Wednesday featured both brilliant sunshine and lowering clouds that blacked out the sky. Inspired by the early sunshine I headed out for a day of birding, but didn’t get any further than Titlow because the sunshine disappeared during the hour I spent there.

There really wasn’t much there but Widgeons, but I did like this shot

Widgeons Landing

because I’d never noticed the green wing stripe before.

The waterfront was dominated by cormorants, like this immature Double-Crested Cormorant

immature Double-Crested Cormorant

and this Pelagic Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

I spent the most time, though, trying to get a shot of this male Red-Breasted Merganser in breeding colors,

Merganser with Plastic Stuck on Beak

but when I realized that it had a plastic sack stuck around its bill, it ruined the entire shot. I would have waded into the freezing water to try to free it if I’d thought it would stay put, but he seemed too healthy for that. Hopefully, he will be able to free himself from it somehow, but for me it served as yet another reminder of how we have despoiled this environment we must all share.

A Much-Needed Sun Break

After missing our brief sunshine on Saturday, I made sure that I got out today to take advantage of the sunshine before it started to rain again this afternoon. It’s the first time I’ve taken out my 500mm lens in over two months. I’m still not up to walking two or three miles with it, but I can manage to tote it a 1/4 mile without limping too badly.

Luckily, there wasn’t enough time to go too far anyway. So I started out at Titlow Park, in the small pond. After a month of near record rain, even this shot of a female Wigeon seemed beautiful:

Female Widgeon

When I saw this Eurasian Widgeon, I thought it must be the same bird that’s been here the last few years.

Hybrid Widgeon?

But a closer look revealed that this bird had green patches that the other bird didn’t have, and the other one had a “redder” head this one. I’m wondering if this is some kind of hybrid offspring.

Things were going fairly well until an eagle swooped by, not once, but twice. I tried to get a shot but found it nearly impossible to pan quickly enough with a tripod and 500mm lens. I did discover that it’s not a good idea to pan past the sun, as it took me several minutes to regain my vision. By then the Bald Eagle was sitting at the top of the tallest fir.

Bald Eagle in Fir

Birding took a sudden turn for the worst, so I headed to the beach where I saw my first male Red-Breasted Merganser of the season.

male Red-Breasted Merganser

While I was trying to take a picture, suddenly a flock of Common Mergansers swooped down,

Common Merganser Landing

And landed exactly where the Red-Breasted Merganser was minutes before:

Flock of Common Mergansers

It wasn’t long, though, before the clouds returned and I decided to head back North where the clouds hadn’t moved in yet. I ended my morning at Pt. Defiance. There were remarkably few birds, but the drive and time was more than rewarded when a large flock of birds came sweeping across the Sound. I couldn’t figure out what they were. When I looked at my shot I realized it was the largest flock of Great Blue Herons I’d ever seen, and in a place I’d never expect to find them!

Flock of Great Blue Herons over Puget Sound

It reminded me of the wolf scene I’d just quoted from Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard.