Nature by Nancy: Blog https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog en-us Nature by Nancy (Nature by Nancy) Wed, 05 Jan 2022 22:45:00 GMT Wed, 05 Jan 2022 22:45:00 GMT https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-12/u568321064-o760821516-50.jpg Nature by Nancy: Blog https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog 120 120 Dark morph Red-tailed Hawk https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/11/dark-morph-red-tailed-hawk I was on Bow Edison Road in the Skagit Valley on Tuesday when I saw this Red-tailed Hawk. It is the most unusual coloration I have ever seen. The question is: is this a Harlan's, or something else.   Any help in identifying this unusual Red-tail would be appreciated. 

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(Nature by Nancy) Dark morph Red-tailed Hawk Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk Red-tailed Hawk Skagit Valley https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/11/dark-morph-red-tailed-hawk Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:52:36 GMT
Green Heron Nest - fourth week https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/9/green-heron-nest---week-4 It has been a joy to follow this nest for the past month. The chicks are now getting ready to fledge and find their way in the world. 

Day 22 - The chicks are still tied to the nest, but look how big they are!:   On Day 22, I witnessed my first short flight. At this stage, they could only fly a very short distance, and only to a lower elevation:  Since they could only fly down, they had to climb back up to the nest. This one was trying to navigate his way back up: Day 23, the nest was still their home base. They would return back for a rest after venturing to the outer branches of the nest tree: Day 24, they are becoming more aware of the world. In this case, a Kingfisher was flying by and making quite a racket:  On day 24, the nest was still their home base:  Another short flight, again, not yet able to fight gravity: Day 25 - This very proud little guy flew all the way to a floating log. It was my first time seeing them fly away from the nest tree: Drinking water, likely the first time, and learning how to hunt: One of the siblings was not as fortunate: it likely did not understand the properties of water, and learned pretty quickly that you cannot stand on it: This poor little one spent the next hour up on a sunny branch drying out its wings:  Day 26 - The chick on the left had caught a Dragonfly, but the one on the right decided to try to steal it away: The were still hanging out pretty closely together, but no longer in the nest: Day 27 - When I arrived in the morning I could not find the chicks. I finally realized that all three were in the huge Cottonwood tree on the other side of the river from the nest tree. They all had the hang of flying a distance: Two of the chicks flew off, but one stayed to explore the tree and environs. First order of business was practicing fishing: One trick is learning what to fish for:  As the chick proceeded to explore the tree, I set up my tripod nearby to follow its progress: It also afforded me a one time opportunity for closeups. As the chick explored the tree, it had no idea I was quietly standing nearby (about 20 feet away): At one point he stared right at me, but I did not move a muscle, so he did not get frightened off:  The chick explored the tree for another 15 minutes, but when it was ready to leave, I got my first shot of a chick flying upward, now able to defy gravity: Day 28, one month old and still practicing that all important hunting skill: They were getting better and better at catching Dragonflies:  By Day 29, they were venturing farther and farther from the nest, and therefore harder and harder to photograph. But I was left with the great satisfaction that I got to watch these three chicks grow from hatching to fledging. I will likely never get an opportunity like this again, since it is very rare to have good visibilty into a Green Heron nest. But, I will return to the area next year in my kayak to get to see the Herons again. Have a safe flight south little ones!     

  

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Green Heron Chicks Green Heron Nest https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/9/green-heron-nest---week-4 Wed, 08 Sep 2021 17:53:25 GMT
Green Heron Nest - third week https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/green-heron-nest---week-3 I had very little time to follow the nest during the third week. I had an out of town guest, and I would have been a very bad host had I abandoned my guest. So, I got there three times during week 3, on days 17, 20 and 21. They grew a lot from day when I last saw them on day 14.  They also continue to be more animated and stretch their wings a lot: They also continued to explore the nearby trees, but not very gracefully: I next got to the nest on Day 20. My how they had grown! The also continues to explore the trees, but have not yet flown: It was very interesting to see how the chicks greeted each other in the nest. They are now mimicking the parents greeting: And they are getting more agile while exploring their environment: On day 21, they are starting to look much more composed:  They are looking more and more adult-like, were it not for the fuzz around their heads and necks:  So, by the end of week 3 they are still sticking close to the nest. True fledging has not occurred yet. 

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(Nature by Nancy) Green Heron Chicks Green Heron Nest https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/green-heron-nest---week-3 Fri, 27 Aug 2021 22:52:28 GMT
Green Heron nest - second week https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/green-heron-nest---second-week By the second week, we were starting to get some really good views of the chicks. They were still tied to the nest, but big enough so that we could see them. By the end of week two, they were starting to get more adventurous, wondering if there was a world beyond the nest.

On day 8 they were still very downy, but starting to develop feathers:  They also were trying out those wings, hoping to figure out what these appendages were for:  The challenge of photographing chicks in a nest is the uneven light. Sun becomes your enemy. On day 8 we had some clouds, enabling us to get better video:  Day 9 also had some clouds, enabling a more even exposure. You can see the beginnings on feathers on those wings:  We started getting some good views of the chicks feeding. They grab onto the parent's beak and pull it down, forcing the parent to regurgitate the food:  This is the best video I have of a feeding. There are two separate feedings in this one video:   Day 10, the chicks are still hanging out under parent:   For most of the other videos, the soundtrack was removed, but for this one it was kept it in to show what the birds were reacting to:  On day 9, we saw many instances of the parents refusing to feed the chicks. Had the soundtrack been kept in this video, you would have heard me gasp. The video was slowed down to allow a better view of the interaction:   It is not clear why the parents went to the nest at all, because they did nothing but block the chicks from trying to feed:   This is a good example of what we were dealing with when the sun came out. It is much harder to see with the light and dark areas:   A favorite moment, as the chicks were learning to explore their world:   Day 11, and the chicks are stretching out those growing wings:   You can see the color starting to develop in those wing feathers:   Day 12, it was so cute watching the chicks interact:   They are getting a better and better idea what to do with those wings:   When the wings are not outstretched, the chicks still look so young:  There are a number of interesting things in this video. The chicks are aware that the second parent has arrived, but it does not stop them from trying to get a feeding from the first parent. Also, it is always interesting to see how the parents greet each other:   Starting to venture a bit out of the nest:   Getting comfortable with the idea of being out of the nest:   Getting soooo big:   The chicks were getting more and more active, and preparing for that all important step up and out of the nest:   Day 13, on the cusp of learning to leave the nest:    And they are out:   Truly branching out. The chicks ventured about 15 feet away from the nest:  Week two was highly entertaining. They went from little fuzz balls just developing feathers, to teenagers branching out. We were so fortunate to have good views into the nest to be able to document all these changes. 

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(Nature by Nancy) Green Heron Chicks Green Heron Nest https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/green-heron-nest---second-week Fri, 27 Aug 2021 20:14:03 GMT
Green Heron Nest - first week https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/green-heron-nest---first-week For the first time in my life, I found a Green Heron nest. They are notoriously difficult to find, because they are normally buried deep in a tree, and very difficult to see. I was kayaking in June, and saw two Green Herons mating in a tree. Lo and behold, they were in a nest.  I then did the math to figure out when the chicks should be hatching. My calculation was that the first possible time to see the chicks was on July 6th. Also crucial to this caluculation was finding a good observation spot. The kayak was too close to the nest and too disruptive. My friend Deena and I figured out that there was a spot on the nearby bank that was near the nest site, that was a perfect observation spot. It was on the south bank of the river (nest was on the north bank), so the lighting would be good, and we were far enough away to be non-disruptive. Being on land also allowed us to set up tripods, which makes video possible. Amazingly, there was pretty good visibility into the nest, which is almost unheard of.

We were not able to get to the nest until July 8th, but this is what we found: There is a good chance these chicks were a day or two old at that point, but for record keeping purposes, this was referred to this as day 1. We were able to observe our first feeding. Watch the video all the way to the end: The adult will regurgitate the food, then re-swallow anything that is not eaten. Seems pretty efficient!

Days 2 and 3 were challenging, photographically speaking. There were very few good views of the chicks.  There may not have been many good stills of the chicks that day, but we started observing what I referred to as the "Changing of the Guard". Mom and Pop trading places: Day 3 was also not a great day for chick sightings, but day 4 was when we finally started getting some good views:

We now knew that there were 3 chicks. We also got our first glimpse of how the chicks communicate to the parent that they are hungry: By Day 5, the chicks were getting big enough for us to see them really well. Look at the size of that lower jaw! By day 5, we were also getting really good glimpses into how the parents interact with each other: It would be great to know what this behavior is about. The departing parent bites at the beak of the arriving parent, then runs its beak along the length of the bird. We saw this behavior repeatedly, really interesting!

Day 6 provided a chance for a good clear view of the chicks begging for food.  We also got good views of the chicks feeding: 

The chick was not able to swallow that entire fish, but he sure tried. 

Day 7, the chicks are getting so big:  One of the best views of a fish being regurgitated: Another changing of the guard on Day 7, and our first chance to see how the chicks keep from smelling up their nest with poop. It was especially cute since the chick chose to poop betweem mama's legs: 

I will post a blog for each week of their development. It was a total joy and an honor to follow this very special nest. 

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(Nature by Nancy) Green Heron Chicks Green Heron Nest https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/8/green-heron-nest---first-week Fri, 27 Aug 2021 20:12:58 GMT
Dunlin Murmuration https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/1/dunlin-murmuration I have been fascinated by murmuration activity from the first time I heard about it. There are lots of spectacular videos on YouTube about Starling murmurations. But, there is another bird who murmurates regularly: theDunlin, a little shorebird. Peregrine Falcons love to predate on Dunlin, so the Dunlin have developed this great strategy to battle the fastest bird on earth.  As far as I can tell, the above video is of a "practice session". There was no predator chasing them. But, the Peregrine Falcon are always nearby, waiting to pounce: Once the Peregrine attacks, the murmurations become frantic: The thing that surprised me about this video, however, was that there were two birds attacking the Dunlin. One, I believe was a Peregrine, but the other was a Northern Harrier, a very common Hawk in this area: The Harriers are very easy to spot from a distance because of the white patch on their tails. So, when I slowed up the video of the hawks attacking the Dunlin, I was amazed to see a Harrier in there: I was amazed. This was the first time I had witnessed this activity. I never think of Harriers as being particularly fast flyers, so I have no idea if they are ever successful in catching a Dunlin. Their "usual" prey are mice and voles.  But, yet again, the natural world has surprised me. Not the first time, and certainly not the last.

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(Nature by Nancy) Dunlin Northern Harrier Peregrine Falcon Skagit Valley https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/1/dunlin-murmuration Tue, 19 Jan 2021 18:16:58 GMT
Lightning Strikes Twice https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/11/lightning-strikes-twice Two weeks ago I had the very unexpected opportunity to photograph a Pygmy Owl (Pygmy Owl blog post). It was only by chance that I had my camera with me that day. And, once again, only by chance, had my camera with me again yesterday when I was out running errands and received a message from my friend Elaine that a Snowy Owl was on a rooftop on a nearby house. I hightailed it over there to find a small bevy of photographers and birders already there. The bird was sitting on a rooftop 4 houses up the hill, and there was just one tiny sliver of a view of her. As far as I could tell, everyone got a good chance to view the bird. This was in large part due to the graciousness of the neighbor whose lawn we had to occupy. They were very generous letting us use the space for several hours. At the very end of the day, just as the light was fading, a neighbor who lived up the hill allowed a few of us into her yard to allow us a closer view of the bird. Thank you Darcie!!

