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.

Not Skunked, Thank Goodness

We’ve had a week of sunshine and relatively warm temperatures, too good of weather to be working on projects in the garage so we went birding at Theler after Tai Chi at the YMCA. The birding wasn’t quite up to the level of the weather, but I’m not about to complain when it’s bright and sunny.


We had a promising start to the day when this Fox Sparrow insisted on having his photo taken.

At first I couldn’t tell whether it was the very common Song Sparrow or not, but it posed so sincerely I probably would have taken a shot even if it were a Song Sparrow.

The highlight of the day might have been sighting a flock of Common Mergansers

which wisely bolted as we approached for it’s hunting season here. I was just afraid that I might have driven them past the hunter’s blinds, but thank goodness we didn’t hear a single shot.

There wasn’t much else to see, though I did sight the Kestrel I saw on my previous visit at the end of our walk and managed to get a better shot this time.

It’s surprising how often the sunniest days turn out to be the worst birding days.

Theler Wetlands Redux

Great Blue Heron and raptors are probably the main attraction at Theler now, but that doesn’t mean that other birds can’t occasionally steal the scene.

I really like this shot of a Male Bufflehead I took really early in the morning.

It wasn’t really that dark but with our foggy/overcast mornings parts of the wetlands are still in darkness because the hills block the low sun.

The sunshine illuminated this Double-Crested Cormorant’s orange beak and the fish, but the Union River was still cloaked in darkness.

The sun was a lot brighter when I took this shot of a male Green-Winged Teal,

which have returned in large numbers to Theler this winter.

Occasionally I still sight a bird I haven’t seen before, like this juvenile Northern Shrike.

I spotted this bird, but I don’t think I would have recognized it if John hadn’t been birding with us as I’ve never seen an immature Northern Shrike. The shot was underexposed because it was so gray and I couldn’t make the bird turn gray and black (the colors of an adult Northern Shrike) no matter how hard I tried. Turned out that an immature shrike looks like this; something I only discovered when I Googled it.)

Great Blue Heron at Theler Wetlands

It may seem like I’ve been sorting and editing shots from our Colorado trip forever. I have spent too many hours in front of the computer, but that’s not all I’ve done since I got home. Nope, Leslie and I have managed to get out to Theler Wetlands at least once a week despite a lot of rain.

Apparently we are not the only ones to return to Theler. We’ve seen Great Blue Heron on each of our visits like this one perched overhead,

this one flying by,

this one displaying aggression as it tries to claim territory

from this heron heading out to confront the intruder.

Territory is so precious that this Great Blue Heron stood a few feet from the trail, refusing to budge from its hunting ground.

It was so close that I had to take three shots and photomerge them into a single shot.

Fall at Theler

We managed to sneak in a Sunday morning visit to Theler Wetlands between grandkids’ soccer games this weekend. Although it’s still been relatively clear and warm here so far this year, it was clear that Fall is upon us this visit.

Enveloped in clouds and dark skies, it was nearly impossible to identify this as a Merlin until I’d tweaked it on my computer,

Merlin

and nothing says Fall clearer than the honking of a flight of Geese as they pass.

It was glad to see the Green-Winged Teal return to the refuge, but knowing there will be plenty of time to get shots of them in the next six months I focused, instead, on the less-often-seen Yellowlegs.

It looks a lot brighter in this shot than it actually was thanks to RAW, but I was a little frustrated about how far away they were on our first trip through the refuge

I got much closer on the return trip and the sun had finally burned through the clouds.

Actually, I managed to get so close that I had a hard time keeping the Yellowlegs in the frame but the sun wouldn’t cooperate.

Hard to beat a day where you find beauty coming and going.

I’m Missing the Fall Migration

I’ve been so focused on finishing my backyard project the last two months I haven’t even managed to get to the beach to see the Fall migration. Instead, I’ve settled for an occasional visit to Theler Wetlands where I can see some of the shorebirds that are moving South.

These Dowitchers seemed particularly golden in early morning light.

I’ve seen more Least Sandpipers, but this Western Sandpiper was a better shot.

Strictly speaking, I think this Spotted Sandpiper has been around much of the summer,

but this is the best shot I’ve managed to get despite several sightings.

Luckily, Leslie, I, and the grandkids are nearly finished with the backyard, and I soon should be able to load up the camper and finally get out.