Saturday, November 30, 2013

San Juan Island: Part 3

Welcome back for the third and final part of my trip to Washington in October. The photos today are from the whale watching boat trip I took and the final night driving back down to Seattle.

My biggest hope in Washington was to see orcas. I did get the opportunity to see two transient orcas on the hunt for food while in the Haro Straight. Before we got to the orcas we saw some harbor and dall's porpoises and stellar sea lions. I'll start with the nice weather conditions we had on the water. Below is our boat wake.

I see harbor porpoises a lot in California, but they are really hard to photograph and don't typically make very interesting photographs. There are two harbor porpoise photos below. The first is what you typicallt see. A small triangular dorsal fin for about .5 seconds. Then they are gone. This is why I really like the second photo, which is an adult and calf. They have really odd shaped bodies and are the smallest cetacean. These particular porpoises were riding in the wake of our boat, once again, a rare sight.

Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
 A first for me was to get to see Dall's porpoise. They are incredibly fast porpoises who often like to bow ride and surf boat wakes. They are very distict with the frosting tipped dorsal fin seen below. It was great to finally see them in person. 
Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli)
Below are the rest of the photos from the trip leading up to seeing orcas. The two orcas that we saw were a male and female transient pair who are seen often in the straight. We didn't get to spend too long with them, but since they were hunting while we were around them, they were very quiet (they put a hydrophone in the water) and didn't do any playful actions such as breaching, spy hopping, or tail slaps. They are still a sight to see.

Common murre (Uria aalge) father and chick. Males teach the baby how to fish.

Lime Kiln state park lighthouse
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Male transient orca (Orcinus orca)
Orca (Orcinus orca)
Male orca (Orcinus orca)
Orcas (Orcinus orca) in Haro Straight

On our way back to Friday Harbor, we took some time to stop and check out the unusual ungulates at Spieden Island. Spieden Island is a privately owned island that was stocked with exoctic deer, sheep, antelope and goats. We saw fallow deer (Dama dama) and Mouflon sheep (Ovis orientalis). We also saw a bald eagle and some harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus).
Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), the males are brightly colored and the females are brown.

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Finally for the last two photos of the trip, I leave you with Mount Rainier at sunset (taken on the ferry back to Anacortes) and Seattle at night (on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island).
Mount Rainier

Seattle skyline

Monday, November 25, 2013

San Juan Island: Part 2

Welcome back! Here are some more photos from my trip to Washington last month. These photos are from day 3 which was spent traveling around and exploring the island. San Juan isn't too big, but there is a ton to explore. I started the morning at Roche harbor.
Looking over Roche Harbor
Fall colors

Roche Harbor at sunrise
The mouth of Roche Harbor.

After leaving Roche harbor, I traveled over to the west side of the island where I was also camping that evening (At San Juan county park). SJI has a lot of Madrona (also called madrone, Arbutus menziesii) trees. These trees are known for their stunning red bark that peels off.

Madrona tree (Arbutus menziesii) bark

Madrona tree (Arbutus menziesii) bark peeling

Madrona tree (Arbutus menziesii)

While at the park and waiting for the sun to set, I saw Columbia black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). This pair was a mom/fawn.

Columbia black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)
Columbia black-tailed deer fawn (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)
Columbia black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)
  I also watched a hungry red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis). 
Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)

Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)

Moon rising over the trees

The end of photography for the day was the sunset. Since I was on the west side of the island, I watched the sun set behind British Columbia (which I was close enough to that my phone thought I was in Canada and texted me the outrageous roaming rates!)

To end this blog post, I am going to start the 4th day. I did a little more island exploration before heading out on a whale watching boat in the afternoon. I started at False Bay (which is on the southwest side of the island) and it was a bit foggy and low tide which made the bay look somewhat prehistoric.

Then I headed down to the southern tip of the island which was mostly closed due to the government shutdown. I saw another mom/fawn pair of Columbia black-tailed deer on the cliff above Eagle cove. 
Columbia black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)

And with that, I will wait until the next blog post for the whale watching trip and my final day in Washington. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

San Juan Island Part 1

I took a trip up to Washington last month. The purpose was to visit San Juan Island and I was fortunate to get incredibly nice weather. I'll start the photos chronologically and because there are a lot, in this blog post will be the first 2 days of my trip. I flew into Seattle airport and drove up to Anacortes where I camped at Washington park. I made it there just in time for the sunset and my favorite photo of the night was of a house on the water near Sunset beach.

I also got a few fall leaf photos in on the first day.  

On my second day, I got on the ferry out to Friday Harbor first thing in the morning. I got to watch the sun rise while I waited to drive the car onto to the ferry (which was a first for me!) The ferry ride was nice and I took a few photos of some of the over 400 islands that make up the San Juan Islands. Below is Blakely Island with Frost Island in the background.

When I arrived at Friday Harbor I went kayaking in search for Orcas (killer whales). We didn't get to see any orcas, but it was an amazing trip. Below are some photos from the trip.

Herring gull (Larus argentatus) chick and (possible) parent. October is much too late for this young one to be begging for food. Hopefully the parent learns some tough loving techniques!

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) resting on a rock.

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) with a lingcod.

Red-breasted merganzer (Mergus serrator)

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)

... Part 2 is coming soon!