Summer Doldrums

It wasn’t a particularly good week for birding or photography around here. With clouds and rain in the forecast, it didn’t seem worthwhile to drive to the mountains or the coast, so I stuck around home and went birding. Friday’s walk at Belfair ended without a single bird shot, and Wednesday’s ten mile hike at Nisqually was only slightly better.

Perhaps that is to be expected, though, because looking back at last year’s blog entries I see that there was also a general lack of birds at this time. Birding-wise, I guess you’d have to call this the summer doldrums.

In other words, things are exactly as they should be here in the Pacific Northwest and there’s no reason to do anything but enjoy the way they are.

I did enjoy watching these Bush Tits feeding on insects in the long grass but wasn’t quite up to the challenge of getting a clear shot of these flighty guys other than this one.

Bush Tits Upside Down on Grass

I did manage to get this Yellow Warbler to pose for a shot

Female Yellow Warbler

and to capture a shot of what seems to be an immature Thayer’s Gull flying by for a look,

Immature Thayer's Gull

but was too slow to capture what would have certainly been the best shot of the day, the raptor who flew right at me at eye level three times as I walked the McCallister side of the Nisqually refuge. Unfortunately, it flew at me so fast that I couldn’t even identify it, much less get a shot.

While looking back at last year’s blog entries, I was reminded that the dahlias should be a their best about now, so I’ll head down there Tuesday or so when everyone else heads back to work. At least flowers tend to be dependable when it comes to photography this time of year. And all our rain has made them more beautiful than ever.

Thomas’ “The Bright Field”

Although my favorite poem from the volumes The Way of It and Frequencies is a poem about God called “The White Tiger,” I thought it past time to focus on Thomas’ nature poems, though I suspect God is implied in those poems, too.

I’ll let you be the judge of that, though.


I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receeding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Perhaps there’s merely something about old age that makes some of us finally stop “hurrying/on to a receeding future” and take the time to see what’s in front of us. Even though my summers off as a teacher gave me more time to enjoy nature than most people ever have, I’m sure even then I used to rush past such simple beauty . Now that I no longer have to work or have a future to worry about, I spend much more time looking at those small, bright fields.

I suppose you could tell that by the number of wildflowers, butterflies, and birds I’ve photographed since retiring. Amazingly, the closer I look the more miraculous that field seems to me.

It doesn’t hurt to read poems like this that remind me what’s important.

Paying Attention

I’m pleasantly surprised how my recent interest in birds has enriched my life, though I suspect it’s the increased awareness promoted by birding that’s the real source of this new power.

As noted yesterday, I’ve visited Seal Rock repeatedly in my life. But it wasn’t until this visit that I really stopped and looked at the top of the rock.

Seal Rock

When I did, I realized it was ringed with birds, and not just seagulls.

Pelicans and Gulls Galore

Most of the birds were pelicans, a bird I’ve seldom seen while visiting the coast (probably because I haven’t been looking in the past, so it seems).

Once I realized that there were pelicans on the top, it wasn’t long before I got some nice shots of them floating down off the top.


Leslie pointed out that birds seemed to be trying to land on the sides of the rock, and I took a picture of the cormorant on top trying to land. It wasn’t until I brought the shot up on my computer that I noticed the other three cormorants!

Cormorants On Cliff

Oregon Coast

Although I’ve grown fonder of Santa Rosa the more I’ve visited and I’ve always found the Redwoods magical, my love of the Oregon Coast far outweighs either of those places. I’ve been visiting them for forty years and have spent most of my vacations there, not to mention many a weekend. I doubt that there’s a beach on the coast that I haven’t visited at one time or another.

Although the heavy rain in the winter long ago convinced me that I’d rather visit there than live there, I cannot imagine a place I’d rather be on a sunny day, spring, summer, or winter, day or night.

I’ve just recently discovered the southern Oregon coast, where the high cliffs offer gorgeous views:

Twilight At The Beach

My favorite place on the beach, though, is Seal Rock, just out of Newport:

Sea lRock

It’s never enough to see it from a distance, though. I have to experience the pounding of the surf against the rocky outcroppings close up for the full experience.

Waves Pounding the Rocks