Loren Repeats Himself, Again

After repeated trips to Theler Wetlands and the Port Orchard marina, it’s difficult to post pictures without repeating yourself, often with pictures that aren’t as good as ones I’ve published earlier.

Though I’d prefer not to repeat myself continually I realized that repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing after following awritersalchemy’s link to Ellen Bass’ poem “Ode to Repetition” which can also be found here.

Despite that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Green-Winged Teal feeding on the mudflats at Theler Wetlands, I find myself taking pictures on our weekly visits. The brightly colored male with its geometric patterns is particularly appealing.

Sometimes seeing a subject from different angles helps us to see it in new ways.

Though it’s easy to identify a female Green-Winged Teal when it’s next to a male, that green stripe in the back is always a positive sign that it is, indeed, a Green-Winged Teal and not a female Mallard.

It’s always seemed to me that feeding compulsively with your head stuck down in the mud/water is awfully dangerous when predators are around despite blending in quite well with the mud. There is some additional safety in numbers, especially in flight.

When an Eagle flies over the wetlands explode with hundreds of ducks flying surprisingly close to each other.

I don’t think I’d want to be an eagle trying to pick out a particular target in the middle of that flock; the chances of accidentally getting struck by another bird would have to be high. Not to mention that it’s nearly impossible to focus on just one bird, as my camera’s automatic sensor pointed out.

I must agree with Ellen Bass that some kinds of repetition are positive forces in our lives or I wouldn't have been walking Theler Wetlands repeatedly since discovering it many years ago. In birding, at least, familiarity is more apt to breed appreciation than to breed contempt.

Grebes, and More Grebes

I keep checking Port Orchard’s marina to see if the Horned Grebes have started turning into their breeding colors, but so far all I’ve managed to do is repeat shots I’ve already shown many times. That’s okay, though, because the photographer in me still loves close-up like this with interesting reflections.

The birder in me, though, gets more excited when I spot Western Grebes,

even though the shots never come close to the quality that I’ll get later when I go to Bear River and Malheur and I usually discard the shots as soon as I post them here. Still, when I do spot them they are usually too far out to get even this good of a picture.

The birder in me, though, was even more thrilled to see this Red-Necked Grebe surface near a Western Grebe.

Once I spotted the Red-Necked Grebe I lost interest in the Western Grebes and managed to get a little better shot even though it never came very close while I was in the marina.

Even though I knew the shot wasn’t going to be very good, the birder in me took control, and I knew that this was the shot of the day, even if the photographer in me doesn’t agree.

I’m Not the Only One Anxious for Spring

Although the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival doesn’t take place until May 6-7, I’ve noticed Least Sandpipers on my last two visits to Theler Wetlands, the first time I’ve seen them this year.

Of course, the fact they’ve been there at least two weeks also suggests it’s too cold to keep moving further north. They're in no hurry to move one.

At the very least, these early birds seem to be busily stocking up for the long trip ahead

as it’s nearly impossible to get a shot of more than one of them with their head up.

We sighted a single Tree Swallow in a fly over, but there were several male Red-Winged Blackbirds who were singing loudly, claiming their territory and trying to attract mates.

We’re definitely getting mixed messages about the arrival of Spring, whether it’s early-blooming flowers or early arriving birds.

It’s clear after one of the coldest, wettest winters on record, EVERYONE is ready for some blustery Spring weather, which probably best explains why I keep interpreting these events as signs that Spring is right around the corner.

I need to get out of the house and AWAY from the internet. Despite my better judgment, I'm drawn to the steady stream of stories about Trump and his God-awful administration. I feel like a driver gawking at accident even though he really doesn't want to see what happened, knowing full well that whatever he sees will stay with him longer than he wants it to.

Reading the Latest Immigration News

"Ellis Island"

I was driving down Ninth Avenue
As the sky was getting dark
Didn't have nothin' else to do
So I kept on riding to Battery Park
I stepped out in the damp and misty night
As the fog was rolling in
Man said, "Last boat leaving tonight
Is the boat for Ellis Island"

As my feet touched solid ground
I felt a chill run down my spine
I could almost hear the sound
of thousands pushing through the lines
Mothers and bewildered wives
that sailed across the raging sea
Others running for their lives
to the land of opportunity
Down on Ellis Island

"What is this strange paradise?"
They must've wondered through their cries and moans
After all they've sacrificed
Their faith, their families, friends and homes
Then on the Inspection Stairs
They were counted out or counted in
Frozen while the inspectors stared
Down on Ellis Island

Now me I only stumbled in
Just to wander around that empty hall
Where someone else's fate had been
Decided in no time at all
And cases filled with hats and clothes
And the belongings of those who journeyed far
They're strange reminders I suppose
Of where we're from and who we are

But as the boat pulled off the shore
I could see the fog was lifting
And lights I never seen before
Were shining down on Ellis Island
Shining down on Ellis Island

A February Visit to the Bloedel Reserve

It’s been a strange winter here in the Puget Sound area. The mountains have lots of snow, but we’ve only had light snow here in Tacoma. On a particularly sunny day last week we decided to return to The Bloedel Reserve to see what was happening.

Judging from the number of flowers we saw, Spring is about to happen, even though they were shut down for snow a few days before. We had barely begun our walk when we encountered these white flowers blooming.

A few yards further along we saw two young deer nibbling on the flowers.

Although I brought my birding lens because I’d seen so many birds on my last visit, all I saw this trip was this male Bufflehead and two females.

Mostly, though, we saw flowers that I half-recognize but can’t quite remember their name.

I promise that in my next lifetime I will memorize the names of plants and flowers. Until then, I’m stuck just admiring their beauty wherever I find them.

It’s not surprising that I don’t know the name of this flower because I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.

We see this flower often enough that Leslie actually told me its name, but since I’ve resigned myself to not knowing flowers’ names I’ve managed to forget it already.

Luckily I’m a firm believer in Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name would still be a rose.”

No Thinking Required

I keep hunting for photographs worth publishing here so I don’t have to resort to actually writing something about the books I’m reading, or, worse yet, having to write something about books I finished nearly a year ago and still haven’t figured out what I want to say about them. God forbid I should have to drag some of my political commentary over from Facebook.

Even when birding is slow, and it seems to be, I sometimes come up with a semi-interesting shot, like this one of what appears to be an almost-adult Bald Eagle

that didn’t like me taking its picture.

When we returned an hour later and the tide had risen considerably we found the eagle in nearly the same place but perching on a stump and, having already checked me out before, it studiously ignored me.

I shoot a lot of shots of Northern Pintails, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a better shot of their feet.

I’m not sure I knew their feet were the same color as its beak.

I don’t see a male Red-Breasted Merganser nearly often enough, so I was thrilled when I saw this one at Theler, but frustrated that he stayed on the far side of the Union River.