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Friday, March 15, 2019

March 9 ~ Birding Semiahmoo

Last weekend we headed off island to run some errands. I thought it would be a ferry ride like any other, but it turned into a very memorable one: after 18 years of riding these ferries regularly, I finally saw orcas from the ferry! And not once, but twice on the same trip!

T124As outside of Friday Harbor
T123s near Blakely Island
While I'm glad that drought is finally broken, I have to say it's actually not so great to see whales from the ferry, because of course the ferry keeps going while I would rather stay and watch!

After getting our errands done, we had enough time to make a visit to one of my favorite regional birding spots at Semiahmoo. As hoped for, we saw a lot of birds, some of them new to the year list, and the icing on the cake was the beautiful evening light.

Common loon
We got a scoter hat trick, seeing all three species there (surf, white-winged, and black).

Black scoters - far away, but awesome because they are uncommon to see. Cameo appearance by a few brant!
White-winged scoter

On our drive we saw multiple pairs of bald eagles at nests - it's that time of year! This one perched on top of the tower at the end of Semiahmoo Spit and was calling to another bird (presumably its mate) flying above it.

It took a little longer than expected to add black-capped chickadee to the photo year list, but I finally got a photo of one. We've only got chestnut-sided chickadees on San Juan Island, and while I've seen several other black-cappeds, there was never a chance to photograph one without the "hand of man" for this year's challenge.

Two of my hoped-for species for the trip to Semiahmoo did not disappoint: greater scaup and brant.

As the light was fading it was getting time to head back for the ferry, but it was hard to leave with scenes like this:

Semiahmoo Spit

Just a couple more photographs before warming up in the car, for good measure:


Northern pintail in flight

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