With a long weekend last weekend we made plans with some friends to head down to Portland for a few days. We left on Friday afternoon and on the ferry to Anacortes, I saw a small group of western grebes (112), a year bird and also one of the species in San Juan County that has experienced the greatest declines in recent years, so it was a nice find for several reasons. We had decided from Anacortes to drive down Whidbey Island and take the ferry to Port Townsend where we spent the night. On the way we stopped at the Deception Pass Bridge to enjoy this sunset:
Saturday morning we continued down the Olympic Peninsula, making a couple of stops to look for birds and take in the surprising sunshine. Here at Potlatch State Park, we saw both common and Barrow's goldeneye (113) as well as wigeon, surf scoters, and common mergansers:
We got into Portland just in time to go to the hockey game we had tickets for and parked in our usual spot. Unfortunately, while we were there, my car got broken into, and a whole bunch of stuff got stolen, including my binoculars, camera gear, laptop, and new scope. We're still fighting the insurance battle, as they right now don't want to cover any of it, and in the meantime still recovering from the shock of losing so much coming to terms with the fact that people do that kind of thing to one another. Thankfully, pretty much everything that was taken was replaceable. For example, all but my last week's worth of photos were backed up at home, and nothing too personal was lost. It was a stark reminder of what's really important in life: it was, after all, just stuff.
Our weekend turned into a quite different one than we had expected, and we decided to take advantage of being in Portland to replace some of the things it would be hard to get on the island. It's taken a while to get back up and running which is why there's been such a gap in the blog postings. Obviously, I wasn't going to be happy for very long without a computer, camera, or binoculars, so we went about replacing those. We went to the Portland Audubon Society to replace the binoculars, and while there walked one of their trails where we ran into this lovely lady. I'm still looking for a wild great horned owl to add to the year list, but it was pretty cool to see her up close. She's unable to live in the wild and is kept there as an educational bird:
On the way back out to St. Helens we stopped at the Crown-Zellerbach Trail to do some more birding. It was the best part of the weekend. We saw nearly 40 species including a couple American bitterns (114) and a merlin (115).
On the plus side, if there is one at all, I got a slight upgrade to my camera and lenses. Here is the first picture I took with my new D7000. It's a similar camera body to the D90 I had but features some nice upgrades such as faster focusing and rapid-fire shooting, a weather proof body, and dual SD card ports:
Here's one of the next pictures I took while testing things out in my parents' yard:
While out and about playing with the new camera, I also saw a single band-tailed pigeon (116). It was an active morning in the yard with evening grosbeaks, chestnut-backed chickadees, dark-eyed juncos, Pacific wrens, and song sparrows out and about, too.
We headed back to San Juan Island a day later than planned and again had sunny weather for the trip back up. It was a bit dream-like to return to the small island community. While we do have crime here occasionally, it's a much more relaxed and trusting atmosphere. Here's a shot from the Anacortes ferry landing looking over towards Mt. Baker near sunset:
This weekend I got a chance to get out a little bit, and though the weather was fairly clear on Saturday, it was pretty windy, and as a result there wasn't much bird activity on the south end of the island. I did a bird survey at Fourth of July Beach, where as usual I didn't find any stranded sea birds, but I did see some remnants of the stranded pinniped I found there during my last survey:
Next up, there's nothing to do but move forward. The plan is to learn the ins and outs of the new camera and post some more test shots here soon!