One among many reasons I haven’t posted very often recently is that birding hasn’t been particularly inspiring, at least birding at Theler Wetlands, my go-to location when it’s a nice day (i.e., a day without rain or snow).
On one of these trips, I only managed to get five shots, all of a single female Merganser. I decided to assemble them all into a single montage.
Birding was better at Port Orchard, but even there a single sequence was the highlight of the day. I probably should have shot a video of it, but I really don’t like to shoot videos without a tripod and I hate carrying a tripod even more than I hate videos taken without a tripod.
As soon as we entered the Marina we were greeted by this Male Hooded Merganser coming directly at us.
He even seemed to acknowledge our presence with a slight nod.
to the left and striking a definite mating pose that I’ve often observed when there is a female surrounded by competing males.
His real intent became clearer when he started swimming towards a nearby female
that seemed totally unimpressed by his attempts and was, in fact, rushing away to ensure that the male wouldn’t steal her catch.
When she had swallowed the whole fish, she raised up in the water with drool running down her beak, and the male just swam by.
I just wish I knew what that gesture meant. Whatever it meant, the male simply swam past her with nary a sidelong glance.
I don’t get any great pictures at the Port Orchard Marina on my last visit, but I was excited to see the return of many of the birds that overwinter here mostly Barrow’s Goldeneye.
I did manage to get fairly close to these three goldeneyes, but it was so bright that most of the details in the white areas were blown out (it’s been a long time since I’ve had that problem here in the Pacific Northwest.).
I couldn’t manage to get a good picture of the small flock of Hooded Mergansers in the marina, but it did manage to get a fairly good shot of this Horned Grebe.
There weren’t any Widgeons in the marina, but there was a large flock near where I parked and I got a shot of this pair swimming away from the main flock.
Hopefully, the Surf Scoters will have returned by my next visit.
Winter is definitely my favorite time to bird in the Puget Sound region.
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.
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
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.