It took me an hour and a half to get my first bird picture at the Chehalis Wildlife Area, and I was beginning to feel like I’d wasted my day. After considerable walking, however, I noticed a pair of birds rising high into the air and then diving wildly, pulling up just before hitting the water. I was sure this was a bird I’d never photographed before because I’d never observed that unusual way of diving.
Needless to say, I was shocked when I finally managed to get a picture of one of them sitting on a branch overlooking the water.
Nothing in my experience with Cedar Waxwinga would have suggested that they would be here chasing insects. Online research revealed that they do feed on insects, not just on fruit as I’d previously thought.
Once I’d gotten my first shot, it wasn’t long before I encountered several more birds, including this friendly little Black-Capped Chickadee that flew from one side of the road to the other, apparently in an effort to help me get the perfect exposure.
Then in the distance I saw three ducks scatter as I focused on them, certain that they must be wood ducks, one of the few ducks that runs across the water rather than bursting immediately into flight when spooked.
I even managed to get a couple of shots of Dragonflies, like this Darner.
Suddenly everything seemed to fit in place, and as I looked up at the sky I couldn’t imagine being anywhere but where I was.
From Mima Mounds I drove the back way to the Chehalis Wildlife Area, another area covered in my birding book. My first impression was anything but positive, as I parked a few yards off the highway across from a concrete plant. After walking a quarter mile I was greeted by two bullet-riddled signs. The entrance to the park was littered with plastic pop bottles, styrofoam cups, shot shell casings, and an old car seat apparently used as a place to sit while fishing or duck hunting.
To make matters worse, though I heard several birds, I didn’t manage to get a single picture of one for the first hour and a half.
So, naturally, I turned to taking pictures of flowers. I don’t remember ever seeing a daisy quite like this Fleabane Daisy before, though they’re widespread enough that some farmers see them as weeds:
I was also intrigued by this Poison Hemlock, which seemed at first like an unusual variation of the more common Queen Anne’s Lace:
I was equally impressed by this delicate white flower, known as arrowhead, wapato, duck potato, as Mike pointed out.
My favorite flower of the day, though, was this yellow water lily, possibly because it was so inaccessible.