A Travellerspoint blog

Olympic Peninsula: Day 4

semi-overcast 69 °F

Before taking an overnight flight back home to Chicago, my dad and I had one last day on the Olympic Peninsula, which we spent on a whale-watching boat tour in the Strait of Juan de Fuca! Apart from the obvious, getting to see some of the largest creatures on earth, we chose to do this because it gave us a better shot at finding some aquatic or even pelagic bird species.

The boat pulled out of Port Angeles at 9:30 and we were on our way! A GREAT BLUE HERON was a nice start to the tour:
large_52A025A8EDEAD4219192D6AD4B0944EC.jpeg

4 SURF SCOTERS, a life bird for me just only the day before, flew by:
large_52A1E364EE4B658D8CBFF2BC4EF47771.jpeg

The best bird species of the day came early in the trip, and it was MARBLED MURRELETS! This is an uncommon Alcid species, and here is a photo of two sitting in the water in nonbreeding plumage and then two in flight in breeding plumage:
large_52A3D239B9DE5BBA976F2CDAE394FD95.jpeglarge_52A4C114D39800BEC3EBB4FB0B6AF021.jpeg

The scenery as we gradually pulled away from the Olympic Peninsula was stunning:
large_52A59E370D20E5CB77B6526CF9346136.jpeg

RHINOCEROS AUKLET, the most common Alcid species of the whale tour:
large_52A67791FD053F51EA065A3806C76988.jpeg

And then we saw...
large_52A7B03ADE231BA37D6888F64BB74258.jpeg

Humpback Whales!
large_52ABF5F2D1D866F37F077983876C4469.jpeglarge_52AD10180E520D291694FA5BE2162D30.jpeg

During the tour, we saw 10 Humpback Whales in total, including 8 at the same location! They would surface for about 2-3 minutes, then arch their backs, arch their tales out of the water, and then "deep dive" when they would feed at a greater depth for about 5-8 minutes. Then the cycle would repeat itself over and over again. Very cool to see!
large_52AE280794C31FB4BD3C422FFC3B2CF0.jpeg

COMMON TERN, a nice and actually uncommon find:
large_52AF31F9B12FF117A73E0EEF68637FFB.jpeg

Here is my best whale photo, this one was taken just before this whale's deep dive:
large_52B0121FADA42D1F8B2298F3B4BD2BAB.jpeg

WILSON'S PHALAROPE, very cool find:
large_52B1FC6BB1236A844B6E0E3D00D20FEA.jpeg

Yet another MARBLED MURRELET:
large_52B2D1F1F4A247273FC6DFC48CC4A1DF.jpeg

HEERMAN'S GULL, a nice ending to an awesome whale watching excursion:
large_52B43FAEB5883B7FAEB1C7DD8A53C7E9.jpeg

After a relatively uneventful drive back to Seattle, we met up with my Uncle John for dinner and a walk in his neighborhood of West Seattle. Here are a few Seattle pics from a viewpoint near his house:
large_52B7E013ACBD43E2F885BBD635EEF6D7.jpeglarge_52B8EA36CB63C931CA77FDD743C8C07C.jpeg

My dad, Uncle John, and his dog Oda Mae:
large_52BAFB81F94479A673550D715880B28E.jpeg

And a beautiful sunset from West Seattle:
large_52B9FB03C834413FD9514D05FF0D25A5.jpeg

It was a great trip! So many life birds (30 in total), so many neat experiences, so much beautiful scenery...I hope to return someday! Big thanks to my dad for birding with me all weekend.

TODAY (Monday, August 25) I am flying out to Sun Valley, Idaho and I will be out there for 4 weeks. The first two weeks I will be at a music camp so I will not be posting; however, the last 2 weeks will be regular hiking and birding like on the Sun Valley trip in past years, so stay tuned!!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 925 Species (30 life birds on the Olympic Peninsula trip)

Posted by skwclar 04:41 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises trees animals birds boats whales Comments (0)

Olympic Peninsula: Day 3

all seasons in one day 69 °F

On Saturday, July 16, birding guide Scott Atkinson gave my dad and I a fantastic full-day birding tour of the north Olympic Peninsula, in search of specific target birds I needed for my life list. Scott turned out to be an absolutely fantastic guide, and an extremely interesting person as well (he has traveled across the world, and even is the #1 eBirder in Russia!).

