Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Although large flocks of ducks dominated the landscape, there was a considerable variety of birds, including the usual suspects, like this Great Blue Heron

and several eagles, including this immature Bald Eagle, who willingly posed for me instead of merely flying overhead.

Though I was disappointed not to spot an American Bittern, I was pleased to get some good photos of this Yellowlegs, though I’ll have to admit that I was surprised to see him running around the ground quite close to the Bald Eagle.

Seeing this one was particularly welcome because I had seen one two days before on the way home from Ft. Flagler, but it was too far away to get a decent shot.  

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of Yellowlegs, but every time I examine a shot closely on my computer screen I’m amazed by those long, slender legs and those equally long toes.

Back to Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Although Nisqually Wildlife Refuge inspired me to take up birding several years, I haven’t been back nearly as often since they blew the dikes out several years ago.  However, when Paul suggested he wanted to explore it, I was more than willing to give it another try. I’m glad I did because I it gave me a chance to get some close-up shots of ducks, like this pair of Green-Winged Teal landing simultaneously, 

a pair of Northern Shovelers romantically circling each other,

an elegant pair of Norther Pintails, 

and a pair of Widgeons.

A Quick Visit to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Before they went home, Jeff and Debbie wanted to visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. I warned them that birding would be slow there, and it was, but they still wanted to see it and seemed to enjoy our visit.

Unfortunately, we heard a lot more birds than we saw, and I ended up focusing on more permanent residents, like this frog

and turtle.

We did see two Great Blue Heron

and a lot of Ring-Billed Gulls,

but that was about it.

Nisqually Great Horned Owl Fledglings

Leslie wanted to visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge so she could buy a Senior Pass before they raise the price from $10 to $80. I haven’t been back for quite a while and it wasn’t raining, so I was eager to see what was happening there this Spring. As it turned out, it was relatively slow, but we did get a chance to see the fledgling Great Horned Owls that have just left the nest.

There have been Horned Owls at Nisqually as long as I’ve been going there, but the original tree they used has blown down, and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have found them without the help of a birder with a scope. Though the light was behind them and all I could see with my naked eye was their silhouette, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pictures after I processed them in Lightroom.

Although three fledglings have been seen, we only saw these two while we were there. In fact, for quite a while we only saw one owl as it steadily climbed up a broken limb.

Not long afterward, another fledgling appeared to be looking up at its sibling.

It slowly but surely climbed toward its sibling while checking out the surroundings.

This final shot makes me wonder whether Great Horned Owl fledglings inspired Star War’s Ewoks