A Sunny Day at the Beach

I was skeptical when I read the forecast for Ocean Shores, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to spend a sunny day on the coast.  As it turned out, it was one of those rare days when not even fog could ruin a sunny morning.  There was a price to pay, though, because it was the strong Northwest winds that blew all the fog away.

It wasn’t quite frigid, but it was cold enough that we didn’t spend too much time looking at the waves break over the jetty

though this Bald Eagle seemed content to brave the winds and surf.

I wondered if the eagle was scaring away other birds because we didn’t see anything else except  gulls until we started to walk back to the car.  Just then I spotted these little guys in the rocks, and I realized I didn’t know what they were.  They looked a little like Turnstones, but I didn’t think they were.  It wasn’t until I got home, put them on the screen, and got out Birds of the Puget Sound Region that I realized that they were the Surfbird that I had sought for years.  

They were so close that it was impossible to take a shot where some of the birds weren’t out of focus.  If I had realized that they were Surfbirds, I would have spent more time trying to get a good profile shot, but this is best shot I managed.

As it turned out, birding wasn’t too good all day, either because the birds were trying to avoid the high wind or because birds are staying away because of the unusually cold weather we are having.

I also originally mis-identified the next-best bird of the day.  I originally thought the Red-Necked Grebe in the upper right of this photo was a Horned Grebe because it was so much smaller than the Western Grebes it was hanging out with.   

It was only later, when it got quite a bit closer, that I realized from its profile that it wasn’t a Horned Grebe.

I’m a Birder — Today, at Least

Though I describe myself as a “photographer”, not a birder, because I’m not nearly the expert that people I hang around with and spend more time working on my photography skills than my birding skills, I am also a “birder.”  That was a good thing on a recent visit to Ft. Flagler because we spotted more birds than I was able to get good shots of

The first thing I spotted was this Bald Eagle

sitting on the posts usually reserved for cormorants.  I suspect he was a reason we didn’t see many of the usual birds on the sunny side of the spit, though I did spot this male Red-Breasted Merganser on the other side.

Unfortunately, the low-in-the-sky sun was right behind him and no amount of photoshopping could reveal its brilliant colors without underexposing the blacks.

The only way I could identify this loon nearby was by its profile.

I had to walk all the way to the end of the spit in order to shoot some pictures with good lighting and the high tides made it impossible to approach without chasing the birds away.  I ended up capturing a few shots of Black Brant in flight that would almost pass as a good shot.

The photographer in me wasn’t really happy with any shot except this one of a male Harlequin Duck taken after our initial walk and a short drive.

Thankfully, as I’ve aged I’ve learned that not everything has to go right in order to have a good day.  Seeing birds I seldom see at home, basking in sunshine, and indulging in an excellent lunch can make for a wonderful day.

Common Terns

You can tell I’m desperately avoiding writing about several books I’ve read lately when I have to resort to posts like these shots of the Common Terns I saw at Tokeland.

About the best thing I can say about these shots is that the Terns were caught in flight and are sharper than most of the previous shots I’ve taken. Unfortunately, none of the terns would coöperate and dive near where I was taking pictures.

Brown Pelicans at Tokeland

As it turned out, going to Tokeland instead of going straight home was the best decision of the day. It didn’t take long to see why I hadn’t seen the Brown Pelicans I had expected to see in Westport. They were on the small offshore island where I’ve always seen the Godwits in the past.

All I had to do to get some great pelican shots was wait for them to fly out from the island when they were hungry

or fly back to the safety of the flock

when they had finished fishing.

As it turned out, it got me much closer to the Brown Pelicans than I would normally get at Westport. The highlight of the day.