Birding Waughop Lake

Our record-breaking streak of sunny days this late in the year has kept me from finishing Hesse’s third novel, but I figure there will be plenty of rainy days coming up that are better suited for reading.

Leslie was gone, so I took the pickup and drove to the nearby Lake Waughop again.  I was surprised at how low the water was and was wondering where all the ducks had gone since I wasn’t seeing any close to shore.  Turned out there were lots of ducks, but they were all out in the middle of the lake, far too far away for a good shot. 

About the only bird I saw near the shore was this Double-Crested Cormorant.  In the early-morning sunlight this rather plain bird seemed positively elegant to me.

The dominant bird of the day seemed to be the Spotted Towhee,

one of the hardest birds to photograph because it loves to hide in the dense underbrush and warn all nearby birds of your presence.

This Towhee, though, tempted by the fruit in the trees offered a much better pose near the end of my walk.

My favorite shot of the day, though, was this one of a local Steller’s Jay which seemed to best reflect the day’s brilliant blue skies.

Birding at Port Orchard

Often in the winter birding is better at the Port Orchard Marina than at Theler Wetlands, but that wasn’t the case on our last visit; they seemed equally bad, except for the brilliant sunshine.

I did spot my first male Hooded Merganser of the season, but it seemed determined not to see me and swam steadily away from the camera, never turning back to see if I was still trying to capture a shot.

Hundreds of birds were offshore, barely visible with the human eye, though I wasn’t able to spot a single Goldeneye.

The marina itself was remarkably quiet with the exception of a small flock of Surf Scoters feeding on mussels, 

and a single Horned Grebe.

Eventually, those ducks offshore will have to come closer to feed, probably when the sun hides behind the clouds.


Fall Birding

Birding is still relatively slow around here since the seabirds that overwinter haven’t returned in large numbers yet; I haven’t seen a single Goldeneye or Merganser and have seen only a few Bufflehead and Grebes.  Still, when the sun shines like it has this week it’s immoral not to get outside walking.  

Theler Wetlands has birds year-round, but when there’s no ducks, no geese, and few Blue Herons, you have to look harder than usual to find birds because more often than not this time of year they are trying to stay out of sight.  

This male House Finch was definitely the brightest bird I spotted on our visit.

I heard the Marsh Wren, but Leslie had to spot it for me.

Although it wasn’t advertising for a mate, it seemed to be trying to protect its territory from other birds. Apparently he needed to up his game, though, because this Song Sparrow landed on nearly the exact same reed the wren was on.

It’s probably wise not to advertise your presence too loudly, though, when predators like this Sharp-Shinned Hawk ( which might be the very similar Cooper’s Hawk) are flying overhead.

I’m Okay

It’s Fall here in the Pacific Northwest, and Fall means lots of clouds (and lots of rain).  Unfortunately, it seems like the birds that usually overwinter here have been slow to return.  That means birding is still slow, and I’m not quite as eager to get out and walk.  Even when it doesn’t rain, it’s often afternoon before the clouds burn off.

Still, we manage to get out birding whenever sun is predicted, and at the very least are rewarded with brilliant Fall colors.


I’ve seen a lot less Cedar Waxwings this year than usual, so it’s a pleasure whenever I spot one, even if it’s in the distance.

There are lots of Killdeer at Theler Wetlands this time of year and

they’re occasionally joined by migrating shorebirds, like this Spotted Sandpiper.  

Even though other birders have reported larger shorebirds, this Yellowlegs is the largest one I’ve seen this year at Theler.

My exercise app usually doesn’t count most the 4+ miles we walk at Theler and Port Orchard as “exercise,” but that makes sense because it never feels like a chore to walk there.  It’s always a pleasure even if I spot very few birds and capture very few shots.