Loren’s Easily Distracted

As I was walking out the point at Ft. Flagler to find Harlequin Ducks, I kept seeing little birds like this

walking down the shoreline towards me.  I’ll have to admit that I didn’t recognize them at first because I’m used to seeing Dunlin with a sheer black front, their breeding plumage.  The sheer number of them I saw totally distracted me from my main goal.  I must have spent a half hour getting different shots of them, everything from small flocks still sleeping in

early birds taking off, 

even earlier birds flying in to join those who had found food, 

while others seem determined to discover their own.

Nothing quite like a pleasant distraction to start you day.

Some distractions, though, aren’t nearly so pleasant.  It was a near-freezing morning with strong winds so I was wearing my snow-shoeing gloves and discovered that even with the camera settings “Locked” that pushing the wrong button would readjust the f-stop and I ended up with some rather badly overexposed photos.  Luckily, I was shooting in RAW format so I was able to recover some of the shots I liked in Adobe Lightroom.

A Textbook Illustration

I have several birding books and an equal number of birding apps, but my go-to book is Bob Morse’s BIRDS of the Puget Sound.  It’s a small handbook (about the size of a hand) and contains short, but helpful, descriptions of the birds, where they are most apt to be found, and habits.  My experience with Black-Bellied Plovers at Ft. Flagler seemed an experience right out of a textbook.  

His book states that they can be found in “mudflats,”

short grass,

and beaches.

Under Diet and Behavior, the book states “Birds spread out to feed but roost in groups, often flocking with other shorebirds, especially Dunlin.

I’ll have to admit that I didn’t really see the Plovers mixed in with the Dunlin until I brought the shots up on screen. It’s a great place to get lost in a crowd.

Great Expectations

I originally headed out to Ocean Shores and Westport to see Loons in breeding colors, Brown Pelicans, and Godwits.  As it turned out, I only saw two Common Loons, 

and neither was in breeding colors.  I wondered if that was merely because of tides or whether the dredging they did earlier in the year drove the loons away.  Nor was there a single Brown Pelican to be seen.

Instead, there were numerous Bufflehead,

and Surf Scoters, 

both which I see regularly in Tacoma.The only unusual bird I saw at Westport was what appeared to be an Eared Grebe in winter plumage.

I drove down to Tokeland in hopes of seeing the Godwits, but all I saw was this Willet. 

Expectations are strange.  They motivate us to break out of our usual ruts and look for new experiences.  When they’re not met, though, they can disappoint and discourage us from trying again. 

Luckily, I have early memories of salmon fishing.  When the salmon weren’t running and we had been “skunked” for the day, Dad always took us closer to shore so we could catch “bottom fish.” 

To this day I prefer bottom fish to salmon, but I’d still prefer to get shots of loons in breeding color and pelicans than Eared Grebes or Willets.

Sanderlings

I’ll have to admit since all the-rarely-seen Rock Sandpiper wanted to do was sleep, I was quickly distracted by three Sanderlings that landed nearby and ran back and forth hunting for food as the tide pushed inward.  Even with a still camera, I like action.  

These two seemed to stick together the whole time, 

while the third one stuck to himself, 

and amazed me when it nearly ran over my foot and settled down in a protected part of the jetty feet away from where I was standing.

Apparently I had been standing in one spot so long it considered me just another part of the scenery.  Mission accomplished.