Bluebird of Happiness?

Our last trip to Theler proved once again that two pairs of eyes are better than one.  As I was busy talking to John, Leslie spotted a small flock of Western Bluebirds in the distance (it probably didn’t hurt that she had the binoculars).  They were so far away that the pictures I took with my 600m lens had to be heavily cropped to get the pictures posted below. Blown up like this, they were so grainy that I finally relented and upgraded to the latest version of Topaz Denoise.  This app does an amazing job of removing grain, which, in turn, makes it possible to sharpen the main subjects without increasing background grain.

None of these shots are quite as good as the ones I’ve taken in previous years, but we so seldom see Western Bluebirds that I was delighted to see them.  I’ll have to admit that I was having a hard time focusing on the birds themselves and focuses, instead, on the birdhouse.  Here’s a shot of two female Western Bluebirds without cropping.

Here’s the same shot cropped, denoised, and slightly sharpened.

I was trying to focus on the bright blue male in this shot.

Not surprisingly, in the sharpest picture of the sequence the male was looking away from the camera. 

Hopefully we will see the bluebirds on the boardwalk railing where we can get better shots on our next visit.  

Spring Approacheth Slowly

There are signs that Spring might actually be on the way and we can soon expect migration sightings, but for now our world (with the exception of Evergreen trees) remains largely browns and grays.  

So, it seemed appropriate that my first sighting on our latest trip to Theler Wetlands was of a Song Sparrow foraging on a pile of snow leftover from a recent snowstorm.

The sound of male Red-Wing Blackbirds trying to attract  mates echoed across the refuge, but all I actually saw was a single, female Red-Wing Blackbird.

Didn’t see any Bald Eagles, like we often do, but we did catch sight of a Red-Tailed Hawk.

The clearest sign that Spring is coming, though, was the sound of Canada Geese pairs claiming their nesting ground when another pair dared to fly over. 

One More Time

Although I considered taking my camera on our recent snowshoeing trek through Pt. Defiance Park, I dismissed the idea because my hands were already full with two poles and a 600mm lens just plain doesn’t work well at close range.  As it often turns out, though, I regretted not bringing it because we saw a large number of Varied Thrushes on our trek, more than I have ever seen in one place, and closer than I have ever managed to get to them in our yard.

After that missed opportunity, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to get any better pictures than the ones I managed to get in our yard in the last two weeks.  

I’ll try not to wear out my welcome by posting any more pictures of Varied Thrushes this winter, but I can’t promise because I’ll have to admit I still grab my camera when I see one in the yard.  I’m not sure, though, whether that’s because I still find them quite beautiful or because I am coming down with a serious case of cabin fever.  

Thank God our second shot is only a couple of weeks away and we can begin to consider going a little further away from home.

More from Titlow

Although my favorite shots from our recent visit to Titlow were those of the Belted Kingfisher, I got a couple of other shots I liked.  If you want to see Double-Crested Cormorants up close, Titlow is a good place to start as there are usually dozens (or more) Cormorants standing on the pilings, 

and it’s easy to catch one in the traditional, air-drying pose.

I don’t think you can count on seeing Red-Breasted Mergansers here, but there was a pair there on the day we visited, and I managed to capture the best shot of the year so far, 

though I hope to get a closer shot sometime before they leave for their nesting area in the Spring.

Leslie even managed to spot a Hummingbird as we looped back to our car.

We ended the day with a sighting of a male Bufflehead that popped up right next to us.