Dune Peninsula

Judging from the amount of space I devote on this website to our vacations, you might assume that we spend much of our retired life visiting wildlife refuges.  (Un)fortunately, as much as I would like to lead that lifestyle, it ain’t true.  At times I actually feel like I spend most of my retirement sitting at the computer working on blog entries, but looking back at the calendar to see how few posts I have made that’s obviously not true, either. In fact, I’m never sure where all the time went, just that it went a lot faster than I ever thought it would.

Our regular routine in the rainy season includes three days working out at the YMCA, which we occasionally supplement with walks in nearby Pt. Defiance or trips to local wildlife areas.  One of our favorite walks in late Spring or early Summer is at the Dunes,  a new extension of Pt. Defiance Park is named after Frank Herbert.

Built on the ruins of a historic lead-and-copper smelter it is covered with “prairie grasses and flowers,”  and most of those flowers are at their prime in early spring.  The trail from the upper parking lot is filled with these striking Rhododendrons.


Rhododendrons are native to Washington, but I don’t think these are a native variety. 

Common Hollyhocks line the trail section that overlooks the marina.


If you can take your eyes off the beautiful flowers, and it’s clear enough, you can see Mt. Rainier in the distance lording over Point Ruston.

Mt Rainier from Dune Peninsula

You know it’s a good day here whenever you can see The Mountain.

You can also find flowers like Columbine


and Tough Leaved Iris

Tough-Leaved Iris

on the Dune Peninsula Pavilion.

We usually finish our two-mile walk by going back through the Japanese Garden.  That’s twice as far as we usually walk at the Y, but only seems half as long.  

Goodbye to Colorado

Time to finish up our trip to Colorado before I forget that we actually visited there.  We arrived early for Zoe’s graduation so that we could see Sydney’s state tournament.  It turned out to be a bit of a disappointing day, mainly because Sydney’s team lost the game, ending their run.  To make it even more disappointing, though, I didn’t get many decent shots because I took the wrong lens to the game.  I brought a birding telephoto lens instead of a zoom lens.  So, during the first half, Jen wanted me to take some pictures at Zoe’s graduation, but I didn’t feel comfortable standing up or walking around during the ceremony even if it was outside.  After 30 years of attending high school graduations, I see them as a formal event, not a celebration, though that is what they seem to have become. I couldn’t get a single shot of Sydney.  I did manage a few shots in the second half where she was a lot further away, but more often than not she was blocked out by other players.  It was a disappointing way to be reminded how often you left the wrong lens at home.

We only got one more chance to take pictures on our trip.  Jen, Tyson, and Logan took us for a walk where we saw Snowy Egrets

and a small flock of White Pelicans, coincidently one of Jen’s favorite birds. They obliged us by landing right in front of us

and flying so close over our head that I couldn’t fit the whole Pelican in the frame.

It was a nice way to end our trip, especially after failing so miserably on taking pictures of the soccer game.  

Color Me Invisible

After sighting the American Avocets on our walk in Broomfield, I started looking for Avocet chicks since I had seen them there on previous visits.  I didn’t find any. Instead, I found this  Killdeer


that seemed particularly aware of us but didn’t give an alert or leave the area. That inspired me to start looking for chicks, but  I didn’t see any for quite a while.  Eventually, I sighted this little guy who stood out in the dark-green foliage.

Killdeer Chick

Apparently he hadn’t mastered the art of camouflage as well as his fellow chicks, which turned out to be quite a bit closer to us than he was.

Most of the chicks were good enough at hiding themselves that my Canon R5 wouldn’t focus on them, so I ended up with a lot of blurry shots of foliage.  Still, I ended up with a couple of good shots like this

Killdeer Chick

and this.

I’ll never know if other chicks were so good at camouflaging that they just disappeared, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if there were.

Deja Vu, All Over Again

We went to Broomfield to see Sydney’s soccer team play in the state playoffs and Zoe’s high school graduation. We stopped at Bear River on the way to find American Avocets after failing to find any in California a few weeks before. We took so many Avocet pictures at Bear River, that we certainly didn’t need any more. 

So, what did we see on our first walk in Broomfield?  American Avocets, naturally. Knowing how many pictures I already had to go through, I mentally hesitated to take more shots of them, but, as always, I found it impossible to resist taking yet another shot.  

American Avocet

Somehow it just seems wrong not to take at least one shot when I see a beautiful bird, 

American Avocet

and if the bird takes off, naturally you have to record what the wings look like in flight, mentally comparing them to  Black-necked Stilts’ wings.

American Avocet in Flight

And if you happen to see another Avocet standing next to a Canada Goose you have to get a shot to get a sense of an Avocet’s size, something that’s quite difficult to do in a photo.

Avocet next to Canada Goose

Luckily, it isn’t until you get home and sit down at the computer that you realize how many shots you have taken and how long it will take to pick the best shots from those taken and adjust them to end up with the best picture possible.