Our first birding location was a forest road on the northeast side of the Olympics, in search of Varied Thrush, Black & Vaux's Swift, and our main target bird for the morning: Hermit Warbler.

The views were beautiful from the road, and I fairly quickly heard my life bird VARIED THRUSH singing its eerie whistle on a distant ridge.
large_0D8B720FD6E7D81A0D6E44006B401A04.jpeg

Failing to hear any warblers (usually one would expect to hear at least Townsend's Warblers), we scanned through flocks of CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES like this little guy:
large_0D8C90DEF870BAF0A427D5CA748411C6.jpeg

Female HAIRY WOODPECKER:
large_0D8D866CE9E2DDDA463B12DAF0E2D487.jpeg

Suddenly, I heard a warbler's "chup!" call and saw some movement in the trees at one of our roadside birding stops. Scott picked out a warbler that flew across the road, and after "pishing" to get the bird's attention, it popped into view. Amazingly, it was our very uncommon target bird, a first-year male HERMIT WARBLER! This is the furthest northern point of its range, and on the Olympic Peninsula, Hermit Warbler commonly hybridizes with the more abundant Townsend's Warbler. Hybrids can be differentiated by a black patch near the eyes & black streaks on the flank, and because this bird showed no black patch near the eye and no streaking on its sides, it was certainly a pure individual. Scott was amazed this was the first warbler we saw because usually he says he will pick through dozens of Townsend's and hybrid warblers before he comes across a pure Hermit. Very cool!
large_0D8E6BEBC5223CC0F2894269A4DB0182.jpeglarge_0D8F9EB5D29B714F8805840BB80F2E6C.jpeg

At one point, we hoped for a view of a Varied Thrush, and although we were unable to find one, we did admire these towering Douglas-Fir trees.
large_0D90B82CF2E72EEE76700383126ABDBA.jpeg

The next stop was Hurricane Ridge. At a short stop along the way, Scott & I walked along a road in a subalpine area and we found this ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER:
large_0D91E508DDBD906865E1B15CD529057A.jpeg

The forest alongside the road was beautiful:
large_0D9320880D28837F84330148005979EA.jpeg

Singing HERMIT THRUSH, which is my favorite song in the avian world:
large_0D942E00FCDD8EBD53FDAB450F0FD373.jpeg

PINE SISKIN:
large_0D9547320EA989F2E4B8166C50D3F3C8.jpeg

The views from Hurricane Ridge, once again, did not disappoint!
large_0D9A4EE1941DE08A08092D931ECB425D.jpeg

Juvenile LINCOLN'S SPARROW, a rather uncommon find:
large_0D9B6A27C2BBE5D73B4606F39991A6C1.jpeglarge_0D9C7A53BF9C217FE688CEE67DF45617.jpeg

My life-bird AMERICAN PIPIT amongst the alpine wildflowers! Scott and I hiked the Hurricane Hill trail again in search of American Pipit, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Black & Vaux's Swifts.
large_0D9D97E4E6802214A7F8923A4B3BCA35.jpeg

TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE:
large_0D9EA2EAFBFBEC6D28C2C4662F102263.jpeg

OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER:
large_0DA0C046CBD83C19F0E33D86E56A30E5.jpeg

In this photo, the flycatcher (photographed) was chasing a Western Kingbird (unphotographed), which is apparently an extremely rare find for the peninsula, and especially in an alpine area such as Hurricane Hill:
large_0D9FE412C5A3D83AD53E62B731C0662F.jpeg

Male AMERICAN KESTREL:
large_0DA19FB69BCEF38BC3C68C5044A624D4.jpeg

BAND-TAILED PIGEONS flying away, the only other time I have seen this species is a brief sighting last year in Costa Rica!
large_0DA2CAF5F27576863BDCF49CCE091467.jpeg

We searched this lingering snow patches for Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, a species typically associated with alpine snow, and although Scott definitely heard one and I may have heard it, I am not counting it for my life list since it was such a distant identification.
large_0DA3BACE9A8A7262F5B3A73FFE05D5E0.jpeglarge_0DAD07CCAAD8E14354793B0CEDFF7228.jpeg

Very cute juvenile Mountain Goat along the trail:
large_0DAE4F4FD2A46586AEEF5942294010CB.jpeg

This is an Olympic Marmot, an extremely rare & endangered species, and Hurricane Hill is one of the only places in the world to reliably find this animal. Super cool to be very close to it!
large_0DAFEBDE0CBC8434C8E905E2FD1F6910.jpeg
large_0DB0F8E6A44DC5AC112A18A47796D35B.jpeg

Next, we drove along the Strait of Juan de Fuca toward our final destination of Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point in the lower 48 and possibly the best place for seawatching in Washington state.

