Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Friday, October 20, 2017

Saturday's Critters

A week ago we took a drive to Birch Bay State Park, and Blaine harbor, and had the best day birding ever.
 We started out in Birch Bay State Park, it was a chilly day, but still lots of people about, as the sun was shining.  Let the sun come out in NW Washington State and people spring up from everywhere - we love our sunshiney days - chilly or not.  There were even lots of people bundled up having picnics.
 Floating along on the bay were several Bonaparte's Gulls - the colors on their tails look like polka dots from this view.
 And out in the bay, a raft of Canada Geese - we could hear them quite clearly.
 Strolling along in the waves was a Glaucuous Winged Gull - glaucous means a dull grey color.
 And then Greater Yellowlegs - skittering about looking for a late morning snack.
 They are so sweet to pose for us.
 Seeing a movement among the rocks on the beach I found a Killdeer.  They are so well camouflaged that they can be running about and not be seen very well.  
 The dark rings on their chest help to hide them.  In the spring they nest right on the ground. We saw a pair of Killdeers nesting on the railroad right of way in Anacortes one year,   They were settled down in the gravel and we almost missed seeing them.  Their camouflage must keep them safe from predators when nesting in such open spaces.

 I took this photos a few years ago when we came upon a Killdeer in the grass, not hidden here.

At the edge of the water, with a Lesser Yellowlegs watching.
 More Greater Yellowlegs - they move so fast I have to aim the camera quite a distance ahead of them to make sure they are in the shot, and not just a glance at their tails.

 Then on to Blaine - we drove around past Drayton Harbor and out in the bay was a Double Crested Cormorant sunning itself, getting those wings dry so it could go back to fishing.  The Cormorants are not as waterproof as other birds and after a time in the water their feathers begin to be waterlogged and they have to dry out.
 And a Great Blue Heron - enjoying the fishing view from its own big boulder.  These huge boulders are scattered randomly about in Drayton harbor, on a mudflat beach.  I have yet to discover how these boulders came to be in Drayton harbor.  They don't appear to be natural to the area.

 Then into the town of Blaine - one of our favorite little towns in our area.  From the parking lot of the caboose cafe we have a view of the breakwater around the local boat harbor.  It is often covered with Great Blue Herons from nearby rookeries.  Today we only saw a few.
 They almost look like they are part of the breakwater.

 And finally down to Blaine harbor - one of my favorite places for finding shorebirds.  This time we found ducks - flotillas of them - stretching far across the bay towards the British Columbia, Canada border crossing.  In the top left-ish of the photo you can see cars lined up, waiting for clearance to enter Washington State. That line goes all the way to the right side of the photo - though it can't be seen in this one.
 There were two kinds of ducks, Green Winged Teals and American Wigeons - feeding in the bay as the tide came in.

 I did spot one shorebird - flitting about on the beach.  A Semi-palmated Sandpiper.  There is a sign that describes the massive flocks of sandpipers that seem to appear out of nowhere onto the beach, but while we were there they seemed to stay in their nowhere hideout - except for this one.

 In this photo you can see how the Green Winged Teal gets its name.  The color shines brightly in the sunlight.

 The American Wigeon and the Green Winged Teal are called Dabbling Ducks, as they "dabble" about in the mud flats and shallow water, foraging for their food.

Looking back over my shoulder I saw a Bald Eagle high atop a communications pole near the border.  Perhaps it was looking for a duck dinner.

The Border Patrol cars often park near to this pole, in an out of the way place, just inside the border between the U.S. and Canada.  We learned not to park close to the pole to take photos of the Bald Eagles that we've seen there on other occasions - or else we have to be prepared to be followed, almost back to Bellingham, by the Border Patrol.  Makes one wonder how long it takes them to run a license plate to find out we are not dangerous, wanted criminals, or border hoppers.
 Later I looked for the Bald Eagle again, but it had flown away.  It must not have flown over the flocks of ducks, as they never took flight, as they usually do if an eagle is flying in the area.
 Finding greens to eat, the ducks move back and forth across the bay.
 This Glaucous Winged Gull and Canada Goose spend most of the afternoon together, when one moved, so did the other.
That makes twelve birds spotted in one day - plus there were lots of little songbirds hopping about and chirping, that I didn't get photos of - they are just so quick. It was a grand day!!

What have you seen lately?


Tom said...

...they say that 'birds of a feather flock together.'

eileeninmd said...

Hello, sounds like you had a wonderful outing visiting the parks. It is cool seeing all the herons together along with the gulls and shorebirds. The Killdeer are so cute. you hit the jackpot with all the ducks in the harbor. I see the line of car waiting to cross the border. The Green winged teals are pretty ducks. Great collection of birds and photos. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I've always liked killdeers.

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

JoAnn, sounds like a grand day. The bald eagle is so magnificent but my favorite is the Great Blue Heron on the rock. Beautiful photos..Have a good weekend.xxoJudy

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Indeed a GRAND day! WOW! You really identified and a nice variety of birds. I would love to see an's been awhile! Enjoy your weekend. I hope you don't get bad storms from this system moving in. Hugs!

Powell River Books said...

Yes, we do love our sunshiney days, especially this time of year. - Margy

Kim said...

Amazing photos of birds, JoAnn. If indeed, the Bald Eagle was looking for some dinner, I don't think he had to work too hard to be satisfied. So many ducks on the water. The Green Winged Teal duck is interesting. Such pretty coloured wings under it's feathers. Love the photo of the Greater Yellowleg skittering across the water and your opening photo is sublime. Love the reflection in the water. You do live in a most beautiful part of the world, lovely JoAnn.

The Furry Gnome said...

A great birding day indeed!

A Colorful World said...

What a wonderful day! And so many great photos! Lots of wonderful bird sightings...particularly love the killdeer as they are faves of mine, plus the cormorant and eagle shots. Great post! Have a wonderful Sunday!

Julie Fukuda said...

Such nice pictures of all those birds. Many of those make it to ur area during the winter. I hear my DIL got 8 new "lifers" this week in the Boston area. I envy all that blue sky. I don't think we have had 12 hours total all month ... typhoon gone on Monday but rain again ftom yesterday evening.