May 26, 2011

Wildlife of the Dungeness Spit

On my journey to the lighthouse at the end of the Dungeness Spit, I had the great pleasure of seeing literally hundreds of animals. Since I was the only person on the spit, the wildlife had not been scared off or turned skittish, allowing me great opportunities to take some pictures. So, below you can check some of the out.

The first thing I noticed was a group of bald eagles swarming around in numbers I had never seen before. I estimated that there must have been at least 30 of them hanging out on driftwood, flying overhead, or hopping down the beach. Thus, I knew there must have been something stranded on the beach. Eagles may be famous for their plucking of salmon from rivers, but in reality mostly they are just scavengers.

Eagles are such wimps. They easily could have swarmed me with their sharp talons and beaks and sent me running off in horror. Instead, they simply hopped up onto the logs and let me walk right up to their food source. I could have "eaten" it and they wouldn't have done anything. Instead they just waited for me to move on and then jumped back in to feast again.

Sure enough, as I approached I found a dead porpoise with a newborn/fetus. I am not sure if the mother died giving birth or if the fetus was just very close to term, but it was fully developed. I could not tell if it has been born or simply removed from the mother by the scavenging eagles. I suspect the latter.

Also along the way I came across a group of about 10 harbor seals who were hanging out about 30 feet offshore watching me.

Pacific Loons

A common loon in summer plummage

I was shocked to see a common loon in summer plummage. They are very common along the Puget Sound area in winter. But, generally they take off for the summer to head north to the lakes of Canada and Alaska. But, apparently this one decided to stay behind.

Harlequin Duck

There were a number of Caspian Terns soaring about and diving into the water over and over catching fish.

Caspian Tern

A group of Western Gulls


A.Queen said...

Wow! I have seen bald eagles, seals and lots of other birds (probably the same types, I've never known what they were) on my trips to the lighthouse. I have not been out there yet this year. Were you out recently? My Mom and I will be headed out there in the next couple weeks. Thanks for sharing!

Jeff said...

Yes, these images were from Thursday, May 26th.