Better Than a Day at the DMV

Birds, particularly new birds, continue to be scarce at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Though frustrating, it allows me to become more familiar with old friends.

The most common birds continue to be crows, starlings, gulls, and Great Blue Herons, probably in that order. Starlings and gulls don’t interest me, and I’m waiting for the long “grey? season around here to try to get some decent crow pictures because invariably all the feather detail is lost in a smudge of black when I shoot them in sunshine. The GBH is certainly the easiest to photograph, the most photogenic,

and I’d like to think my photographs of them are improving. However, I’ve taken so many shots of them by now I’m afraid “better? is a relative word. Still, this shot reminds me of the Tai Chi forms I’ll be practicing in class and perhaps suggests a dynamic awareness I’m trying to cultivate in myself.

While sitting in a photo blind waiting for a new variety of duck that never appeared, I began to realize that Mallard behavior and human behavior may not be that different.

This Mallard drake spent nearly an hour preening himself, puffing up his breast, quaking loudly, and often, and generally showing what a handsome fellow he really was. You see how impressed the females were, right? Perhaps they took some small comfort in knowing their boisterous neighbor would probably draw the fire of any nearby hunters as they went about the business of getting a meal.

The local Belted Kingfisher continued his game of hide-and-seek, too, landing nearby just as I was about to leave. Naturally I had to stop and try to get a better picture of him. While this one is actually further away than last week’s shot, it seems clearer and the kingfisher has more expression:

I suspect he’s razzing me that I’ll never manage to get a decent picture, a point he emphasized by diving into the pond and spearing a fish, most of which took place behind the shrubs while I tried to move to get a better shot.

Some days we just have to satisfy ourselves with the fact that we spent half a day playing outside in the sunshine while others sat inside a dingy DMV office renewing their driver’s license. I’m okay with that.