Here are some of my favorite photos from yesterday.  So, until I get the opportunity to view a Snowy Owl in a more natural environment, this was a golden opportunity to see a beautiful rare bird. 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Ballard Seattle Snowy Owl https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/11/lightning-strikes-twice Tue, 03 Nov 2020 19:29:16 GMT
The Elusive Pygmy Owl https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/10/the-elusive-pygmy-owl There are not many birds I actively seek. I usually just take what presents itself to me. But, for quite a while now I have been lusting over finding a Northern Pygmy Owl. I have this thing for cute birds, and moreover, the Pygmy is diurnal, so I had a fighting chance of seeing one during daylight hours. I have spent entire days searching forests for this relatively rare bird. But, those many hours turned out to be just walks in the woods. Finally, my luck changed, but not in the way I expected. I was visiting my friend Kerry up in Skagit County in Washington State. We had planned a hike together and were not planning on birding. I only brought my camera along because I was going to bird on the way home. Just by chance, I noticed a lump on top of a tall dead tree snag on the edge of her property. I ran to my car and grabbed my camera. My first pictures were at a terrible sun angle, so I repositioned myself and got this shot: Pygmy OwlPygmy Owl I was not ready to admit to myself that it was a Pygmy, but Kerry assured me that it was. He then flew down closer to the ground, flying right up to Kerry, and landed on a tree branch just 30 feet from her house:  Pygmy OwlPygmy Owl It was clear that he had his sights on something, and within minutes he flew to the ground: Pygmy OwlPygmy Owl Once on the ground, I had a tough time getting a good camera angle, but it was clear that he had caught something:  Pygmy OwlPygmy Owl He made many attempts to fly with it, but it was too big. So, he made several short hops to move it along:  Pygmy Owl with ratPygmy Owl with rat This was when I finally got a good look at his prey and found that it was a sizeable rat. It probably weighed more than the bird did. After many attempts, he finally made it to a safe area under a tree to consume his reward.  Pygmy Owl eating a ratPygmy Owl eating a rat I am so grateful that Kerry very intentionally keeps her yard as a pasture, not manicured. It was because of this that she was able to provide prey for these wonderful owls. Thank you Kerry for providing me and the owl with a most wonderful capture. 

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(Nature by Nancy) Pygmy Owl Skagit Valley https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/10/the-elusive-pygmy-owl Sat, 24 Oct 2020 01:51:57 GMT
Bird tour with Khanh Tran https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/10/bird-tour-with-khanh-tran Earlier this summer my friends Soo and Laurie and I hired Khanh Tran to guide us to find birds in Washington and Oregon. It was an amazingly productive trip. Khanh is an excellent guide and I would highly recommend him to anyone. 

The first target species was the Spotted Owl. Being a threatened bird, I was very excited about seeing this owl. Khanh's advance legwork paid off and we drove back roads for about an hour. We parked on a logging road and within minutes had sight of the male sitting near the road. He ultimately flew further into the forest to be nearer to his nest, but we got some great views. Good thing that owls sit so still, because the light was so low I had to use 1/10th of a second shutter speed. Here are two of my favorites of the Spotted Owl: The next targeted species was the Spruce Grouse. We got up at something like 3 am, then drove for over an hour on logging roads. Once reaching the location Khanh had scouted, it took about 20 or 30 minutes for him to locate one of the males. The sun was just about to rise. We spent about an hour with this male. They are totally unafraid of humans and are much more preoccupied with finding a willing female. Their display was so much fun to watch. Here are three of my favorite Spruce Grouse pictures: While driving back out of the mountains, we stopped at another location that Khanh had scouted for song birds. We found some very cooperative Hermit Warblers: We then had to drive on to Eastern Oregon, so most of the rest of that day was a travel day. That evening and the next morning we went to see Great Grey Owls, as well as anything else that chose to present itself. While driving up into the mountains early the next morning, we found a number of song birds I had never seen before. First was MacGillvray Warbler: And next was a Bobolink, a very rare sighting: We finally got up into the mountains not long after the sun rose. Khanh had scouted a location a few weeks earlier of a Great Grey Owl nest. The unusual aspect of this nest was that it is in a natural snag. Most often these Owls use man-made nesting boxes. We spent several hours in this location, but the day was heating up fast, so the female soon spent all her time shading the chick. Luckily we got some shots before it got too hot. Here are 3 of my favorite Great Grey shots: v This was a very hard act to follow, but we tore ourselves away from the Great Gray nest and found lots of other interesting birds. Right in the same field as the Great Gray was a new woodpecker for me, the Black-backed Woodpecker: From there we proceeded to drive back roads to locations Khanh had scouted earlier. We found Williamson's woodpeckers: And Ash-throated Flycatchers: And Lazuli Buntings: Yellow-breasted Chat: Canyon Wren: And last but not least: a Western Screech Owl. Unfortunately he played very hard to get, so this was the best I could do: Our last day with Khanh was a relatively slow one, but after all we had see on the first 3 days, I was not complaining. We saw some Cassin's Vireo.  And a Western Tanager: We also saw a Barn Owl, but we were never able to get a picture of him. All in all, it was one of the most amazing bird tours I have ever taken. I would highly recommend Khanh Tran for any birding tour. He does his homework, and your time is not wasted looking for the birds. Thank you Khanh for a truly memorable trip.

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(Nature by Nancy) Ash-throated Flycatcher Black-backed Woodpecker Bobolink Canyon Wren Cassin's Finch Great Grey Owl Hermit Warbler Lazuli Bunting Macgillvray Warbler Spotted Owl Spruce Grouse Western Screech Owl Western Tanager williamson's Woodpecker Yellow-breasted Chat https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/10/bird-tour-with-khanh-tran Fri, 04 Oct 2019 22:11:28 GMT
Heartbreak and hope https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/7/heartbreak-and-hope For the past few weeks I have been following an Osprey nest. It is one of the best nests I have seen in terms of visibility into the nest and proximity to a vantage point. There is one chick (one would normally expect two to three chicks), but this chick appeared to be healthy and thriving.  All was well and papa was fulfilling his role as provider. Here he is delivering a flounder to the nest: A few days later I went back to the nest to see how they were getting along. The chick was alone on the nest and practicing its flying moves: Papa was there and coaching the flying and delivering food: But, something was wrong. Mama was sitting on a nearby piling and had a huge gash in her abdomen: She did not look good at all and we realized that nothing would be the same from this point on. It was very unlikely that mama would survive this mortal wound. Most likely she sustained the injury while defending the nest.

 

The following day I returned to the nest to check on mama and the chick. Mama was still on the same piling looking no better. She had been without food at this point for two days. One of the most interesting things that happened that day was that papa flew over to her several time to do what I called "checking her vital signs". He jumped on her head and shoulders to see how she would respond; was she able to care for her chick?? Each time he jumped on her she could weakly lift her head and wings. She also tried her best to get him literally and figuratively off her back. The good news in all this is that the chick appeared to be well cared for. Papa continued to deliver food, and at this point the chick is old enough to feed itself (mama used to tear off pieces for the chick). What was intriguing was that it appeared that another male had stepped in to help care for the chick. I saw this male giving "flying lessons" to the chick: While we were encouraged that the chick was being well cared for, it was clear that mama was not going to make it. Sadly, the next morning she was no longer on the piling. May she rest in peace knowing that her chick is being well cared for. It takes a village:

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(Nature by Nancy) everett waterfront injured osprey osprey Sammamish River https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/7/heartbreak-and-hope Sun, 28 Jul 2019 15:58:26 GMT
Western Grebe Courtship https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/western-grebe-courtship The beautiful Western Grebes: I made the first of several trips to the Boise, Idaho area. With the wonderful assistance of Cheryl Huizinga, I was able to find Western Grebes in Lake Lowell. I spent about 9 hours on April 18th in my kayak photographing the amazing courtship of these birds.

Step one is mutual grooming. They will do this for hours. If you look closely, you will see that there are two birds in this photo: The next part of their courtship is for one of the pair to catch a fish: They then present it to their partner. The "receiving" bird always is in a crouched position: If all goes well, they then transfer the fish to the "receiving" bird: I watched one pair of birds do this fish sharing for several hours. My theory is that 1) the birds just completed a 1000 mile migration and they need to build back up their strength. 2) Each bird needs to prove that it is a good provider. They will be raising chicks together and will need a lot of fish. The last part of the courtship involves the pair running on top of the water side by side. I did not get any photos of that, but I think that this phase of the courtship comes after the birds have regained their strength. Maybe I will get to see it on my return trip.

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(Nature by Nancy) Lake Lowell Western Grebe western grebe courtship https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/western-grebe-courtship Tue, 23 Apr 2019 02:39:01 GMT
Brown Pelicans Fishing https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/1/brown-pelicans-fishing I have had this fascination with Brown Pelicans for years. Most of all, I wanted to see them fishing, as I believe they are among the least aerodynamically designed birds. I finally got my chance on New Years Day, 2019. I was in Santa Cruz, California and had three hours to spend out on the SC Wharf. The sun angle was pretty challenging, but as the afternoon progressed, I started to get some opportunities to observe the birds without back lighting. There was a run of Anchovies around the pier, so that is what drew the birds in.

I love the birds "graceful" approach to the dive:

My favorite part is just as the beak touches the water: They then dive into the water with enough force to capture fish several feet below the surface:  Once they surface, they have to battle off the scavenging gulls. They then can enjoy their reward: I had to tear myself away after spending three hours with these guys. I hope to get back another time, and hope I am lucky enough to arrive when there is a run on anchovies. 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Brown Pelican https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/1/brown-pelicans-fishing Wed, 02 Jan 2019 23:05:32 GMT
Merganser Magic https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/11/merganser-magic There are certain species I will go way out of my way to photograph. The Hooded Mergansers are one. They are very photogenic birds, and at this time of year, the males are trying to impress the ladies, so they are quite entertaining to watch. Also, my favorite location to see these birds is a small pond with great tree reflections. Here is a selection of some of my favorite images.

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(Nature by Nancy) Hooded Mergansers Meadowbrook Pond https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/11/merganser-magic Wed, 21 Nov 2018 20:42:25 GMT
Western Grebe obsession https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/10/western-grebe-obsession I discovered a Western Grebe winter hangout last year, and fortunately they returned this year. I spent three days photographing these beautiful birds.  They are very tolerant of my being there, so I am pretty sure I photographed them without disturbing them. Just watching them sleep is enchanting. They sleep with their eyes open:

I also loved watching them preen. Goofy and beautiful at the same time: While preening, they will pull out their own feathers and eat them. It is thought that they do this to protect their stomachs from sharp fish bones: They are also really fun to watch while feeding.  They always to go the barges anchored in the area to feed. Most often they would surface with a fish, then dive under to consume it.  This one time, however, his eyes were bigger than his stomach. He spent 5 minutes trying to consume this fish, but in the end had to drop it: The rains have now closed in, and I will probably not be going back to this site for a while. I feel honored that I had those three wonderful days with them.

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(Nature by Nancy) Kenmore Lake Washington Washington" Western Grebes https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/10/western-grebe-obsession Thu, 25 Oct 2018 17:28:31 GMT
Bolsa Chica did not disappoint https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/bolsa-chica-did-not-disappoint I made a trip to Southern California to have my camera and lenses cleaned at the Canon service center.  While down there, I decided to extend my trip to spend some time looking for Pelicans and anything else that moved.  My pelican quest was only partially successful, but lots of other things were moving, and well worth photographing. 

My quest was to find pelicans diving for fish, but once again, I only observed this from a distance and did not get any quality shots.  I did, however, get lots of flyovers and fishing (but not from heights).  After more or less satisfying my pelican craving, I started exploring other areas. I spent the bulk of my time at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The only other location I visited was Upper Newport Bay with the local Audubon chapter. At that location, we saw many birds, a few of which were life birds for me. Including a Black Skimmer: I spent the remaining time at Bolsa Chica. It was one exciting viewing after another, including Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Heron family, Red-necked Phalarope, Peregrine Falcons hunting, egrets, and lots of shorebirds. The pièce de résistance however, was Belted Kingfishers dueling for the best real estate.  For an entire day, we saw the Kingfishers chasing each other and vocalizing almost constantly.  It was quite entertaining: By late afternoon, this squabble turned ugly. They started fighting each other. First in the air: Then in the water: I don't know which one was the victor, but by the next day, things were very quiet in the area, so I presume that the disagreement was settled.

The final thing I was hoping to witness was the Reddish Egret dancing while feeding.  It was not until the morning of my departure that I finally got to witness this.  The sun had just risen, so the light was low, but the dance was wonderful to watch:
I need to go back this area in the late fall to observe the Pelicans diving and feeding. There is so much to see here: I will come back!!

To see more photos from my trip, click on these links: September 18, 2018September 19, 2018September 20, 2018September 21, 2018September 22, 2018

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(Nature by Nancy) Belted Kingfisher Bolsa Chica Brown Pelican Peregrine Falcon Reddish Egret Snowy Egret Yellow-crowned Night Heron https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/bolsa-chica-did-not-disappoint Tue, 25 Sep 2018 18:43:11 GMT
Colorado or bust https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/colorado-or-bust I had the wonderful opportunity to help my friend Soo drive her daughter to college in Colorado.  We spent 4 days driving out, three days getting DeMeaus settled at school, then 4 days driving home.  On the trip out we spent 2 days in Yellowstone and 2 days in the Grand Teton area.  The return trip took us across Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.  I took just shy of 10,000 pictures on the trip. It was a wonderful trip from beginning to end.

We arrived at Yellowstone around 5 pm.  We settled in at the hotel, then went into the park an hour before sunset.  Within 5 minutes of entering the park, we saw a herd of Big Horn Sheep. Female Bighorned SheepFemale Bighorned Sheep The following day, we entered the park an hour before sunrise and were in the Lamar Valley as it was getting light.  We saw a black bear, but the light was too low to get a good picture.  Our best sighting of the day were Bison as the sun was rising.   Bison taking a dust bathBison taking a dust bath Male BisonMale Bison Male Bison with birdsMale Bison with birds We also got a great view if a Coyote catching and eating a ground squirrel. Coyote with ground squirrelCoyote with ground squirrel We got one brief view of Sandhill Cranes, but for much of the trip, we could hear them calling, but got no close views. Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane The second day was mostly driving. We needed to make it to Jackson, WY by late afternoon.  We meandered south slowly. Our best sighting of the day was an American Dipper. We spent almost an hour with this little guy.  He was very cooperative posing for us. American DipperAmerican Dipper The next day was magical.  From the beginning to end we had wonderful wildlife sightings. We started before sunrise watching a family of elk crossing a river, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Common Mergansers everywhere.  However, my favorite sighting of the morning was the White Pelicans.  They flew in just as the sun was rising, and it created some beautiful lighting effects. White PelicanWhite Pelican The other fun species there was a Spotted Sandpiper. He was working the bank for quite a while, but my biggest frustration was that he was always between me and the sun. Spotted SandpiperSpotted Sandpiper We stopped that the Visitor's Center on our way back to the hotel to get information on the best place to see moose.  They suggested a local river, and boy were they right!  We got to see three Bull Moose and several females.   Bull MooseBull Moose I learned that it is the willow that the moose are after. They prefer marshy settings, but they will forage in rocky rivers (their footing is unsteady on rocky river bottoms) if there is willow.

The next few days was our time to get DeMeaus settled at the Colorado School of Mines.  That was a fun trip in itself.  After three days in Colorado, Soo and I started our trip home. We drove across the state of Colorado and had one really good Big Horn Sheep viewing.  Big Horn Sheep calfBig Horn Sheep calf That evening, we got the the Grand Junction area, and toured The Colorado National Monument.  Colorado National MonumentColorado National Monument

I saw another life bird just as the sun was setting: a Pinyon Jay. Pinyon JayPinyon Jay The following day was another one of those magical days.  We again got on the road before sunrise. We drove into Utah and followed the Colorado River.  It cuts through this wonderful canyon. There were lots of trees near the river, so we saw lots of birds, with two more life birds: a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher and a Blue Grosbeak. Blue-gray GnatcatcherBlue-gray Gnatcatcher Blue GrosbeakBlue Grosbeak We got up to the Salt Lake area by late afternoon, so we checked into the hotel, and spent the remaining daylight hours at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.  This place is beyond description.  So many birds, and they are right by the road.  The sun was obscured by smoke almost an hour before sunset, but we were able to scope out where we wanted to visit the next day. We did, however, get some really good pictures of a Clark's Grebe, another life bird. Clark's GrebeClark's Grebe We got up very early the next morning and spent many hours touring the Refuge again.  This time we knew exactly where to go to get the best morning light. We had great views of White-faced Ibis, Avocet, Black-necked Stilt and Solitary Sandpipers (another life bird). We also got a very good view of a Burrowing Owl before the sun rose. We spent a while viewing the Western and Clark's Grebe area, but the sun angle was not optimal. To end our visit to the Refuge, we saw a pond with many Wilson's Phalaropes. They were doing their spinning method of fishing. It was now late afternoon, so we had to hightail it to Idaho. On the way, we stopped at the Brockman's Hummingbird Feeding station south of Twin Falls.  Photography was challenging there, as the feeders were all in the shade, but it is a fun place to visit.

Our final day of photography was spent in Idaho. We spent the morning at the Silver Creek Preserve north of Twin Falls.  Even before we were out of the parking lot, I saw a Cowbird chick being fed by a tiny female Lazuli Bunting.  Poor mama! There were lots of birds feeding on the numerous berry plants. I saw another life bird, the Yellow Breasted Chat. Just before leaving the preserve, the caretakers told Soo and I about a campground nearby that had lots of Common Nighthawks.  Neither of us had ever seen one, so off we went.  The campground was very close by, and the trees were full of Nighthawks. It was amazing.  We got some great closeups, as well as flight shots. Very very cool! The trip was exhausting, but something I will treasure for many years to come.  I need to get back out there to explore some of these areas further!!!

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(Nature by Nancy) American Dipper Avocet Bighorn sheep Bison Black-necked Stilt Blue Grey Gnatcatcher Blue Grosbeak Burrowing Owl Clark's Grebe Common Nighthawk Cowbird Coyote Lazuli Bunting Moose Pinyon Jay Sandhill Cranes Solitary Sandpipers Spotted Sandpiper White Pelican White-faced Ibis Wilson's Phalarope Yellow-breasted Chat https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/colorado-or-bust Wed, 12 Sep 2018 01:52:50 GMT
Sail Away with me https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/8/sail-away-with-me I got the opportunity to go on a 54' sailboat up to Desolation Sound.  The Nawalak is owned by Emerald Isle Sailing Charter, captained by Dave Lutz. It was a magical experience to be aboard a sailboat, touring some of the most beautiful spots on earth.  The winds were calm, so we ended up having to motor much of the way, but it was still beautiful.  Our first stop was to clear customs in Bedwell Harbor.  A River Otter kept us entertained for much of our wait. We motored north and spent the night in Pirates Cove, a beautiful protected harbor.  Before departing the next morning, we took a hike on the island.  My favorite find was an Anemone in a tidepool eating a crab.  Who knew? While motoring north to Nanaimo, we passed by a huge sandstone cliff loaded with nesting Cormorants.  As best I could tell, there were both Pelagic and Double-crested. The double-crested were the most interesting, as there was a leucistic chick: After leaving Nanaimo the next morning, we were even more surprised to find a leucistic Great Blue Heron (what is in the water?): The next day was our best day for wildlife photography. We saw many harbor seals and their pups: And one of my favorites, the Oystercatcher: Apparently there was something dead up on the cliff, because there were lots of Turkey Vultures: That evening we had a spectacular smoky sunset, then a smoky full moon rise: This area was also rich in wildlife.  Lots of harbor seals and oystercatchers, but also a new bird for me, the Black Turnstone: There was also a Bald Eagle nest on the adjoining island. The folks were hanging out trying to relax a bit: That day ended up being a long journey to our destination: Desolation Sound. The sky was smoky, creating an element of mystery as we sailed (yes, we finally sailed a bit, but the winds died again): The water up there was the most spectacular color blue: The terrain is so steep, we had to use a stern tie for the first time in the trip: We spent the entire day the next day swimming in the warm waters of Desolation Sound.  I got a tremendous sunburn, as I kind of lost my head swimming in these lovely waters. The next day we motored down to Refuge Cove. We only stopped for provisions and ice cream, but I think it was one of my favorite spots.  Really pretty spot, and very friendly people: That evening we anchored in probably the prettiest harbor of the whole trip. We were in Prideaux Haven, and there were at least 30 other boats anchored there when we arrived.  We found a fine spot to anchor and did not have to do a stern tie. The next morning, after a wonderful kayak trip around the area, we motored out into Georgia Straight.  It was dead calm and glassy smooth.  In this gorgeous calm water, we got our best sighting of Humpback Whales: There were 4 whales total, each pair was a juvenile and its mom. They had been breaching before we got there (darn, I missed it again), but we got the closest views I have ever had of a humpback: The next day we had to motorsail back across Georgia Straight. By now the wind had picked up, and I got to learn first hand how rough it can get out there.  It was only blowing about 15mph, but the trip over to Nanaimo was pretty rough.  I loved it, and actually took a nap so that I could enjoy the feeling of being rocked to sleep.

We spent the night in Nanaimo harbor, and then headed south.  We passed by the Cormorant colony again to look for the Leucistic chick again. No luck (it had fledged), but I got some great shots of a Pelagic Cormorant flying around with nesting material in its mouth: The final night out, we had a beautiful sunset, the end to an idyllic trip:

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(Nature by Nancy) Desolation Sound Gulf Islands leucistic https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/8/sail-away-with-me Tue, 07 Aug 2018 03:54:42 GMT
Virginia Rail nest https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/virginia-rail-nest I knew next to nothing about Virginia Rails when I found a nest. A bit of info about Rails: They are Precocial, meaning that from the day the chicks hatch, they are able to feed themselves. The parents will still help them to find food, and will protect them, but the chicks are independent from day one. The parents spend about 4 days protecting them and teaching them to forage. After this brief period, they disburse, and the chicks are on their own.  In this case, I think these chicks stayed with Mom and Pop for 5 days, but still, that is asking a lot! 

I believe I found the nest on the day the chicks hatched. I was thrilled to see these little black fluff balls: I had no idea how many chicks there were. Both Mom and Dad were helping to raise them, and the group was widely disbursed as they foraged through the grass and mud flats.  I think there were 5 chicks, but that is just a guess. There was almost always one chick under a parent.  These chicks would get fed by the parent. For some reason, I was not able to find the chicks on day two. I was probably there when they were all sleeping. On day three I decided to arrive at 5:30 am to catch the early morning foraging.  To my horror, I was greeted by a raccoon as he was raiding the nest.  I know we are not meant to intervene with nature, but my gut instinct took over, and I started yelling at the raccoon with my alpha voice.  He stood up and looked at me, then disappeared into the grass. I decided to leave the area, as there was nothing I could do at that point.  I returned one hour later, and much to my amazement, all chicks seem to have survived the attack. A short while later I was able to get a photo of 5 of the 7 members of the family. (I have no photos showing the entire family). On day 4, I chose to stay well back, so as to not stress the family. They had been through enough the day before with the raccoon. By day 5, however, I finally had a major breakthrough in my understanding of Rail behavior. I stayed well back on day 4, because they were vocalizing a lot, and I was concerned that I was making them nervous.  On day 5, however, they were vocalizing a lot even before I arrived.  I finally figured out that they are vocalizing constantly to keep in touch with each other.  It is the two parents who are calling constantly.  I think it is to let each other know where they are at any time, but also to keep the chicks nearby.  Once I realized this, I felt comfortable approaching much closer.  On average I think I stayed about 20 yards away from them, and they continued to forage, unconcerned about my presence.  The constant calling made it very easy to find them at any given time.  I spent almost 4 hours with them on that day. It was a good thing too, because this was their last day together. The parents kept tag-teaming each other. One would fly to "the mainland" (the nest was on a small island), while the other stayed behind.  After a few hours of this, finally both parents flew off for a brief vacation. The chicks took this opportunity to start venturing out away from the island. When I departed, both parents were back and foraging with the chicks. This was the last I saw of the family.  I returned on day 6, and searched for several hours. I saw no sign of adults or chicks. When they disburse, they really disburse.  I wish them all well, and it was an honor to spend the nestling period with them.

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(Nature by Nancy) nest Virginia Rail https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/virginia-rail-nest Sun, 15 Jul 2018 04:04:20 GMT
Falling Rainbows https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/falling-rainbows I have been playing with water in my back yard. The incentive was to attract Hummingbirds, since they like to bathe in moving water.  But, while waiting for the hummingbirds to show up, I played around photographing the water. I shot most of the pictures in the late afternoon, about 5 pm or so.  At certain times, the water spray from the hose would catch the light just right and rainbows would form: It was always clear water on top, transitioning to red, then yellow, then blue, then purple.  I played around a lot with closeups and got some cool effects: After a while, the sun moved and the effect was over: Something I am curious about is why the lines are all dashes? All photos were taken between 1/10 and 1/13th of a second.  If you increase the shutter speed to 1/40th of a second, this is what you see: 1/100th: 1/400th: Then lastly, 1/1000th: So, all the water is just little droplets, but I would like to know why at 1/10th of a second, it appears to be dashed lines. Any thoughts??

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(Nature by Nancy) https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/falling-rainbows Fri, 13 Jul 2018 01:57:30 GMT
Lemons into Lemonade https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/6/lemons-into-lemonade I went over to Bainbridge Island on June 6 looking for Bald Eagles.  A friend had reported that they were all over the beach.  I arrived at 6 am for the morning low tide.  Unfortunately, the low tide was not low enough (+2 feet), so the eagles had nothing to feed on.  However, I was treated to many other sights, so the day was far from wasted.

There was one juvenile eagle present just about all morning, but he barely moved off of his perch.  

Juvenile Bald EagleJuvenile Bald Eagle However, I was treated to many Belted Kingfisher sightings, including two successful fishing ventures.  

Male Belted KingfisherMale Belted Kingfisher The most entertaining part of the morning was the Purple Martins.  Many of the dock owners have gourds for the Martins to nest in, but the one pier without gourds had a Martin family nesting in a piling.  I got permission from the dock owner, and I spent the next hour watching the Martins.

This is Mama:

Female Purple MartinFemale Purple Martin This is Papa:

Male Purple Martin in flightMale Purple Martin in flight And this is the chick with papa:

Male Purple Martin with chickMale Purple Martin with chick And the whole family:

Purple Martin familyPurple Martin family

I was thoroughly entertained for the hour, but I moved on from there to see what other species I could find. I headed up to Indianola and found a small restored area with lots of wildlife:

Even before I got out of my car I was treated to a White-crowned Sparrow family:

White Crowned Sparrow with chickWhite Crowned Sparrow with chick I watched them for quite some time. There were two chicks, and I had just one opportunity to get them both in the same plane of focus:

White-crowned sparrow chicksWhite-crowned sparrow chicks While watching the chicks, I noticed something in a far away tree.  It was at least 150 yards away, so I took a picture to ID it.  While snapping the picture, what turned out to be a crow was regurgitating up a pellet.  I did not even know they did that. It is a lousy photo, but that is all I got:

Crow regurgitating a pelletCrow regurgitating a pellet Also in the area was a lot of Poison Hemlock.  It got me wondering whether the bees who feed upon it get poisoned. It turns out the answer is no.  The bees are just fine.

Honey bee on Poison Hemlock flowerHoney bee on Poison Hemlock flower Just before I left the nature preserve, I heard the unmistakable chirping of a Douglass Squirrel, so I felt obliged to take his picture.

Douglass SquirrelDouglass Squirrel I drove from there up to Point-no-Point.  I have always wanted to visit the area.  I know that it is a very famous migratory bird area. I had no expectation for what I would find, seeing as this is not a time of migration. It turns out that there was a flock of Steller's Jays there and they were constantly in motion.  I took probably 100 photos of them flying over my head, of which maybe 5 came out.  Hazy sky and dark birds do not make the best combination:

Steller's JaySteller's Jay I finally got one perched just before I left.  The end to a fruitful day:

Steller's JaySteller's Jay

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Bald Eagle Belted Kingfisher Purple Martin Stellar's Jay White-crowned Sparrow https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/6/lemons-into-lemonade Fri, 08 Jun 2018 01:21:31 GMT
Avocet mating dance https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/avocet-mating-dance I think one of the coolest things I witnessed at Malheur was the Avocet mating dance. We saw it three times and I was in awe each time.  The female assumes a prostrate position in the water, then the male dances around her, both splashing water and preening himself.  He then mounts her, makes a show of it, then after mating, he dismounts and the two of them engage in a beautiful post-mating dance.  The cross beaks in the most ornate way.  It was captivating to watch.

American Avocet mating danceAmerican Avocet mating dance American Avocet matingAmerican Avocet mating American Avocet post-mating danceAmerican Avocet post-mating dance American Avocet post-mating danceAmerican Avocet post-mating dance This "bill crossing" is the closest thing I have seen to a kiss.  It was very beautiful to watch.

 

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) American Avocets Malheur National Wildlife Refuge https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/avocet-mating-dance Tue, 29 May 2018 21:37:44 GMT
May 27 was a very productive day! https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/may-27-was-a-very-productive-day I have been trying to get down to Lake Washington to watch the Bald Eagles and Osprey feeding.  The season to watch them is short, so I try to get down there when I can.  It has been very cloudy lately, so photographic conditions have not been the best.  But Sunday worked out very well.  We had some passing clouds, but it was sunny more than not. The day started with a lovely sunrise over the north end of the lake:

Sunrise over KenmoreSunrise over Kenmore The day started out well. I got some great views of a juvenile Bald Eagle hunting:

Juvenile Eagle HuntingJuvenile Eagle Hunting Juvenile Eagle HuntingJuvenile Eagle Hunting He caught a good sized perch, and flew off to enjoy his catch:

Juvenile Eagle HuntingJuvenile Eagle Hunting Unfortunately, things are never easy. The eagle was pursued by several other eagles wanting his catch:

Juvenile Bald EaglesJuvenile Bald Eagles In the end, an adult eagle caused the juvenile to drop the fish.  The adult flew down and retrieved it.  Seems pretty unfair!

I also spent a lot of time photographing baby fish (salmon fry?) jumping. They were feeding on the numerous mayflies hovering over the water:

Baby fish jumping in Lake WashingtonBaby fish jumping in Lake Washington I then hung out with some baby Mallard Ducklings. They also were feasting on the Mayflies:

Baby Mallard eating May FliesBaby Mallard eating May Flies Lastly, I spent the early evening in my kayak.  I got one of my best views ever of a Cinnamon Teal.

Cinnamon TealCinnamon Teal

It was a really great day from beginning to end. I wish every day could be so much fun and productive!

 

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(Nature by Nancy) bald eagle Cinnamon Teal mallard ducklings salmon fry https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/may-27-was-a-very-productive-day Tue, 29 May 2018 04:26:24 GMT
Malheur part two - South https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/malheur-part-two---south We proceeded to the south end of Malheur and stayed in the thriving metropolis of Frenchglen, population 8. Very cute hotel.

We started by looking for the Virginia Rail.  This is all I saw at first: his reflection while hiding in the bushes Reflection of a hiding Virginia RailReflection of a hiding Virginia Rail Then a peek-a-boo look at him in the bushes Virginia Rail hiding in the shadowVirginia Rail hiding in the shadow Finally he came out into the open Virginia RailVirginia Rail Second, we got to see a pheasant. Really beautiful birds. PheasantPheasant

There were lots of Black-necked Stilt Black-necked StiltBlack-necked Stilt And Northern Harrier building their nests Northern Harrier carrying nesting materialNorthern Harrier carrying nesting material Ruddy Ducks in their breeding plumage Ruddy Duck in breeding plumageRuddy Duck in breeding plumage Redheads RedheadsRedheads And last, but not least, very cute ground squirrels Belding's Ground SquirrelBelding's Ground Squirrel  

 

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Black-necked Stilt Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Northern Harrier Redhead Ring-necked Pheasant Ruddy Duck Virginia Rail https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/malheur-part-two---south Wed, 02 May 2018 17:27:22 GMT
Malheur part one - North https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/malheur-part-one---north Soo and I joined a wildlife photography tour to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  The tour was run by Trogon Tours. It was a first time for both of us to Malheur.  The first few days were spent in the north section. Here are some of my favorite photos:

Burrowing Owl in flight:

Burrowing Owl in flightBurrowing Owl in flight Sage Thrasher was a life bird for me Sage ThrasherSage Thrasher Meadowlarks were everywhere MeadowlarkMeadowlark There were still some Sandhill Cranes around. This guy was dancing, but his mate just stood and watched Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane

We saw at least 3 Great Horned Owl nests while on the trip Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl Swainson's Hawk, another life bird Swainson's HawkSwainson's Hawk Long-billed Curlew, my first time seeing them up close Long-billed CurlewLong-billed Curlew There were huge flocks of White-faced Ibis, another life bird White-faced IbisWhite-faced Ibis White-faced IbisWhite-faced Ibis Male Northern Harrier, the Grey Ghost.  I have never seen one perched before Male Northern HarrierMale Northern Harrier

Redhead Redhead duckRedhead duck Willet WilletWillet Franklin's Gull Franklin's GullFranklin's Gull

Black-necked Stilt Black-necked StiltBlack-necked Stilt Sora SoraSora Wilson's Snipe Wilson's SnipeWilson's Snipe My one and only flight shot of the Long-billed Curlew Long-billed CurlewLong-billed Curlew I will get part two of the trip assembled soon (southern section).

