Showing posts from October, 2012


Autumn Blue Heron She is dancing with the wind Taking flight with me Skagit River Delta, Fir Island, Washington Quiet visitor Softly singing with the wind Music of the earth Skagit Bay, South Fidalgo Island, Washington

Wood Duck

While hiking the dike in the Skagit Wildlife Area on Fir Island, an opening in the vegetation revealed this handsome  Wood Duck ( Aix sponsa ) swimming in Wiley Slough.  Wooded areas in the Skagit delta wetlands provide ideal habitat.  These "tree ducks" are monogamous, solitary nesters.  Up to fifteen eggs will be laid in the cavity of a tree and incubated by the hen according to iBird . He was joined by his mate and the pair quickly disappeared behind the vegetation lining the dike.  This is a public hunting area, so the birds are wise to skedaddle. Wood Ducks were almost hunted to extinction around the turn of the nineteenth century.  Efforts to restore populations included installing nest boxes in breeding areas and allowing beaver populations to increase.  Beavers help build the habitats desired by Wood Ducks by creating fresh water marshes with their damming. As an aside, I see the terrific iBird Pro app for Android devices is currently on sale for $4.99 U

More Fall Migration

The Spur Dike along Wiley Slough in the Skagit River delta has become one of my favorite spots for exploring.  There always seems to be something new to discover there.  Maybe this is a benefit of the Washington "Discover" Pass .  On my last visit a week ago, I came upon this group of long-billed wading birds in the marshes south of the dike.  At the time, I wasn't sure what they were.  This was a busy, active bunch, about a dozen in all, moving quickly as they probed the shallow waters with those specialized bills.  The moved along in unison like a troupe of caffeinated dancers. With bright morning sun, the lighting and shadows were terrible for both photos and for identification of the birds.  When I got home, I hunted through my bird books and internet sites to try and determine what they were.  With some reservation, I have identified them as Greater Yellowlegs ( Tringa melanoleuca ) .  As usual, please correct me if I am wrong. UPDATE  As it turns out, I was

Fall Migration

For the past twenty-five autumns, I have observed  Canada Geese ( Branta canadensis ) stopping for a visit on South Fidalgo Island.  While we have year-around resident geese in the area, the only time I see them here is during September and October.  This tells me that these visitors are stopping by on their annual migration.  The geese routinely come to the spot where a small stream drains into the bay.  Here, they can get a drink of fresh water, refuel with a seaweed snack and catch a snooze.  I have come to look forward to this annual event.  It is a part of the natural rhythm of the neighborhood. I also see the V formations and hear the woodwind sounds of Canada Geese flying overhead.  They are always moving to the west following the South Fidalgo shoreline towards Deception Pass .  I suspect they will head out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to join other flocks in the Pacific Flyway . Groups of between five and thirty birds will spend a couple of hours resting on the b

Bushtits at Deception Pass

The first day of October and Deception Pass State Park have given me beautiful weather and a first sighting.  In a small grove of Shore Pines at West Beach , I spotted a half dozen tiny birds making a chattering ruckus in the branches.  From their size, I first thought they were wrens.  When I noticed the light gray coloring, I wasn't sure what they were. These fast moving, active little birds were difficult to photograph in the branches, but I managed to get a few shots.  I hoped a couple would turn out to be useful.  When I got home, I identified them as Bushtits ( Psaltriparus minimus ) using iBird Pro's * search function.  This is a handy tool I have used several times. This is an adult female bird in the photos, identified by her light colored eyes.  Males and juveniles have dark eyes.  According to Seattle Audubon, they live in "mixed coniferous and deciduous areas with shrubby growth."  That describes the dune forest at West Beach to a T. The most