Monday, August 29, 2011

Pacific Northwest Day 10 - Olympic Peninsula

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The new day found us rocketing off to new territory. Idaho.  “Done”.  (I should get back.)  Oregon? “Done.” (Ditto).  Olympic Peninsula? New terrain.

With clouds setting in and everything looking lush (the Olympics get a tremendous amount of rain annually), the first stop was little place not too far off of the Admiralty Inlet (which, in turn, feeds into the Strait of Juan de Fuca).  The birding was a bit less than exciting, so a course was set for the Dungeness Spit area.  With references to a Dungeness River AudubonCenter sounding inviting, it did not take long to learn the place was quite nice. 

Bob, the director, set us straight on the Western Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, and their hybrid offspring (which would explain some of my troubles with gulls out there but that is a story for another time). He also suggested we beat it on down the road to Three Crabs Restaurant and then come back. No, not to eat.  The place is right on the Strait and the tide was coming in.  That creates a perfect situation for shorebirds.

Within minutes, we were sorting through Least and WesternSandpipers.  The Golden Plover was anAmerican, not a Pacific.  No doubts on the other plover – Black-bellied for sure.  Godwits would have been nice but there were none.  The harrier moving down the shoreline was certainly hunting, but nobody seemed too concerned. 

Back at The Audubon Center, the birding was amazing.  More Chestnut-backed Chickadees were nice, but the Bushtits, Western Tanager, Anna’s Hummingbird, breeding White-crownedSparrow, and Spotted Towhee made a great time.  Bob’s morning birdwalk had Black Swift and Dipper.   They did not cooperate for us.

It was at this point, I realized that the Red-breasted Sapsucker was proving to be a bit more difficult than expected.  Admittedly, I was expecting it to be one of the easier birds to secure for the trip.  It turned out to be the opposite.  Bob suggested a few locations for them but made it clear that it would take some work. 

Two locations turned out to be a bust for the sapsucker.  Along the old, dirt two-track (left) however,  the birding was still excellent.  Visuals on the Hutton’s Vireos (point blank range) were great.  Another MacGillvray’sWarbler? I'll take it.  The super prize of the walk was the Townsend’s Warbler. Very nice indeed.

It would have been nice to find a place to stay closer to Olympic National Park.  In Oregon, I made arrangements to stay in Port Townsend at Fort Worden State Park.  It was the only place that I could find that took reservations. I have been in situations where lodging is needed but not available. I was concerned about summer vacation season and all so I figured “Port Townsend it is!”  Well, at 45 minutes from the entrance to Olympic, some time was spent driving aaaallllll the way there, knowing I would have to drive aaaallll the way back. And then do it all over again because I made a two-night reservation!  Live and learn.

Oh, but all was not lost.  Port Townsend has beer!

The Port Townsend Brewing Company, much to my dismay, does not serve food. Outdoor patios and little concerts and such sound cool, but no food. They only have a tasting room.  However, they bottle and sell to local restaurants. 

The Fountain Café, tucked away in a little building from 1889 (most certainly, I would guess, in the original Port Townsend downtown) was great.  Their pasta with the Port Townsend beer made for an outstanding meal.  The Amber Ale (#1,072) was good. Nutty tones on the finish certainly complimented the style, but the body was   a bit weak. I was expecting something a tad thicker. I hesitate to say “watery”, but you know what I mean. The Scotch Ale (#1,073) was good too and very deceptive.  Basically, no alcohol tones were present. This is the sort of beer that can be dangerous. A dope could down a few and have no idea what they had done until they stand up……

A quick check a marina in town turned up nothing of note. I had been directed there with hopes of securing more Black Turnstones and hopefully some Surfbirds, but I had no such luck.  Nice evening, though!

The night’s sleep would have been better if the Barred Owl, firing off at 2:30am, had slept in a bit….

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