Saturday, May 20, 2023

Temps in the 40s, overcast, Wind variable 0-5 mph.

Weather, May 20, 2023

Amanda is leaving on this afternoon’s flight, so we decided to go up to the Loran Station first thing and then spend the rest of the day closer to town.

We first checked the feeders and found nothing new.

We stopped at the Palisades Overlook and found a flock(!) of 6 Pacific Loons. I have seen 2 or 3 Pacific Loons loosely together (within spittin’ distance), but these birds were right next to each other. Four of them were sleeping and the two others were preening. The sleepers raised their heads occasionally, so we could confirm their ID. Interesting…

On the drive out to the Loran Station we came across a Short-eared Owl (our second of the trip).

Short-eared Owl, on way to Loran Station, May 20, 2023

The road out to the Loran Station is in its worse shape ever! The road had been in great shape the past couple of years because the UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) team had been maintaining it because they were working out in that area. It appears that they are finished out there (or at least taking a pause) and the road has deterioted rapidly.

I’m afraid if it doesn’t get some maintenance in the next year, it will become impassable.

We worked our way out there (carefully) and stopped frequently for Amanda to take in (and photograph) the scenery.

No sooner had we gotten to the Loran Station and I put up my binos to scan the sea, that I saw a pod of Orcas! Anybody who has followed this blog over the years know how unlucky we had been on seeing these magnificent beasts. The only one we ever saw was off the Seawall and stayed submerged except for its dorsal fin (of which I got a wonderful? photo).

So seeing an actual pod of Orcas swimming at the surface was exciting to say the least.

I started screaming “ORCAS, ORCAS!!!

We both grabbed our cameras and started clicking.

Orcas, from Loran Station, May 20, 2023
Orca, from Loran Station, May 20, 2023
Orcas, from Loran Station, May 20, 2023

What a wonderful experience!

If I don’t get any new birds this trip, it will still be worth it just for the Orca experience alone.

And this was Amanda’s best sighting of Orcas as well!

We did not see any pelagic birds out there, but I added both puffins to the trip list.

We headed back towards town and as we drove down the hill just above the Navfac creek, I stopped and scanned the beach and found a Bar-tailed Godwit (a trip bird).

We went back to the house for Amanda to finish packing, then took the cars down to get gas.

On the way back from the gas station, I stopped at the Sweeper Creek Estuary and was working on my eBird list, when Amanda pulled up, looked at the streamside and spotted a Brambling! I’m beginning to think she is a Brambling-whisperer!

No sooner had I got on it than she saw a second one! A male and a female.

Bramblings (male bottom, female top), Sweeper Channel, May 20, 2023

We then went our separate ways, as she stayed close to town for the plane to arrive.

I decided to eat lunch while watching the Seal Drive feeder. I didn’t see any new birds there, but there was a tailless rosy-finch.

Tailless Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (top), Seal Drive Feeder, May 20, 2023

The plane arrived and Amanda (and the High Lonesome tour group) left.

Sam, Steve, and Ivan arrived, so I won’t be alone birding on the island.

I headed up to Clam Lagoon and found some eagles having a meeting.

Bald Eagles, Palisades L:ake, May 20, 2023

There was a Northern Shoveler at Lake Shirley. Nothing else much to report.

The trip list is at 49.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at