Harlequins at Ft Flagler

Since last Saturday’s weather was predicted to be even better than Friday’s delightful day, I was determined not to waste the day working in the yard, no matter how badly the lawn needed mowing or the flower beds needed weeding. No, we were going to Ft. Flagler and Port Townsend to revel in the sunshine. Besides, before long the Harlequin ducks will be heading to their breeding grounds, unless it is in the Olympics or Cascades where once again we are having heavier than usual Spring snow.

When I arrived at Ft Flagler I was worried that the considerable number of campers who had also decided to take advantage of the sunshine might have scared them off. The further I walked down the beach without seeing them, the more worried I became, needlessly it seems because they hadn’t left

flock of Harlequin ducks

but had merely gone to the point, the furthest point away from the campers.

Unfortunately, it was cloudy while we were there ( the sun didn’t reveal itself until we reached Port Townsend), but the magic of Aperture and the new Photoshop CS6 tryout comes close to reproducing their colors

male Harlequin

if not the feathers.

Once again, it seemed possible to get closer to the birds than when it’s sunny, and getting closer helps to compensate for the lack of light. I seldom can get as close to the flock as I did Saturday.

They did swim away, but not very fast and not very far away, either.

male and female Harlequins

It was a longer walk than I had anticipated, but it’s hard to complain when you can get the pictures you want and the exercise you need.

Ironically, just before we left I drove to another good birding spot, and there was a smaller flock of Harlequins right next to the spot where I parked.

male Harlequins

I could have gotten all the pictures I wanted while barely leaving the car, but what would have been the fun in that?

Grebe Transformation

After Friday’s trip to Belfair I went to Port Orchard to see what was there since I hadn’t been there for nearly a month. Specifically, I wondered if the Horned Grebes would be in breeding colors now since this is about the time of year they change colors.

The first one I saw at the foot of the entrance looked exactly like the ones I had taken pictures of in February.

Horned Grebe in non-breeding colors

I didn’t have to look too hard, though, to find others that were definitely beginning to change colors, like this one


that had not yet developed the “horn” that gives the species its name.

In fact, a lot of them looked downright mangy, like this one,

Horned Grebe changing colors

something I can identify with it since I’m in the process of letting my hair grow out again.

This was the closest I saw to one in full breeding colors,

Horned Grebe near breeding colors

but it’s obvious it is going to be at least another week or two before most of them are in full breeding colors.

A Sunny Day at Belfair

Thursday afternoon’s outing was followed by an even more impressive Friday outing at Belfair. It was a beautiful day, made even better by joining up with John and Peter. Birding certainly wasn’t spectacular, but I enjoyed seeing birds I haven’t seen for a while, like this Yellowlegs.


The sunshine made it possible to capture birds in flight, making shots of mallards almost seems special,

Mallard Flyby

not to mention shots of this Great Blue Heron’s buzzing us.

Great Blue Heron flying

The shot of the day, though, was definitely this shot of a Red-Throated Loon.

Red-Throated Loon

Originally I thought it was a “first,” but it turns out I had gotten a distant shot of one in 2008. Neither John nor I had ever seen one at Belfair before, though, and it was definitely a thrill getting as close as we did.

I ended my visit by taking a quick tour through the master garden behind the visitor center. I thought this crocus pretty well symbolized the beauty of the day.


The Squeaky Wheel

In the middle of my recent rant about our constant rain, sunshine suddenly returned. Although the forecast called for rain, I spent a delightful Thursday afternoon at Owen’s beach and Titlow Park. Blue skies prevailed.

Canada Goose

As I walked from the boathouse to Owens Beach, I spotted this River Otter.

River Otter in Puget Sound

Though I tried to get better shots, he seemed intent on his destination and wasn’t about to be distracted by a little sunshine or a photographer.

Even the crows seemed intent on absorbing the sun’s rays.


After I walked to Owens Beach from the boathouse, I drove the five-mile loop and noticed a Varied Thrush beside the road.

Varied Thrush

Was this the same thrush that visited my feeder regularly the last month, or is this simply The Year of the Varied Thrush?

I walked another mile or so at the point where I heard Bald Eagles and Pileated Woodpeckers several times but only managed to get a picture of an inquisitive chipmunk.


Normally that would have been more than enough of a walk for me and I would’ve driven home, but since it was still SUNNY I decided to go walk at Titlow, too, where I managed to get a couple of pictures of another favorite, a Belted Kingfisher.

Belted Kingfisher

For once, it seemed too distracted by its recent catch to laugh at me and fly off.

In fact, it was downright accommodating, actually flying closer after it finishing its meal.

Belted Kingfisher

I would have liked to think that he enjoyed posing in the sunshine, but he was probably getting ready to catch another meal.

Somehow it seemed that the plum trees along the trail were heralding Spring


plum blossons

I just hope it’s not another false Spring, especially since today’s forecast calls for rain the rest of the week.