Still Stuck in the Past

Our weather has turned wintry again, so I’m inside processing the last of the pictures I took on last week’s sunny day.

I’ll have to admit I overlook the Horned Grebes

until they change to their breeding plumage in Spring. Unlike most birds, they tend to be indifferent to people and, as a result, are nearly as easy to photograph as Great Blue Herons.

This Western Grebe

is much less common, and, when seen, are seldom this close to the marina. Leslie did a good job of spotting this one.

A Sunny Winter Day

If you were to judge from my latest posts you might imagine that the Pacific Northwest has been as sunny and rain-free as California. Fortunately that’s far from the truth. However, I have managed to capture almost all the sunshine we have had because I’m retired. When we woke up to a sunny Tuesday, I suggested we change our plans and drive to Theler and Port Orchard.

With a late sunrise, we actually got there just a little after dawn, and it shows in the photos. The low sunlight nearly blew out the whites in the Great Blue Heron’s head, but the marsh itself is enveloped in darkness.

Hopefully this shot of a GBH in the middle of the Union River reflects sunrise’s beauty.

My favorite shot of the morning, though, was this glowing Least Sandpiper foraging in the shadows.

It’s hard to believe that this shot of Canada Geese flying through the fog was taken a few yards and few minutes after the shot of the Least Sandpiper.

We take weather forecasts with a wait-and-see attitude here in the Pacific Northwest, but there are delightful days even in Winter.

Birding Fort Worden

After browsing a few art stores and indulging in another delightful lunch at The Fountain Cafe, we headed to Fort Worden. We were greeted by the Belted Kingfisher on it accustomed railing who allowed a few shots before he flew away in a huff.

I suspect it is the Kingfisher that inevitably draws me back to this place because it’s one of the few places where I can count on seeing one close-up.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that at times I spot other birds here that I hardly ever see anywhere else, like this Red-Necked Grebe in winter plumage

and the even-lesser-seen Rhinoceros Auklet.

To cap the day off, we stopped at Edensaw Woods on the way out-of-town and rekindled my lust for some quality wood-working tools.

Fort Flagler’s Harlequin Ducks

I enjoy all the birds I see at Ft. Flagler, but I really go to see the Harlequin ducks. After seeing a Bald Eagle on the beach and a Dunlin skittering back and forth, I was worried I wasn’t going to see a Harlequin. We were at the end of the spit before I sighted a small flock of Harlequins offshore. I knew they were happy to see me, though, when one of the males rose out of the water to greet me.

I wondered if they were so far offshore because the Bald Eagle was on the beach or if they were simply resting after breakfast. They only seemed interested in preening and resting.

Though we stalked them for quite a while, they never came very close to shore, so I decided to head to the other side of the spit by the boat launch where I often see them closer to shore. As it turned out they were right next to the shore and I spooked them when I appeared suddenly above them.

Some immediately dove out of sight, but these three just swam away while keeping an eye on me.

It was a very special moment, an early Christmas present.

Birding Fort Flagler

I couldn’t resist spending a day at Port Townsend during this beautiful stretch of weather no matter how guilty I felt. After all, there will be plenty of rainy days coming up when I can finish all those chores I’ve been putting off for years. Christmas cookies are a mixed blessing, anyway.

Luckily, we were rewarded for indulging ourselves. Birding was good, and the sun made for near perfect photographic conditions. These Pelagic Cormorants

were exactly where they were supposed to be.

Attracted by a dead harbor seal, this Bald Eagle

refused to leave, standing its ground as we gave it a wide berth.

It took me a while to identify this lone shorebird as a Dunlin

in winter plumage. Its breeding plumage is so distinctive that I’ve always tended to ignore its other characteristics.

There’s no mistaking a Brant for anything else when seen at this range.