More Shots from Ruston Way

The last half of our Dunes walk was as delightful as the first half.  I usually have to go to the coast to get shots of loons, but we spotted a pair far off shore.  

We didn’t see the pair on our way back, but we knew this was unmistakably a loon when it posed with its rear leg raised.  

The female Red-Breasted Merganser came in closer, too.

I was unable to identify this bird, but it didn’t look out of place on the edge of the Salish Sea.

We extended our walk a little by detouring through the Japanese Garden

where we were treated to this beautiful display of Fall color.  

Walking The Dunes Park

We managed to sneak in a walk on The Dunes Trail between showers.  It wasn’t exactly sunny, but it wasn’t so dark that you couldn’t manage to get a decent shot.  Close shots, like this one of a Yellow-Rumped Warbler in non-breeding colors turned out quite well.

Like most birds this size, this little guy wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to see it clearly.  The photo, though, confirmed my first impression.

The 600mm lens allowed me to capture this shot of a Harbor Seal, that was apparently just chilling in the marina.  I actually had a hard time spotting it and had to point it out to Leslie and Paul.

The seabirds that overwinter in the Puget Sound seem to be returning.  This female Goldeneye was relatively close, compared to the other seabirds we saw.

There were quite a few other birds offshore, but it was nearly impossible to identify them with the naked eye.  This heavily cropped photo revealed that this was a Double-Crested Cormorant.

Even at a distance the neck suggested cormorant, but I didn’t have a clue what kind of cormorant until I put the picture on the screen.  This shot is heavily cropped and appeared somewhat fuzzy when blown up so that the cormorant filled the screen.  Still not sure if that is because the camera didn’t focus directly on the cormorant because it was so far away or because I was using a fast shutter speed and the image is rather “noisy.”  

Hair-Raising Winds

Sunday was another sunny day, so we went to Theler again because I wanted to try out my new Canon EOS R5 with a 600mm fixed lens. When we left I thought it would be the perfect day to try out the camera because the lighting seemed perfect, especially for this time of year. I began to have some doubts, though, when crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and had trouble staying in my lane because of the high winds.  Sure enough, the winds were hair-raising as proved by this shot of the only Great Blue Heron we saw.  

Although my new camera doesn’t seem to care about high winds, the birds certainly do, and they were all hunkered down like this heron.  In fact, the only birds that seemed totally indifferent to the wind were the gulls who seemed to enjoy zipping around without having to even flap a wing.

Most of the birds we saw were far, far away, too far away even for mu 600mm lens, though I did like the two shots of the Northern Pintails that took off as soon as we got to the end of the walkway.

I especially liked this shot, even though it is heavily cropped because of how far they were away.

These gulls were on the same peninsula, so the picture is even more heavily cropped.

Despite a few drawbacks, I think the EOS R5 will become my go-to camera because it is so much lighter than my other two cameras or even the Sony camera that I bought just for hiking.  First, I’ll have to learn some new settings.  Somehow these shots were .jpg, not RAW which made it much harder to fix shadows and highlights.

My biggest complaint, though, and definitely the hardest to adapt to, is the viewfinder.  Instead of seeing through the lens you see an electronically generated image — resulting in a darker and  blurrier image.  That, compounded by the fact that my glasses automatically darken in bright sunlight, meant that I was often simply pointing my camera at a subject and hoping that it was focused.  More often than not, the images were remarkably sharp, though.  

The day seems to be fast approaching when all I will need to do to take great photos is to bring the camera with me and turn it on.

A Foggy Morning at Theler

This time of year we try to take advantage of any sunshine we get here in the Pacific Northwest, knowing that it will be rainy most of the days ahead.  When we left for Theler Wetlands Sunday it was bright and sunny in Tacoma and almost all the way to Belfair. About a quarter mile from our destination, though, we descended into heavy fog.

I knew that birding would be challenging and photos tough to take with the telephoto lens I use for birding, but most of us raised around Puget Sound/Salish Sea are fond of foggy mornings.  So, I switched to trying to take scenic shots with my iPhone and was generally happy with the results.

Some of the photos almost reflect the special quiet that accompanies fog, 

while others seem to offer hope of a brighter time to come when we have a President who actually cares about the environment.

Of course, I still had to try to capture some bird shots with my telephoto.  I liked this shot of a pair of Mallards where they appear be floating mid-air.

Atmosphere aside, I was happy when the sun finally started to burn the fog off before we reached the mid-point of our walk and I was able to catch this small flock of Cedar Waxwings trying to warm up in the warm glow of the early morning sunshine.

Near the end of our walk the skies were bright blue, allowing us to sight this Bald Eagle that might well have been flying up and down the river earlier but we would never have known  it.