We made a few intermediate stops, and we were successful in finding many birds including my life bird BRANDT'S CORMORANTS:
large_0DB1F4EAA9CE6C306ED5FAFBC91B5A1D.jpeg

Life bird MARBLED MURRELETS:
large_0DB304D5C0D097A50889B729398AA3E8.jpeg

HARLEQUIN DUCK:
large_0DB3E041AC3FEB8E9E979B90C56158DF.jpeg

COMMON LOON:
large_0DB4C8DBD788A77F854FC63CD8C9AC9B.jpeg

LEAST SANDPIPER:
large_0DBA398ED1666648CAD938B4427E849F.jpeg

Life-bird BLACK TURNSTONE:
large_0DBB79D7E1C9918495EE381BC5D0D62E.jpeg

Flyby BALD EAGLE:
large_0DBE25C1CBE5B1594AD8D5D9E8DCCFFB.jpeg

The trail out to Cape Flattery went through an amazingly lush rainforest, where there were even ferns growing out of the trees!
large_0DBF28B99E3DAF840E2E77336CAF003F.jpeg

The birding from the cape was awesome, there were seabirds flying by all the time, and it was just super cool to be at the northwesternmost tip of the lower 48! Many of the birds were found and identified with the help of the long zoom ranges of my camera and Scott's spotting scope.

Life-bird PELAGIC CORMORANTS:
large_0DC0C14CFB5FFAA2178CAC2CD7238776.jpeg

At one point, I watched SOOTY SHEARWATERS flying by in the distance through Scott's scope. It was so cool to see a pelagic (seafaring) species from land, and the only other time I have seen this bird was on the "Albatross Encounter" pelagic tour off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand in January 2014!

This is a PIGEON GUILLEMOT, one of the common alcids in the area:
large_0DC1C8FEFC28D570DD9F4C2F020B8B1C.jpeg

BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, life bird:
large_0DC71211C46C36F3D02EA3EFA7F90C1D.jpeg

TUFTED PUFFIN, a SUPER SUPER cool life bird that was probably my #1 or #2 target bird for the trip, along with Hermit Warbler. We watched a total of 16 of these fly by during the hour we were birding at the cape.
large_0DC8299FD3E6CB643FC28634AB405108.jpeg

CALIFORNIA GULL, uncommon for the area:
large_0DC92141ED082D27A5212A497FCD11A9.jpeg

RHINOCEROS AUKLET carrying fish:
large_0DCA19EFC187BCBA1FF951E542E2FBD3.jpeg

Beautiful HEERMAN'S GULL:
large_0DCAED79F639BC8A22D826197F23D0C7.jpeg

Far-away island with sea lions:
large_0DCBF86AC3C06FE770295B3144E97613.jpeg

COMMON MURRE, awesome life bird!
large_0DCCD57AB10A0A3BCD4B7A91A48BD30C.jpeg

CASSIN'S AUKLET, very uncommon life bird and one I had really been hoping to find! With that auklet, we had successfully found all of Washington's summer Alcid species in one day! An Alcid sextuplifecta if I may say so myself!! (Guillemot, Murrelet, Murre, Puffin, Cassin's & Rhinoceros Auklet)
0DCE02FD072D377BCFDA127F412C83C9.jpeg

It was a FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC day! One of the best days of birding of my life, with so many life birds and so many neat experiences.

Bird-of-the-day for Saturday, July 16 will be a tie between the Hermit Warbler, Tufted Puffin, & Cassin's Auklet with runners-up to Marbled Murrelet, Western Kingbird, & Sooty Shearwater. All were life birds for me except for the kingbird and the shearwater.

Great, great birding! And a big thank-you to Scott for an awesome tour and extending our birding to be all-day long!

Henry
World Life List: 925 Species (30 life birds on the Olympic Peninsula trip)

Posted by skwclar 20:29 Archived in USA Tagged mountains trees animals birds Comments (0)

Olympic Peninsula: Day 2

semi-overcast 69 °F

On Friday, July 15, my dad and I traveled around the Olympic Peninsula to hike & go birding.

