Tuesday, April 8, 2014
It is early spring at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park, Washington. If you are looking for birds, you will not be disappointed here. Right off the bat, this young gull caught my eye. He was perched on top of the concession building near Cranberry Lake with a good view of the whole area. Gulls take four years to reach their adult plumage.
Juveniles like this one can be difficult to identify. Around here, if you guess Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) you'll probably be right most of the time. It's our most common species. Could this one be finishing up his second winter? I would sure appreciate some help with identification. This is a good looking bird regardless of the ID. I like the browns and grays.
I have spotted this pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) several times this past winter. Late mornings, they are always perching in a particular tree at the north end of the Dune Forest. During early mornings, you might catch them fishing. I realize this is not the best photo, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.
The state park has been waging a turf battle with Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) at Cranberry Lake. They are elegant and impressive birds, and quite charming in their family groups. But when they become too numerous, their residue forces the closure of the lake to swimming. This was the only pair I spotted at West Beach, but there have been more in the lake all winter. In the photo, the gander became wary of my presence and stepped between me and his mate with a threatening posture. I respected his space and moved on.
Another of our most common birds is the Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). They are year-around residents and the sparrow I see most frequently in my yard. Our local birds are darker than in other parts of North America. This one was patrolling the edge of Cranberry Lake.
At first, I assumed this bird was another Song Sparrow. After I processed the photo, I started to wonder if it could be a Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) instead. If so, it would be a first sighting. With the lighter coloration, yellow around the cheek and reddish wing feathers, it does not look like a local Song Sparrow to me. Photos of juvenile Song Sparrows don't look like this either. The Song Sparrow in the photo above is more typical. But then, I have been wrong before. This birding thing is not always easy. I could also use some ID help with this one.
All in all, it was a pretty good morning for wildlife. I might even have accomplished a first sighting. We'll see if I can get that confirmed. Like I said, there's never a dull moment in Deception Pass State Park.