Birding the Washington Coast

Wednesday’s trip to the coast started off rather inauspiciously, just as my trip two weeks earlier had done. The skies were clear when I left Tacoma, but by the time I reached Elma I had a hard time seeing the road because the fog was so thick. Occasional patches of sunshine, however, gave me hope that it might actually be clear when I reached Bottle Beach.

It wasn’t to be, at least not at first. The fog was so thick when I first got there that I had a hard time seeing the water at all. Just how thick it was became clear when I heard a flock of Canada Geese at 8:45 and turned to take a quick shot:

Geese in Fog

Surprisingly, the picture wasn’t blurry, probably because it was a uniform gray and I was panning desperately as they passed just above my head. The picture is actually a tad grayer than it seemed to my eyes, but I was really surprised that I got a picture at all.

Luckily, the fog was burning off rapidly by then, and this shot of a flock of Godwits landing taken at 8:50 was clearer,

Flock of Godwits in light fog

though it still lacked color.

I ended up trashing nearly all the pictures I took the first hour because the exposure caused graininess, but by 9:32 when I took this shot of another small flight of Canada Geese

Canda Geese in Flight

the lighting was nearly ideal. coming directly over my shoulder onto the birds lining the shore.

All I had to worry about by then was blowing out the highlights in the white feathers:

Least Sandpiper

I’ve certainly seen more birds and rarer birds, but it was a great day, perhaps because birding has been so slow around here lately.

6 thoughts on “Birding the Washington Coast”

  1. Actually Loren, I like that first shot of the geese in the fog very much. It seems a marvellous coast. Often when I have read your post I get the map out and look again at where you live – it always seems the perfect place for birding.

    1. I was quite surprised when I looked at the photos on my computer. I had other shots of birds I took that I quickly discarded, but there’s something striking about this one.

  2. How can they go barreling through the fog when they can’t see anything? How do they even know “up” from “down?” Yes, the shot is striking, unexpected, unusual — and paired with the next-to-last shot of geese in the clear blue sky just minutes later, makes it all quite marvelous.

    1. With all that honking going on — the only way I knew they were there — perhaps they were using some form of sonar, Mary.

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