After several birding trips on San Juan Island didn't result in any new species to our year list efforts, it was time to head off island and take advantage of a sunny (if chilly) winter weekend day. Skagit County is always a pleasure to bird in the winter, and it did not disappoint! In six hours we turned up nearly 50 species.
Our second bird of the day was a peregrine falcon - no complaints there!
|64th bird species photographed this year - peregrine falcon|
As hoped for, the raptors were everywhere, and for a while it seemed as if there was a new species to stop and observe around every bend in the road....
|American kestrel (65)|
|Northern harrier (66)|
|Rough-legged hawk (67)|
|Another rough-legged hawk|
But luckily near the end of the day, after several others flew away before I could snap a photo, I finally came across this cooperative fella (or lady):
|Red-tailed hawk (72)|
Most water was still frozen, which put a bit of a damper on the waterfowl and shorebird front, but sure made for some beautiful landscapes:
And there were still hundreds of trumpeter swans and thousands of snow geese in the flats:
|Trumpeter swans in front of the Olympic mountains|
|Snow goose (73)|
|Snow geese in flight after a hunter fires a shot|
It was the bald eagles that stole the show, however. We started counting early and tallied over 100 for the day, including some fantastic looks...
|A quick way to boost the count - more than 15 in one tree!|
|Lots of aerial acrobatics as an adult chased a juvenile out of its territory|
Even as daylight dwindled all too early, we kept snapping photos in the dusk...
At the Anacortes ferry landing I was hoping for a ring-billed gull, but was happy to take the photogenic mew gulls.
Surprisingly there were more than 10 great blue herons roosting with them on the dock pilings - haven't seen that in this location before!
By the day's end I had added 12 new species to my photo year list total, and more than that to my overall year list. We heard a Virginia rail, though weren't able to see it or photograph it, though a couple of our friendly competitors in Vancouver, BC have gotten great shots of this species this year! We also flushed an American bittern but I wasn't quite quick enough on the trigger to get a identifiable shot of one. Also, I was surprised not to see any short-eared owls! But I guess that's what keeps us going back, isn't it? :)
So as of today I've got 88 species on the year list and 76 species on the photo year list - still keeping that 85% ratio going! I just love how much I've been out taking photos as a result of this challenge so far, and seeing what everyone else is turning up has been just as fun!