A Trip to Mt. Rainier

Thank goodness Rick and Jan asked us to go with them to Mt. Rainier last Sunday, just before my trip to Vancouver to have a tooth pulled in preparation for a dental implant. As it turned out, it’s been a bit of a rough week. The dentist didn’t want me to work out on Tuesday, and I didn’t feel like working out until today. Except for celebrating Rich’s birthday with a full Thai dinner, I ended up not getting much done the whole week.

Luckily I had shots of Mt. Rainier to play around with while wasting time. I shot them in HDR so I had to spend extra time processing them. Even with the mountain towering in the background, I was quite impressed by the snow-covered trees,


though it was hard to separate the trees from the forest.


In all my years of cross-country skiing I don’t think I’ve ever seen more snow on the trees,


probably because they had a major storm the night before and the sun hadn’t had a chance to melt the snow off the limbs and the wind hadn’t had time to do its work, either.

The mountain played peek-a-boo with us much of the day, ducking behind the clouds whenever we got to a good viewpoint,


but our patience was rewarded by this pristine view of the mountain covered by several feet of fresh snow.


Birding Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

I made my semi-annual dentist visit to Vancouver last Wednesday. As usual, I left a little after 6:00 AM so I could stop at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge before having lunch with a group of retired school teachers.

Since I only visit there two or three times per year, I never quite know what to expect, though I wasn’t surprised to find the male Red-Winged Blackbirds


were in full song, though I didn’t spot too many females.

I was pleasantly surprised to see several Ring-Necked Ducks, including this female,


since I seldom see them in places where I commonly bird.

I even enjoyed seeing birds that I commonly see, like this Canada Goose in the foreground


and the Northern Pintail in the background in new settings.


I suspect the Pintails were less shy than usual because the Canada Goose alerted them to my presence but didn’t bolt.

Not unexpectedly, this male Hooded Merganser


came drifting out of the shadows on the far side of the refuge.

A good start to a long day. I wish the day had ended with a delightful reunion at lunch, but unfortunately I was later told by my dentist that the tooth she had tried to save the year before had split and was abscessed and needed to be pulled. Then I had to decide if I wanted a bridge or an implant; tough decision since I didn’t want either. I knew I wanted the tooth out as soon as possible, though. So I had it pulled yesterday. I decided to go with the implant, which takes nearly 9 months to complete but is supposed to be superior to the bridge (or, at the very least, more expensive).

More Hooded Merganser Shots

When you only get out once a week to photograph, you’re pretty much limited to shooting those birds that will cooperate with you. This year, it seems to be the Hooded Mergansers who want their picture taken — and I’m more than happy to accommodate them because they’ve always struck me, particularly the male, as one of the most photogenic of the ducks.

Though I saw several birds at Port Orchard last Monday, this male Hooded Merganser put on the best show. He first caught my attention by lifting up in the water and flapping his wings,


I suspect to adjust his feathers since he had just finished preening.

After a few minutes of wing flapping,


he burst into the air and appeared to fly away,


though he apparently was simply circling back because he was swimming right next to the walkway


as I started up the walkway to the parking lot.

I’m beginning to wonder if this will be the “Year of the Hooded Merganser” as it seems nearly every year that one particular bird catches my attention, no matter where I travel to.


With forecasts of rain and Thunderstorms for the next ten days you better believe I took advantage of Mondays break in the clouds. In fact, the bright blue skies accompanied up to the point where I parked my car by the Salmon Center.

The fog didn’t even begin to lift until I reached the half-way point where the fog started to dissipate and sunlight highlighted the ridge line.


I must admit, though, that I enjoy walking in the fog, particularly near Puget Sound; it brings a meditative silence to the walk,


even if it cloaks the Green-Winged Teal in shades of gray.


Although the fog made it difficult to see many birds, it seemed to accentuate the songs of the male Red-Winged Blackbirds and my first Marsh Wren


of the season.