Visiting Old Friends

I was back on Kiket Island today and I knew exactly what I wanted to see again.  I think the Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) has become my favorite shorebird.  I headed straight across the island and out to the spot where I saw them last summer.  With a high tide this time, I wasn't sure if my quest would be successful.

But I was successful, spotting this pair resting in almost the same place I saw the birds last year.  I have a hunch this could be the same pair.  They form long-term bonds and are known to return to the same feeding and nesting territory year after year.  Last year, the pair was nesting on the edge of Flagstaff Island which is attached to Kiket by a tombolo.

The preferred habitat is a rocky beach where they can feed on mussels and limpets.  I found these examples in stony tidal pools on the beach nearby.  The Oystercatcher's beak is tailor-made for opening mussels.

Across Skagit Bay, this is my view of Kiket Island and her little companion Flagstaff Island on the right.  Access to these islands has been limited for many years and a unique, pristine environment has resulted.  They are now protected as part of the Kukutali Preserve, a venue of Deception Pass State Park.  Two hour guided visits are available on some Saturday mornings.  Reservations may be arranged by calling 360-661-0682.

I spotted the birds on the rocky outcrop jutting from the south side of Flagstaff Island.  To the west, Deception Pass is in the background.  If you visit the islands and spot the Oystercatchers, please be respectful.  They are laid back and easy-going birds tolerant of visitors, but remember that this is their home.  Keep your distance and only approach them with binoculars and zoom lenses.

For more about this visit to the Kukutali Preserve, see "Gardens of Kukutali" at Fidalgo Island Crossings.