Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No. 302 Bald Eagle Viewing along the Skagit River

Bald eagles were officially declared an endangered species in 1967 in all areas of the United States south of the 40th parallel, under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Federal and state government agencies, along with private organizations, successfully sought to alert the public about the eagle's plight and to protect its habitat. The 1972 ban on DDT has enabled eagles and other birds of prey to once again begin producing young. Unfortunately, recent extensive human use within preferred eagle habitats has resulted in disturbance and reproductive failure and abandonment of important areas.

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In 1994, the bald eagle was reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened" in the lower 48 states. There are currently about 4,500 nesting pairs and 20,000 total eagles in the lower 48 states. Although they have made an encouraging comeback, only public awareness of their situation, strict enforcement of protective laws, preservation of their habitat and support for environmental conservation programs can ensure a successful future for our national symbol.

Bald Eagles are also known as "baseballs" by experienced eagle watchers because from a distance that's what the eagle's white head looks like. It's amazing how an experienced eagle watcher can spot eagles from a distance. When searching for Bald Eagles look for the white "baseballs" in the trees along the river. Eagles can also be spotted taking advantage of the tows churning up stunned fish as they move up and down the river, riding chunks of ice, or kettling (soaring) the thermals in the afternoons.

Copyright Puget Exposure Photography

The 8,000-acre Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area is dedicated to habitat protection, conservation and educational efforts. This special area is an example of the Forest Service working with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and other partners to conserve natural resources along the river.
Bald eagles are seen from late December through early February. During this period the Eagle Watchers Program, sponsored by the Forest Service and North Cascades Institute, provides hosts at designated sites along the river who assist with viewing these magnificent birds. You can also learn more at the annual  Upper Skagit Bald Eagle Festival or at the Skagit River Interpretive Center.


1. DO plan on arriving early. Bald eagles are most active in the early morning hours. The best time for eagle watching is from sunrise to 11 am when eagles feed along the area’s rivers. In the afternoons they may be seen catching updrafts and soaring ("kettling") overhead. They leave the river in late afternoon to congregate in night roosts in sheltered timber areas nearby.
2. DO keep noises low and movements slow. Winter is a difficult time for eagles. They need to conserve energy to keep warm and flying burns up energy. It is important that they are not startled or frightened into flight. DO obey all signs regarding Eagle Rest Areas.
3. DO call a Visitor’s Center to find out if eagles have been spotted and where they are most active. For the Skagit River region call 360-853-7626. or visit their website at
4. DO check the weather. Eagles like clear, cold mornings. Eagles will roost on rainy days and will be found soaring on windy days. More eagles will be seen when the rivers are frozen than when the water is clear.
5. DO dress accordingly. Wear layers so you can shed your outer clothing as the day heats up. Bring a hat or earmuffs for your head and gloves or mittens for your hands. Comfortable shoes are recommended.
6. DO bring binoculars or a spotting scope. If using a scope, a tripod is useful. Eagles fly amazingly close to the Great River Road, but even a small pair of binoculars can dramatically enhance your experience.
7. For photographs, keep the sun to your back or to your side and use a telephoto lens.
8. DO be patient. You are more likely to see eagles if you have time to spend.
9. DO observe proper eagle watching etiquette. Many people use the area’s single lane roads to get from here to there as promptly as possible. If you're admiring the view at twenty miles per hour, pull over when someone's behind you. DO respect private property. Use public areas along the river and be courteous to local land owners. DON'T  park on narrow highway shoulders. There are many parking areas along the area routes for parking. DO remember to buckle up. State law enforcement officers vigorously enforce the Click It or Ticket program.
10. The bald eagle is protected by a number of state and federal laws, each with stiff penalties. For example, the Eagle Protection Act, which protects bald and golden eagles, combined with the Criminal Fines Improvement Act of 1987, can cause violators to spend two years in jail or be fined up to $10,000 on a misdemeanor charge.  It is illegal to pursue, harm, harass, take or attempt to take, possess, sell, purchase or transport either eagles, eagle pans or their eggs without a permit. If you find a feather, look at it, take a picture, but do not pick it up.

