Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Day on Whidbey Island, WA -- 7/14/2011

I always enjoy visiting my son in Seattle. There's good coffee, cooler weather, beautiful scenery, and Pacific Northwest birding.

When I was planning the trip, I built in a day for one of Washington State's famous pelagic tours. As it turns out, the week I had booked was the one week there was no trip. So, I settled for spending a day birding Whidbey Island and a second day up by Sequim (on the peninsula) followed by a birding cruise to Protection Island.

I used Hal Opperman's A Birder's Guide to Washington (ABA Birdfinding Guide) and was accompanied by my son, Dan, and his friend Sam.

Summer is not the optimal time for birding in Washington. But we still managed to pick up a few life birds from the 26 species we saw that day. If we had been able to positively identify our empidonax flycatcher as a Pacific Slope Flycatcher, we all would have been up one more.

Possible the best sighting of the day, though, had nothing to do with birds. It was a family of Sea Otters frolicking around the beach and in the water.

Of course, no trip to Whidbey Island (or Washington State) is complete until you see several Bald Eagles. Many of the ones we saw were first or second year youngsters. But, toward the end of our day, we came across this beautiful adult who sat and posed for us.

The list (life birds in bold):

Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
California Quail
Black Oystercatcher
Herring gull
Caspian Tern
Pigeon Guillemot
Rhinoceros Auklet
Belted Kingfisher
Red-breasted Sapsucker
unknown Empidonax
American Crow
Barn Swallow
American Robin
Swainson's Thrush
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
House Sparrow

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meanwhile, Back in the Yard

We had a visitor to our yard yesterday -- a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, just sitting on the railing, while all the birds (including Hummingbirds) and a squirrel sat around, keeping an eye on it. I'd say it sat there for about fifteen minutes, giving me ample opportunity to shoot photos and a video through our window.

There's a nest somewhere in the canyon; so we assume this is one of this year's fledglings.

And now for the video:

Next stop, Seattle, where I will attempt to book a trip around Protection Island to see the nesting Tufted Puffins, et al. Unfortunately, the weekly pelagic trips aren't exactly weekly. There isn't one during my week and a day there. Maybe next year?

Stay tuned!