2022-04-13,14,15 Puget Sound Island Hopping

Point Robinson Lighthouse - Scenery
This lighthouse was commissioned in 1885 and has been standing guard at the eastmost point of Maury Island, overlooking the Puget Sound.
Horned Grebe - Podiceps auritus
When I spotted Barrow’s Goldeneyes at the Quartermaster Marina, we stopped to take a few pictures of the grebes, scoters and buffleheads that share the water with them.

My friend Teresa volunteered to take me island hopping in the Puget Sound, and I happily accepted the offer. According to my research, there are 20 sizable islands in the sound, but counting the smaller islands, some resources say there are 170 of them. The weather was kind to us on our tours.

Wednesday we began our explorations at Anderson Island, which required a thirty-minute ferry ride from Steilacoom. Of the three days we explored, this one was the wettest. Anderson being the smallest of the islands we explored, it was our shortest day. We departed the ferry at the northern end of the island, then explored the road leading to its southern tip. We didn’t find very many places to chase birds. Most of the island has been colonized by residences. After doing an about face at the southern limit of the road, we found an open space, and I heard and saw a Pileated Woodpecker, but the big bird kept its distance from me, making any good image captures impossible. A Spotted Towhee and an Orange-Crowned Warbler were only slightly more cooperative.

Thursday, we set out for Vashon Island and the thinly connected Maury Island. We drove to Point Defiance and boarded a ferry for a 15-minute ride to the island, and disembarked at the southern end of the island at Tahlequah. Our drive north carried us along Quartermaster Harbor and the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve. When we reached the Quartermaster Marina, I spotted Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Surf Scoters, and Buffleheads and stopped to attempt capturing some images. While I was working on these ducks, a Horned Grebe in its finest breeding attire drifted into the scene and graced me with some nice views.

Maury Island connects to Vashon Island by a narrow isthmus. We drove the road that allowed us to reach the 10 acre park at the easternmost point of the island and the Point Robinson Lighthouse. On this Thursday visit, we had some of the nicest weather of the entire time I spent in the area. I captured some images of the lighthouse under blue skies and fluffy clouds in the background. It was lovely!

Our last expedition on Friday was for a visit to Fox Island and the nearby community of Gig Harbor. We drove to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and crossed the sound to the peninsula on the other side of the sound and carried on to the town of Gig Harbor, then weaved our way to Fox Island under another gloriously sunny sky. Fox Island connects to the mainland on the western side of Puget Sound via a narrow 1,950 foot bridge. We enjoyed exploring the island, but I believe the high-point of the tour was when we found ourselves at the Fox Island Fishing Pier, 5.3 miles from the bridge. We didn’t find anyone fishing at the pier, but there were Orca watchers who told us of the Orca pod that passed by only 20 minutes before our arrival. With the sun warming our backs, we waited with hopes the whales would return. We were denied a meeting with the Orcas on this visit, but I could imagine the thrill of an encounter here, and that was almost enough.

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