Loren’s Go-To Birding Spot

Theler Wetlands in Belfair continues to be my go-to spot for birding, even if we haven’t gotten there as much as usual and the birding hasn’t been particularly notable, which would explain why I forgot to download these shots taken there recently. I’ve already posted pictures of all these birds repeatedly and none of these shots particularly stand out.

Luckily, having seen a bird in the past doesn’t rob me of the pleasure of seeing them again, especially when it’s the first time I’ve seen them this year.  And this is the first Cedar Waxwing I’ve seen this year, even if it did take some Photoshop magic to reveal its beautiful colors.

Cedar Waxwing

By this time of year, I’ve usually seen hundreds of Tree Swallows, including the ones that have nested in my house in recent years, but this is the first one I’ve captured a shot of this year.  

Tree Swallow

I’ll have to admit that I’ve been a little concerned that I haven’t seen all the Tree Swallows hanging out on the boardwalk that used to make Spring walks there so delightful.

Luckily, there are many Song Sparrows around, so many that I don’t usually try to take their picture, but I’d never seen one resting on a post like this, so I felt compelled to take its picture.

Song Sparrow

The highlight of this visit, though, was the rediscovery of the feisty Marsh Wren whose last year’s nests were all destroyed by high tides.   

Marsh Wren

Though there didn’t seem to be as many birds as usual, it was still delightful to greet ones we haven’t seen for a while.

Pt Defiance Rhododendron Garden

There’s no place I’d rather be this time of year than the Pacific Northwest if for no other reason than it’s Rhododendron season.  The cool, wet weather we’ve been having this Spring seems perfect for Rhododendrons; they last much longer in cool, wet weather.  No wonder the Coast Rhododendron is our State Flower.

While Rhodies look beautiful in neighborhood yards, including ours, they really stand out when seen in a forest setting, their natural habitat. Leslie and I are lucky to live a short walk from the Pt. Defiance Rhododendron Garden and have already visited several times this year.

Red and White Rhododendrons

The native Rhodies are are “pink to rose-purple, and are rarely white,” something like this.

Pink Rhododendron

On the visit where I took my camera, though, the white Rhododendrons, native or not, took center stage

White and Pink Rhododendron

and stood out in the shade of towering fir trees.

Rhododendron

It’s clear that most of the Rhodies in the garden aren’t native, and ones like this bright orange Rhodie with its bell-like shape seem almost exotic.

Orange Rhododendron

I still prefer the pinkish-red Rhodies that thrive in nearby mountains and in my childhood neighborhoods, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate exotic beauty from far-away lands.

Walking Tacoma’s Dunes Trail

More often than not when I walk outside I’m birding and carrying my Canon with a 600 mm lens.  If I don’t expect to see birds, I sometimes leave my camera at home and focus on walking fast and covering more miles.  

On a recent walk on the Dunes Trail I was slowed by the beautiful flowers. Beginning with several Azaleas bordering the parking lot.  

Pink Azalea

Of course, I had to stop, pull out my iPhone and get a closeup of them.

Closeup of Azalea blossoms

The path on the other side of the bridge didn’t have any more azaleas, but it was covered in lupine.

Field of Lupine

And, once again, I had to pause long enough to take a closer look.

Closeup of Lupine

Apparently my Apple Watch didn’t appreciate my stopping to take pictures and repeatedly asked me if I wanted to stop timing my walk.  I ignored it and pushed the dismiss tab so it would at least add the mileage to my total.

I was sure my Fitness app would warn me that my Walking Pace was trending down later, but that didn’t stop me from taking another shot of this beautiful Oregon Iris further along the trail.

Oregon Iris

I’ve been trying to increase my walking pace at the YMCA, including jogging a lap, to get in shape for your upcoming trip to Colorado and a summer hiking on Mt. Rainier, but, outside, I still break for snapshots of Nature’s beauty.  

Once I hit 80, I realized it’s more important to enjoy the moment than it is to prepare for the future. I probably should have realized it much sooner.

 

Back to Theler Wetlands

With the weather still refusing to cooperate, we have been going to the YMCA regularly instead of birding, and there’s not much to photograph at the Y.  I think we’ve only gotten to Theler twice in the past month, and we heard a lot more birds than we saw because the ducks are gone and the songbirds, like this House Finch, have taken up residence.

male House Finch

The highlight of a recent visit was seeing a Bald Eagle attacking and killing a Great Blue Heron by holding it underwater until it drowned. I’ve seen a lot of Bald Eagles harass Great Blue Herons and steal their catch, but this was the first time I’ve ever seen an Eagle actually kill one.

Eagle drowning Great Blue Heron

The event took another turn when two other Bald Eagles came swooping in and attempted to steal the first Eagle’s catch, but he was having none of it.

Eagles sparring over catch

It was a dramatic moment in our visit, but I have to admit that I preferred the moment when this little Bewick Wren confronted us.

Bewick Wren

This Robin wasn’t quite as bold but definitely let us know it was there, too.

Robin on Log

I wasn’t surprised when the seabirds I see in the winter at the Port Orchard Marina were gone and the only shot I got was this one of a Gull eating a small fish.

Glaucous-Winged Gull with fish scrap

I feel like I have to force myself to walk a mile and a half on the track at the YMCA, but I usually walk over three miles when I bird and it never feels like I’m exercising.  Instead, it becomes a walking meditation, an escape from the crazy world we all seem trapped in.