 

 

 

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) black-necked stilt burrowing owl franklin's gull great-horned harrier" long-billed curlew meadowlark northern owl" readhead sage thrasher sandhill crane sora swainson's hawk white-faced ibis willet wilson's snipe https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/malheur-part-one---north Sun, 29 Apr 2018 18:03:14 GMT
Hummingbird Video https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/hummingbird-video Soo Baus and I got a change to witness an Anna's Hummingbird nest from hatching to fledging. This was from May 9th to June 4th 2017. We had excellent visibility into the nest, and were able to work slowly and carefully so as not to disturb mama.  The video is 11 minutes long, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

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(Nature by Nancy) anna's hummingbird anna's hummingbird nest hummingbird chicks https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/hummingbird-video Sun, 29 Apr 2018 17:01:21 GMT
Eastern Washington, day 1 https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/eastern-washington-day-1 Soo and I are on our way to Oregon, so this was day one of our trip. We hit the Ellensburg area and Othello.

Great Horned Owl nest.

Fledged Great Horned Owls

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(Nature by Nancy) Great-horned Owl chicks https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/eastern-washington-day-1 Wed, 18 Apr 2018 12:32:01 GMT
Malheur trip - day 3 https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/malheur-trip---day-3 Day three of our trip to Oregon.  Soo and I got out on our own for the morning before we were to meet up with the tour company in the afternoon.

Horned Lark

Sandhill Cranes 

Marmot

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Horned Lark Marmot Sandhill Cranes https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/malheur-trip---day-3 Wed, 18 Apr 2018 12:31:31 GMT
Eastern Washington and Oregon trip, day 2 https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/eastern-washington-and-oregon-trip-day-2 Soo and I are on our way to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for a photography workshop.  These are our captures for day two of our trip: eastern Washington and Oregon:

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Burrowing Owls

Alpacas just outside of Pendelton, OR

Pronghorns in Eastern Oregon

Sandhill Cranes in Eastern Oregon

Coyote sizing up whether it was worth attacking the cranes.  The answer was no.

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(Nature by Nancy) alpaca Burrowing Owl Coyote Pronghorn Sandhill Cranes Dancing Yellow-headed Blackbird https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/eastern-washington-and-oregon-trip-day-2 Tue, 17 Apr 2018 19:09:08 GMT
Horned Grebe in breeding plumage https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/horned-grebe-in-breeding-plumage I have always enjoyed photographing the Horned Grebes.  They seem so dainty and elegant.  Then, come spring, they transition into a devilish appearance.  We just have a short window in which to capture this phase, as they take off soon to their breeding grounds up north. It took me three hours of searching the Edmonds waterfront to find this guy, but I was then able to follow him for about 1/2 hour. I got him in all sorts of lighting conditions, so that made it really rewarding.

Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Is that clear enough that I am enamored with these exotic looking birds? I sure would love to photograph them in their breeding grounds, but that is far to the north.

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(Nature by Nancy) Horned Grebe Horned Grebe breeding plumage https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/horned-grebe-in-breeding-plumage Fri, 30 Mar 2018 17:38:08 GMT
Birder Babes do Blaine - take two https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/birder-babes-do-blaine---take-two A small group of us went up to Blaine for the Wings Over Water Bird Festival.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we ended up spending more time birding than going to talks.  The winds were very light, so we got good reflection shots.  A Horned Grebe in transition to breeding colors was hanging around the end of the dock. We had ample opportunity to shoot him.

Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe Horned GrebeHorned Grebe There was also a Barrow's Goldeneye hanging out pretty close to the dock

Barrows GoldeneyeBarrows Goldeneye There were no females around, but he kept displaying to the Horned Grebe

Barrows GoldeneyeBarrows Goldeneye I have never had a chance to shoot a White-winged Scoter up close, but lots were flying by

White-winged ScoterWhite-winged Scoter We also had a close encounter with a Common Loon.  It was fishing along the jetty, so I got many opportunities to photograph it as it rose up out of the water.  I had hoped that it would have a crab in its mouth, but no such luck

Common LoonCommon Loon Common LoonCommon Loon Common LoonCommon Loon Common LoonCommon Loon Common LoonCommon Loon We went on a 45 minute boat ride, and the highlight was a Bald Eagle chasing gulls and cormorants. The Eagle was not successful.

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant Bald EagleBald Eagle For the last part of the day we headed over to Semiahmoo. The highlight for me was a close encounter with two Black Oystercatchers.  They were eating clams, not oyster, but close enough.

Black OystercatcherBlack Oystercatcher Black OystercatcherBlack Oystercatcher Black OystercatcherBlack Oystercatcher It was a gorgeous day, and we felt a tinge of guilt not attending the lectures, but we sure enjoyed the day.

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(Nature by Nancy) Bald Eagle Barrow's Goldeneye Common Loon Double-crested Cormorant Horned Grebe Oystercatchers White-winged Scoter https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/birder-babes-do-blaine---take-two Sun, 18 Mar 2018 20:08:00 GMT
Fort Simcoe State Park - a woodpecker haven! https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/fort-simcoe-state-park---a-woodpecker-haven The Birder Babes made a trip out to Fort Simcoe State Park near Yakima, WA. We were after two species of woodpeckers: the Lewis's Woodpecker, a regular resident, and the Acorn Woodpecker, a rare visitor.  

The Lewis's Woodpecker was a lifer for me.  They are spectacularly beautiful birds!

Lewis's WoodpeckerLewis's Woodpecker Lewis's WoodpeckerLewis's Woodpecker Lewis's WoodpeckerLewis's Woodpecker Lewis's WoodpeckerLewis's Woodpecker The bonus for this trip was to find the one and only Acorn Woodpecker at the Park.  They normally do not come this far north, but this one managed to find the dozens of Gary Oak Trees planted on the property.  Gary oak is one of their preferred food sources.

Gary Oak AcornGary Oak Acorn Acorn WoodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker One thing that really surprised us all was to watch the Acorn Woodpecker sallying (catching insects on the fly). I did not know that woodpeckers did this. That is one reason I have this hobby. I learn something new every day.  This next picture shows him eating an insect he just caught on the fly.

Acorn WoodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker Lastly, I saw a Downy Woodpecker as well.  The final icing on the cake:

Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker We ended the day by looking at the very early wildflowers that have emerged.  I am guessing that the first one is a type of Fritillaria, but that is only a guess.

WildflowerWildflower I don't know who the rest are, but they sure are pretty:

Wildflower with insectWildflower with insect WildflowerWildflower WildflowersWildflowers Fort Simcoe is a great place for bird watching, but if you go at this time of year, watch out for the electric fence.  it is not well marked and it is live.  We presumed that it was to keep grazing cattle out, but that was not clear, because there were cow pies everywhere. 

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(Nature by Nancy) acorn woodpecker downy woodpecker fort simcoe state park lewis's woodpecker https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/fort-simcoe-state-park---a-woodpecker-haven Fri, 16 Mar 2018 18:29:52 GMT
Tis' the season: Wood Duck mating https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/tis-the-season-wood-duck-mating Get used to it folks, it is the season for making babies, so the topic will be well covered here.  I got to see Wood Ducks today getting amorous.  Kind of reminded me of Junior High School.  The female was totally into the flirting, while the male just was not getting it.  Once he got the hang of it, however, he was a very tender lover.

First they prepare for the hot date:

Wood DuckWood Duck Second, the female lets him know that she is available:

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Third, he swims around like a dork for about 5 minutes.

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Fourth, he finally figures out what he is supposed to do:

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Fifth, she totally sinks under his weight:

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Sixth, he grabs a tuft of her feathers to hold her head up out of the water.  It was very sweet to watch:

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Seventh, they hold this position for about a minute: 

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Eighth, he dunks her head under water, then pulls it up again.  It looked like a baptism!

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Lastly, the dismount.

Wood Duck matingWood Duck mating Get a room!

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) wood duck mating https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/tis-the-season-wood-duck-mating Thu, 15 Mar 2018 02:22:19 GMT
First Kayak trip of 2018 https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/first-kayak-trip-of-2018 Temperatures soared into the 70's on Monday, so I felt obliged to take a spin in the kayak. I toured around the north end of Lake Washington, but did not get far, because within 5 minutes of putting in, I found a Bald Eagle eating his breakfast.

He had just arrived with this poor unfortunate female Common Merganser.  She apparently had just had a very good fishing session, because there was still fish in her mouth.

The current was very strong in the slough, so I found a log to wedge myself against, and watched the Eagle for 25 minutes as he consumed the merganser.  

  A buddy of his flew in, and I thought for sure there was going to be a fight. But alas, the other just sat and watched

I only had about one more hour to tour around before i had to head back.  There were lots and lots of birds out, but most were too skittish to let me close.  This male Common Merganser was the best I could do.

There were lots and lots of Wood Ducks, but they were hiding in the brush surrounding the lake, and they would not let me any where near.  I hope this means that they are starting to nest.  I will keep an eye out in the next few months for baby Wood Ducks.

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(Nature by Nancy) Bald Eagle Common Merganser https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/first-kayak-trip-of-2018 Wed, 14 Mar 2018 01:10:30 GMT
Winter garden at the Arboretum https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/winter-garden-at-the-arboretum Janet and I had about one free hour this morning, so we decided to make a quick trip to the Arboretum.  I love the Winter Garden this time of year.  There is always something blooming or otherwise colorful.  It is a great way to lift your mood from all this grey and rain.

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(Nature by Nancy) https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/3/winter-garden-at-the-arboretum Mon, 05 Mar 2018 04:35:30 GMT
Red-winged Blackbird - the perfect model https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/red-winged-blackbird---the-perfect-model I stopped by Juanita Bay Park just before sunset. I was on my way to an Audubon meeting and I had an hour to kill.  It is now time for the male Red-winged Blackbirds to be staking out their territories.  I saw no females around, but the males were perched and singing their hearts out.  One male was in the last ray of sunshine, and boy did he make the perfect model.  He was working it from every angle.  I took over 200 photos of him, but here are ten of my favorites.

Red-winged BlackbirdRed-winged Blackbird Red-winged BlackbirdRed-winged Blackbird Red-winged BlackbirdRed-winged Blackbird This boy has a future in modeling, and I hear he works for CHEEP!

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(Nature by Nancy) red-winged blackbird https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/red-winged-blackbird---the-perfect-model Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:29:56 GMT
Many faces of Pelagic Cormorants https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/many-faces-of-pelagic-cormorants I got some of my better pictures today of a Pelagic Cormorant.  He looked completely different depending on the sun angle. 

Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant They are either very beautiful or extremely drab depending on how you catch them.  

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(Nature by Nancy) Pelagic Cormorants https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/many-faces-of-pelagic-cormorants Tue, 20 Feb 2018 02:52:47 GMT
Skagit Valley on February 10 https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/skagit-valley-on-february-10 I made my first trip of the year up to the Skagit Valley yesterday.  It was our first really sunny day of the month, so I had to take full advantage.  One purpose of the trip was to check to see if the Tree Swallows have returned. They are just now arriving, so I will check back in a few weeks to see if their nest building has begun.  

