Three for the Day

It’s always hard for me to choose a few shots from a day’s shooting to post, but sometimes it’s easier than other times because an obvious theme emerges from the day. Last Saturday wasn’t one of those days. My favorite shot was the Tree Swallow I posted on the previous entry, but after that I found it difficult to make a choice because there was no real theme and no shot seemed noticeably better than the others.

In the end, I decided that these three shots best represented the day. The Red-Wing Blackbirds are boisterous this time of year, and it’s impossible to ignore their beautiful songs.


Visually, though, the bright green “grasses” dominate the landscape.


Though we didn’t see, or hear, as many Killdeer as usual, Leslie spotted this one so close to the trail that it took me quite awhile to see it because I was searching for it further away and because it blended in so well with its background.


I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a better close-up of a Killdeer. If you open it in a new window and look at it full size you can see every feather.


With forecasts of rain and Thunderstorms for the next ten days you better believe I took advantage of Mondays break in the clouds. In fact, the bright blue skies accompanied up to the point where I parked my car by the Salmon Center.

The fog didn’t even begin to lift until I reached the half-way point where the fog started to dissipate and sunlight highlighted the ridge line.


I must admit, though, that I enjoy walking in the fog, particularly near Puget Sound; it brings a meditative silence to the walk,


even if it cloaks the Green-Winged Teal in shades of gray.


Although the fog made it difficult to see many birds, it seemed to accentuate the songs of the male Red-Winged Blackbirds and my first Marsh Wren


of the season.

Thank Goodness for the Belted Kingfisher

Still birding between showers and longing for a long, long birding trip (say to sunnier northern California), but it’s hard to complain when you’re retired and can take advantage of sunny breaks no matter when they occur.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been to lake Waughop so I was hoping to see some different birds, but it wasn’t to be. The lake was really high with all the recent rain, so there were very few birds feeding close to shore. I only managed to get this shot of Double-Crested Cormorants hanging out in the bushes.


Undeterred, I stopped off at Titlow Park on the way home. Although I often see Widgeons offshore in Port Orchard, it’s been awhile since I’ve bothered to get this close to one.


Absence obviously makes the heart fonder, so I was more impressed than usual by the bird’s plumage.

The resident Belted Kingfisher was more cooperative than usual, though it insisted on only posing in the shadiest part of the pond,


which made it even harder than usual to capture it in flight,


particularly after emerging from a dive.


Luckily, On1 Photo 10 has pretty good noise reduction capabilities.

Irritated by its failure to catch a fish or by my shooting of shots, the Kingfisher flew to the other end of the pond where I managed to capture at least one shot in good light


before it took off.

The ten minutes I spent taking shots of the Belted Kingfisher made my day and made me forget how few shots I actually got on this trip.

A Guest Drops In

Continuous rain has made it nearly impossible to get out birding. Even when I do get outside for a walk, I seldom take my camera equipment because of the threat of rain. So, it was a treat when this Varied Thrush showed up in my back yard while I was making cookies.


What was even more of a treat was that it stuck around long enough for me to go upstairs and get my camera and then stuck around even longer for several shots. I am pretty sure that leaving leaves in the flower beds until Spring, a hint from the Audubon society, is what attracts the bird.


It spent the whole time I was watching it turning over leaves looking for bugs.

I was surprised that it kept coming closer and closer, although it was clear that it saw me at the open patio door.


I assume it must have been curious because he jumped on top of our garden Buddha and gave me a close look before disappearing into the fir tree.


Now, if it would just show up on a sunnier day I could properly capture its bright colors and really do its beauty justice.

When Will I Ever Learn

I think one of the main reasons I’ve been so devoted to birdwatching in the last seven or so years is that I am constantly learning new things, constantly realizing just how little I know. For instance, on our last trip to the beach I was taking a shot of this “Yellowlegs”


when three more Yellowlegs flew in. However, the newly-arrived Yellowlegs were so much smaller that at first I questioned if I had been wrong and one or the other wasn’t a Yellowlegs at all.


It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how much bigger the Greater Yellowlegs (the lone bird in the first picture) is than the Lesser Yellowlegs (the two in the second picture). I’m still not sure that I’ll be able to distinguish one from the other unless they are actually near each other, as they were here.

I made another misidentification in the same pond, one I didn’t recognize until I got home. Someone said there was a Red-Necked Phalarope in the pond, but when I saw this bird I thought it was a Wilson’s Phalarope, not a Red-Necked Phalarope. It turned out to be a juvenile Red-Necked Phalarope


a bird I have never seen before, and it appeared to be acting a lot more like the Wilson’s Phalaropes I’ve seen before than the Red-Necked Phalaropes I’ve previously observed. I’m embarrassed enough that I doubt I’ll make that mistake if I ever see a juvenile Red-Necked Phalarope again.

Of course, I could be all wrong and it’s really just the sheer beauty


of these birds that has kept me birding all this time.

One, or Two, Thing(s) More

After the visitor pointed out the Great Horned Owl chicks to me, I started examining the area to see what else I could find on the wall. Turned out to be a lot more than I would have imagined. I quickly spotted several Cliff Swallows and followed them as they flew up to their nests.


It seemed that this colony was still adding nests,


and you didn’t have to scour the wall too hard to find other swallow nests.


Nor did you have to look very hard to see where birds had relieved themselves, and if you looked long enough you could see chicks on some of these.


I’m not enough of an expert to positively identify these, but there were Red-Tailed Hawks flying overhead several times.


I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my week-long excursion, so I decided to start home rather than spending another night camping out.

Baby Great Horned Owls

I saw a lot of the same birds at Tule that I saw at both Bear River and Malheur, so I don’t feel compelled to show those birds again. But there was an unexpected special moment at Petroglyph Point. Despite past experience, I am a sucker for petroglyphs so I couldn’t resist the short drive after taking the Tule Lake road tour. Unfortunately, once again I found that the petroglyphs had been cordoned off to prevent vandalism so there was a limited number of petroglyphs to see and many of them had been defaced.


What really made the stop special wasn’t the petroglyphs, but, rather, the unexpected birds I saw there. There was another group looking at the petroglyphs when I arrived and one of them spotted this baby Great Horned Owl staring at her.


They were so well disguised that at first she thought she was looking at a petroglyph. In fact, they were so well disguised that neither of us saw the second baby located in the bottom right corner of the shot.

This second, long shot more clearly shows the second owl, though I had to do some serious photoshopping to make both the own in the direct sunlight and the one in the shadows visible.


Thank goodness for RAW format.

I was surprised how bold the one young owl was as it moved around and followed us with its eyes as we walked around to get a different angle on it.


I kept looking around for parents but couldn’t spot them. I’ve never been this close to a Great Horned Owl before, and I was a little worried about how protective the parents might get.