Whimbrel Watching

The highlight of my recent trip to the ocean was the large number of Whimbrels I saw at Bottle Beach. It’s not really unusual to see Whimbrels. I’ve gotten pictures of them before, but always at a distance. This time didn’t start any different from before; I got shots of them standing way out as the tide came in.


For some reason, though, a few of them starting coming closer and I was able to get some good shots of isolated Whimbrels.


The fun started when I was following one and noticed it had found something like a huge worm in the sand.


As soon as it found it another whimbrel rushed over and started pecking at the same spot, while the original finder took off running down the beach, apparently knowing that others would soon give chase.


As I sat there taking pictures, I soon discovered that it wasn’t only food they were fighting over. Several Whimbrels appeared to be playing king-of-the-mountain.


chasing one another off rocky outcroppings.


Although I didn’t manage to get shots of any Whimbrels in flight, I got some “action” shots, and I couldn’t have asked for more than that.

At the Beach Again

My second trip to the beach in the last few weeks was quite different from the first. In fact, it was almost diametrically opposite. To begin with, I went to Westport/Long Beach first because the high tide was earlier than the week before, around 1 PM.

Arriving long before I high tide, I went to Westport where the Brown Pelicans were in full flight, and I spent considerable time taking pictures of them. This one’s breeding colors were beginning to fade,

adult Brown Pelican

while this appeared to be a first-year juvenile.

juvenile Pelican

I was so fascinated with the pelicans that I almost forgot to leave to arrive at Bottle Beach two hours before high tide.

What I did arrive the Black-Bellied Plovers were already there, though quite aways off shore.

Black-Bellied Plovers

Knowing I had a long time to wait before the other shorebirds would arrive, I focused on taking pictures of them. This shot of one resting on a small “island” was probably my favorite of the shoot,

Black-Bellied Plover

though I certainly wish it had been in its breeding, not its wintering colors.

It wasn’t too long before small flocks of dowitchers began to land around me

flock of Dowitchers Landing

and I changed my focus to trying to get close-ups of them feeding.


Despite the fog, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of birds that showed up, particularly since I had been “skunked” on my previous visit to Bottle Beach.

Fall Migration Begins at the Beach

I’m amazed how often I’m reminded of fishing while out birding. As I’ve mentioned earlier, my first experience with nature came when I was taken salmon fishing regularly as a child. That love for the Puget Sound was, over time, translated into a more general love of nature, and birding is just its latest manifestation.

I’ve made two trips to the ocean in the last two weeks, and though weather conditions were very similar the results were almost diametrically opposite from one another. On the first trip to Oyhut Wildlife Refuge Area in Ocean Shores I saw lots of small shorebirds, often referred to as “peeps.”

There were a lot of Western Sandpipers like these, still in breeding colors,

Western Sandpiper

And others like this,

probably a Western Sandpiper

that I first thought was a Baird’s Sandpiper, which is less common here. After checking several sources, though, I decided it was more likely a juvenile Western Sandpiper. It’s a good thing I’m more concerned with the beauty of the birds I shoot than with their identification. I often don’t have a clue what they are until I get home and put them up on the computer screen.

There were also smaller flocks of Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpiper

The only other unusual birds (not gulls) I saw were these Caspian Terns.

Caspian Terns

It’s a good thing the birding was good in the morning because the latter part of the trip turned out to be a dud. I saw a few Pelicans at Westport, but there were hardly any birds at Bottle Beach and the few that were there didn’t come very close to shore. Basically, I was “skunked” as we used to say when we were salmon fishing and didn’t catch any salmon.

A Visitor on My Day Off

Even when you’re retired you can’t spend every day out birding.

On days like that, it’s nice when nature comes to you. I haven’t managed to get a hummingbird picture as good as those I’ve shot in the past, but I was really happy with this shot of a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

visiting our crocosmia.