Spring Approacheth Slowly

There are signs that Spring might actually be on the way and we can soon expect migration sightings, but for now our world (with the exception of Evergreen trees) remains largely browns and grays.  

So, it seemed appropriate that my first sighting on our latest trip to Theler Wetlands was of a Song Sparrow foraging on a pile of snow leftover from a recent snowstorm.

The sound of male Red-Wing Blackbirds trying to attract  mates echoed across the refuge, but all I actually saw was a single, female Red-Wing Blackbird.

Didn’t see any Bald Eagles, like we often do, but we did catch sight of a Red-Tailed Hawk.

The clearest sign that Spring is coming, though, was the sound of Canada Geese pairs claiming their nesting ground when another pair dared to fly over. 

More from Titlow

Although my favorite shots from our recent visit to Titlow were those of the Belted Kingfisher, I got a couple of other shots I liked.  If you want to see Double-Crested Cormorants up close, Titlow is a good place to start as there are usually dozens (or more) Cormorants standing on the pilings, 

and it’s easy to catch one in the traditional, air-drying pose.

I don’t think you can count on seeing Red-Breasted Mergansers here, but there was a pair there on the day we visited, and I managed to capture the best shot of the year so far, 

though I hope to get a closer shot sometime before they leave for their nesting area in the Spring.

Leslie even managed to spot a Hummingbird as we looped back to our car.

We ended the day with a sighting of a male Bufflehead that popped up right next to us.

Pelagic Cormorants and More

Although there were only two Pelagic Cormorants at Port Orchard when I was there, they posed almost as well as the far more numerous Surf Scoters.  I see Pelagic Cormorants on a lot of my walks but seldom as closely as I see them in the Port Orchard Marina where they rest on the docks, 

glide through the marina,

feeding on shrimp.

The greatest appeal of the Port Orchard Marina, though, is the diversity of birds you find there.  Soon these Horned Grebes will take center stage in their brilliant breeding plumage

and it’s tough to ignore the Baird’s Golden Eyes when you see them this close.

Surf Scoter

It’s often hard to decide what birds to post when you have seen a lot of birds, but sometimes the sheer number of shots of a particular species make it easy.  It was obvious that “the bird of the day” on our last visit was the Surf Scoter.  I’ve never seen so many at Port Orchard, nor have I seen them so close.  Usually you’re lucky to get a shot of them as they paddle away as you walk toward them.  

Not on this day. This one was waiting for me by the moored boats as I walked down the ramp.

Instead of paddling away, he seemed to check me out for a few minutes

before going back to hunting for food.

I’ll have to admit that I got caught up trying to capture the strangely beautiful reflections in the water, 

but I did capture this shot of  one  feeding on a weird giant sea-worm, apparently a popular food source here because you often see empty shells on the marina decks.

The gigantic worm almost made me forget how unique that bill is on a male Surf Scoter, but it’s impossible to miss.