Everywhere a Horned Grebe

One of the real advantages of retirement, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, is that you’re able to squeeze all the joy possible out of what little sunshine there is. Without plans — and I try never to plan too far into the future — you’re able to jump in the car with your camera equipment as soon as the clouds part, and if you’re quick enough you can get some good pictures before the darkness descends once again.

Strangely, every time I’ve gone out this week, I’ve run into Horned Grebes. They seem to be everywhere, even stranger since I never managed to get a shot of one in breeding colors before this year. When I ran down to Ruston Way Tuesday, there was a considerable flock of them floating just offshore, and even though it was still somewhat overcast, those that were in full breeding colors were spectacular.

Horned Grebe

So spectacular that I couldn’t ignore them, even though it would be difficult to improve on the shots I’ve already taken this year. Still, if you sit around long enough, one of them will strike a new pose:

Horned Grebe

Sometimes if you sit and watch long enough, something will happen to break up the party. Tuesday it was a horbor sea that came up in the middle of the flock.

That’s all it took to scatter the flock and disperse them across the harbor,

Grebes Taking Off

effectively ending my birding for the day.

As much as I enjoy these brief outings, though, the pictures you get never quite match the quality of pictures you’re able to get on a bright sunny day like we had Wednesday. Although my shot of the Red-Breasted Sapsucker is by far my favorite of the day, I couldn’t resist shooting more shots of Horned Grebes, particularly one like this which made it clear why they’re named “horned,”

Horned Grebe

and this shot of another Grebe seemed to say “sunshine” better than any other shot of the day.

Horned Grebe

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