Birding Fort Worden

After browsing a few art stores and indulging in another delightful lunch at The Fountain Cafe, we headed to Fort Worden. We were greeted by the Belted Kingfisher on it accustomed railing who allowed a few shots before he flew away in a huff.

I suspect it is the Kingfisher that inevitably draws me back to this place because it’s one of the few places where I can count on seeing one close-up.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that at times I spot other birds here that I hardly ever see anywhere else, like this Red-Necked Grebe in winter plumage

and the even-lesser-seen Rhinoceros Auklet.

To cap the day off, we stopped at Edensaw Woods on the way out-of-town and rekindled my lust for some quality wood-working tools.

Fort Flagler’s Harlequin Ducks

I enjoy all the birds I see at Ft. Flagler, but I really go to see the Harlequin ducks. After seeing a Bald Eagle on the beach and a Dunlin skittering back and forth, I was worried I wasn’t going to see a Harlequin. We were at the end of the spit before I sighted a small flock of Harlequins offshore. I knew they were happy to see me, though, when one of the males rose out of the water to greet me.

I wondered if they were so far offshore because the Bald Eagle was on the beach or if they were simply resting after breakfast. They only seemed interested in preening and resting.

Though we stalked them for quite a while, they never came very close to shore, so I decided to head to the other side of the spit by the boat launch where I often see them closer to shore. As it turned out they were right next to the shore and I spooked them when I appeared suddenly above them.

Some immediately dove out of sight, but these three just swam away while keeping an eye on me.

It was a very special moment, an early Christmas present.

Birding Fort Flagler

I couldn’t resist spending a day at Port Townsend during this beautiful stretch of weather no matter how guilty I felt. After all, there will be plenty of rainy days coming up when I can finish all those chores I’ve been putting off for years. Christmas cookies are a mixed blessing, anyway.

Luckily, we were rewarded for indulging ourselves. Birding was good, and the sun made for near perfect photographic conditions. These Pelagic Cormorants

were exactly where they were supposed to be.

Attracted by a dead harbor seal, this Bald Eagle

refused to leave, standing its ground as we gave it a wide berth.

It took me a while to identify this lone shorebird as a Dunlin

in winter plumage. Its breeding plumage is so distinctive that I’ve always tended to ignore its other characteristics.

There’s no mistaking a Brant for anything else when seen at this range.

Port Orchard Hooded Mergansers

After a few beautiful hours at Theler Wetlands, I headed for the Port Orchard marina to try to get some shots of the seabirds. With brilliant-blue skies overhead, I had high hopes. Unfortunately, it was much windier at Port Orchard than it was at Theler. Even if there had been birds outside the marina I couldn’t have gotten a picture because the waves were so high.

Heck, these Hooded Mergansers were in a protected area of the marina and there was still waves. This guy seemed to be putting on a show for the ladies (and me)

in this sequence,

but the winds were so strong that the males could only display their hood facing into the wind. It’s hard to look your best when the wind flattens your hairdo.

To make matters worse, it was really cold with the wind-chill factor, sun or no sun. No wonder the birds I saw there last week were hunkered down somewhere waiting for the winds to die down and the fog to move back in.