A Favorite Distraction from Yardwork

I’ve spent the last month and a half transforming my backyard into a garden that I really like and not a nondescript, weed-infested lawn I’m forced to mow regularly. It’s been a tough job made easier by the help of grandkids, particularly Lael who has spent nearly a hundred hours helping us.

The worst part of the job, though, has been missing so many opportunities to birding. I’ll admit to having cabin fever. Luckily, throughout most of that time hummingbirds have been constant visitors, ignoring the clutter to visit their beloved Red Lucifer Crocosmia.

Luckily they were persistent enough that they would stay around when we took a break and I could go get a camera.

Heck, when the Crocosmia was nearly done blooming, a male would sit on the plant refusing to leave his cache.

Nothing lasts forever, of course, so when the deer had finished eating the outside flowers and the rest had stopped blooming, the hummingbirds switched over to the sage plant, which will bloom until late Fall.

Osprey Catching Fish

When the tide is too high to see Virginia Rail, visiting shorebirds, or, even, Killdeer, you’re forced to look for other birds. This time of year, it’s a good idea to watch for Osprey hunting closer to shore than usual. We actually had three different Osprey circling overhead

at one point.

Of course, inevitably they moved further offshore before sighting and diving for a fish.

Unfortunately photos can’t capture the excitement in watching these superb hunter repeatedly diving

and emerging with a catch.

I’ll have to admit that if I could count on seeing Osprey, I would carry my tripod and 500mm lens down to the boardwalk and spend the morning waiting for a shot.

Unfortunately, you can’t count on seeing osprey on most visits, and if you’re carrying a long lens and a tripod you are going to miss all the other shots I love so much.

Juvenile Common Yellowthroat

I’ve sighted several Common Yellowthroats at Theler this year, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a juvenile Common Yellowthroat, and this little guy seemed almost as curious about me as I was about him.

Normally, you get one quick chance at getting a shot of a Common Yellowthroat before they disappear into a nearby thicket.

This juvenile acted more like the nearby Marsh Wren than a Yellowthroat, hanging around for a good ten minutes while I snapped shot after shot.

You Know You’re Paying Attention

when you manage to sight a Virginia Rail. You’re just plain lucky, or patient, if you manage to get a decent shot of them.

The highlight of one of our recent trips the Theler Wetlands was finally managing to sight this Virginia Rail

as it wove its way in and out of the reeds searching for food. Even more exciting was seeing the chick following it.

I’ve never seen one this young before and was a little shocked that it appeared to be jet black.

Normally I move on after I’ve sighted a bird, but having seen the chick that I’d never seen before, I stuck around awhile longer until both of them were in better light.

The adult colors seemed quite different in full sunlight,

and the mud provided a nice contrast to the chick’s black feathers.

Pretty clear why they stay in the reed’s shadows most of the time.

One Good Bird Weasel

When I started birding with Ruth Sullivan when birding was slow she would always say, “One good bird, that’s all we need” to make our day successful. The Green Heron we saw on our first visit back to Theler would have been enough to make my day, but then Leslie spotted this weasel

at the main bridge while I was gazing into the distance. It was so close that I had trouble finding it even when she pointed it out.

I have seen a weasel several times but never this close. I was surprised when it climbed up onto the bridge,

ran forward a couple of feet,

and ducked behind a post,

all the time staring intently at me.

Though I’ll admit to being a tad nervous when it ran toward me and not away, it made my day.

Still Beautiful

Although it had been nearly three weeks since we visited Theler Wetlands after our trip to Bear River, some things hadn’t changed at all. We were greeted at the bridge closest to the Salmon Center by the same Barn Swallows on the same branch where I had last left them,

though it was joined by some younger barn swallows that hadn’t been there previously.

I even spotted an old friend, one I hadn’t seen at Theler for several years, this Green Heron.

I found Theler in 2005 while in search of my first Green Heron. A fellow birder told me it was the one place he could count on seeing a Green Heron. I didn’t see one for quite a while, but I fell in love with Theler’s quiet beauty and have returned regularly since, as revealed in 207 posts. Ironically, the Green Herons have disappeared since the dike was breached several years ago.

Even on a slow day and roses have faded into distant memory, there’s always beauty to be found if you’re open to seeing it.