Who’ll Stop the Rain

Tired of the constant rain the last few weeks, I headed east of the mountains to Wenas near Naches for three days last week. Unfortunately I found out that this year, at least, it’s nearly mpossible to escape the rain in Washington or Oregon. The three days I stayed in Wenas were probably the wettest days I’ve ever camped in. My Gore-Tex boots sprung a leak, my expensive Gore-Tex gaiters leaked, every pair of socks I brought with me were soaked, and those I’d worn the first day didn’t dry out after two days in the car.

I did manage to see and photograph a number of birds I’ve never seen before, but it was so cloudy and so dark that most of the photographs are marginal, at best. In fact, the best pictures of the trip were those of flowers, like this beautiful wild Iris,

Wild Iris

this Lupine,


and these gold flowers that I’ve only seen in Colorado before this weekend.

Gold Flower

Ironically, most of what little sunshine I saw was coming home and driving up the west side of Mt Rainier.

As I followed the river home, I stopped several times to bathe in the pools of light created by the rains higher up on the mountain.

Rushing Streamwater

Luckily, beauty always seems to find a way to shine through.

Who’d Have Guessed?

If you’d asked me before last Tuesday, I would have said that the Northern Shoveler was a very sedate, sociable bird — absolutely mellow. They’re often seen in flocks and quite often mixed in with other ducks. Thus, I didn’t pay too much attention to this pair of Northern Shovelers while I focused on getting pictures of the Red-Necked Phalarope.

pair of Northern Shoveler

However, I heard quite a racket behind me and turned around to see two males

male Northern Shovelers Fighting

going after it. One male left, only to circle and return and the two went after it, again,

male Northern Shovelers Fighting

and again, for nearly a half hour,

male Northern Shovelers Fighting

and perhaps longer because I was off to my next destination.

This display inspired me to look up more info about the Northern Shoveler. The Birds of North America Online states that “this is the most territorial of all North American dabbling ducks, and males remain paired with females longer than in other species, in turn affecting life-history parameters such as the mating system and courtship.” After the display I saw on Tuesday, I’d have to agree. When you know as little as I do, though, it’s easy to learn something new every time you go out bird watching.

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