2014/2015 Eagle Counts:

December 10th    Newhalem to Marblemount: 107
                           Marblemount to Rockport: 37
                           Rockport to Sedro-Woolley: 50
                           Total: 194

Puget Exposure Photography provides this photo for the public to view. Media requiring a high-resolution version of this or a similar photo for publication should contact me. Users may not manipulate or use this photo in commercial materials, advertisements, emails, products, or promotions without licensed permission. Please do not use my images on blogs or websites without my permission. Contact me if you would like to license and image. Thank you.

Friday, December 5, 2014

No. 301 Save Big on 2015 Whale Watching Tours

2014 was an incredible season.  From christening the Island Explorer 4 to seeing whales every day since May 2014, this year will go into the record books.  Check out the whale report to re-live all of the 2014 tours!   View the Whale Report 


Save 50% off the regular ticket price now through December 24th, 2014 .
You can take advantage of the huge savings one of two ways:
  1. Call or stop in to purchase a gift certificate to put under the tree. This would also make a great gift for yourself if you are unsure of when you would like to join us for a trip.     OR
  2. If you already know when you'd like to go whale watching, book your 2015 tour online with the promo codes below and instantly receive the incredible savings.
With this great deal, you have the choice to depart out of any of our three departure locations:
  • Everett 3 hour guaranteed whale watching tour - March 7 through May 8
    • Adults -- ONLY $34.50 + taxes (regular price $69)
    • Children -- ONLY $24.50 + taxes (regular price $49)
    • Book for a specific date online with code HOLIDAY1
  • Anacortes (April - October) or Port Angeles (May - October) guaranteed whale watching tour 
    • Adults -- ONLY $54.50 + taxes (regular price $109)
    • Children -- ONLY $24.50 + taxes (regular price $49)
    • Book for a specific date online with code HOLIDAY2
Hurry! This deal expires on December 24, 2014 at 3PM - call 1-800-465-4604or book your 2015 tour online to take advantage of 50% savings!

Whale Watching Reviews and Highlights 

Naturalist trade microphones for dock lines
Island Explorer 4 Arrives in Everett, WA

New to Island Adventures in 2014, the Island Explorer 4 is the little sister to the Island Explorer 3. She is 85 ft long and 24 ft wide, with a full walk around lower deck, spacious upper viewing deck, galley with hot food and beverage for purchase, his and her restrooms, over 300 sq. ft. of outdoor rail viewing space, and has comfortable booth style seating in her indoor heated cabin.

Male Orca Whale Breaching Puget Sound Island Adventure Tour from Anacortes, WA

Based out of Anacortes, Washington, only 90 minutes north of Seattle and 90 minutes south of Vancouver, BC. Anacortes is located on the mainland and is known as the “Home Port” to the San Juan Islands, providing the perfect departure point for our Orca Whale Watching & Wildlife Cruises.
Island Adventures operates a 101 ft. long, 24 ft. wide, 2 story, 99 ton whale watching vessel called "Island Explorer 3." The vessel has a range of 750 miles but daily wildlife excursions are limited to 5hr & generally are 60-90 miles in duration. 
Port Angeles, WA Tour

Humpback Tour from Port Angeles, WA 

Introduced in 2014 Island Adventures adds a new destination for marine life viewing in the Puget Sound. Island Explorer 4 departs   Port Angeles, WA in late summer for humpback whale sightings 

Monday, December 1, 2014

No. 300 Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo
Entrance addressesSouth Entrance address: 750 N. 50th Street, Seattle WA 98103
West Entrance address: 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle WA 98103

See the Zoo brighter than ever during Wildlights nightly from November 28th through January 4th 5:30pm to 8:30pm (Closed Dec. 24 & 25)
Tickets Adults (13+) $9.75    Children (3-12) $6.50       Toddlers (0-2) FREE
Tickets can be purchased online here or after 5:30pm at the gates.

Philadelphia Toboggan Company No. 45 carousel (1918), December 2014
Trails and trees are lit up with thousands of LED Lights 
A bear tries his luck at catching a jumping salmon 
Tigers crawl down the trees. Tiger Exhibit to arrive in 2015

While the rest of the Zoo Animals are sleeping the Day Exhibit, which houses reptiles and amphibians is open nightly to get some relief from the cold and warm up under the hot lights. 

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