Birding at Port Orchard

Often in the winter birding is better at the Port Orchard Marina than at Theler Wetlands, but that wasn’t the case on our last visit; they seemed equally bad, except for the brilliant sunshine.

I did spot my first male Hooded Merganser of the season, but it seemed determined not to see me and swam steadily away from the camera, never turning back to see if I was still trying to capture a shot.

Hundreds of birds were offshore, barely visible with the human eye, though I wasn’t able to spot a single Goldeneye.

The marina itself was remarkably quiet with the exception of a small flock of Surf Scoters feeding on mussels, 

and a single Horned Grebe.

Eventually, those ducks offshore will have to come closer to feed, probably when the sun hides behind the clouds.


One Good Photo

With another sunny day forecast, we headed out for Theler Wetlands early in the morning.  Unfortunately, sunshine often brings fog with it, and an extremely low tide doesn’t make birding any better.  Worst of all, I missed the best shot of the day when a male Common Merganser went flying up the Union River. Even with the best of equipment it’s hard to capture birds in flight on a foggy morning.  Adding insult to injury, by the time we left a strong North wind and sunshine had dispelled the fog, but there were no birds in sight.  

Still, during Winter Port Orchard often offers better birding than Belfair does.  I had barely parked when I spotted this male Common Merganser a few yards away from the walkway.  I got several shots of it, but this one (with a little help from Photoshop) was my favorite.

This turned out to be the only shot I saved from the day because the wind was so cold and the waves so hard that we decided to go eat rather than walk the marina.  

Ruth Sullivan used to say “One Good Bird” was all we needed to make a disappointing day worthwhile.  A walk on a sunny day is always a joy, but a good photo makes the day even better.

Hooded Merganser Showing Off

The weather has finally improved here in the Pacific Northwest and we’re getting some sunshine between snow flurries.  I’ve always said that the best part of being retired is that I can take advantage of the occasional sunny days we get during Fall and Winter.  As it turns out, I also feel much better when I’m walking while they adjust my blood pressure medicines. So, it’s been a good two weeks.  So good that I’ve spent considerable time at the beach and managed several local walks, too.

The birds haven’t always cooperated, particularly at Theler Wetlands, but I did manage to get some shots that I liked at the Port Orchard Marina. On one of our visits there was some obvious courting going on among the Hooded Mergansers.  This fellow seemed particularly handsome.

I was impressed, but unfortunately the female seemed less so and kept paddling away.  

A Sun Break

It may officially be Fall but the constant rain here in the Puget Sound Area suggests it’s really winter. So, when we finally got some sunshine on a day when we didn’t have any obligations, we headed out early to Theler’s Wetland. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many birds, and, worst of all, it was so foggy that the shots I did get were awful.

When we went to Port Orchard to see what was in the Marina, the sun finally broke through but the many yachts had driven most of the birds out of the marina. We had to wait until the end of the dock to get some shots. As it turned out, they were well worth the wait, reminded me why I enjoy taking shots of birds.

This little Horned Grebe was the first bird I spotted,

but this Cormorant seemed equally willing to pose.

There were also large numbers of Goldeneye near the end of the dock.

The light was actually bright enough that I managed to get a relatively good shot of a Goldeneye taking off.