A Longer Trip to the Coast

Since we’ve been unable to fit an extended vacation to Santa Rosa and Fresno between doctor appointments, I leapt at the chance to visit the coast when I read that 70+ temperatures were predicted for five days in a row.  

I debated whether or not to take my birding cameras and lenses because birding was awfully slow on our last trip to the coast. I ended up taking them because I knew I would inevitably see a great shot if I didn’t have them with me.  Of course, the other side of that perspective is that you’re less likely to see great shots if you do have your camera equipment.

As it turned out, birding was even worse than I thought it would be, perhaps because there were so many people on the beach enjoying the sunshine. I did manage to get a few shots at our first stop, Westport.  The Western Grebes that were there on our last visit were still there.

There were remarkably few loons in the marina, but I did spot a single Common Loon that was starting to change into its breeding colors.

Ironically, the best bird pictures of the trip were taken with my the SX 60HS because I wasn’t carrying my camera lens at Agate Beach.  This Black Oystercatcher was so close that I could almost have gotten a shot with my iPhone.

I really liked this shot of the two wading in the surf and they accommodated me by standing still long enough that I could focus on them.

Another Day at the Coast

I knew that I had cabin fever when I decided to enjoy the sunshine and go to Port Townsend the day after driving all the way to Ocean Shores. Both require a long day and considerable driving, but I wasn’t ready to stay in the house as long as the sun was out.

It turned out to be another beautiful day, and on this trip the tides cooperated with us.  We saw all the familiar suspects, like this Brant Goose,

and this pair of Harlequin Ducks

We also saw more male Red-Breasted Mergansers than I’ve seen in years.

To top the day off, we spotted a River Otter on the dock at Ft. Worden.

Getting out and walking in the sunshine was a real pleasure.  Hopefully we will finally see sunshine more regularly.  With crocus and daffodils starting to bloom in the yard, Spring can’t be far away, can it?

A Sunny Day at the Beach

I was skeptical when I read the forecast for Ocean Shores, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to spend a sunny day on the coast.  As it turned out, it was one of those rare days when not even fog could ruin a sunny morning.  There was a price to pay, though, because it was the strong Northwest winds that blew all the fog away.

It wasn’t quite frigid, but it was cold enough that we didn’t spend too much time looking at the waves break over the jetty

though this Bald Eagle seemed content to brave the winds and surf.

I wondered if the eagle was scaring away other birds because we didn’t see anything else except  gulls until we started to walk back to the car.  Just then I spotted these little guys in the rocks, and I realized I didn’t know what they were.  They looked a little like Turnstones, but I didn’t think they were.  It wasn’t until I got home, put them on the screen, and got out Birds of the Puget Sound Region that I realized that they were the Surfbird that I had sought for years.  

They were so close that it was impossible to take a shot where some of the birds weren’t out of focus.  If I had realized that they were Surfbirds, I would have spent more time trying to get a good profile shot, but this is best shot I managed.

As it turned out, birding wasn’t too good all day, either because the birds were trying to avoid the high wind or because birds are staying away because of the unusually cold weather we are having.

I also originally mis-identified the next-best bird of the day.  I originally thought the Red-Necked Grebe in the upper right of this photo was a Horned Grebe because it was so much smaller than the Western Grebes it was hanging out with.   

It was only later, when it got quite a bit closer, that I realized from its profile that it wasn’t a Horned Grebe.

One Good Photo

With another sunny day forecast, we headed out for Theler Wetlands early in the morning.  Unfortunately, sunshine often brings fog with it, and an extremely low tide doesn’t make birding any better.  Worst of all, I missed the best shot of the day when a male Common Merganser went flying up the Union River. Even with the best of equipment it’s hard to capture birds in flight on a foggy morning.  Adding insult to injury, by the time we left a strong North wind and sunshine had dispelled the fog, but there were no birds in sight.  

Still, during Winter Port Orchard often offers better birding than Belfair does.  I had barely parked when I spotted this male Common Merganser a few yards away from the walkway.  I got several shots of it, but this one (with a little help from Photoshop) was my favorite.

This turned out to be the only shot I saved from the day because the wind was so cold and the waves so hard that we decided to go eat rather than walk the marina.  

Ruth Sullivan used to say “One Good Bird” was all we needed to make a disappointing day worthwhile.  A walk on a sunny day is always a joy, but a good photo makes the day even better.