Fogged Out

I should have known better than to try to take a last minute trip to the beach Friday. I had missed a package from Apple the day before and had to wait to go to the beach until it was delivered Friday, making it impossible to plan the day. Still, I wasn’t going to sit home all day on an 80℉ day.

Despite my late start, it was beautiful when I stopped at The Chehalis Wildlife Area around noon, though birds were scarce. It was well worth the drive simply to soak in the sunshine and see the numerous cow lilies (I always thought they were water lilies, but Google seemed to imply otherwise) in all their brilliance:

Cow Lily

It was still sunny when I reached Raymond on the coast. I generally detest Scotchbroom’s invasive tendencies, but looking at this variety I can see why people wanted it in their yards:

Scotch Broom

Further up the road, the first native roses suggested Summer is nigh at hand:

Native Rose

Unfortunately, high tide wasn’t until 6:30 PM and when I stopped for lunch/dinner at 3:30 at Westport, the fog was beginning to stream in. By 4:30 when I arrived at Bottle Beach, I was wondering if I was going to get any pictures at all.

I felt lucky to get much closer to these four Short-Billed Dowitchers than I had the previous time I saw them, and through the magic of Aperture and Photoshop I was able to pull most of the color out of some of the RAW photos I shot:

Short-Billed Dowitchers

The reality is, though, that this shot

Short-Billed Dowitchers

more accurately conveys what I saw while taking pictures, even though the fog varied from moment to moment.

People, including me, used to say that cameras were a poor imitation of the human eye, but top level digital cameras now have the ability to see more accurately than the human eye, at least when augmented with superior software.

Mima Mounds

I’ve been told several times that Mima Mounds near Chehalis is a spectacular area, good for bees, butterflies, and birds. I visited last fall and didn’t find that to be true but was told that the best time to visit is late Spring, or early Summer.

So I decided that today was a good day to drive down there. The most impressive sight was whole fields of Camas Lily, a plant I’ve rarely seen despite all the hiking I’ve done here in the Pacific Northwest.

Field Of Camas Lilly

In fact, there were so many that it was difficult to isolate a single flower.

Camas Lily

Unfortunately, there were few other flowers and even those were quite small and hard to find like this purple flower, shown larger than life size.

purple flower

I thought I must have missed some birds but another couple told me that all they’d seen were Savannah Sparrows, like this one who kept his distance no matter how patient I was.

Savannah Sparrow

I did see a considerable number of butterflies, but they were all a small, rather undistinguished one that made up for it’s lack of size with its flittiness, which probably explains why I never managed to get a single decent shot of one.

Perhaps I’m just mistiming my visits, but it’s unlikely I’ll return next year. It’s just too long of a drive for such unpredictable results.

A Few Roses and Much More

Today’s forecast called for rain and the dark, looming clouds seemed to indicate it was spot on, but it never rained. Mid-afternoon I decided to go to Pt. Defiance Park and see what was in bloom.

There were only three roses in bloom, but I couldn’t resist taking pictures of two of the three, this orange beauty

Orange Rose

and a classic pink rose.

Pink Rose

Summer’s obviously not here yet, but the gardens were still delightful, with rhododendrons still dominating the landscape as they always do in Spring here.

It’s time to visit the Iris Garden if you want to see them this year. Almost all were in bloom, and several have already faded in the weekend’s heat. Though not as flashy as the regular Iris, my favorite is still the Siberian Iris, with their delicate blossom.

Purple Siberian Iris

The park’s Cala Lily are month’s ahead of mine, and they, too, are in full bloom.

Cala Lily

If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, the parks gardeners were busy planting annuals for immediate color as I left.

Three Birds

Although birding wasn’t spectacular Sunday and I didn’t see anything new, or even the songbirds that I’d hoped to see, I did manage to get my first duckling picture of ’09, a picture of a Mallard with one of her twelve ducklings:

Mallard with Duckling

I would have had to had a really wide angle lens to get her and all of her ducklings at the same time.

As I noted before, it finally turned sunny when we’d almost finished our walk, just in time to get a picture of this male Goldfinch,

male Goldfinch

a much better shot than I’ve managed to get of the many that have been visiting my feeder recently.

Of course, I also walked out on the pier to watch the swallows, my favorite reason to go to Belfair this time of year. It’s the only place I know where you can almost touch them if you’re patient enough,

Barn Swallow

and if there’s anything I’ve learned from birding the last five years it is patience.