Nisqually Great Horned Owl Fledglings

Leslie wanted to visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge so she could buy a Senior Pass before they raise the price from $10 to $80. I haven’t been back for quite a while and it wasn’t raining, so I was eager to see what was happening there this Spring. As it turned out, it was relatively slow, but we did get a chance to see the fledgling Great Horned Owls that have just left the nest.

There have been Horned Owls at Nisqually as long as I’ve been going there, but the original tree they used has blown down, and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have found them without the help of a birder with a scope. Though the light was behind them and all I could see with my naked eye was their silhouette, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pictures after I processed them in Lightroom.

Although three fledglings have been seen, we only saw these two while we were there. In fact, for quite a while we only saw one owl as it steadily climbed up a broken limb.

Not long afterward, another fledgling appeared to be looking up at its sibling.

It slowly but surely climbed toward its sibling while checking out the surroundings.

This final shot makes me wonder whether Great Horned Owl fledglings inspired Star War’s Ewoks

A Few Song Birds

Having already been to Theler last week and faced with another sunny day, I decided it was past time to visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. It turned out to be the perfect day to visit as I was greeted by a chorus of Golden-Crowned Sparrows,


Black-Capped Chickadees,


Yellow-Rumped Warblers,


and, John who I usually see at Theler, but always enjoy birding with.

Back to Nisqually

I don’t think I’ve been to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge for nearly a year, even though it’s the only place I can get my favorite Torta. Truthfully, I’ve never felt the same about the refuge since they replaced the 5 mile loop around the perimeter of the refuge that I walked two or three times a week. There are still lots of birds to be found at the refuge, but I can’t help but remember all the birds and wildlife that I no longer see.

I did see a number of birds I have not seen since I walked Nisqually the last time, like this Golden Crowned Kinglet


and this Brown Creeper.


I was a little surprised to see a small flock of, I think, Least Sandpiper in winter plumage.


I couldn’t resist taking a series of shots of this Hooded Merganser pair. They were calmly paddling down this slough when I pointed a camera at them and simultaneously a shotgun blast echoed from across the river.


They took off so simultaneously that I didn’t even realize there was two birds in several of my shots


until I looked at the last shot in the sequence.


Sometimes I think it’s too bad that I walked Nisqually for so many years before they changed it; new visitors I meet often seem to be enthralled by the place. Strange how the mind subtly controls our perception of a place and how hard it is to overcome that perception, no matter what the reality.

A Little Perspective

Since last Tuesday was supposed to be as sunny as Monday and rain was forecast for the rest of the week, I decided to go to Nisqually Wildlife Refuge since I hadn’t been there since early summer. Unfortunately, birding wasn’t especially good, and as the day wore on I became more and more disenchanted.

With the leaves gone, the distant roar of the freeway and the Burlington-Northern trains became nearly as oppressive as the intermittent thump of Fort Lewis’s heavy artillery and the rat-tat-tat of firing on a distant rifle range. The final insult was the fire of duck hunters directly across the creek from me,

Duck Hunters

so close I almost hit the boardwalk. It was all the more surprising since I hadn’t seen the hunters in their camouflage.

Even my favorite torta at La Fuentes couldn’t convince me that the day hadn’t been a flop. In fact, it wasn’t until I uploaded the pictures and looked at them on the computer screen that I could admit to myself that the day hadn’t been a total disaster.

In fact, if I hadn’t spent the last few weeks deleting numerous Great Blue Heron shots, I might even have considered this

Great Blue Heron

and especially this shot of a heron catching a fish

Great Blue Heron

fairly good shots.

I would probably even consider this shot of a Northern Harrier flying at eye level

 Northern Harrier

before suddenly diving to the ground

Northern Harrier

good shots, too.

Certainly the noise didn’t help, but I suspect a good part of the disappointment came from the fact that I had such high expectations because I’d gotten so many good shots the day before. In comparison, Tuesday certainly seemed like a total flop.

Looking back through six days of steady rain, Tuesday’s outing doesn’t seem nearly as disappointing.