A Sunny Day at the Beach

I was skeptical when I read the forecast for Ocean Shores, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to spend a sunny day on the coast.  As it turned out, it was one of those rare days when not even fog could ruin a sunny morning.  There was a price to pay, though, because it was the strong Northwest winds that blew all the fog away.

It wasn’t quite frigid, but it was cold enough that we didn’t spend too much time looking at the waves break over the jetty

though this Bald Eagle seemed content to brave the winds and surf.

I wondered if the eagle was scaring away other birds because we didn’t see anything else except  gulls until we started to walk back to the car.  Just then I spotted these little guys in the rocks, and I realized I didn’t know what they were.  They looked a little like Turnstones, but I didn’t think they were.  It wasn’t until I got home, put them on the screen, and got out Birds of the Puget Sound Region that I realized that they were the Surfbird that I had sought for years.  

They were so close that it was impossible to take a shot where some of the birds weren’t out of focus.  If I had realized that they were Surfbirds, I would have spent more time trying to get a good profile shot, but this is best shot I managed.

As it turned out, birding wasn’t too good all day, either because the birds were trying to avoid the high wind or because birds are staying away because of the unusually cold weather we are having.

I also originally mis-identified the next-best bird of the day.  I originally thought the Red-Necked Grebe in the upper right of this photo was a Horned Grebe because it was so much smaller than the Western Grebes it was hanging out with.   

It was only later, when it got quite a bit closer, that I realized from its profile that it wasn’t a Horned Grebe.

One Good Photo

With another sunny day forecast, we headed out for Theler Wetlands early in the morning.  Unfortunately, sunshine often brings fog with it, and an extremely low tide doesn’t make birding any better.  Worst of all, I missed the best shot of the day when a male Common Merganser went flying up the Union River. Even with the best of equipment it’s hard to capture birds in flight on a foggy morning.  Adding insult to injury, by the time we left a strong North wind and sunshine had dispelled the fog, but there were no birds in sight.  

Still, during Winter Port Orchard often offers better birding than Belfair does.  I had barely parked when I spotted this male Common Merganser a few yards away from the walkway.  I got several shots of it, but this one (with a little help from Photoshop) was my favorite.

This turned out to be the only shot I saved from the day because the wind was so cold and the waves so hard that we decided to go eat rather than walk the marina.  

Ruth Sullivan used to say “One Good Bird” was all we needed to make a disappointing day worthwhile.  A walk on a sunny day is always a joy, but a good photo makes the day even better.

Hooded Merganser Showing Off

The weather has finally improved here in the Pacific Northwest and we’re getting some sunshine between snow flurries.  I’ve always said that the best part of being retired is that I can take advantage of the occasional sunny days we get during Fall and Winter.  As it turns out, I also feel much better when I’m walking while they adjust my blood pressure medicines. So, it’s been a good two weeks.  So good that I’ve spent considerable time at the beach and managed several local walks, too.

The birds haven’t always cooperated, particularly at Theler Wetlands, but I did manage to get some shots that I liked at the Port Orchard Marina. On one of our visits there was some obvious courting going on among the Hooded Mergansers.  This fellow seemed particularly handsome.

I was impressed, but unfortunately the female seemed less so and kept paddling away.  

I’m a Birder — Today, at Least

Though I describe myself as a “photographer”, not a birder, because I’m not nearly the expert that people I hang around with and spend more time working on my photography skills than my birding skills, I am also a “birder.”  That was a good thing on a recent visit to Ft. Flagler because we spotted more birds than I was able to get good shots of

The first thing I spotted was this Bald Eagle

sitting on the posts usually reserved for cormorants.  I suspect he was a reason we didn’t see many of the usual birds on the sunny side of the spit, though I did spot this male Red-Breasted Merganser on the other side.

Unfortunately, the low-in-the-sky sun was right behind him and no amount of photoshopping could reveal its brilliant colors without underexposing the blacks.

The only way I could identify this loon nearby was by its profile.

I had to walk all the way to the end of the spit in order to shoot some pictures with good lighting and the high tides made it impossible to approach without chasing the birds away.  I ended up capturing a few shots of Black Brant in flight that would almost pass as a good shot.

The photographer in me wasn’t really happy with any shot except this one of a male Harlequin Duck taken after our initial walk and a short drive.

Thankfully, as I’ve aged I’ve learned that not everything has to go right in order to have a good day.  Seeing birds I seldom see at home, basking in sunshine, and indulging in an excellent lunch can make for a wonderful day.