Return to Fraggle Rock

Over the past month or so, I have made several trips to West Beach in Deception Pass State Park.  I have been coming to check this big rock just off shore from the parking lot.  It looks oblong from shore, however, the satellite map view reveals it to be fairly round in shape.

For want of a better name, I have dubbed it Fraggle Rock after the Jim Henson/HBO TV series from the 1980's.  Like in the TV show, it's a little world apart where different creatures live in a complex ecosystem.

I have discovered this rock to be a favorite resting place for sea birds.  Fall and winter seem to be the best seasons to view this phenomenon.  After 09:00 AM is the optimum time to view the birds.  By 10:00 AM, the crowds really begin to gather.

One of the species I have been looking for in particular is the Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) and here is one red-beaked fellow in all its glory.  They breed on hot desert islands off the west coast of Mexico according to iBird Pro.  In late summer and fall, they migrate up here as far north as British Columbia.

Here are three more Heermann's Gulls on the beach in front of the rock.  You can spot the ones with red beaks and black legs.  The pink legged birds are our resident Western and/or Glaucous-winged gulls.

There are smaller rocks in clusters near "Fraggle Rock" which are exposed at low tides.  These are also attractive roosting spots for the local sea birds.

After feeding all morning, it's nice to gather with friends to rest and socialize.  This photo was shot on a very foggy day.

Here are three Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritis) identified by their orange cheeks and throat pouches.  During the breeding season, they have little white crests behind their eyes.  Of the three species of cormorant in the state, these are the most commonly seen.  I am always amazed how different species peacefully gather together on the rock.

This handsome fellow is a male Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus).  Outside of the breeding season, West Beach and Rosario Beach in Deception Pass State Park are two of the best spots to see them.  His scientific name translates to "theatrical theatrical" befitting his dramatic costume.

When it is windy, you can always tell the direction of the wind by the orientation of the birds.  In this case, it's blowing from the north.

Among the resident gulls in this photo are two Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), five Heermann's Gulls and three Double-crested Cormorants.  Can you spot them all?  This photo should reveal why this has become one of my favorite spots for wildlife viewing.