Those Were My Favorites, Jackie

Despite the fact that I often see Great Blue Heron and Osprey in the Puget Sound Area and I rarely see the Eastern Kingbird, Blue Jay, or the Western Wood-Pewee, my favorite shots of the day were this one of a Great Blue Heron building a nest on the top of a very tall tree    

Great Blue Heron Building Nest

and of a pair of Ospreys in a nest with a young chick.

Osprey Pair with Chick

I am well aware that Great Blue Herons nest in trees; there are even several rookeries in the Puget Sound Area, but I’ve never personally seen them.

I have seen several Osprey Nests, but I have never seen one with both parents, much less with a chick.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s a classic family pose, either.

Thanks, Jackie

During our visit to Tyson’s family we happened to have dinner with Jackie, Jen’s sister,  to celebrate her birthday and she mentioned that she was starting to bird and that Jen had referred her to my web page.  A couple of days later she called and asked if we would like to go birding with her to a spot where I had never birded (there are a lot of places like that in Colorado).  We agreed to meet the next morning.  

It turned out to be a great place to bird with a wide variety of birds, like this Eastern Kingbird, 

Eastern Kingbird

this Eurasian Collared-Dove,

Eurasian Collared-Dove

a personal favorite, this Blue Jay (not a Stellar, Scrub, or Canada jay —sometimes referred to as Blue Jays by non-birders), 

Blue Jay

and this Western Wood-Pewee, a bird I wouldn’t have recognized if it hadn’t been called out by a better birder than I am (and confirmed by Merlin).  

Western Wood-Pewee

Surprisingly, these weren’t my favorite sightings of the day.

Varied Thrush

One of my favorite Winter visitors is the Varied Thrush.  I leave all the leaves in my beds mainly to attract them (and Towhees, and Juncos, and any other bird that needs bugs).  I began to worry that I wasn’t going to see any this year when I hadn’t seen one all the way through January, but we’ve had two regular visitors most of February.

They’re hard to get good shots of since they’re shy and will leave the yard immediately if you open the door and because they spend most of their time in the shade.  Still, if you’re patient enough and lucky enough, one will fly up to the nearest hydrangea instead of over the fence, like this female Varied Thrush.

Sometimes if they are foraging through the bed by the back fence they’re a little bolder, but then you have to crop the photo heavily.

Until I actually put all the shots up on my monitor I thought it was just a single thrush that was visiting us, the female showed above. I was wrong, though, as this is definitely a male Varied Thrush 

and so is this one.

It seems silly that such a little bird can bring some so much pleasure to an otherwise gray day, but whenever I see a Varied Thrush scratching through the leaves on the flower beds it makes me think that all the work we’ve put into transforming our grass into flower beds was more than worth the effort.

At Margaret’s House

Leslie spent a lot of time this Spring helping Margaret, so I would occasionally spend the night there, too.  I’ll have to admit that I would sometimes feel a little lost without my toys and with too little to do, but when I was really feeling bored I would take my camera and go out for a walk and entertain myself.  Early on I would just focus on the flowering trees in the orchard, 

or the beautiful azaleas that lined the road.

Margaret’s house is also a good place to see birds.  One day I even took my 500mm lens with a doubler but, of course, the terns that Leslie kept telling me about didn’t turn up since I had that lens with me.  They did show up on a day when I had my 600mm RF lens, though, and I managed to get some distant shots of them diving into the water.

When the tide was out and the sea birds had disappeared, I would wander the field in front of the house looking for song birds. I was amazed to find a small flock of American Goldfinches feeding on the dandelions growing where the field hadn’t been mowed recently.

I’ve always seen dandelions as an obnoxious weed, but I’ll have to admit that for a few minutes I actually thought of letting them grow in my yard instead of ruthlessly weeding them out. 

The best picture I got there, though, was taken as Leslie and I walked up to the mailbox to get the day’s mail. On the way, I heard a woodpecker hammering away trying to attract a mate.  When I turned around I spotted him on the address sign. 

I’ve seen so many Northern Flickers do this that I just assume it’s a Flicker when I hear the sound.  But this was clearly a Red-Breasted Sapsucker, and it stayed around long enough that I got a lot of shots, clearly as good as I can ever expect to get.