Great Expectations

I originally headed out to Ocean Shores and Westport to see Loons in breeding colors, Brown Pelicans, and Godwits.  As it turned out, I only saw two Common Loons, 

and neither was in breeding colors.  I wondered if that was merely because of tides or whether the dredging they did earlier in the year drove the loons away.  Nor was there a single Brown Pelican to be seen.

Instead, there were numerous Bufflehead,

and Surf Scoters, 

both which I see regularly in Tacoma.The only unusual bird I saw at Westport was what appeared to be an Eared Grebe in winter plumage.

I drove down to Tokeland in hopes of seeing the Godwits, but all I saw was this Willet. 

Expectations are strange.  They motivate us to break out of our usual ruts and look for new experiences.  When they’re not met, though, they can disappoint and discourage us from trying again. 

Luckily, I have early memories of salmon fishing.  When the salmon weren’t running and we had been “skunked” for the day, Dad always took us closer to shore so we could catch “bottom fish.” 

To this day I prefer bottom fish to salmon, but I’d still prefer to get shots of loons in breeding color and pelicans than Eared Grebes or Willets.


I’ll have to admit since all the-rarely-seen Rock Sandpiper wanted to do was sleep, I was quickly distracted by three Sanderlings that landed nearby and ran back and forth hunting for food as the tide pushed inward.  Even with a still camera, I like action.  

These two seemed to stick together the whole time, 

while the third one stuck to himself, 

and amazed me when it nearly ran over my foot and settled down in a protected part of the jetty feet away from where I was standing.

Apparently I had been standing in one spot so long it considered me just another part of the scenery.  Mission accomplished.

Through Another’s Eyes

Inspired by my previous-day outing at Port Orchard and a forecast of a sunny day at the coast, I set out for Ocean Shores at 6:30 the next morning.  It’s become traditional to start the day at the North Beach Jetty where I can usually spot a small colony of Black Turnstones.  They were easier to find than usual because the high tide forced them into one small area almost on the beach.

They are obviously used to visitors because they walk around, preen,

and nap as if there was nobody else there. 

I mean, I knew it looked lighter than your average Turnstone, but I attributed that to it being immature or to changing from winter plumage.  It didn’t help that I had never heard of a Rock Sandpiper before. 

In retrospect, I realize that serious birders and I see birds rather differently.  When I am looking at a flock, I am trying to figure out what would make the best picture.  When a serious birder is looking at a flock, he is noticing small differences, looking for an unusual specie. 

I, on the other hand, may get distracted by the sight of a common Sanderling landing nearby because I like its reflection in the water.

The Beach Is Calling Me

After an unusually sunny few days, our usual Pacific Northwest Rains have returned and I finally have time to process the many photos that I’ve taken in the last week.  With Leslie gone I’ve managed to get out to take pictures every single day for the last five days; now I just have to find the time to sort and edit them.

On the visit to Port Orchard where I saw the Scaup, I also found the birds I’ve been seeing throughout the winter.  Since it had been quite awhile since I had been there, I was worried that the Horned Grebes might have gotten their breeding plumage and moved on as they do every spring, but the few that I saw were still in winter plumage.

I suspect that the Barrow’s Goldeneyes have started to pair off, but there was still a small flock of them in the marina.

I saw more Western Grebes

than usual and much closer to the marina than usual.

The bird of the day, though, had to be this Pigeon Guillemot, the first I’ve seen this year.

Seeing the Western Grebe and the Pigeon Guillemot inspired me to go to Ocean Shores and Westport the next day because that’s where I’m most apt to see them and I haven’t been there for awhile.

I’m still taking precautions, wearing a mask, and ordering to-go, but, having finished two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, I’m starting to spread my wings and venture out more often.

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