Harlequins and More

Our latest visit to Ft. Flagler and Port Townsend proved to be less than what was hoped for, but still served as a welcome break from the constant rain.  When I saw that Monday was the only day of the week when rain was not predicted, I decided we needed to finally make our annual visit to see the Harlequin Ducks that overwinter there.

As it turned out, the predicted sunshine never manifested itself, but on the positive side, at least, it didn’t rain, either.  When we arrived at the park we discovered that we had forgotten to put the annual pass that we received at the beginning of December in the car.  We could have paid another $10 in addition to the $6o dollars we’ve already paid to use the State Parks, but I was too stubborn to do that.  So, we didn’t walk the spit; instead, we parked near the boat launch where I usually see Harlequins. Sure enough, there was a male and two females just offshore.

I usually see them fishing offshore, but with an unusually high tide they seemed content to rest on the rocks.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the dull breast and underside of a male Harlequin before,

though the speckled white underside of the female is quite common in other species.

I was totally focused on the Harlequins until a Black Oystercatcher suddenly came around the corner, and then another.

I expected to see the Harlequins; I felt extremely lucky to see the Black Oystercatcher, even though I have seen them here before but not this close.  I’ve certainly never noticed the long, brown toenails before.

I was actually so caught up in trying to get a good picture of the Oystercatcher that I only caught a glimpse of the male Harlequin as it swam away.

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.

Goldeneye Watching

Although I see a lot of Goldeneye on our walks through Pt. Defiance Park, I never manage to get as close as I do at the Port Orchard Marina.  Usually I get the best close-ups when they are inside the marina, but on our last visit I had to chase them down along the sidewalk because there were so many boats in the marina.

Usually, they’re content to just float along, like this pair, 

but occasionally I get lucky and one will show off their uniques wing pattern like this

or take off from a running start

and land a few feet away for no apparent reason

other than to give me a chance to practice my photographic skills.

Port Orchard Marina

Whenever we bird the east side of Puget Sound we begin by walking Theler Wetlands and end by walking the Port Orchard marina. I suspect I walk them in this order because I discovered Theler long before I discovered Port Orchard — and because it is a habit.  If I were only interested in wildlife photos, I probably wouldn’t bother to walk Theler this time of year and would spend all of my time at Port Orchard because I can get a lot closer to the birds in Port Orchard and because they are so accustomed to people that they don’t immediately dive when you try to take a shot, not to mention that I am more apt to see favorites like this Horned Grebe, 

Pelagic Cormorant, 

Double-Crested Cormorant,

and Hooded Mergansers.