Learning To See

It seems a little strange to say that I’m learning “to see” at my age, but in terms of bird watching that’s precisely what I’m trying to do.

If you’re like me, you have birdwatching friends who seem to magically see birds where none exist. Unfortunately, I’m not naturally one of those people.

But I’m trying to become one. Two of my best pictures on my trip to Nisqually last Friday were taken after I’d stopped and paused, listening for bird sounds that might clue me in to nearby birds. I hadn’t paused very long before I heard a tapping noise right over my head.

The first time I got a picture of this small Downy Woodpecker:

or, at least what I’m calling a Downy Woodpecker until one of my more informed visitors tells me otherwise. Sometimes it seems even harder to find a match in the guidebooks for what you’ve seen than it was to see the bird in the first place.

Not more than twenty minutes later I repeated the above scenario, this time resulting in my favorite picture of the day, a Red Shafted Flicker:

I had spotted several of these on previous walks at Pt. Defiance but had never been able to get a decent picture of one.

Judging from last night’s bust at the nature center, though, I’m a long ways from becoming one of those gifted birdwatchers who can make birds appear on command. Despite lots of bird calls, the only birds I saw were some ducks who headed right for us when we crossed the bridge. For some reason, hard-to-see birds are more appealing than those who pursue you to get handouts.