Sleeping Slugs, Wary Squirrels and Crotchety Jays
As usual, if I go hiking to find something specific, I usually find something else instead. This morning, I headed to Ginnett Hill in Deception Pass State Park. My quest was to check out midsummer wildflowers. Last year, they were prolific, but it looks like now is too early. There were basically none to speak of. Instead, I had some interesting wildlife encounters.
I spotted several Banana Slugs (Ariolimax columbianus) on the trail. The two sleeping on the cut end of a fallen tree were the most interesting. My theory that Fidalgo Island slugs have no spots is now officially refuted. Ginnett Hill is in the Fidalgo section of the park.
Shortly after beginning the hike, I encountered this Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii). It was notable that he wasn't barking at me. Persistent chattering and scolding is their usual demeanor when humans enter their territory. Unlike the Eastern Gray Squirrel which has been introduced, this is one of the two native squirrels of western Washington. The other is the Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus) which is threatened due to habitat loss and competition from the Eastern Grays.
My entire hike was accompanied by a symphony of birdsong. About half way along, the Steller's Jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) were really angry to see me on the trail. Their instrument was the ratchet in the percussion section. Their protestations were noisy and defiant but they refused to pose for a picture. Instead here is a BirdCam photo from my yard:
This is Gimpy Toe. If you look closely at his right foot, you'll see why. He's been a frequent visitor at the feeders for a few years now.