far we've only had it from November-February, which are supposedly the "worst" months!