Our morning destination was a drive-up mountain peak on the east side of the Olympics called Mt. Walker, where my target birds were Hermit Warbler and Sooty Grouse. The views from the summit viewpoints were spectacular, and we were even at could-level!
large_F3BEEF36A2D4579257457E8633CE20A5.jpeglarge_F3C04041AE7D9E727FB19739021AC4E5.jpeglarge_F3C19EDBF2FBC9BB887F5F22799A2EC5.jpeg

Although I failed to find my main target bird, the Hermit Warbler, I did encounter a family of SOOTY GROUSE, life bird! The adult female bird let me take her photo:
large_F3BD52B6A8DD51F2DD6BBF4A75518D2E.jpeg

After lunch, we drove up to the famous Hurricane Ridge, which sits at over 5,000 feet above sea level and allows for fantastic subalpine and alpine birding, possibly the most famous highland destination for birders in Washington state.
large_F3C2EE4DA026A8F3F2F75C69B52BB7E8.jpeg

We were worried it would be cloudy, as it usually is, at Hurricane Ridge; however, the views were panoramic and totally exceeded our expectations! It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
large_F3C3B79EC177D6CF63E14A803F005F58.jpeglarge_F3C4E0D8CAFA2E8D71FBD660F08C77AE.jpeg

We hiked the steep Hurricane Hill, where there was a pretty good number of birds, including this super-cooperative female SOOTY GROUSE:
large_F3C7018ACDF497A381B230AEB7A565B5.jpeglarge_F3C8317DA5D3A4C313BE5A6E4B80E6E7.jpeg

And the deer, as you can see, were extremely tame:
large_F3D4B922E494C3D2B6C6B74E5D295D85.jpeg

The wildflowers also put on a radiant display alongside the trail.
large_F3D5CFEDF9E63B0DC3035DBA9F19893E.jpeglarge_F3D7171DD049FA3CBE81A643A6BFF29D.jpeglarge_F3D85B969E42DB973AE4AAC43DBBCA23.jpeg

Nice photo of an uncommon GRAY JAY in front of the mountains:
large_F3D927BCA14AB69B331E8AC969C18BF2.jpeglarge_F3DA8550F0353725C92169C5615617A7.jpeg

HORNED LARK, by far the best photo I have ever obtained of this species:
large_F3DBDA13E089836031E56A88C166FAE5.jpeglarge_F3DD1810A9B259E10BD051CA750A3BA1.jpeglarge_F3DE28B3C788FF77AA23294A12F6289F.jpeglarge_F3DF59D605476DB30CA83C95C581C1EA.jpeg

Near the summit of Hurricane Hill, there was a rather large snowfield. Time to do an obligatory July snow angel!
large_F412AD6EE19222A17DCC11D9F47FA556.jpeg

This Mountain Goat, although a nonnative species, was super cool to see and allowed for some fantastic photo ops in front of the mountains:
large_F41431FAD7AB37646E1CF38C54404914.jpeglarge_F415B72EA1A481D4CEF9A07801ECBECD.jpeglarge_F416FFA0F37A336F20B0A3A20877D029.jpeg

This silly young deer obviously hasn't learned how to follow the rules:
large_F41857F1F041D634465EBDCCF8D0305D.jpeg

It was another great day in the Olympic Mountains! What a fantastic place! I only obtained one life bird on July 15, Sooty Grouse, so that will be my bird-of-the-day. Runners-up to the Gray Jay & Horned Lark.

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 925 Species (30 life birds on the Olympic Peninsula trip)

Posted by skwclar 09:26 Archived in USA Tagged me landscapes mountains people trees animals birds snow Comments (1)

Olympic Peninsula: Day 1

semi-overcast 73 °F

Last weekend, my dad and I traveled to the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington state for birding, hiking, and even whale-watching! I will split this trip up day-by-day since I have so many photos. Enjoy!

On Thursday, July 14, we took an early morning flight to Seattle. The views were quite scenic:
large_24456649015811A2D36FF6C201019E95.jpeg

Obligatory Mt. Rainier shot on approach to Seattle:
large_2446CBDCB508E6F539D984F1B5A71AFB.jpeg

We spent the day making our way over to Port Angeles, WA with stops along the way for birding. At the first stop, my target bird was Mountain Quail, a very uncommon and shy species at which Washington is the northernmost point in their range. This is a LINCOLN'S SPARROW:
large_24480364E0F274632D7D541BFC9ED7D6.jpeg

Unfortunately, I never found the Mountain Quail; however, we did hear a more common CALIFORNIA QUAIL sing it's classical "Chi-ca-go!" song.

