Summer Photo Camp With Gramps

I hope it hasn’t begun to seem that I am running a summer photo camp for grandkids on my blog, but I didn’t want to slight anyone by skipping our latest excursion where we took Lael and Mira down to the Point Defiance Rose Garden with cameras. The first three shots are by Mira, while the next three are by Lael.

I ended up choosing their shots I liked best to post, but it was interesting to see how their photos differed from shots I generally take at the Rose Garden.

I often take pictures of insects on flowers as Mira did in this shot,


but I usually back up further and capture the whole flower, not just a part of it.

This brilliant red-yellow flower is striking, one I, too, might feature,


but I would work hard to make sure that its beauty wasn’t blocked by leaves.

This shot by Mira is probably the closest to attaining the kind of look I try to capture when I photograph flowers.


Lael actually took several shots of our group during our excursion, but this shot of Mira is my favorite.


In a lot of her shots Lael included several flowers


instead of focusing on, and isolating, a single flower like I usually do.

My favorite Lael shot, though, was this one of an Echinacea (I think?)


she shot through the fence, perhaps because I would never have thought of shooting it this way.

Leslie insisted I needed to include a shot of Lael in this blog entry if I was going to include a shot of Mira so she sent me this shot she took on the outing.


Of course, I was focusing on presenting Lael’s work when I chose the shot of Mira, not Mira, per se. I have, however, been criticized rather regularly for not getting enough shots of people when I’m out on a family hike.

Roses and Iris, Too

Though the Rhododendron Garden is definitely my favorite garden at Pt. Defiance Park, particularly this time of year, I find it nearly impossible to drive by the Rose Garden without checking out what is in bloom. As it turns out, not much, though there are a few early roses now.

I’m not really sure I like this red rose, but I was fascinated by the black edges.


If red roses are the most popular rose, at least in poetry, then pink roses can’t be far behind.


My particular favorites, though, tend to toward the orange tones.


The poor little iris garden isn’t even gated off and sits on the other side of the road, but the flowers can still hold their own this time of year whether they’re royal purple


or royal gold.


Pt. Defiance Park is my own little empire.

A Break in the Clouds

Finally, we’re beginning to get a little sunshine, even if it’s only between rain showers. Though I’ll admit I felt a little like these turtles trying to catch a few rays,


it’s comforting to know that fellow Tacoma residents love Pt. Defiance Park as much as we do.

The gardens were in full bloom; these Jonquils were so rambunctious that they had to be fenced in.


There were several tulip trees in bloom, but this was my favorite.


I was a little surprised to see that some real tulips were already completely open, almost at the end of their season,


though some cherry and plum blossoms were just beginning to bloom.


The wet weather and warm temperatures seem to have joined to make this a spectacular Spring. Leslie and I spent a long weekend enjoying at Pt. Defiance park, the beach, and Belfair enjoying Spring’s Beauty.

Unfortunately, the weather has also been great for the weeds and the lawn, so we had to spend much of Sunday working in the yard.

Between Cloud Breaks

Not surprisingly when you only have an hour or so between showers you’re not likely to see anything particularly unusual nearby. If there were anything unusual, you would probably already have seen it.

Still, I never really tire of seeing local Horned Grebes


or female Red-Breasted Mergansers


while walking Ruston Way.

I’ve posted a shot of this less-than-common bird recently, but I did get a pretty good chance to study it on a recent walk.


It was hanging out with a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye, though it’s plumage makes it clear it isn’t a Barrow’s Goldeneye.

Comparing it to this male Goldeneye it was hanging around with,


it’s pretty clear that this is a hybrid,


and the black stripe running down the white breast suggests it is probably a Hooded Merganser/Goldeneye hybrid.

Since it was hanging out with Goldeneyes, I wondered if it had the same diet they had, not that of a Hooded Merganser. Unfortunately, despite spending considerable time watching it, I never did see it come up with a catch. Guess that’s something to find out on a later visit. Given our weather forecast, I’ll probably be spending much time walking locally.

Reflections on Black and White

We’ve been having a much-welcomed break from the rain for nearly a week now. I’ve been out birding almost every day except for New Years. These shots were taken on the 29th down the street from my house on Ruston Way. I’m not unaware of the irony that all the birds pictured here are black and white, birds that really don’t benefit from sunshine as much as birds with more colorful plumages.

Still, this Surf Scoter’s colorful bill certainly appears more striking in the sunshine,


and you’re not going to get those beautiful reflections with overcast skies.

Although Barrow’s Goldeneye seem more photographic than the Common Goldeneye, I’ve been focusing on the Common lately since they seem to be getting rarer and rarer. It’s easy to forget that their head has a green tinge to it, especially when I seldom see it in sunshine.


Like most Goldeneye, they don’t seem to do much other than float around, and dive, so it’s a photographic treat when you can catch them doing something more than just floating.


The reflection was a nice bonus.

I caught this Goldeneye feeding on a small Crab.


Even this Male Bufflehead was more striking with a little sunshine on his head.


Finally, I’ve seen this odd little fellow several times, and still can’t figure out what it is.


The eye would certainly suggest Goldeneye, but the plumage and, especially, the bill suggest that it is a merganser. Apparently there are Goldeneye-Merganser hybrids, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before. IDing birds is anything but simple, which might be one reason it continues to appeal to me.

Feeling Blue

Though I’m sure we’ve had a little more than two hours of sunshine here in the Puget Sound area in the month of December, that’s all I’ve had to photograph in so far this month.

It’s hard to deny that even the black and white ducks, like this female Bufflehead, seems much more striking in sunlight,


not to mention this Horned Grebe with its distinctive red eye.


Certainly the female Red-Breasted Mergansers with their rufous heads and bright orange beaks stand out with a little sunshine,


though not as much as the brilliantly colored beak of this Surf Scoter.


Around here, sunshine gives an entirely different meaning to feeling “blue.”

Between trying to get ready for Christmas and unrelenting rain, all the birding I’ve managed to get in so far in December is a couple quick trips to the nearby trail at Point Ruston because I can get there between showers.

It’s a popular place for Barrow’s Goldeneye,


an occasional Common Goldeneye


and Surf Scoters.


Best of all, it seems to be the new home of the female Belted Kingfisher I haven’t seen for a year or so at the Point Defiance Marina.


It made my day when she landed on the fence a mere 12 feet away from me and posed long enough to get several shots.