I lived in the area of Dugualla Bay, located at the northernmost notch along the east side of Whidbey Island (at the upper (20) marker on this map), for ten years, which gave me tons of time to observe dozens of different species of plants and birds as well as some sea creatures and other wildlife.
During that time I’ve taken over a thousand photos and spent hundreds of hours walking and running in the neighborhood, observing all kinds of flora and fauna. The Whidbey Audubon Society site entitled Whidbey Audubon Society’s Guide to 15 Special Spots list that includes, “Swans, dabbling ducks including canvasbacks, other waterfowl, wading birds,” doesn’t do justice to the many bird species that spend their time here. I have several favorite birds (among them, the almost impossible to photograph Belted kingfisher, Pileated woodpecker, and Western screech owl) but my favorite photograph taken in Dugualla Bay is that of a heron in flight.
I’ve had a few awesome encounters with avians. One was actually a multi-day viewing adventure that involved observing a Great egret near Dike Road in December of 2012. I drove by every day for a couple of weeks to see it in a place that it didn’t belong. Sometimes it was alone, others, with a heron.
In August of 2014, at the end of the summer, I realized I’d been lugging my camera along every time I went out on a walk in hopes of seeing a Western screech owl, which we could hear calling at dusk nearly every night of every year from some time in June through the end of August. I was minutes from home when I looked over and saw one. It remained on its branch, staring carelessly for a couple of minutes, long enough for me to get this shot. Sadly, that summer was the last time I saw or heard that species of bird.
The most unusual bird I observed in Dugalla Bay was a Virginia rail. I was able to photograph many other species, including: Cedar waxwings, terns, Bald eagles, sandpipers, hawks, quails, Spotted towhees, peacocks, and purple finch.
During my obsession with insects period (which, in fairness, is sort of ongoing), I saw such things as caterpillars, spiders and spiderlings, moths, dragonflies and damselflies and even a leaf hopper. The appearance of some of these is a one time event, but with others, like the spiderlings, it’s an annual thing. They show up as a tiny clump, hanging off of a web along the perimeter of our house. When you touch the clump…they scatter.
In the spring when our yards’ tulips, daffodils and later rhododendrons, hydrangeas and other plants and shrubs bloom, the wild things that grow in Dugualla Bay show up too.
One fall, my daughter and I volunteered with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to help clear weeds out of plastic sleeves that had been placed around plants just outside of a lagoon that lies along Dugualla Bay, in viewing distance from our then house.
Due to the perfect weather conditions of lots of rain the night before and sun the day of, I got some shots of several different types of mushrooms, including bird’s nest fungi or “splash cups,” which look like eggs in a nest, hare’s foot ink cap (the black and white one viewed from the top) and several types of mycena mushrooms.
Along the trail that runs between the Dugualla Heights Community Association Clubhouse and the Dike Road, there is a lot to see, especially birds, snails and, in the spring: wildflowers.
When the sky is clear, the view from along Dike Road towards the water is spectacular. This is the view from the Dike Road looking back towards the Clubhouse.
These two photos are the only amphibians I’ve been able to photograph. I encountered this Pacific tree frog along Dike Road when I stopped mid-run to check out the (relatively) big green blob on the blackberries that ripen in August. When I returned with a camera, it was still there!
The toad hopped over one damp October day and spent a little time trying to find its way out of our garage before we said our goodbyes.
This doe and her two fawns showed up one morning as I backed out of my driveway, which is when I noticed our cat eyeing them warily. The best part of this deer encounter was that the stare down scare down victory went to…the cat! I’ve become more interested in them after watching the PBS documentary The Private Life of Deer, which you can view online for free.
We tend to refer to these rodents as voles, but based on what I just read about moles, I suspect it might actually be a vagrant shrew which are closely related to moles. Normally when we see dead things around the house, our super skilled huntress cat has already…ahem…feasted on its organs but this shrew didn’t have a drop of blood on it.
One of the best wildlife encounters I had in Dugualla Bay was in April of 2012. We’d just returned from an out of state spring break trip to a super scenic national park and I was walking along the bay, remembering how annoying it was to hear the water rafting guide we’d had had firm-grasp-of-the-obvious repeatedly telling us how scenic things were at the park. It was beautiful. But wildlife-wise, we didn’t see a single creature besides a few crows. Then, the day after I returned to Dugualla Bay, three river otters showed up to play near the shore of Dugualla Bay. I’d heard we had them but had never seen them there before. They swam and played for about ten minutes, stopping to stare at me for a few seconds before heading off to their next adventure.
Dugualla Bay is the most scenic place I have ever lived. I hope that you’ll take the time to stop by the area in the spring, observe some birds and maybe have a cool creature encounter too some day.