Sunday Afternoon at Port Orchard

Although I’m still not seeing as my birds at Port Orchard as I have in past years, we did see quite a few different varieties at Port Orchard last Sunday, some for the first time this year

I have seen Hooded Mergansers on several previous visits, but the light hasn’t been good enough until Sunday to almost capture their beauty.

It would have helped if this guy had ever fully displayed the magnificent hood that gives it its name.

I actually saw more Barrow’s Goldeneye on my last visit, but this is the first time I’ve had enough light to capture one in flight.

I spotted a Western Grebe too far away to get a good shot, but I couldn’t resist taking one anyway.

I’ve seen Pigeon Guillemot’s in breeding and non-breeding plumage, but I’ve never seen one in transition quite like this. No wonder I only recognized it by its silhouette.

Seeing the Western Grebe and the Guillemot inspired me to go to Ocean Shores and Westport the next day since sunshine was in the forecast.

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.