Eagles

Our trip through the San Juans with Puget Sound Express last week included plenty of birdwatching and it didn’t disappoint. The boat trolled near shores of many small islands that Bob Boekelheide, our Audubon bird expert, identified as bird habitat.

We saw dozens of different kinds of waterfowl, loons, grebes, cormorants and more. And I was nearly consumed with envy as other photographers on board zoomed in with their honkin’ big lenses to capture beauty shots of the smaller birds.

But the abundance of eagles throughout the region was no minor compensation for the shots that got away. We saw eagles young and old, in flight and perched.

From the looks of it the San Juan Islands support a robust population of these top raptors. And in the lower left of this shot those are seals, part of a population of at least a dozen that we saw at this location.

Some of them looked better than others. On a rainy afternoon this wet one looked pretty miserable.

Winter buffet

We had snow down to sea level again yesterday (though this photo is from an earlier, bigger snowfall).

This is oceanspray (holodiscus discolor), a native plant that’s part of the rose family. The seeds you see here are an important food source for birds through the winter. Before going to seed, the plant’s spring blossoms provide nectar to butterflies and other insects.