And This Is Why I Still Carry My Camera

I’m not sure what it takes to make a great photo, but I’m sure that having a good subject helps.  I couldn’t have asked for a better subject than this male Hooded Merganser, who seemed to be showing his best stuff to nearby females. Equally important, he seemed totally unaware of the old guy with the camera.

Even when they don’t seem particularly frightened, Hooded Mergansers will turn their back to you and quietly paddle away, perhaps occasionally glancing back to make sure you’re not pursing them.  I thought this little guy was going to bump into me, though.  He gave me a string of poses that a model would have been proud of.

If I had ever fulfilled an early ambition of carving birds, this series of photos would have served as the perfect guide.

Why Am I Carrying This Camera?

Since I bought my new Canon EOS R5 I carry it whenever we walk Owens Beach.  All too often, though, I find myself questioning why I bother to carry it.  When I’ve walked a ways and haven’t seen anything that interests me, I start taking pictures I wouldn’t normally take.

For example, the only reason I took this shot of an immature Ring-Billed (I think) is that I wanted to see how well the camera would freeze action on a cloudy day.  

I’ll have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of the shot.

After fifteen minutes of walking without sighting a single bird, I finally took a shot of a fellow traveler.  The boat was so far out that I could barely see it, and I had to crop the shot considerably to focus on the boat, but, again, I was pleasantly surprised by the crispness of the photo.

This Double-Crested Cormorant wasn’t quite as far out, but the photo confirmed that it was the bird that I thought it was but couldn’t be sure without blowing up the image.

I couldn’t identify this bird, either, because it, too, was a ways out and there was very little color in the low light, but it’s obviously just a female Goldeneye when cropped and colors adjusted in Photoshop.

Still, none of these shots would justify the bother of carrying the camera. If I hadn’t taken it, though,  I wouldn’t have had it when I observed a small flock of Hooded Mergansers in the Marina where we turned around.

And this was the worst shot I took there.

More Ruston Way

Since I couldn’t remember anything special about our last Dunes Walk, I thought I would jump ahead to our recent trip to Port Townsend.  When I actually looked at what I had downloaded, though, I decided that I liked a few of the pictures too much to just ignore.

For instance, this shot of a Harbor Seal resting on an underwater rock fascinated me.  At first, we all thought it was a piece of drifting kelp; it wasn’t until it raised its head that it was clear it was a seal.

I had a hard time locating the Turnstones that I’d seen nearby, but I’ve learned to always check spots where I’ve seen birds recently.  It must have been their nap time, too.

I had a hard time locating the Turnstones that I’d seen nearby, but I’ve learned to always check spots where I’ve seen birds recently.  It must have been their nap time, too.

But my favorite shot of the day was this male Belted Kingfisher who stayed put until I walked onto the pier.  

It’s always a good day when I can manage a shot of a Belted Kingfisher.

Surprising what you can see on the Dunes Trail

Now that I’m back to walking, we’ve tried to take advantage of every break in the clouds. I don’t usually take my camera when we’re just walking for exercise, but when we decided to walk the Dunes Trail I took my new camera hoping to get a better picture of the Sea Lions lounging on the new rock outcropping.  I thought I’d managed to get good shot of them this time, but once I put the shots up on the screen I realized that they were actually Harbor Seals.

The gulls were also obvious, but not even Leslie, who was using the binoculars, noticed that there were also Turnstones on the rocks.

Luckily, while observing the “seal lions,” I happened to look down on the rocks just below us and notice movement.  There were so many Turnstones that it was impossible to isolate them and ended up with this.  How many can you count?

The photographer in me hates shots like this where you have extraneous body parts lying around, but I did manage to isolate a single Turnstone in this shot. 

When you’ve been photographing wildlife as long as I have you learn to pay attention to what the crows and gulls are doing.  A small flock of them kept diving and taking off quite a ways off, and though I couldn’t tell while I was actually photographing I suspected there was a Sea Lion feeding, and, sure enough, you can just spot his back next to the gull on the left.

I confirmed that hunch with this shot and  knew where the Sea Lions I was looking for on the rocks had gone to.

Apparently disturbed by the flock of gulls, this Double-Crested Cormorant decided to find a quieter fishing area.