I arrived at sunrise to try to capture the good light:

Ducks at sunriseDucks at sunrise I really liked the lighting on this Bald Eagle:

Bald Eagle at sunriseBald Eagle at sunrise The Olympic Mountains at sunrise: Olympic Mountains at sunriseOlympic Mountains at sunrise The back-lighting was really good for the water birds, so I worked on that task for a while:

Great Blue Heron at sunriseGreat Blue Heron at sunrise Great Blue Heron at sunriseGreat Blue Heron at sunrise BuffleheadBufflehead Female BuffleheadFemale Bufflehead Once the sun was up, I could start to work on other subjects. The harriers were having all sorts of fun flying over my head:

Northern HarrierNorthern Harrier In addition, I got to see a dark morph of the Rough-legged Hawk:

Rough-legged HawkRough-legged Hawk The air was so clear, and the light superb, so I decided to join the masses and capture a few images of the Snow Geese with Mount Baker as a backdrop.

Snow Geese in the Skagit ValleySnow Geese in the Skagit Valley It was finally time to head home, but I decided to take the back roads instead of the highway.  I wanted to see if any Kestrel were hunting over the farm fields.  I found a Kestrel within minutes of my drive:

KestrelKestrel It was a great day up in the Skagit.  I need to head back because there is so much more to see. 

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(Nature by Nancy) American Kestrel Bald Eagle Rough-legged Hawk Snow Geese https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/skagit-valley-on-february-10 Sun, 11 Feb 2018 18:51:06 GMT
This big one did not get away https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/this-big-one-did-not-get-away I went to the Edmond's Pier today despite the impending rain.  I ended up getting over an hour there before the rain started.  By far the most amusing catch of the day was a Double-crested Cormorant who caught a Sculpin that was WAY too big for him to get down easily. It took a full three minutes for him to get it down, but not without a fight.

This was my first view of the scene.  There is no way this is going down easily.

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant There were several occasions where he seemed to be about to swallow it, but he had to spit it out repeatedly to get it re-positioned.

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant Finally the competition arrived.  Both the Gull and another Cormorant wanted that fish badly.

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant Then it got really interesting when a second Cormorant entered the fray. 

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant I guess the Cormorants will bite the neck to force the first one to regurgitate the fish.  Thankfully it did not work and the first Cormorant got to keep his fish. He finally got to swallow it. This has GOT to be painful:

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant Even as he was swallowing it, he was attacked one last time by the other Cormorant:

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant But, none of the antics worked and he was able to FINALLY swallow the fish.  The entire drama took 3 minutes. 

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant

If you want to see more pictures from the day, click here: February 1, 2018

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(Nature by Nancy) double-crested cormorant https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/this-big-one-did-not-get-away Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:48:30 GMT
A day of sunshine!! https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/a-day-of-sunshine I knew they had predicted light showers for today and some sunbreaks, but we got a far better day than promised.  I brought my camera with me to work, then headed down to the Arboretum as soon as I could. My goal was to photograph the Townsend's Warbler and hummingbirds. Our winter garden has a rare form of Mahonia. The "Arthur Menzies" variety is one of the first to bloom, and it attracts the warblers and hummingbirds.  

The sun got stronger and stronger as the day went on.  I got some pretty good shots of the male hummingbird's iridescence.

Anna's HummingbirdAnna's Hummingbird Anna's HummingbirdAnna's Hummingbird They were feeding on the "Arthur Menzies" just about constantly:

Anna's HummingbirdAnna's Hummingbird And last, but not least, I got a few good shots of the Townsend's Warbler:

Townsend's WarblerTownsend's Warbler Townsend's WarblerTownsend's Warbler All in all, it was a very successful day, and it will just have to hold me until we get another bout of sunshine.   To see more shots from the day, click here: January 30, 2018

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(Nature by Nancy) Anna's Hummingbird Townsend's Warbler https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/a-day-of-sunshine Wed, 31 Jan 2018 04:38:08 GMT
Birder Babes do Blaine https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/birder-babes-do-blaine I belong to this wonderful group of women called the "Birder Babes".  It is a group of some of the finest women I know; bright, inquisitive and hard working.  The best possible combination of attributes.  We band together to make trips happen to some awesome birding locations.  Most recently we went to the Semiahmoo Spit in Blaine, WA. It was a beautiful sunny day, which, as it turned out, was about the only sunny day of the entire month.  We totally scored. Here are some of my favorite images from the day.

Mount Baker from SemiahmooMount Baker from Semiahmoo We saw lots of Common Loons, but I managed to finally capture one Red-throated Loon

Red-throated LoonRed-throated Loon Common Loon eating a crab:

Common Loon eating a crabCommon Loon eating a crab I had the closest encounters with a Harlequin Duck I have ever had:

Harlequin DuckHarlequin Duck Harlequin DuckHarlequin Duck One of the missions of the trip was to see the Long-tailed Duck.  The main group of ducks stayed well offshore, but one lone female swam closer to us.

Female Long-tailed DuckFemale Long-tailed Duck They are very dramatic when they dive, and throw up a beautiful spray:

Long-tailed duck diving sprayLong-tailed duck diving spray Just before we were ready to leave, a male Long-tailed Duck started drifting toward shore.  He was sound asleep:

Male Long-tailed Duck sleepingMale Long-tailed Duck sleeping He finally woke up once he hit shore, but he never seemed fully aware of where he was. He just bobbed in the waves for a minute or more:

Male Long-tailed DuckMale Long-tailed Duck He finally turned around and started swimming, but he still seemed pretty out of it:

Male Long-tailed DuckMale Long-tailed Duck Our last big show of the day was the Red-breasted Mergansers.  They have this wonderfully amusing way of chasing the one that caught the fish.  Seems counter-productive, but that is what they do.

Red-breasted MerganserRed-breasted Merganser The have to swallow their prey while swimming at high speed:

Red-breasted MerganserRed-breasted Merganser Semiahmoo is a fabulous location, and if the rain ever stops, I will head back up there.  In the meantime, I just get to work on my blog entries! 

To see more pictures from the day, click here: Semiahmoo

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(Nature by Nancy) Common Loon Harlequin Duck Long-tailed duck Red0breasted Merganser Red-throated Loon https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/birder-babes-do-blaine Mon, 22 Jan 2018 17:24:15 GMT
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly I had a very interesting day kayaking around Elkhorn Slough. It is a beautiful estuary south of Santa Cruz.  There were all sorts of interesting birds to see, but in addition, they have a rebounding population of Sea Otters.  There is never a dull moment watching these critters, but I have since learned that there is a dark side to these cuddly creatures. But, first the fun stuff.

The Harbor Seals are always a joy to watch: Harbor Seal having a good laughHarbor Seal having a good laugh Then Pelagic cormorants: Pelagic CormorantPelagic Cormorant And, as you may have guessed from my earlier posts, the Forster's Terns are always fun to watch: Forster's TernForster's Tern Now, the Sea Otters: very cute, especially when with their young: Sea OtterSea Otter But something I started noticing was that just about every female had severe damage to her nose.   Sea OtterSea Otter I had to research this when I got home, and I was not at all amused with the answer: Here is an excerpt from an article called "The Dark Side of California Sea Otters" in a blog called Out of the Fog

Sea otter males pursue the females relentlessly during mating season. Even after they are caught, female sea otters vigorously resist mating. So vigorously, that the males hold the female’s head underwater to subdue her. Sometimes females drown during mating.

Because the male bites the female on the head to subdue her, females suffer serious wounds during mating – often biting the nose off of her face. In one survey, 4% of female sea otter deaths came from these wounds. And males will continue attempting to mate with dead females.

As if this was not depressing enough, I observed another upsetting thing in the slough as well.  At first I noticed Honey Bees landing on my boat.  No big deal.  Then I noticed them landing in the water (salt water). Honey Bee in Elkhorn SloughHoney Bee in Elkhorn Slough Pretty soon there were 100's if not 1000's of bees landing and  drowning in the water. I am going to have to research this to find out what was happening.

So, the good, the bad and the ugly.  It was an interesting day, but sometimes nature can be harsh.

To see more pictures from the day, click here: Elkhorn Slough Pictures

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Forster's Terns Honeybees Pelagic Cormorant Sea Otters https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly Tue, 19 Dec 2017 19:07:15 GMT
Clark's Grebe courtship https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/-grebe-courtship I was told by another birder that he had observed the Western/Clark's Grebes courting each other. My dream is to observe this behavior, as it is one of the most beautiful dances one could witness.  However, these birds are not yet in breeding plumage, so I was not sure exactly what he observed.  I made it my mission to watch these birds closely for an hour or two. What I saw was one bird catching a fish, then presenting it to the other.  It was a very pre-scripted performance. The one catching the fish kills it, and with crest flared, presents it to the other.  The other bird does not have a flared crest, and keeps its head very low.  I witnessed this several times.

Step one, catch the fish:

's

Step two, kill the fish:

Western GrebeWestern Grebe Step three, present the fish:

Western GrebeWestern Grebe Step four, accept the fish:

Western GrebeWestern Grebe Step five, consume the fish under the careful supervision of the presenter: Western GrebeWestern Grebe The captor of the fish kept his/her crest flared the whole time.  It was amusing to see how closely he/she watched the acceptor. It is reminiscent of a parent-chick relationship. I think there will be some baby Grebes in the not too distant future.

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) clarks grebe https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/-grebe-courtship Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:42:38 GMT
Portrait day at the SF Baylands https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/portrait-day-at-the-sf-baylands I got lots of closeups today both from my kayak and from land.  Everyone just felt like posing for me today.

It started with a Say's Phoebe.

Say's PhoebeSay's Phoebe

 

Then a Yellow-rumped warbler:

Yellow-rumped WarblerYellow-rumped Warbler American Pipit:

PipitPipit Great Egret:

Great EgretGreat Egret Black Phoebe:

Black PhoebeBlack Phoebe Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawk eating a Coot.Red-tailed hawk eating a Coot. Eared Grebe:

Eared GrebeEared Grebe Ruddy Duck

Ruddy DuckRuddy Duck And lastly a Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested cormorantDouble-crested cormorant It was a fun day to watch the birds while they were nice and calm.

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(Nature by Nancy) american pipit black phoebe" "red-tailed hawk" "eared grebe" "ruddy duck" "double-crested cormorant" great egret say's phoebe yellow-rumped warbler https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/portrait-day-at-the-sf-baylands Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:09:35 GMT
Forster's Terns https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/forsters-terns I have always enjoyed watching terns fishing.  Nothing subtle about their fishing style.  Back home in Seattle it is the Caspian Tern with its obnoxious screeching that I spend hours watching.  Here in California it is the Forster's tern.  They really like to fish along one stretch of beach in Redwood City, so I have been spending a lot of time observing them.  On occasion I am lucky enough to photograph them surfacing with a fish in their mouth.  

They always cruise about 20 feet above the water looking for fish.

Forster's TernForster's Tern Once they spot a fish, they do all sorts of wonderful aerial acrobatics:

Forster's TernForster's Tern

Then the dramatic dive:

Forster's TernForster's Tern Forster's TernForster's Tern

And the landing:

Forster's TernForster's Tern

Forster's TernForster's Tern Success!

Forster's TernForster's Tern I will likely spend many more hours with these birds.  They ae soooo much fun to watch!

