Birding After Cabin Fever

After being cooped up in the house for nearly 5 days straight, you can be sure I got out of the house the first sunny day we had and headed for Theler wetlands and Port Orchard. In fact, I was surprised how few people I saw there as I thought everyone would be as anxious to get out of the house as I was.

I didn’t travel very far before I encountered this great blue Heron quietly guarding our pond,

Great Blue Heron

and I didn’t have to walk too much further before this unidentified gull decided to accompany me on my walk. Normally I don’t take pictures of gulls, but since this one insisted on hovering nearby in the breeze I made an exception.


It seemed to want its picture taken, and it is, as John has noted, a good way to practice getting pictures of birds in flight.

Despite the joy I felt in getting out into the sunshine again, birding seemed quite slow. I worried what had happened to all the songbirds I’d seen the week before. In fact, I’d nearly quit birding when I happened to sight this little guy flashing from branch to branch.

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

I don’t think I’ve ever managed to get a picture of a Golden-Crowned Kinglet before, though I have pursued a close cousin, the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, many times. At 3 3/4 inches long its survival depends on being quick, and it is, flitting about through the underbrush. It took me nearly fifteen minutes to get one semi-sharp shot. Looking at its silhouette it’s obviously a kinglet, but I was so focused on the white eyebrow and bright yellow colors that I didn’t see that until a few minutes ago.

Last Week’s Snow Storm

We are back to our normal Pacific Northwest winter weather this week, which means lots of rain with both highs and lows in the 40s. So, I wasn’t surprised our earlier week of sunshine was followed by a major snowstorm. This far north, sunny weather in the winter brings cold temperatures, and when you combine cold temperatures with moisture you get snow, lots of it.


Fortunately, our snow here in the Pacific Northwest is usually in the mountains. I like to visit the snow on the mountains; I like to snowshoe and cross-country ski. I’m not fond of snow in my driveway. Snow is so rare here, though, I’ll have to admit I still get a little excited when it first begins to snow. It was no different this time. We had a great time snowshoeing in Point Defiance Park the first day.

Although the rats have deterred me from feeding birds regularly, I hung out feeders and sprinkled seed on top of the snow and even on the top of our patio table. This Golden-Crowned Sparrow seemed perfectly willing to have its picture taken through the patio window in exchange for some seed.

Gold-Crowned Sparrow

Spotted towhee’s aggressively chase away smaller birds, but they never come as close to the house as the LBJ’s they intimidate. With no leaves to shuffle through, this towhee would run out in the middle of the yard, grab a few seeds, and rush back to cover under the shrubs.


As usual, our snow was followed by rain. This time however, the rain fell as sleet and coated snow-covered branches with ice.

Ice on Branch

Although it seemed quite beautiful at first, it wasn’t a good combination. We were lucky and only lost a few branches off our large fir tree. However, thousands of people lost power for up to four days, and shelters were set up so people could stay warm. The damage in Point Defiance Park was considerable, with probably half of the park closed for two or three days for cleanup.

The animals had it much worse than we did. I’ve never seen this small herd of deer forage so boldly in the middle of the day.

Neighborhood Deer

I’ve Fallen Behind And …

I can’t get caught up. I used to consider In A Dark Time my personal journal and took pride in keeping my reader informed of my daily activities. I would comment on a poem on the day I had read it and post pictures the day I had taken them. Often times I would comment on a current article in a magazine and offer a direct link. Occasionally, I would comment on another blogger’s entry the same day he/she had made that entry.

For better or worse, that’s no longer true. I simply can’t keep up the pace I set earlier. Most of the time now, my pictures appear here 3 to 7 days after I’ve taken them. When I discuss a snowstorm, it’s probably one that has long since disappeared.

I don’t really know when I originally fell behind but I do know some of the reasons why it happened. First, after reading some reports on the Internet, I decided it might not be the wisest thing to tell people when I was out of town, particularly since I’ve never tried to maintain any kind of anonymity. Loren Webster is really my name; I really do live in Tacoma; I really do all those things I tell you about. My phone number and address are readily available to anyone who wants to find it.

Recently I’ve taken longer birding trips and though I take my laptop with me on those trips it’s often inconvenient to edit and post photos and copy when I’d rather be out birding. In addition, those trips often produce more shots than I’m willing to put on one post. In fact, a whole day of shooting may provide 4 to 5 days of pictures.

Although poetry remains my first love, lately I seem to have focused more on novels and nonfiction works. While I was relatively easy to pick out a poem I particularly liked or one that seemed particularly significant and comment on it while reading the work, it’s much harder to discern significant ideas and comment on them while reading a longer book. Consequently, I often don’t start commenting on a book until a week or so after I finished reading it.

Strangely enough, even though I think I’ve improved as a photographer, it takes longer for me to decide which photos to use and how much work I wanted to do to refine them. I look back at some of the early photos I posted and know that I would simply erase them today. Better camera equipment and new insights make it harder to decide which photographs to use. Occasionally, the artist in me wants to transform snapshots into photographs that will grab the reader’s attention.

Blogging for ten years makes it harder to get enthused about posting every day — that, and a natural tendency to procrastinate.

A Frosty Morn

My friend Mike recently cut back to working half-time, so we’ve started walking together. The first time we walked he introduced me to a new area near Auburn. The second time I thought I would take him to Theler wetlands in Belfair.

I’m pretty sure if we hadn’t planned ahead I would’ve stayed home because it was quite cold. As it turns out, I would’ve missed a great trip if I hadn’t gone.

The heavy fog had coated the plants in hoarfrost, transforming their ordinary beauty into extraordinary beauty.

rimed blackberry leaves

Mike thought that term wasn’t appropriate to describe the beauty we were seeing, so by the time I took this picture of a fern coated with ice crystals we had decided that the older term “rime” was much more appropriate.

Rime coated fern

I doubt that this great blue Heron considered the frost on its feathers as deserving of that term.

Great Blue Heron with Frosted Feathers

I know if I’d spent the night out in that cold and ice had formed on my coat, “hoarfrost” would have been the nicest words I would have had in mind.

Although the birding wasn’t great, as usual with fog we got closer to many birds than you normally could. Without the fog, this Towhee would have hopped into the underbrush long before I could get this close:

Spotted Towhee

The downside is that the fog’s gray cast makes it hard to appreciate its brilliant colors.