Although I don’t think that I like any of the shots I got at Port Orchard as much as the shots of the Hooded Mergansers, I did enjoy taking pictures of a number of birds that have only recently returned.
Even though this Red-Breasted Merganser
was not nearly as spectacular as the shots I got last Spring of a one in full-breeding colors, it was nice to see they’re beginning to return from their summer breeding grounds.
The same can certainly be said of the numerous Horned Grebes,
the most common bird in the marina.
I knew from the shape and brilliant yellow eye that this was some form of Goldeneye,
but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with these exact colors. According to Sibley it’s a variation that’s close to a one-year old Barrow’s Goldeneye.
The most exciting bird of the day, though, came at the end of the day, just as I reached the end of the marina. Suddenly a little shore bird landed on the railing next to me. I was sure that I had never seen this species before and spent considerable time trying to get a shot with the sun coming from over my shoulder and not from behind the bird.
It wasn’t until I got home and had spent much time browsing my birding books that I came to the conclusion that this was a Dunlin in winter colors. Perhaps if I had seen it at the beach among a number of shorebirds I would have immediately realized it was a Dunlin from it’s shape. But since I’d never seen a single Dunlin and had certainly never seen one in Port Orchard, on a dock, this close, I didn’t recognize it.
It would have been nice if it had been a “first” but it’s still the best shot I’ve ever gotten of a Dunlin, even though it lacks the black plumage that makes it so stunning when in full breeding colors.