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.

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

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

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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

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or royal gold.

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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,

Sun-lovers

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.

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

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

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

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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

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or female Red-Breasted Mergansers

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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.

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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,

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it’s pretty clear that this is a hybrid,

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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,

B&WScoter

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.

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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.

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The reflection was a nice bonus.

I caught this Goldeneye feeding on a small Crab.

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

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

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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.