Loren’s Go-To Birding Spot

Theler Wetlands in Belfair continues to be my go-to spot for birding, even if we haven’t gotten there as much as usual and the birding hasn’t been particularly notable, which would explain why I forgot to download these shots taken there recently. I’ve already posted pictures of all these birds repeatedly and none of these shots particularly stand out.

Luckily, having seen a bird in the past doesn’t rob me of the pleasure of seeing them again, especially when it’s the first time I’ve seen them this year.  And this is the first Cedar Waxwing I’ve seen this year, even if it did take some Photoshop magic to reveal its beautiful colors.

Cedar Waxwing

By this time of year, I’ve usually seen hundreds of Tree Swallows, including the ones that have nested in my house in recent years, but this is the first one I’ve captured a shot of this year.  

Tree Swallow

I’ll have to admit that I’ve been a little concerned that I haven’t seen all the Tree Swallows hanging out on the boardwalk that used to make Spring walks there so delightful.

Luckily, there are many Song Sparrows around, so many that I don’t usually try to take their picture, but I’d never seen one resting on a post like this, so I felt compelled to take its picture.

Song Sparrow

The highlight of this visit, though, was the rediscovery of the feisty Marsh Wren whose last year’s nests were all destroyed by high tides.   

Marsh Wren

Though there didn’t seem to be as many birds as usual, it was still delightful to greet ones we haven’t seen for a while.

Back to Theler Wetlands

With the weather still refusing to cooperate, we have been going to the YMCA regularly instead of birding, and there’s not much to photograph at the Y.  I think we’ve only gotten to Theler twice in the past month, and we heard a lot more birds than we saw because the ducks are gone and the songbirds, like this House Finch, have taken up residence.

male House Finch

The highlight of a recent visit was seeing a Bald Eagle attacking and killing a Great Blue Heron by holding it underwater until it drowned. I’ve seen a lot of Bald Eagles harass Great Blue Herons and steal their catch, but this was the first time I’ve ever seen an Eagle actually kill one.

Eagle drowning Great Blue Heron

The event took another turn when two other Bald Eagles came swooping in and attempted to steal the first Eagle’s catch, but he was having none of it.

Eagles sparring over catch

It was a dramatic moment in our visit, but I have to admit that I preferred the moment when this little Bewick Wren confronted us.

Bewick Wren

This Robin wasn’t quite as bold but definitely let us know it was there, too.

Robin on Log

I wasn’t surprised when the seabirds I see in the winter at the Port Orchard Marina were gone and the only shot I got was this one of a Gull eating a small fish.

Glaucous-Winged Gull with fish scrap

I feel like I have to force myself to walk a mile and a half on the track at the YMCA, but I usually walk over three miles when I bird and it never feels like I’m exercising.  Instead, it becomes a walking meditation, an escape from the crazy world we all seem trapped in.

More of the Same

Luckily, Leslie and I get out much more often than my blog would indicate.  Sometimes it’s so cloudy or the birds I get pictures of are ones I’ve shown so often that I can’t get inspired to spend the time deciding which to post or the time to refine them.  Even with more rain than usual, we generally manage to get out to Theler Wetlands in Belfair and the Port Townsend Marina once a week.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, sunny days quite often start with heavy fog, and, unfortunately, early morning is the best time to see birds.  Here’s what Theler Wetlands looked like on a recent morning. 

Under these conditions, you’re lucky to see any birds, and when you do it’s hard to recognize what you’re seeing unless you’ve learned to identify birds from their profile, like this female Bufflehead that floated out of the sky to give us a look.

A small consolation is that you can often get closer to birds than you would ever get on a bright, sunny day.  This Mourning Dove was so close and so unconcerned that I had a hard time fitting it in the frame.

When it’s foggy I have to look harder to find something to photograph. On a recent trip it was this Hair Ice, also known as Frost Beard, which we have probably overlooked for several years but became fascinated with once we really looked at it. It looks so bright because the sun had begun to break through, and, more importantly, it was close enough that the fog didn’t interfere with the light.

Leslie spotted it again in several places after we read up on it, but it seems to have totally disappeared on yesterday’s visit.

Fog or no fog, any winter day here in the Pacific Northwest without rain is a good day.  And heck, if you’re willing to wait an hour or so, the fog might finally clear and you’ll be able to see birds you missed on the first half of the walk.

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.