Our Last Day in Santa Rosa

On our last day in Santa Rosa we took a final loop around Lake Ralphine/Spring Lake.  We began by spotting a pair of Double-Crested Cormorants practicing their Tai Chi moves.  

At the end of Lake Ralphine we spotted a Mute Swan paddling around while another swan sat on the shore (nesting?).

Nearby was a Black-Crowned Night Heron hunting for a meal. I wondered if this was where the herons nesting in the Santa Rosa Nursery came to forage while a mate nested.  It seemed a long flight.

Back at the car, we finally caught a glimpse of the pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks that arre nesting in the parking lot.  

Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to focus on the hawk as it flew from the nest to get the squirrel its mate had brought back.  But after two days of getting nothing more than a shot of a hawk’s head barely sticking up above the edge of the nest, I was quite happy with this shot.

Snowy Egrets Take Center Stage

Even though there were four different kinds of herons in the Santa Rosa Rookery, the Snowy Egrets took center stage, and not only because there seemed to be far more of them than any other species. They were quite territorial.  Although they left the much larger Great Egrets alone, they seemed to try to intimidate everyone else, including other Snowy Egrets.

That turned out to be a good thing for photographers like myself because their feathers certainly stood on end when another heron came near.

I managed so many good shots that the hardest part was deciding which shots to save.

Although I never saw a Snowy Egret attack another heron with their beak, they repeatedly chased off birds that came too close their nesting site.

Horned Grebes

Spring is the best time of the year for birding.  There are so many great places to bird it’s impossible to hit all of them.  Luckily, one of my favorite places is nearby.  I love watching the Horned Grebes change from Winter plumage to breeding plumage in just a few weeks.  

We noticed that some of the grebes had started changing plumage two weeks ago

and then we were hit with two weeks of nearly solid rain, not ideal weather for birding or photography.

On the first sunny day we headed back to Port Orchard marina hoping that the grebes would still be there.  In the end, we spotted one grebe in the marina in full breeding plumage. 

and another grebe in even darker plumage on the way back. 

I was a little worried, and disappointed that we haven’t seen more Horned Grebes this year, but I’ll have to admit  that I was thrilled to see one in full breeding plumage because I’m pretty sure they will have all moved onto their breeding grounds before we get back.

The Little Things in Life

Even when things don’t seem to be going the way you’d like them to go, the little things in life can lift you up and help to get you through a rough patch.  

Birding hasn’t really been great locally, but I seldom walk Theler Wetlands without finding something to cheer me up.  The Marsh Wren’s patch of reeds was nearly totally destroyed by high tides and late snow, but our little friend was still trying to attract a mate to his single nest.

The Song Sparrows don’t seem at all disturbed by the high number of trees that were knocked down by the snow.  In fact, there might be more than ever.

The Tree Swallows haven’t returned in large numbers quite yet, but this bird seemed ready to praise the virtues of Spring.

I was particularly pleased with this sighting of a Red-Breasted Sapsucker, a bird haven’t seen for a few years.

I’m past ready for another birding trip, and my Cardiologist has said I can do anything I feel like doing without worrying (too much) about my recent aFib incident.