More of Theler

We’ve been so busy making cookies and decorating the house that I haven’t had a chance to complain that it has been over a week since I was able to get outside and take photos.  We’ve finished enough cookies that I feel comfortable taking a few minutes to edit the photos I took a week ago at Theler on a remarkably clear morning, as revealed by yet another shot of the moon.

There were actually quite a few ducks, like these beautiful Northern Pintails, but they were far, far away — probably best because our morning walk was punctuated by the sound of shotgun blasts as hunting season continues.  

We got a lot closer to these Ring-Billed Gulls, who looked quite striking in the early-morning sunshine.

My favorite shot of the day, though, was this shot of a common House Finch surrounded by red berries and highlighted by the early morning light.


In a rare stroke of good luck, the bursitis in my knee disappeared enough that we could take advantage of an unusual sunny spell.  So, last Sunday we headed out through the morning fog to Theler Wetlands.  The tide was unusually high and we didn’t see a lot of birds, but the light was beautiful.  I tried to get a shot with my iPhone but somehow ended up making a .mov, so I borrowed this shot from Leslie, who uses her phone to take pictures a lot more than I do.

It’s clear that winter, at least our PNW version of winter, has arrived.  It was a frosty morning which made me want to snuggle with my winter gloves, but a 600mm lens isn’t very effective for close-ups of plants so I took my gloves off so that I could take shots with my iPhone. I thought the ice on the edges of the fern made their shape even more striking than usual.

The brilliant greens and reds of the holly made it clear why they were so important in winter rituals in earlier times.

Personally, I thought the ice clinging to the hardy leaves made them equally beautiful, but I’ll have to admit that it would be difficult to maintain that beauty inside next to a roaring fire.

Luckily, I find the muted colors and frosted leaves 

quite pleasing.

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.