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Forster's Tern https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/forsters-terns Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:06:21 GMT
Point Reyes Peninsula with Kestrel and Bobcat bookends. https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/point-reyes-peninsula-with-kestrel-and-bobcat-bookends I had the pleasure to travel to Point Reyes Peninsula with Dave Mauk, naturalist and photographer extraordinaire.  We were treated from one end to the other with extraordinary sightings.  We were not even to the parking area yet when we found a Kestrel feeding on a fence post.  It was the closest I have ever gotten to a Kestrel.

Kestrel eating its breakfastKestrel eating its breakfast Once on the trail leading down the peninsula, we were treated to one sight after another.  We had more Northern Harrier sightings than I think I have ever had before.

Northern HarrierNorthern Harrier

One of the biggest treats was viewing hundreds of Tule Elk.  This is a new animal for me, and a huge treat.  They were almost hunted to extinction 100 years ago.

Tule ElkTule Elk We were also treated to dozens of hawk sightings.  Some of whom I recognized, some not.

Unknown HawkUnknown Hawk

Red-tailed HawkRed-tailed Hawk

As if these sightings were not enough, we then got to see a coyote hunting for a vole.

Coyote hunting for volesCoyote hunting for voles

Coyote hunting for volesCoyote hunting for voles

Enough you say?  No, the day was not over yet. Even though we reluctantly drove away (but Dave's convertible made the departure tolerable!), we had one more sighting awaiting us: a bobcat!  We had heard from another visitor that they had seen one, but bobcats are VERY hard to see, so it is not as though we were spending any time looking for it.  We were now out of the park and driving through pasture land.

BobcatBobcat Unbelievable day from one end to the other.  Thanks Dave for a great trip.

To see more photos from the day, click here: Point Reyes Photos

 

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(Nature by Nancy) American Kestrel Bobcat Coyote Northern Harrier Red-tailed Hawk Tule Elk https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/point-reyes-peninsula-with-kestrel-and-bobcat-bookends Thu, 07 Dec 2017 22:31:06 GMT
White-Tailed Kite Fight https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/white-tailed-kite-fight I have never seen a White-tailed Kite ever before in my life, but I got to witness a pair fighting over San Francisco Bay in the town of Redwood City. They started fighting quite a distance from me, but the fight continued for at least 5 minutes. As they were fighting they kept working their way southward, and eventually they were right over my head.

It all started out innocently enough

White-tailed KiteWhite-tailed Kite Then the fun began

White-tailed Kites fightingWhite-tailed Kites fighting White-tailed Kites fightingWhite-tailed Kites fighting Eventually they ended up locking talons and spiraling to earth

White-tailed Kites fightingWhite-tailed Kites fighting White-tailed Kites fightingWhite-tailed Kites fighting

As far as I could tell, no one got hurt. It sure was fun to watch!! White-tailed KiteWhite-tailed Kite

 

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(Nature by Nancy) white-tailed kite https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/white-tailed-kite-fight Tue, 28 Nov 2017 06:16:47 GMT
Kayaking success https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/kayaking-success I am having a ball with my new little kayak.  When shopping for a kayak a few weeks ago, I was told by the salesman at REI that it was not possible to do photography from a kayak.  So, this will be our little secret.  After all, they are the experts.

I went out again just before sunrise, and caught a cormorant taking off from his post.  

Cormorant at sunriseCormorant at sunrise After that, I headed over to my favorite part of the lake where the Western Grebes hang out.  It is at the very north end of the lake near where the Kenmore Air planes take off.  There is also a gravel and cement company up there, and most of these pictures were taken by a HUGE rusty barge that was being loaded with gravel.  The rusted metal provided a really nice hue to the pictures.

Western grebeWestern grebe The Grebes were so relaxed while I was there they even took a nap. It is nice that they do not see me as a threat.

Western grebe asleepWestern grebe asleep My favorite, however, is when they look over or swim toward me.  You then get that lovely look of that crest.

Western grebeWestern grebe Western grebeWestern grebe They also preened for a while, giving some really nice photo ops.

Western grebeWestern grebe Western grebeWestern grebe They spent a huge amount of time fishing, but not once did I see them surface with a fish in their mouths.  I guess I will have to go back again. Darn!

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(Nature by Nancy) double-crested cormorant kenmore washington lake washington western grebe https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/kayaking-success Sat, 28 Oct 2017 23:00:44 GMT
My new photographic tool - a kayak! https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/my-new-photographic-tool---a-kayak I have been wanting to get a boat of some kind to get me out onto the water.  It had to be light, stable and easily maneuverable.  I ended up with a very inexpensive Kayak (Pelican Trailblazer, $200). I went out yesterday for the first time to just test it out.  Today was my first day with the camera.  It was calm and clear at 7 am when I set out from Logboom Park in Kenmore.  The wind picked up a bit as the morning progressed, but never got to the point of being problematic.  In two hours I saw at least 10 species of birds. I had set out before sunrise, so it was a while til I could get decent shots.

My first Canvasbacks and Bufflehead of the year.

Canvasbacks and Bufflehead hanging together right at sunriseCanvasbacks and Bufflehead hanging together right at sunrise I found a tree that appears to be a favorite kingfisher hangout.  I predict I will be spending a lot of time at this tree.

Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher The sun finally came up and the world started to look a whole lot brighter.

Sunrise in KenmoreSunrise in Kenmore My favorite catch of the day was a group of Western Grebes.  I have only photographed one before, and it was at quite a distance. These guys were pretty chill as I drifted around.   Western GrebeWestern Grebe Western GrebeWestern Grebe As I was paddling back to shore, I had to pass a cormorant hangout.  I got some pretty good shots of them posing and flying.

Double-Crested CormorantDouble-Crested Cormorant Double-Crested CormorantDouble-Crested Cormorant

As I approached my landing spot, a raft of Coots and Wigeons were there to greet me.

Coots and WigeonCoots and Wigeon It was a fantastic morning, and I look forward to many many more hours in that delightful kayak.

To see more photos from the day, click here: October 23, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) American Wigeon Belted Kingfisher Coot Double-crested Cormorant Western Grebe https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/my-new-photographic-tool---a-kayak Wed, 25 Oct 2017 03:18:14 GMT
Coots are smarter than they look https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/coots-are-smarter-than-they-look OK, let's face it, Coots don't look like they always have both oars in the water, but I have gained a new level of respect for them. I witnessed an Eagle attacking a raft of Coots, and their defensive mechanism worked quite well.  They splash up so much water that the Eagle can no longer see them.  I watched the Eagle make 20 or more passes, and he never succeeded in getting a grasp on a Coot.  

I watched this drama for about 20 minutes.  During that time the Eagle had to take several breaks because he was getting so exhausted.  About one hour later, I was in a different part of Juanita Park when the Eagle flew in with a Coot in the talons.  So, likely the Eagle attacks the raft of Coots enough times to finally exhaust the Coots as well.  Whoever has the most stamina wins.

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(Nature by Nancy) bald eagle coot https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/coots-are-smarter-than-they-look Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:42:56 GMT
Gadwall goof https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/gadwall-goof I don't know much about Gadwall behavior, but apparently the male made a major boo boo, because the female tore into him when he crossed the line. It all started innocently enough. They were swimming together quite happily

The male then started getting affectionate (?) 

Male and Female GadwallMale and Female Gadwall The female seemed ok with it until he got a bit too close

Male and female GadwallMale and female Gadwall At this point, she nailed him

Male and Female Gadwall fightingMale and Female Gadwall fighting Did this deflate his ego? Apparently not.  He still did the happy dance as though they had mated

GadwallGadwall Editors note: I may be a tad anthropormorphizing here!

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(Nature by Nancy) gadwall https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/gadwall-goof Sun, 15 Oct 2017 03:30:32 GMT
Digger Wasp catching and burying a paralyzed grasshopper https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/digger-wasp-catching-and-burying-a-paralyzed-grasshopper My friend Soo and I were visiting the Skagit Wildlife Refuge looking for shorebirds.  Not much was happening when we arrived, so we starting trying to photograph the numerous grasshoppers basking in the warm sun along the gravel path. I also noticed another insect on the path, but he was moving so fast along the ground I could not see what he was doing.  Soo, with her far superior vision, could tell that this other insect was dragging a grasshopper.  I then got out the camera and started shooting.  I was amazed to find out that what we had found was a parasitic digger wasp carrying its paralyzed grasshopper.  I do not know what species of digger wasp this is.   Digger wasp carrying a paralyzed grasshopperDigger wasp carrying a paralyzed grasshopper The wasp deposited the grasshopper under a shrub.  I could tell that the grasshopper was still alive because the abdomen was still moving slightly. The wasp then proceeded to dig several dens.  I don't know at this point the reason for several dens.  He went back and forth between the two.  I don't know if he was planning to bury two grasshoppers, or he was just trying to figure out which den was working out the best.  

Digger wasp digging its denDigger wasp digging its den At this point I started videoing the process.  This was all set up very last minute, and my video skills are not the best, so the videos are a bit jumpy. But, I think they captured what the wasp was doing.

Digger Wasp digging its den The den seemed to collapse, but he kept at it and made it much deeper.

Digger Wasp digging its den He then started working on a second den.  This second one ended up being the final resting place for the paralyzed grasshopper.

Digger Wasp digging its second denDigger Wasp digging its second den Digger Wasp digging a second den It now was time to size up the grasshopper to see if the den was large enough to store him.  The wasp mounted the grasshopper and moved it a few inches.

Digger Wasp digging its denDigger Wasp digging its den He just moved it a bit, then dismounted and ran off to dig the den deeper, leaving the paralyzed grasshopper to just sit there in the sun.

Paralyzed grasshopperParalyzed grasshopper Once the den was deemed to be adequate, the wasp came back and mounted the grasshopper for one last journey to the den.  Sorry about the poor video quality.  The wasp was moving really fast, and was very hard to track.

Digger wasp carrying the paralyzed grasshopper to its den Once the grasshopper is safely in the den, the digger wasp lays an egg on the grasshopper.  The growing larva will then feed on the grasshopper.  Pretty gruesome, but absolutely fascinating.  I never thought I would have a chance to witness this in action.

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(Nature by Nancy) digger wasp paralyzed grasshopper https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/digger-wasp-catching-and-burying-a-paralyzed-grasshopper Sun, 27 Aug 2017 13:03:45 GMT
Mount Rainier on a smoky day https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/mount-rainier-on-a-smoky-day We headed up to Mount Rainier with no idea that the BC fires would so affect our views. Mount Rainier was barely visible by noon. Thank goodness we were primarily there to photograph the wildflowers. Here are some of my favorite images from the day. To see more of the images, click here: August 2, 2017. And last, but not least, I played around with a rivulet that was running off a snow field.  It was a steady stream of water, but I set the camera to 1/6400th of a second, and this is what I got:

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(Nature by Nancy) https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/mount-rainier-on-a-smoky-day Thu, 03 Aug 2017 02:52:35 GMT
Got a new toy yesterday https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/got-a-new-toy-yesterday I have been wanting to get a macro lens for quite a while now. Yesterday was the day.  I got a Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Macro 1:1. It is a bit tricky to use, and I clearly have a lot to learn, but I have been playing with it for the past two days.  These are a few of my acceptable images:

I am heading out to Mount Rainier tomorrow to photograph wildflowers.  We'll see if I can get some good images.

