Osprey Catching Fish

When the tide is too high to see Virginia Rail, visiting shorebirds, or, even, Killdeer, you’re forced to look for other birds. This time of year, it’s a good idea to watch for Osprey hunting closer to shore than usual. We actually had three different Osprey circling overhead

at one point.

Of course, inevitably they moved further offshore before sighting and diving for a fish.

Unfortunately photos can’t capture the excitement in watching these superb hunter repeatedly diving

and emerging with a catch.

I’ll have to admit that if I could count on seeing Osprey, I would carry my tripod and 500mm lens down to the boardwalk and spend the morning waiting for a shot.

Unfortunately, you can’t count on seeing osprey on most visits, and if you’re carrying a long lens and a tripod you are going to miss all the other shots I love so much.

Still Beautiful

Although it had been nearly three weeks since we visited Theler Wetlands after our trip to Bear River, some things hadn’t changed at all. We were greeted at the bridge closest to the Salmon Center by the same Barn Swallows on the same branch where I had last left them,

though it was joined by some younger barn swallows that hadn’t been there previously.

I even spotted an old friend, one I hadn’t seen at Theler for several years, this Green Heron.

I found Theler in 2005 while in search of my first Green Heron. A fellow birder told me it was the one place he could count on seeing a Green Heron. I didn’t see one for quite a while, but I fell in love with Theler’s quiet beauty and have returned regularly since, as revealed in 207 posts. Ironically, the Green Herons have disappeared since the dike was breached several years ago.

Even on a slow day and roses have faded into distant memory, there’s always beauty to be found if you’re open to seeing it.

Loren Ain’t No Stick-in-the-Mud

The worst part of going to places like Bear River is that it's a let down when you go birding the next time. With a dental appointment in Vancouver, we made our traditional stop at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Though it can be a great stop during Spring and Fall migration, it is as slow in the summer as the Puget Sound area.

Judging by this trip, it was even slower. The only bird I managed a shot of was this Great Blue Heron scratching itself.

With few birds in sight, I had to shift my focus to Painted Turtles

and Bullfrogs,

though I’ll have to admit I was actually excited over these sightings.

No use being a stick-in-the-mud because your vacation is over.

An Odd Duck

This is obviously a male Northern Shoveler,

but I’ve never seen one that looks like this before. Somebody, or something, has really managed to ruffle its feathers. The head lacks the green sheen I’d expect to see, particularly in such bright light. If it weren’t for the bill I might have had a hard time identifying it at all. I’m guessing this must be transitioning from its Eclipse Plumage to its breeding plumage.

Grebes Feeding Chicks

Although I originally went to Bear River Migratory Refuge to get shots of Avocet chicks, I now look forward to seeing Grebe chicks as much as seeing Avocet chicks. Although we managed to see grebes with chicks, we saw far fewer than we did either time we visited last year. Nevertheless, watching the parents carry the chicks and feed them was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Generally it seems that one parent will bring food back to the parent carrying the chicks, but as I was photographing this family the parent with the chick caught something and proceeded to feed it to the chicks.

As the parent held it in its beak both chicks seemed interested in it,

but one chick definitely seemed hungrier than the other one

and kept its eyes on the prize.

It wasn’t until I was at the computer that I noticed it seemed like both of the chicks may have been actually eating whatever the parent at caught.

The more I observed the grebes feeding chicks the more I wondered how a parent decided which chick to feed. Some chicks seemed larger than their siblings and seemed to eat more of the food. I never saw a parent actually turning and feeding a particular chick; they just seemed to hold the food out in front of them and the chicks tried to eat it.