The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

I included this poem in my January 1, 2002 entry and I still haven't found a better poem to start a new year.

Perhaps it's a testament to the value of art that this poem written at the beginning of the 20th Century seems as valid today as it did the day it was written.

THE DARKLING THRUSH

I LEANT upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky-
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleapt,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

December 1900

I was reminded of Hardy's poem by the hoar frost on the barren vines that lined the trail at Theler Wetlands today. Didn't see any thrushes, but Song Sparrows greeted us and Red-Wing Blackbirds were already staking out their claim to nesting grounds.

Still Stuck in the Past

Our weather has turned wintry again, so I’m inside processing the last of the pictures I took on last week’s sunny day.

I’ll have to admit I overlook the Horned Grebes

until they change to their breeding plumage in Spring. Unlike most birds, they tend to be indifferent to people and, as a result, are nearly as easy to photograph as Great Blue Herons.

This Western Grebe

is much less common, and, when seen, are seldom this close to the marina. Leslie did a good job of spotting this one.

A Sunny Winter Day

If you were to judge from my latest posts you might imagine that the Pacific Northwest has been as sunny and rain-free as California. Fortunately that’s far from the truth. However, I have managed to capture almost all the sunshine we have had because I’m retired. When we woke up to a sunny Tuesday, I suggested we change our plans and drive to Theler and Port Orchard.

With a late sunrise, we actually got there just a little after dawn, and it shows in the photos. The low sunlight nearly blew out the whites in the Great Blue Heron’s head, but the marsh itself is enveloped in darkness.

Hopefully this shot of a GBH in the middle of the Union River reflects sunrise’s beauty.

My favorite shot of the morning, though, was this glowing Least Sandpiper foraging in the shadows.

It’s hard to believe that this shot of Canada Geese flying through the fog was taken a few yards and few minutes after the shot of the Least Sandpiper.

We take weather forecasts with a wait-and-see attitude here in the Pacific Northwest, but there are delightful days even in Winter.

Birding Fort Worden

After browsing a few art stores and indulging in another delightful lunch at The Fountain Cafe, we headed to Fort Worden. We were greeted by the Belted Kingfisher on it accustomed railing who allowed a few shots before he flew away in a huff.

I suspect it is the Kingfisher that inevitably draws me back to this place because it’s one of the few places where I can count on seeing one close-up.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that at times I spot other birds here that I hardly ever see anywhere else, like this Red-Necked Grebe in winter plumage

and the even-lesser-seen Rhinoceros Auklet.

To cap the day off, we stopped at Edensaw Woods on the way out-of-town and rekindled my lust for some quality wood-working tools.

Fort Flagler’s Harlequin Ducks

I enjoy all the birds I see at Ft. Flagler, but I really go to see the Harlequin ducks. After seeing a Bald Eagle on the beach and a Dunlin skittering back and forth, I was worried I wasn’t going to see a Harlequin. We were at the end of the spit before I sighted a small flock of Harlequins offshore. I knew they were happy to see me, though, when one of the males rose out of the water to greet me.

I wondered if they were so far offshore because the Bald Eagle was on the beach or if they were simply resting after breakfast. They only seemed interested in preening and resting.

Though we stalked them for quite a while, they never came very close to shore, so I decided to head to the other side of the spit by the boat launch where I often see them closer to shore. As it turned out they were right next to the shore and I spooked them when I appeared suddenly above them.

Some immediately dove out of sight, but these three just swam away while keeping an eye on me.

It was a very special moment, an early Christmas present.