Love is In the Air

In an earlier entry I showed the interaction between a male Hooded Merganser with a mate and a one without a mate. On my last visit to Port Orchard I spend over a half hour watching a slightly different interaction: one between two males and an unattached female.

Single males often gather together in small flocks and these two males were obviously hanging out just waiting for a gal to float by.


It was obvious when they spotted a potential mate.


Although they swam right by her, she didn’t even seem to acknowledge their presence,


which seemed to lead to a short discussion between the two males, though I couldn’t quite hear what they were saying.


The males weren’t about to give up, though the female seemed more interested in a good meal, even if she had to catch it herself, than flirting with two bachelors.


Each time they circled the female, the males became more demonstrative.


I really have to learn to speak “Duck.”

At the Crack of Dawn

I’m definitely not a morning person, but with our long winter days here in the Pacific Northwest I get up in the dark more often than not lately. Occasionally I even manage to get to a birding area before the sun. The last time I was at Theler Wetlands the sun had barely broken the horizon by the time I started my walk, and, as a result, I got some rather unusual shots, like this one of Green-Winged Teal dabbling in the rising tide flats.


The low lighting also created a beautiful reflection of the bridge that spans the main tide flats.


In the low light this Double-Crested Cormorant


looked even more like some prehistoric monster rising out of the deep than usual.

This Great Blue Heron flew out of the darkness straight at me landed a short distance away,


apparently not to give me a good shot of it’s feathery coat but, rather, to catch some of the sun’s warming rays. With temperatures in the high 40’s and low 50’s I wonder if the birds are thinking that summer is just around the corner?

Another Break in the Clouds

If you’ve followed this blog for long, you surely realize I spend most of my time birding at Theler Wetlands and Port Orchard, and, while I’ll have to admit to enjoying be spoiled by longer trips to Malheur, Bear River, and the Sacramento National Wildlife refuges, I still love walking these areas even if I see the same birds year after year. Tiring of them would be like tiring of the sun, which is not to say that I don’t realize many of these shots are redundant, and probably not as good as shots I’ve previously posted.

I’ll have to admit that I’m more tempted to Photoshop pictures of common birds than I am unique shots in an attempt to get readers to see them in a new light. Since I can’t emulate the Red-Wing Blackbirds’s


song in prose, in made sense to me to contrast him with his drab background by manipulating the background.

This Golden-Crowned Sparrow


didn’t need much to make him appear as close as he actually was.

It was easy to make this Great Blue Heron


stand out from his background since he walked ridiculously close to me while stalking his prey, blurring the background on my telephoto lens.

I can’t say the same for this shot of a female Bufflehead


launching herself as I crossed the bridge. A grey bird taking off from a grey pond demanded dramatic intervention with textured backgrounds which will have to suffice until I can finish setting up my den to do encaustic. Strangely enough, this drab little shot became my favorite shot of the day.

Birding Port Townsend

We always follow our visit to Ft Flagler with lunch in Port Townsend and a stop at a couple of galleries, and that’s about as long as I can last shopping. With several hours left before we’d be ready to eat dinner, we decided to hit a couple of birding spots others had told us about. We didn’t see much but these two Red-Necked Grebes in winter plumage


at our first stop, a bird I seldom see on the south end of Puget Sound.

We stopped at the Port Townsend Marine Center without seeing much and were heading back to the car when another observer pointed out a family of River Otters swimming right below us.


We must have spent a half hour watching them frolic.

I’m assuming from its size that this otter, which kept returning to the deck and gnawing on something must have been a yearling.


I happened to mention to the gentlemen who pointed out the otter that we’d come to see Harlequin Ducks but hadn’t had much luck at Ft. Flagler. When he told us that they were often seen a few yards from where we’d been shopping earlier in the day, I had to return and see if that was true.

As it turned out I mostly saw Brant


where he’d said we could find Harlequins, but I finally spotted a small flock a little closer than I’d seen them at Flagler.

I liked this shot of three males being harassed by a young gull


because it reminded me they are one of the smaller ducks we see regularly, something I tend to forget while looking through a 400mm lens.