Monday, January 23, 2012

Padilla Bay

Last week we had our first big snow storm of the winter and 2012.  Schools closed all week.  I get a kick out of watching the evening news when big weather events happen. They make such a big deal about it--reporters in the field measuring ice depth,  the smiling anchor, and then the weather expert "explains" it all. It just really makes me smile.

I didn't get out that much. Gym is my new friend. Actually, that's not too unusual for me this time of year. I'm taking it relatively easy until I feel whole, and I expect I'll do less longer events than in the past few years. There's something in me that just doesn't want to rush to register for anything right now.

I did make it to Padilla Bay on Saturday.  Padilla Bay is an estuary, sitting between Mount Vernon and Anacortes, near the junction to Whidbey Island. A beautiful flat two mile trail cuts through the flats, along the water, and is a great place for bird watching and a good little run, even if the wind is blowing at 40 mph, as it seemed to be on Saturday.

Saw a flock of herons on Whidbey Island on Sunday, at Cornet Bay.  There must've been 12 or so, all together, sitting in a couple conifers. Ran Nookachamps in the afternoon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wiley Slough

In my continuing search for snowy owls, I happened upon the renovated Wiley Slough area on Fir Island in Skagit County this weekend.  No owl sightings, but the Slough was a find in itself. 

The Wiley Slough is an estuarine area on the South Fork of the Skagit River delta.  An estuary is a place where saltwater meets freshwater.  Typically a very active ecological zone. Good for birds, salmon and other things.  And interesting to me.  I'm excited to go back, as I can meander in such an area for hours, and this is pretty near home.  Padilla Bay is another local example of an estuary--they are just really special places.

The Wiley Slough has been the focus of a great deal of restoration work over the past ten years or so.  Lots of stakeholders involved, including the Skagit Watershed Council, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Skagit River System Cooperative, Seattle City Light, US Fish & Wildlife, and Audubon groups. I'm not sure of the whole scope of work, but from my vantage point, I discovered some wonderful new trails to explore.

Notably, this is an area for bird hunting, so be ye advised should you go. Heard a fair amount of shotguns, but saw more birders.  The Slough area is easily accessed with a left turn on the Fir Island Road, a ways past Conway. Discover Pass required. It wasn't too muddy.

While out that way, I also tried using my phone to film some snow geese at the Hayton F&W Reserve, also off Fir Island Road.  This is not a great video, but it gives some indication of how these birds flock en masse in the Skagit fields this time of year. And that they are loud. This winter, I have watched staggered V formations of snow geese, stretching out in the sky for nearly a half mile, flying above the flats.