Theler in the Sunshine

It sometimes seems that life is conspiring to keep us from visiting Theler Wetlands.  For instance, we had several days in a row without a single thing to do, but the rain clouds finally decided it was Fall and moved in.  Finally, despite the fog, I decided to head out for Belfair since we desperately needed exercise and Belfair is my favorite place to walk even if we walk too slowly to count as “Exercise” according to my Apple watch.

We hit patches of heavy fog several times on the way their, and I was getting a little worried since Belfair is usually foggy even when the drive there is sunny.  Surprise.  We were greeted by blue skies and moonshine.

Although we could hear birds in the woods, the spiderwebs took center stage, reminding us that it is, indeed, Fall.

There still aren’t a lot of birds, but there were a few Green-Winged Teal that managed to hide in the distant shadows.  Luckily, the Killdeer were far more indifferent, allowing some nice close-ups.

I spotted this Yellowlegs (Greater, I think) a long way out on the first part of our walk, but it, too, seemed indifferent to us when we returned.  

There were several gulls to be seen, but this Ring-Billed Gull kept flying by, forcing me to see if I could get a good shot of it in flight.  Several of the photos were blurry, but this one captured it nicely. 

It would have been a perfect day if we could have stopped at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Port Orchard on the way home, but right now I’ll certainly settle for a few more days like this.

RIDGEFIELD WILDLIFE REFUGE

Even on the worst day, and my recent trip to Vancouver for my semi-annual dental checkup seemed like a “worst day,” we can find something to make our day a little better. Usually when I visit Vancouver I meet up with fellow teachers, but that wasn’t possible with Covid-19 restrictions, the second time that has happened this year.  To make matters worse, it poured most of the 120 mile I drove; there were cars off the road and rescue vehicles blocking lanes, not to mention idiot drivers who didn’t seem to believe you don’t have to drive the speed limit on flooded roads, though it was clear to me after the RAV hydroplaned twice.

Thankfully, by the time I got to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge the rain had slowed to a drizzle, and I was able to get in a three mile walk before sitting in the dentist’s chair for an hour and another three hours to drive home.

Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of birds on the refuge because they hadn’t flooded most of the fields yet.  I did manage to see some birds I don’t see in Tacoma.  In fact, I was greeted at the entrance by a Great White Egret.

I probably wouldn’t have taken a picture of it since it refused to pose for me and if I had been in California where they are as common as crows,  but, since I haven’t been to California much this year,  I took several shots.

I also managed to get several shots of White Pelicans flying overhead, another bird I seldom see in the Puget Sound area.

Red-Shafted Flickers are common in Tacoma, but this was still my favorite shot of the day.

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He may have been posing for me because he knew I was having a tough day.

Back to Mt. Rainier

We got lucky last week on our latest visit to Mt. Rainier, managing to duck both the smoke and the clouds.  We hiked another part of the Wonderland Trail, a section heading west from Longmire.  The trail began in deep, Old Growth Forest

with ferns, fallen trees and bubbling springs.

After a couple of miles the Old Growth Forest gave way to 2nd Growth forest and open meadows

dominated by deciduous trees and shrubs, providing some beautiful Fall colors,  

which complemented Mt. Rainier’s fresh dusting of snow. 

Smoke, smoke, and more smoke

I’ve been wanting to go to the beach to see if I could still catch some of the Fall shorebird migration, so when I read a forecast saying that Ocean Shores wasn’t getting the smoke Tacoma was getting from Eastern Washington, I decided that we should try to get out of the house.  We soon found out that it wasn’t going to be that easy to escape the fog.

When we got to Ocean Shores there was a little less smoke than there was in Tacoma when we left, but it was hard to tell what was fog and what was smoke.  This shot of a sailboat out in the harbor is pretty close to the actual conditions.

The closer the subject, the better the shot, as this Brown Pelican flew by less than 100 yards away from us.

This Sanderling, on the other hand, was so close that the smoke/fog didn’t make much difference and the shot could easily be adjusted to compensate for the lack of light in Lightroom.

The smoke was so dense in Westport that Leslie wouldn’t let me get out of the car since the air was labeled extremely hazardous.  As it turned out, by early afternoon the wind had shifted from the East to the Southwest and Westport was getting the smoke from fires in California and Oregon instead of from Eastern Washington fires.

Still, after a two-hour drive, I wasn’t ready to give up and head back home.  The best shots of the day were the shots of the Brown Pelicans in Tokeland, but there was so little light that all of the shots were underdeveloped and slightly fuzzy, 

even after adjusting them in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Modern cameras can do some marvelous things, particularly when paired with good software, but nothing can replace the magic of sunlight.  These might have been fabulous shots with good light, but they will be deleted after this post.