Another Red-Breasted Merganser

I think I’ve tried harder this year to capture shots of the  Red-Breasted Merganser, particularly the male, than any other seabird.  And it’s not that I haven’t seen a lot of them at Titlow and Owens Beach, but they are always so far away that I can’t get a decent shot of them even when it’s heavily cropped.  

I have seen them near Fort Flagler nearly every time I’ve been this year, but they are always a long ways offshore.  So, I guess I’m going to have to settle for these two shots because I’m sure they are about to head off to their nesting areas in the Arctic. 

There’s something about that Mohawk Hair-do that just fascinates me.

They are a colorful bird in flight and I keep hoping to top this shot I took at Port Orchard a few years ago, but patience — and eternal optimism — are a photographer’s greatest assets.

Pelagic

I went to Port Orchard to see if the Horned Grebes were in breeding plumage yet, but on this visit I only saw a single grebe and it wasn’t in breeding colors yet.  In fact, there were remarkably few birds in the marina.  Most of the seabirds that overwinter there seemed to have left for their breeding grounds.  Luckily, Pelagic Cormorants are year-round residents, and it’s rare that I visit Port Orchard without seeing one.

Usually, they seem largely indifferent to people and to the camera, apparently willingly posing.

If they do think you are too close they will dive and emerge 100 yards away.  

On this visit, though I got a demonstration of their ability to fly away when they want to.  This Pelagic Cormorant suddenly leapt out of the water 

made one big hop

and  catapulted

into the air

before settling down less than 50 yards away, calmly watching me as I took several more shots.

In checking the spelling of its name in Birds of the Puget Sound Region I found the following: Did you know? Pelagic cormorants can leap directly from the water into flight. Other cormorants must run along the surface to gain takeoff speed.

It’s always nice when a book’s author confirms what you’ve just learned.

The Beach Is Calling Me

After an unusually sunny few days, our usual Pacific Northwest Rains have returned and I finally have time to process the many photos that I’ve taken in the last week.  With Leslie gone I’ve managed to get out to take pictures every single day for the last five days; now I just have to find the time to sort and edit them.

On the visit to Port Orchard where I saw the Scaup, I also found the birds I’ve been seeing throughout the winter.  Since it had been quite awhile since I had been there, I was worried that the Horned Grebes might have gotten their breeding plumage and moved on as they do every spring, but the few that I saw were still in winter plumage.

I suspect that the Barrow’s Goldeneyes have started to pair off, but there was still a small flock of them in the marina.

I saw more Western Grebes


than usual and much closer to the marina than usual.

The bird of the day, though, had to be this Pigeon Guillemot, the first I’ve seen this year.

Seeing the Western Grebe and the Pigeon Guillemot inspired me to go to Ocean Shores and Westport the next day because that’s where I’m most apt to see them and I haven’t been there for awhile.

I’m still taking precautions, wearing a mask, and ordering to-go, but, having finished two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, I’m starting to spread my wings and venture out more often.

Pelagic Cormorants and More

Although there were only two Pelagic Cormorants at Port Orchard when I was there, they posed almost as well as the far more numerous Surf Scoters.  I see Pelagic Cormorants on a lot of my walks but seldom as closely as I see them in the Port Orchard Marina where they rest on the docks, 

glide through the marina,

feeding on shrimp.

The greatest appeal of the Port Orchard Marina, though, is the diversity of birds you find there.  Soon these Horned Grebes will take center stage in their brilliant breeding plumage

and it’s tough to ignore the Baird’s Golden Eyes when you see them this close.