Wait Five Minutes

Twain probably wasn’t referring to the Puget Sound Area when he said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” but it certainly seems to apply here.  We have a lot of microclimates locally, so you never quite know what to expect when you head out for another part of the area.  On a recent morning we headed out to Theler Wetlands under bright blue skies, but when we arrived the refuge was shrouded in fog

and cold enough that frosted cobwebs glowed in the morning light.

This Great Blue Heron had wrapped itself in its winter coat.

However, by the time we reached the walkway on the other end of the refuge, the fog had dissipated and the snow-covered Olympics lightened the morning

and our walk back to the car seemed to take on an entirely different nature.  Even the Green-Winged Teal

and this male Bufflehead seemed to have emerged from the darkness.

The photographer in me definitely prefers lots of sunshine, but I’ll have to admit that I find walking in the fog quite peaceful.

Theler and Port Orchard

One among many reasons I haven’t posted very often recently is that birding hasn’t been particularly inspiring, at least birding at Theler Wetlands, my go-to location when it’s a nice day (i.e., a day without rain or snow).  

On one of these trips, I only managed to get five shots, all of a single female Merganser.  I decided to assemble them all into a single montage.

Birding was better at Port Orchard, but even there a single sequence was the highlight of the day.  I probably should have shot a video of it, but I really don’t like to shoot videos without a tripod and I hate carrying a tripod even more than I hate videos taken without a tripod.  

As soon as we entered the Marina we were greeted by this Male Hooded Merganser coming directly at us.

He even seemed to acknowledge our presence with a slight nod.

before turning

to the left and striking a definite mating pose that I’ve often observed when there is a female surrounded by competing males.

His real intent became clearer when he started swimming towards a nearby female

that seemed totally unimpressed by his attempts and was, in fact, rushing away to ensure that the male wouldn’t steal her catch.

When she had swallowed the whole fish, she raised up in the water with drool running down her beak, and the male just swam by. 

I just wish I knew what that gesture meant.  Whatever it meant, the male simply swam past her with nary a sidelong glance.

Back to Work (or, at least, To What Passes for Work When You’re 80)

COVID 19 and snow played havoc with our Christmas/New Year plans, but it’s time to return to unfinished work while looking forward to new experiences.  I got so caught up in baking cookies (that never got eaten) that I didn’t even manage to finish posting about our visit to Ft. Flagler (so pretend this was published the next day after the previous post).  

While photographing a large number of Sanderlings and Dunlins on the left side of the point, I noticed a large flock of birds land on the opposite side of the point. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to them because I didn’t need any more pictures of Dunlins, but when I looked closer I realized that they weren’t Dunlins at all; they were Black Turnstone.

They seemed as indifferent to me as the Dunlin did, allowing me to take several closeups.

As expected, there was also a large flock of Brant both on the beach and out in the shallow water feeding.  

Way out, on the very point were two Double-Crested Cormorants, closer than I’ve ever seen them before.  

Strangely enough, I only saw one Black-Bellied Plover where I usually find small flocks and I didn’t see a single Harlequin on the long walk out and back.  That concerned me because that’s the first time haven’t sighted several on that walk. Heck, I go to Ft Flagler because I can always count on seeing them there; they’re one of the few birds I actually “chase,”  as birders say.

Luckily, I did see a single pair down by the boat launch where I often see them close to shore.

This Entry Needs a Title …

All the birds we saw as we began walking out the spit at Ft. Flagler were a long way offshore, but as we got about halfway out the spit I noticed that the rocks on the shore seemed to be moving.  Turned out they were what is quickly becoming one of my favorite birds at Flagler, a Sanderlings in winter plumage.

A little further up the spit, they were joined by a large flock of Dunlin foraging as a single flock, unlike the Sanderlings that darted here, there, and a little of everywhere.

The Dunlins not only foraged as a single flock, they periodically all took off and flew back and forth up the shoreline,

Only to land a few feet away from where they started.

… and a real ending. But that’s okay because there are a few more to come in the (near) future.