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Blogging Sacramento NWR

Sacramento NWR

Usually on our visit to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge we are greeted by rabbits, deer, and coyotes.  On our most recent visit we were greeted by songbirds like this Meadowlark

SacRdWng.jpg

and this Red-Wing Blackbird.

Try as they might, the two could not drown out the song of the White-Crowned Sparrows

though the immature sparrows seemed more interesting in foraging than in joining the choir around them.

The House Finches high in the trees weren’t exactly silent but weren’t nearly as loud as the other three,

while the Black Phoebes seemed satisfied to flutter out and back silently.

Disappointingly, there were surprisingly few Snow Geese and the birds seemed more easily spooked than usual, flying away before we could stop and get pictures.

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Blogging Washington Coast

At Ocean Shores

It was a beautiful day at Ocean Shores, but as often the case when there are blue skies there were very strong winds, as shown by the surf breaking over the jetty.

Although I gone to the ocean to see the loons we hadn’t seen on our Port Townsend trip, we got a pleasant surprise when we encountered Surfbirds (turns out they were probably Black Turnstones, a similar bird), a bird that I spent five years searching for before ever finding one. Not coincidentally, it was exactly at this spot that I first spotted one.

On this trip it was quite clear where they got their name from.

Black Turnstone walking on rocks

I suspect that the high surf might have driven them in closer to shore than usual. We sighted a small flock of them on the rocks near the shore.

They would start of the rock and eat their way down to the beach, feeding on crustaceans

When the waves came crashing in they would instantly fly back to the top of the rocks to start feeding all over again, once again working their way back to the bottom of the rocks.

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Port Orchard

Sunday Afternoon at Port Orchard

Although I’m still not seeing as my birds at Port Orchard as I have in past years, we did see quite a few different varieties at Port Orchard last Sunday, some for the first time this year

I have seen Hooded Mergansers on several previous visits, but the light hasn’t been good enough until Sunday to almost capture their beauty.

It would have helped if this guy had ever fully displayed the magnificent hood that gives it its name.

I actually saw more Barrow’s Goldeneye on my last visit, but this is the first time I’ve had enough light to capture one in flight.

I spotted a Western Grebe too far away to get a good shot, but I couldn’t resist taking one anyway.

I’ve seen Pigeon Guillemot’s in breeding and non-breeding plumage, but I’ve never seen one in transition quite like this. No wonder I only recognized it by its silhouette.

Seeing the Western Grebe and the Guillemot inspired me to go to Ocean Shores and Westport the next day since sunshine was in the forecast.

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Theler Wetlands

Sunday Morning at Theler

We just had one and a half days of sunshine, and Leslie and I took full advantage of them.  On Sunday morning we went to Theler Wetlands — where the forecast sunshine didn’t manifest itself, but at least it didn’t rain on us.

The overcast skies made it nearly impossible to capture these two Bald Eagles in flight, but they seemed nearly inseparable, landing and sitting together for long periods of time.

I suspect the eagles’ constant flybys scared away many of the ducks because we didn’t see nearly as many as usual, but the small flock of Green-Winged Teal was remarkably close to the pair.

Spring must be in the air because the eagles weren’t the only ones paired up.  This pair of Canada Geese was loudly letting other Canada Geese know that this area was already claimed so they should move on.

Birding seemed a little slower than usual, but if you listened intently enough you can always find songbirds like this Black-Capped Chickadee nearby.

The highlight of the morning for me was the Kestrel that Leslie spotted just as we were leaving the refuge.  I hesitated to take the picture because the sun was behind the Kestrel and the sky was so gray, but Lightroom and Photoshop helped to pull the colors out in the photo.