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.

Spring May Finally Be Here

Spring has taken a real beating here in the Pacific Northwest.  An early start was interrupted by week-long snow and by freezing temperatures.  The snow finally gave way to a week or two of sunshine, but April took a step back with a record 12 days of rain and another week in the current forecast.  

In other words, it’s been hard to tell if Spring was truly here.  On a recent visit to Theler Wetlands, a field full of spiderwebs suggested it must be Fall, not Spring.

The wetlands looked like a spooky Halloween scene.

Meanwhile back at home those Heralds of Spring, daffodils, were shouting that sunshine was nigh.

In truth, my daffodils have held up remarkably well this year, benefitting from a lack of heat and twelve damp, if not soggy, days.

Of course, it’s foolish to depend on foreign imports to indicate if it’s truly Spring in the Pacific Northwest.  The best indicators are native plants like this Trillium 


After reading Robert Pyle’s Sky Time in Gray’s River I’ve decided that the best indicator of Spring is the native Skunk Cabbage 

and they are bursting forth in increasing numbers at Theler wetlands.

Fogwalking

Sadly, not every day of retirement can be spent lollygagging in the sun on the Oregon Coast.

Luckily, not every day has to be spent in a doctor’s waiting room.

Judging from how few photos I took this month, I find it hard to believe that March was the second driest March in Seattle history.

Looking at this shot of Leslie trying to adjust her binoculars to see through the heavy morning fog

and at this shot of Green-Winged Teal, I remember why it didn’t seem that dry in March.

There may have been very little rain, but it wasn’t exactly sunny, either.

The photographer in me thrives on sunshine, not fog, but I was grateful to get outside a lot more this month than in Winter’s previous months.  

Truthfully, I enjoy walking in the fog (if it’s not too cold) even if I’m seldom excited by the photos I take.  Even the birds seem to find the fog calming, and are more apt to pose for the camera.