Saturday, May 29, 2010

Alaska Holiday - Day 2, Bellingham

We started Saturday with a visit with the family to Padilla Bay, one of my favourite spots around Bellingham and one which proved quite productive for the more common species on our previous visit (see link 'My blog reports from Madeira and Yellowstone').

The glorious weather continued, a definite aid to photography. A Song Sparrow perched alongside the trail:

In an adjacent field a Savannah Sparrow, one of a pair and distinctively pale with the accompanying yellow eye-stripe:

This Swallowtail butterfly looks damaged but seemed to moving about 'normally':

A female Brown-headed Cowbird:

Helen took this picture of a Killdeer:

The tide was a long way out (note to self - check tides for timing of any future visit), and there was a fun run organised along the raised walkway overlooking the bay, so I turned and headed back to the trees at the start of the trail, hoping to pick-up some interesting birds we'd seen earlier. This species was our first 'lifer' of the holiday, a Bullock's Oriole:

Overlooking the bay a pair of Bald Eagles:

It's good to see this bird has made a real comeback with numbers visibly increased even from our previous visit in the summer of 2007.
A bird we first saw here at Padilla Bay and one that stuck in my memory from our last trip, was the American Goldfinch:

Here a female:

This male looks more lemon coloured in the morning light:

From Padilla Bay, we carried on with Alison to Washington Park for a look around and to eat our packed lunch. It's fair to say that this proved to be an unexpectedly rewarding birding opportunity. Fly-bys included Pelagic Cormorant:

and Double-crested Cormorant:

In addition a couple of brand new species were feeding just off the shoreline, including Marbled Murrelet:

this one hasn't fully completed the moult to summer/breeding plumage:

A second new species, the Rhinoceros Auklet:

A great looking little bird!

A couple who were also having their lunch had started feeding the local Glaucous-winged Gulls, by the looks of it to get their own photographs, I took advantage of the opportunity as the gulls responded:

I really like this one (click on the pic for a closer look):

I note they have a longer bill than Herring Gulls but also the grey and white tail (actually their primary wing feathers) is the most distinguishing feature.

Having finished lunch we completed the circuit of the park (collecting a map for future use of the trails - definitely somewhere we intend to come back to) and stopped for a 'scenic overlook':

A House Finch looked scruffy in the wind:

From Washington Park we headed back towards Bellingham, stopping first at Boulevard Park. This time the sunshine had brought out the crowds; the birding was still good, though, including a pair of Harlequin Ducks viewable from the Boulevard that extends out from the shoreline:

Flying up and down the shoreline were a number of Caspian Terns:

Please excuse the grubby sensor, I'm still trying to get it clean! From Padilla Bay we also visited the docks, however this had been taken over by kite fliers, which, whilst spectacular, meant no birds in the area... still we'd thoroughly enjoyed our day.

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