The next stop was Gardiner Beach on the Olympic Peninsula, where we happened to run into birder John Gatchet (who used to live in Wisconsin) who graciously gave us an impromptu afternoon birding tour of the northeast peninsula! Here is a BALD EAGLE and a GREAT BLUE HERON in the same tree:
large_244A7A22DD6053608EEC6ACAEA6A194B.jpeg

My first photographed life bird of the trip, a RHINOCEROS AUKLET! This is a species of Alcid, which is a family of marine birds that includes the puffins and are thought to fill the niche that penguins satisfy in the Southern Hemisphere. Alcids were high on my "most-wanted" species list for the trip.
large_244C22C5B8C3A553822EFB3157EE0DC9.jpeg

Juvenile WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW:
large_244DCAFE03844B8641CD544CB57C4A32.jpeg

CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, which was my 900th life bird!
large_244F6E309CDC2A71FB34E649D09A523A.jpeg

DARK-EYED JUNCO:
large_24509BDCB6144B8A1EC33589EE6312F2.jpeg

We then visited a spit near Sequim that is a fairly well-known place for watching seabirds, as evidenced by this sign:
large_2485A905B280522F39C2EE06017EC230.jpeg

It has a distant view of Protection Island, where everything from gulls to puffins nest:
large_24870949942808F1090FFA4AEA95F8AB.jpeg

We found my life-bird HARLEQUIN DUCK in the water:
large_248867A20BBF7FB94D7D76B1D4288788.jpeg

Life-bird GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL:
large_248B20CA03205FD0C0860507F757A8D5.jpeg

Life-bird PIGEON GUILLEMOT, another Alcid species, flying away from me:
large_248C93D6E30933F92669DE759F96D83C.jpeg

Olympic Gulls (hybrid Western X Glaucous-winged Gulls, common on the Olympic Peninsula) with a HERRING GULL:
large_248DB6A3947592B637300F5A372FE412.jpeg

Nice male WILSON'S WARBLER:
large_248EF77E98C692E25895BC47DB6D5FD5.jpeg

On one road near Sequim, we successfully found two target life birds for me: Bewick's Wren & Bushtit. Although they were both secretive, I did eventually manage to photograph both species. Here is the BEWICK'S WREN:
large_24A132F0C38EFD670B06CA30207C9B7D.jpeg

And here is the BUSHTIT:
large_24A2B5A6F0FCF74E0DC9AB38E8569CF0.jpeg

SPOTTED TOWHEE:
large_24A3DCD2F7207B8B74471E49B482D734.jpeg

We searched for Varied Thush in this forest, but failed to find it. In its place; however, we had a calling WESTERN SCREECH-OWL and views of some beautiful woodland scenery:
large_24A5CD7200667EB93448881E6ADD25CF.jpeg

I believe this was an ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, female:
large_24A8ACC0AA982D62166A3D72E423EB33.jpeg

After dinner with John, we checked into our motel and settled in for the night. It was a fantastic first day! Thanks so much again to John for a superb afternoon of birding!

Bird-of-the-day goes to the Bushtit with runner-up to the Rhinoceros Auklet, both being successfully-found target life birds on Thursday.
Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 925 Species (30 life birds on the Olympic Peninsula trip)

Posted by skwclar 08:28 Archived in USA Tagged me landscapes lakes beaches people trees animals birds sky sparrow heron gull hummingbird bald_eagle rhinoceros_auklet chickadee junco harlequin_duck pigeon_guillemot wilson's_warbler bewick's_wren bushtit Comments (0)

Surprise Summer Visitor!

sunny 74 °F

Today after hearing it's distinctive piercing, high-pitched call, my mom and I tracked down a surprise Broad-winged Hawk sitting in a tree in our front yard! This is a big surprise because usually these birds are found in the deep woods during the summer, and I have never heard of one being seen in Oak Park during the summer before. Very cool!

Henry
World Life List: 896 Species (no recent life birds)
large_34AD469EF5C17EE98897DF2F447470D3.jpeg

Posted by skwclar 16:52 Archived in USA Tagged me trees animals birds sky yard hawk oak_park Comments (1)

(Entries 36 - 40 of 330) « Page .. 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 .. »