Swan Island Dahlias

Since we cut inland instead of spending Sunday at the Oregon Coast we decided to visit Oregon’s Swan Island Dahlias instead of just heading straight home. The fields of Dahlias were pretty spectacular, but up close most of them were indistinguishable from the Dahlia I see down the street from me in Pt. Defiance.

Still, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that looks quite like this.


This all yellow variety looks slightly different from the Orange and Gold Winnie the Pooh that I love so much.


This lotus-like beauty, though, blew me away when I saw it as a photo,


though I don’t think it made that same impression when I actually saw it in the field.

A Few More Shots from Bodega Bay

Though the Marbled Godwits were definitely the birding highlight of our California trip to Bodega Bay, there was actually a lot more birds than I remember seeing in past trips. Unfortunately, other than the Godwits, this Willet


was the only bird I was able to get close to, and even it promptly disappeared.


There were cormorants, loons, murres, and pelicans, but so far out even my 560mm lens couldn’t capture useable shots. We even drove out to the point hoping to get closer, but the only shot I got from there was this sequence of a Brown Pelican diving.


plunging into the water,


and thwarting the gulls trying to steal his catch.


It was yet another of those reoccurring moments where I feel I should learn to shoot movies with my camera.

Marbled Godwits at Bodega Bay

I’ll have to admit that I was really tempted to try to get closer to the Godwits when I saw them near the lagoon, but Leslie and Jeff were across the street ready to start our beach walk, so I thought better of it. As it turns out, I was glad I started the walk instead because about half way down the beach we ran across a small flock of Marbled Godwits feeding on the incoming tide.


Although they retreated as we got closer, I managed to get even closer to them on the was back up the beach.


While they had all been resting on the shore when I first saw them across the road, they were much more active feeding on the beach, which made it easier to get close to without scaring them off.


I was amazed by this shot


where you could actually see whatever it is that they eat. I’ll have to admit that the shot makes me a lot more curious about exactly what it is that they are catching. I certainly never knew there was anything like this right under the sand.

In the end, of course, what really matters is the shots you get, and who doesn’t love beautiful tail feathers?


Birding at Bodega Bay

Although we went to Doran Beach on Bodega Bay to walk the beach and get away from Santa Rosa’s high temperatures, not to bird, the first thing I noted on the wetlands opposite the beach was a beautiful Snowy Egret which had obviously become so accustomed to human visitors that it took no notice of them, even when they were holding a 400mm lens.

Beach or no beach, I couldn’t resist briefly photographing him as he stalked the wetlands.


I was a little surprised that instead of edging away from me that he kept moving closer


and closer.


As often happens while birding, while observing a particular bird other birds will suddenly appear, almost as if the mere act of standing still, becoming part of the environment, reveals everything that has always been there. Suddenly a small flight of terns swooped behind the Egret, which, in turn, startled a flock of Plovers into flight.


Several of the plovers, in turn, landed next to another flock of birds.


Of course, it was only after I zoomed in on the image that I realized that it was a flock of Marbled Godwits, birds I’d sought out on the Washington Coast but had no luck finding. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any way to get close enough to them to get a decent shot.

Bodega Bay Head

Just because I realized long ago that I am never going to be able to capture the way I feel looking out into the ocean doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop trying to capture that feeling. Certainly our latest trip to Bodega Head was no exception, especially with brilliant sunshine.

Here’s the view looking South,




and North, up the coastline.


Reminder to myself for the future: don’t bother trying to shoot HDR where waves are involved — way too much blur to deal with.

Luckily, when landscape photography proves too difficult, I can always fall back on wildlife photography.


Slow Birding at Spring Lake

I may have become slightly spoiled by past birding at Lake Ralphine and Spring Lake because I wasn’t impressed by how few birds I saw on this visit, though it is the first time I’ver ever seen a Cedar Waxwing there.


I did see a single Night Heron,


which seemed determined to hide from the huge number of people who were out walking Labor Day.

In fact, it wasn’t until my second walk, mid-week, that I saw anything vaguely interesting. This might have been the first time I’ve ever gotten a shot of a White Breasted Nuthatch.


I really wasn’t sure what the heck this brown and white pile was, particularly since it seemed to be guarded by a Snowy Egret. If you click to enlarge the photo you can barely make out the immature Swans.


I’d never seen them with brown feathers before, much less without a parent nearby.

For some reason, though, all the adults were at the other end of the lake gliding elegantly by.


The real thrill of this visit, though, came when I heard what sounded like a jet right behind me and looked around to see the small flock of Swans launching themselves.


Not sure what caused them to take off, but it was a thrill hearing those powerful wings overtake me. They were so loud that I almost ducked instead of turning around and snapping several shots.

Santa Rosa’s National Heirloom Exposition

Although we planned on spending a half a day at the Santa Rosa National Heirloom Exposition, the 94-degree heat cut our visit much shorter than that. Still, I managed to get to see the main events that I was interested in.

I really wanted to see the Chalk exhibit, and I wasn’t disappointed by what I saw.


There’s something special about art that has to be seen as it’s created or it can’t be seen at all.

The biggest attraction for me, though, was the dahlia exhibit. There were a couple of prize-winning dahlias on display that I would have bought on sight if they had been for sale. My favorite was this one,


but this unusual red and white one was a close runner-up.


Really, though, the exhibit made me appreciate the little dahlia garden down the street from me even more than I have before. The varieties found there certainly rivaled the varieties found at this dahlia show.

At first I didn’t really think I would be impressed by heirloom vegetables, but I’ll have to admit that I was blown away by the tremendous number of varieties represented by the “Squash Tower” in the main hall.


If I had something more than a postage-sized yard here in Tacoma, I would have spent a lot more time looking at all the new technology offered at the show, particularly the drip irrigation innovations and the biodynamic aspect of gardening.