Subtle Shades of Brown

I’ll have to admit that the photographer in me is attracted to sunshine, but, personally, I’ve always preferred subdued, earthy colors to bright colors. In fact, ex-students used to make fun of my many brown corduroy jackets and brown pants because clothing I’ve always favored muted colors in clothing. Perhaps that is because I was raised in the Pacific Northwest where those colors prevail most of the year.

Who could argue that the male Northern Pintail doesn’t look elegant foraging on Belfair’s mudflats

or that the Great Blue Heron’s subtle blues and grays don’t stand out here?

Heck, the male Green-winged Teal looks positively dapper against the muddy banks when sunshine finally penetrates the cloud cover.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfishers, at least the ones at Theler Wetlands, are one of the most elusive birds to photograph, though I occasionally get close to them in the fog before they fly off.

They must realize any photos you capture will have excessive noise requiring longer to correct than the photo is worth unless you’re nearly out of pictures to put up on your site.

Sometimes when there’s a fish run, though, you can capture them hovering over the river

completely indifferent to anyone on the shore.

Then the only question is if you’re lucky enough to have set a fast enough shutter speed to capture them mid-flight

because there’s certainly not enough time to reset the shutter speed before the Kingfisher flies away.

Theler in the Fog

I knew that it had to be Fall last Saturday when we braved rain and 20 mph winds to watch Lael’s first soccer game. That assessment was confirmed Wednesday when we decided to do an early morning walk at Theler Wetlands.

Though it was fairly sunny when we left home, it was quite foggy when we arrived at Theler where this Great Blue Heron stood guard on the bridge

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until this flock of Canada Geese rose up and announced our arrival.

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The Green-Winged Teals

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have finally returned to Theler, though it was hard to identify them in the fog.

As is often the case in Fall or Winter, though, the sunshine began to emerge when we finally headed back to the car. With better light, we were even able to tell the difference between this female Northern Pintail

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and the female Mallards.

Of course, the closer we got to the car the brighter it got. Unfortunately, all we saw by then was a few Savannah Sparrows.

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I found myself spending much of the morning wishing I had brought a wide-angle lens instead of a telephoto lens. I love walking in the fog if it’s not too cold, and I missed the opportunity for some great scenic shots.

A Few More from Theler

Although I drive hundreds of miles to visit places that have huge numbers of birds (and get some of my best shots), I sometimes think you learn more about birds when there aren’t very many of them around. You should because you definitely spend more time looking at each bird than you would otherwise.

Hopefully, you also get better pictures of them.

kldrft

I’d never really notice how delicate the feet on a Killdeer are.

I actually started to believe I could see the difference between these Western Sandpipers

wstrnsndpipers

and the Least Sandpipers I showed yesterday.

If I hadn’t been hunting so hard, I might even have missed this Yelllowlegs preening itself.

ylwlgspren

Not too much later it could be seen prowling the mud flats with a rather large worm in its beak.

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We saw so few birds that I even ended up taking more pictures of the Least Sandpipers at the end of the walk. This one seemed to feel that he was hidden by the rock and stood still long enough to have his portrait taken.

lsthidng

Fall Approaches

Those huge, lumbering yellow buses aren’t the only signs Summer is over and Fall is fast approaching. Even before the buses appeared, the resident squirrels and the invading Stellar Jays

YoungJay

were quarreling over who owns all those hazelnuts buried in our backyard.

Our Sunday visit to Belfair started out eerily quiet as we didn’t hear a single bird on our walk through the woods down to the wetlands, and we weren’t serenaded by a single Red-Winged Blackbird when we reached the wetlands.

We did see more Killdeer

KldrGrding

than usual, and they were joined by a few Least Sandpipers

LstSndpiper1

at the pond.

LstSndpiper2

This time of year its unusual to spot Killdeer without also seeing migrating shorebirds. I wonder if shorebirds join them because, like the Canada Geese, they provide an early warning system. As we approach, the Killdeer warn of our imminent arrival while monitoring how close we are coming, while the shorebirds continue furiously feeding.

A week ago we saw large flocks of Gold Finches at Theler, but we didn’t see a single one on Sunday. Even the swallows seem to have disappeared, except for these two resting on the railing.

JvnileBrnSwlw

At first I worried that the juvenile might have trouble flying because it sat there huddled on the railing until we were much closer than usual, but as we approached the two lifted off without any apparent problem. I wondered if the parent was waiting for the youngster to gain strength before leaving for warmer country, because it’s clear it won’t be long before it will be too cold for insects around here, and we won’t see swallows until next Spring.

More Signs of Fall

As I noted yesterday, migrating shorebirds are a sure sign Summer is fading and Fall is nearing. Another sign are large flocks of birds gathering, either migrating or getting ready to migrate.

This small flock of Starlings was part of a much, much larger flock that was flying back and forth across Theler on Sunday.

StrlngFlock

Flocks of finches were feeding on berries in the trees

PrplFnchfemal

and were easily confused with flocks of Cedar Waxwings, like this juvenile,

JvnilCdrWax

also feeding on available fruit.

Still waiting for signs of sea ducks to officially confirm Summer is over.