If you didn’t already know.
I haven’t told you yet, though, that I stopped at the Toppenish Wildlife Refuge on the way home from my two-day dental trip, resulting in the best bird pictures of the trip, even though I wasn’t looking for bird pictures.
I was more than a little surprised to discover a wildlife refuge in the area, particularly one with wetlands. When I think of Eastern Washington, I think of broad expanses of dry, grassland, not wetlands. Heck, I’ve driven by this same spot repeatedlly, and never noticed the refuge before.
I was even more surprised when this Osprey swooped overhead as I got out of my car.
I’m still not sure where it was going to find fish, but I do know that the Redwing Blackbirds took off in force to drive him away from their nesting grounds. If it hadn’t circled several times, I might have thought it was Red-Tailed Hawk or other bird of prey, but there was not doubt that it was an osprey.
I saw four large birds circling in the distance and thought that they were Osprey, too, but was amazed when I blew up the negative to discover that they were actually American White Pelican, the first time I’ve ever sighted one
More exciting, though, was the sighting of this elegant Black-Necked Stilt,
another first, and one that was much closer than the Pelicans, as it circled me, crying a warning to its mate.
It wasn’t a first for me, but I don’t think I’ve ever managed to get a picture of a Black-Headed Grosbeak before, and this one seemed unfazed by my presence, landing right in front of me:
I’m sure most “birders” would be unimpressed by my sightings, and perhaps even I will be a few years from now, but my unexpected sightings of birds in an unexpected place more than compensated for my later disappointment in the day when I discovered that the California haze made it impossible to get decent pictures in Mt. Rainier National Park, the main reason I decided to take this route home in the first place.