turtleback farm inn

Coho Preserve

Coho Preserve, Orcas Island (Accessible to the public)


Coho Preserve is a small yet exceptional natural area which was acquired through a grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. Surrounded by towering forest, this magical 24 acre preserve is home to multiple songbirds, raptors, salmon and trout. This rich variety of habitat along Cascade Creek can be relished while hiking the rustic trail loop through the preserve.

Coho Preserve is part of the San Juan County Land Bank public land system. There is a new 3/4 mile trail that climbs alongside Cascade Creek (one of only 3 salmon streams left in the San Juans) in very nice forest (and one or two little meadows). The trail is very short but has enough uphill that it does feel like a leg stretcher, and it’s worth doing. The parking area is on the left just past Catkin Cafe and the Strawberry Barreling Plant Building/Art Gallery in Olga. Keep dogs leashed and out of the stream (keep kids out too–these are vital salmon spawning grounds).

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Resident Flicker on our birdbath

Resident Flicker on our birdbath


Northern Flickers are large, woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump.

Although it can climb up the trunks of trees and hammer on wood like other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker prefers to find food on the ground. Ants are its main food, and the flicker digs in the dirt to find them. It uses its long barbed tongue to lap up the ants.

Northern Flickers generally nest in holes in trees like other woodpeckers. Occasionally, they’ve been found nesting in old, earthen burrows vacated by Belted Kingfishers or Bank Swallows.

turtleback farm inn cookbook cover

Guest Comment: Browsing through your cookbook …


Dear Susan,

Browsing through your cookbook at our last great breakfast at Turtleback Farm, I could tell right away that it was something special. Reading through it at home, I discovered your friendly inscription. Every recipe sounds delicious, and the instructions are clear and concise. I also appreciate the marginal tips and comments, reflecting your accumulated kitchen wisdom. It is hard to choose what to try first, but I think it will be the stewed ginger rhubarb.

We live in a rural and peaceful place (in Ohio), but we were enchanted by the utterly different and beautiful surroundings on Orcas—the old-growth forests, the ever-changing views of water, islands, and mountains, and the nestled-in fields of Crow Valley. It was one of our best vacations ever, not least for your thoughtful hospitality.


orcas island wooden boat society

Come Row Our Boats Day – Sunday, July 28


Come Row Our Boats Day
Sunday, July 28, 1 – 5 p.m., Deer Harbor Marina

The Wooden Boat Society of the San Juans is sponsoring a free, Come Row Our Boats day. Participants are invited to take our boats out on their own or we will have experienced boaters to accompany them. Life jackets will be required and available but please bring your own if possible. All ages are welcome. Children and young adults are particularly encouraged. Please join us and experience the many pleasures of rowing small boats. The event will be held at the Deer Harbor Marina, Sunday July 28. Questions? info@woodenboatsocietyofthesanjuans.org.

white whale off of orcas island

The White Whale – Sighting off of Orcas Island


Here’s one of the newest members of the Biggs (transient) community. Its really special and unique. Notice the pigment coloring? It has a dilute gene. A dilution gene is a popular term for any one of a number of genes that act to create a lighter coat color in living creatures.

This little orca is part of the T-46b family. Trey took a couple of photos last week. We’re not sure if it’s a male or female.

Tom Averna
Deer Harbor Charters