Western Bluebirds at Theler

Haven’t been able to figure out how to present the Bufflehead pictures I took at Theler, so I decided to post these shots of Western Bluebirds, instead, even though they were taken at a considerable distance.

I saw the same Western Bluebirds much closer the week before but never managed to get them to stay in one place long enough to get a decent shot.

These were so far away that I obviously didn’t pose a threat, even if my camera were an M-1. Western Bluebirds have been around Theler for several winters but have never nested there. I can almost imagine them house-hunting and deciding that these bird houses don’t meet their standards.

Both the female

female Western Bluebird

and the male took turns surveying the premises,

male Western Bluebird

but, in the end, both seemed to be looking for a better place,

male and female Western Bluebird

and who can blame them?

We Visit Bloedel Reserve

We haven’t been to Bloedel Reserve since November, so we decided to see what would be there in late Winter/early Spring. We found the first Skunk Cabbage we’ve seen that wasn’t deformed by sub-freezing temperatures.

I’ve been told that Skunk Cabbage is a true measure of when Spring arrives in the Pacific Northwest because it is native to the area.

I know that a number of the plants at the Bloedel Reserve are not native to the area, but seen dispersed throughout the native firs, it’s easy to assume that they, too, indicate Spring has officially arrived.

Personally, the only snow I want to see here in the lowlands is Snowdrops.

The Bloedel gardeners blend native and non-native plants in with the natural habitat.

That’s not to say that I can’t also appreciate non-native flowers like these showy Camellias.

Varied Thrush Visits

On Tuesday, the rainiest day of the week, Leslie told me there was a flock of birds in the backyard. I looked out to see a flock of Starlings, Juncos, Robins, AND a single Varied Thrush, a bird I’ve been looking for all winter and hadn’t seen yet.

I was sure it would be gone before I could run upstairs and get my camera, but I was wrong this time. Although most had disappeared, the female Varied Thrush was still there when I got back. When I saw her sitting in an empty bird bath, I decided to refill it, not expecting it to stick around. She watched me fill the bird bath and walk back in the house and cautiously hopped around the flower beds

as I took shots and readjusted camera settings trying to compensate for the lack of light.

Apparently satisfied that someone who would walk out and fill the bird bath on demand presented no danger, she proceeded to bathe

for the next five minutes.

Needless to say, it was the highlight of my day.

Hard Not to Enjoy a Sunny Day at the Coast

No matter what birds I do or do not see on the Washington coach, I always enjoy my trip and look forward to seeing a variety of birds. My disappointment at not finding a single Common Loon in breeding plumage was tempered by how many species I did see.

I saw flocks of Greater Scaup at several different locations,

a pleasant surprise since I only see them occasionally on the Puget Sound.

And I almost never get as close as I did to these

in the Westport marina.

When I first saw this bird walking the shore in Tokeland I couldn’t figure out what it was even though I’ve seen them several times on the California coast and at Malheur NWR. This may be the only time I’ve seen a Willet

in non-breeding color. I think I have seen them on the Washington coast with Godwits before, but the Washington coast is supposedly outside their range.

Birds were scarce at Ocean Shores, but I did enjoy watching this small flock of Sanderlings fly back and forth along the beach.

We managed to get in five and a half miles of walking for the day without ever being aware that we were exercising. I also managed to spend an entire day without ever checking my computer or my iPhone.

Blind to the Truth

Most of the time I simply allow the natural beauty of the birds I feature to speak for itself, but occasionally I feel the need to emphasize that appreciating Nature's beauty is no longer enough in a society that seems determined to sacrifice it all to sell more stuff. That's doubly true now that we've been Trumped, as anyone who loves the environment surely already knows. I generally don't use words like "good" or "evil," but I would have to say that Scott Pruitt, head of the E.P.A., is Pure Evil.

Although I have a couple of Dan Fogelberg albums, I hadn't heard of his album "The Wild Place" until recently when I purchased it through iTunes. My favorite song on the album has to be Blind to the Truth.

In the overcrowded cities where the nights are bright as day
You spend your weekly paycheck and turn your eyes away
From the crisis we've created with our self-indulgent ways
Living like there's no tomorrow, well that just might be the case
Now they're tearing down the forests and the jungles of Brazil
Without a second thought about the species that they kill
But extinction is forever and still the forests fall
And push it ever closer to extinction for us all

But you're so blind to the truth, blind to the truth
And you can't see nothing
Cause you're so blind to the truth, blind to the truth
And the judgment day is coming

Now the politicians bicker on the early evening news
Pledging their allegiance to whoever they can use
The corporate bosses snicker as they watch the profits soar
They don't care what they make next month just as long as it is more
They take our farms and marshlands, drive nature to the wall
Just so they can build another Goddamn shopping mall
And it doesn't seem to matter if they cannot see the stars
As long as they can keep on building obsolescent cars

They're so blind to the truth, blind to the truth
No they can't see nothing
They're so blind to the truth, blind to the truth
But the judgment day is coming

Now you cannot drink the water and you cannot breathe the air
The sky is ripping open and you still don't seem to care
The soil is tired and toxic and unable to provide
The clock is running out and there is nowhere left to hide
Now there's laws that we must live by and they're not the laws of man
Can't you see the shadow that moves across this land
The future is upon us and there's so much we must do
And you know I can't ignore it and my friend neither can you


With a rare sunny day forecast at Westport and Ocean Shores this week, we headed out early in the morning. Though there was some fog early, it turned out to be a delightful, sunny day with some brisk winds.

Since I’ve been told many times when birding Westport in the afternoon that people had seen more birds in the morning, we decided to start out our day at Westport and finish at Ocean Shores. Naturally we didn’t see more birds than usual; we saw less.

I went because I love seeing the Common Loons in breeding colors. Not only did we see fewer loons than usual; none of the ones we did see were in breeding plumage.

Our consolation prize was seeing more Western Grebes than I’ve ever seen at the coast before. This Western Grebe

greeted us as we walked down to the marina.

Not more than a 100 yards away, this grebe was finishing a meal.

When I went to the other end of the marina to see if there were any Brown Pelicans (there weren’t), I saw another group of grebes.This one popped up almost under my feet.

Not sure who was more startled.

I didn’t find the Godwits at Tokeland but was greeted by yet another small flock of Western Grebes.

The only place I’ve ever seen this many Western Grebes is Bear River in Utah.