Champions of the Flyway!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Harlequins - Olympic peninsula, June 2011

As mentioned in the recent Olympic peninsula post, our choice of basecamp at Salt Creek on the northern coast turned out to be a winning one.

After putting up tents and unloading, we wandered all of 30 seconds down the handful of steps and onto the exposed, black volcanic rock on the shoreline as the tide came in. A millpond-calm Strait of Juan de Fuca (and Vancouver Island beyond) hosted Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants, Marbled Murrelets and Black Oystercatchers, while the trees behind us buzzed with hummingbirds and Chestnut-backed Chickadees; meanwhile, several small groups of ducks swam straight towards us in orderly lines, wonderfully turning out to be Harlequins.

A species which i'd been very happy to catch up with in the dead of winter on the New England coast for the first time a couple of years back, to see them in mid-summer without any searching was a real treat; and to have them actively approach to within metres of us was a vaguely surreal and very special experience.