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(Nature by Nancy) https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/got-a-new-toy-yesterday Tue, 01 Aug 2017 23:35:39 GMT
New life bird: Merlin! https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/new-life-bird-merlin I was driving along a street in the Broadview neighborhood of Seattle when I heard a very loud squawking sound. I pulled over to investigate, and two birds were fighting (playing?) and flying around about 20 feet above the ground.  I parked and pulled out my camera (had it with me by pure luck). As I finished getting the camera ready, the two birds flew off into the very tall Doug Firs.  I waited for a full hour for them to fly out, and they never did.  I subsequently went back two other days to try to catch them in action, and have only succeeded in catching them flying up very high between the trees.  I also got a whole sequence of a Merlin eating a bird it had just caught, but the branch he chose to eat it in was very high off the ground, and in the shade.  It was very tough to get any good images.  But, I did what I could, and it is a new Life Bird for me.

MerlinMerlin MerlinMerlin MerlinMerlin I photographed a Merlin flying overhead with a bird in its talons.  Sorry, it is very hard to see in this photo: Merlin carrying a bird it just caught on the wingMerlin carrying a bird it just caught on the wing I then photographed him for the next 20 minutes as he consumed the bird.  It was tough to get good images because he chose a branch in the shade, so I did the best I could:

MerlinMerlin MerlinMerlin MerlinMerlin MerlinMerlin I kept hoping that it would take him longer to eat the bird, because the sun was just about to reach that branch. But, no luck. At least I got some usable images.
To see more pictures from the day: click here: July 30, 2017

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Merlin https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/new-life-bird-merlin Sun, 30 Jul 2017 22:10:47 GMT
Caspian Captures https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/caspian-captures I went out to Jetty Island to photograph the Osprey nests, but I found the Caspian Terns to be even more captivating.  I spent almost the whole afternoon trying to capture the terns diving and catching a fish.  I got many pictures of the dive, but only one image of the bird emerging with a tiny fish in its beak.  I did see lots of terns flying by with all sorts of interesting fish in their mouths.  They are very photogenic birds.

Caspian Tern huntingCaspian Tern hunting Caspian Tern huntingCaspian Tern hunting Caspian Tern huntingCaspian Tern hunting Caspian Tern huntingCaspian Tern hunting I did not photograph this Tern catching the Plainfin Midshipman, but at least I caught him flying home with it.

Caspian TernCaspian Tern

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(Nature by Nancy) Caspian Tern https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/caspian-captures Thu, 27 Jul 2017 20:11:21 GMT
It was a Heron kind of day https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/it-was-a-heron-kind-of-day Things are very much slowing down in the bird world.  Not nearly as many things to photograph as in the winter and spring. So, we take what we can get.  We saw quite a few herons, and had a few very close encounters.  

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron And last but not least, the water lilies are at their peak of beauty right now, so I could not resist:

Water lilyWater lily To see more pictures from the day, click here: July 25, 2017

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Great-blue Heron https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/it-was-a-heron-kind-of-day Wed, 26 Jul 2017 00:56:49 GMT
Kingfisher shakeout https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/kingfisher-shakeout I have found a favorite spot on Lake Washington to photograph Belted Kingfishers.  They fly back and forth constantly, and often perch on the branches right above my head. I have yet to capture an image of them diving, but lots of images of them emerging from the water and shaking off the water.  The are so chatty, and so much fun to watch.

Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher For more images from the day, click here: July 11, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) Belted Kingfisher https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/kingfisher-shakeout Wed, 12 Jul 2017 03:58:07 GMT
Belted Kingfisher with eyes bigger than his stomach https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/belted-kingfisher-with-eyes-bigger-than-his-stomach I went to Kenmore to watch the eagles and osprey, but I think that the fireworks of last night must have shell shocked them.  There was very little fishing activity.  But, there were two kingfishers flying back and forth sitting on perch after perch.  It was a fun evening.

Female belted kingfisherFemale belted kingfisher The second kingfisher (a male I think) caught this sunfish.  He dropped it before he returned to his perch.  This big one got away.

Belted kingfisherBelted kingfisher

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(Nature by Nancy) Belted Kingfisher https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/belted-kingfisher-with-eyes-bigger-than-his-stomach Thu, 06 Jul 2017 04:18:08 GMT
Great Blue Heron fishing on the fly https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/great-blue-heron-fishing-on-the-fly I have watched hundreds of Great Blue Heron fishing, but I have never witnessed one catching a fish on the fly. I was not sure exactly what I was witnessing at first, but once I got home and looked at the pictures, there was no mistaking. I did not get an image of him grabbing the fish, but I got the approach and the departure.

The heron never landed on the water. He just scooped up the fish and flew off.  I learn something new every day watching these guys.

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(Nature by Nancy) Great Blue Heron Fishing https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/great-blue-heron-fishing-on-the-fly Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:10:02 GMT
Enjoyable evening with the eagles https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/enjoyable-evening-with-the-eagles I took an evening walk from my house, but chose to haul the camera along.  It is not the easiest thing to walk with, but it paid off.  I walked along the Burke Gilman Trail, and stopped at two parks which have water access.  I got some fabulous viewing of the eagles fishing.  And, the added bonus was that I met all sorts of really nice people along the way.  It was a great evening walk!

To see more pictures from the day, click here: June 26, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) Bald Eagles https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/enjoyable-evening-with-the-eagles Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:39:48 GMT
On a roll https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/on-a-roll I went out shooting at 6 am this morning with Janet, and we were well rewarded for our efforts.  Log Boom Park is a great place to observe both Eagle and Osprey hunting.  We were only there for a little over an hour, but we both got some great shots. The Osprey flew right over our heads multiple times.  What a thrill!

Osprey huntingOsprey hunting Osprey huntingOsprey hunting Osprey huntingOsprey hunting There were bazillions of gnats all along the dock.  Pretty annoying!

Millions of gnats were along the dock. Kind of annoying!Millions of gnats were along the dock. Kind of annoying! We also got to see an eagle catch a fish.  It was a great morning!

Bald EagleBald Eagle

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Bald Eagle Osprey https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/on-a-roll Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:50:35 GMT
Wood Duck chicks and mama watching out for a soaring Red-tailed Hawk https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/wood-duck-chicks-and-mama-watching-out-for-a-soaring-red-tailed-hawk Yet another drama.  I was thrilled to finally get a chance to photograph some Wood Duck chicks, but there was an added bonus of them watching out for the Red-Tailed Hawk soaring overhead. It was just precious to see the chick looking up too: kind of a two-for-one deal.

The first thing I saw was lots of males around with not a whole lot to do.  They are now all fully out of breeding plumage.

Male wood duck in non-breeding plumageMale wood duck in non-breeding plumage  Not to be judgemental or anything, but Wood Ducks can look awfully goofy when viewed straight on:

Male wood duck in non-breeding plumageMale wood duck in non-breeding plumage While these guys were drifting along aimlessly, the mama was tending the chicks.  Very cute bunch I must say:

Female Wood Duck with two of her chicksFemale Wood Duck with two of her chicks

While photographing the chicks, I noticed that this mama and chick started looking up:

Female Wood Duck and her chick looking up at a red-tailed hawkFemale Wood Duck and her chick looking up at a red-tailed hawk They did this long enough that it prompted me to look up too. There were two Red-tailed Hawks being pursued by two crows. 

Red-tailed Hawk being pursued by two crowsRed-tailed Hawk being pursued by two crows Both hawks looked pretty beat up:

Red-tailed hawkRed-tailed hawk Nobody got consumed, so all was well with the Wood Duck chicks. To see more pictures from the day, click here: June 23, 2017

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Red-tailed Hawk Wood Duck Chick https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/wood-duck-chicks-and-mama-watching-out-for-a-soaring-red-tailed-hawk Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:21:49 GMT
Flora and Fauna of the Cle Elum area https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/flora-and-fauna-of-the-cle-elum-area I got to Eastern Washington again this week.  This time with my friend Michelle (Michelle Linafelter Photography). We hit some of her favorite birding spots in the Cle Elum area. We found quite a bit to keep us occupied for the day. I got at least 4 life birds during the course of the day, including one rare bird.  To see more pictures from the day, click here: June 17, 2017.

First stop we saw the most variety of birds, and my one rare bird sighting.  The Veery is a type of Thrush found in the northern US (except west of the Cascade Mountains).  It is not common in the Cle Elum, but the call was very Thrush-like.  Very eerie.  I was very pleased when one showed up right by the river, giving me a good chance to get off a few shots.

VeeryVeery

Also at that location we found a Warbling Vireo (life bird number two for the day):

Warbling VireoWarbling Vireo

And a Western Wood-Pewee (life bird number 3 for the day). Western Wood-PeweeWestern Wood-Pewee

On to site number two. It was fairly quiet, except we found the best activity along a fairly quiet river bank.

A Bullock's Oriole (life bird number 4 for the day)

Bullock's OrioleBullock's Oriole

And there was probably a Yellow Warbler nesting area.  We never saw the nest, but we did see lots of food gathering activity.

Yellow WarblerYellow Warbler

On to site number 4, a road leading up a large hill.  We went through an old burn area, so lots of dead tree snags. The best sighting of that section, though, was a cliff with many bird nests, including a Turkey Vulture nest.  The chicks took off just as we were arriving. This is not a life bird, but it is my first good photo of one.

Turkey Vulture chicksTurkey Vulture chicks I also got a peek-a-boo view of a Western Tanager.  Always a treat:

Western TanagerWestern Tanager On to the last location. A wind-swept hillside with a few bluebird boxes along the road. We only saw a few bluebirds, but we saw many Cassin's Finches. He was sitting with his back to the wind, so it gave him this funky hairdo.

Cassins' FinchCassins' Finch It was a great day of birding. I will go back at different times of the year to see what we can catch.  There is a Kestrel that lives up on that hill, and we got a very distant view of him hunting, but we hope for a better view next time.

Lastly, just a few wildflower pictures from the day:

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(Nature by Nancy) Bullock's Oriole Cassin's Finch Turkey Vulture chicks Veery Warbling Vireo Western Tanager Western Wood-Pewee Yellow Warbler https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/flora-and-fauna-of-the-cle-elum-area Sun, 18 Jun 2017 16:09:01 GMT
Mini-Mergansers misguided mission https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/mini-mergansers-misguided-mission I was in Ellensburg this weekend photographing Bluebirds.  After spending the whole morning shooting, my friend Bretta and I stopped for lunch beside the Yakima River.  It is a raging torrent this time of year, and we were concerned about the little kids playing by it.  If you fell in, the current would just sweep you away. As we are noshing on our sandwiches, I saw a congregation of common merganser chicks in the center of the river being rapidly swept downstream.  My camera was in the car, so no hope of recording their very unfortunate demise.  The whole incident took about 5 seconds to see them sweep past us.  But, much to my surprise, they managed to make it to the other bank just before they hit some rapids.  At this point, I ran to get the camera.  The chicks managed to gather on the far bank in relative safety: 

Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream.Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream. In all there were ten teenage chicks.  You would think that among the ten they would have some common sense and just stay put and let mama find them, but no, they decided to work their way back upstream.  Remember, this is a raging torrent!  They stuck close to shore and worked their way upstream:

Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream.Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream.

They rested when they could in some calm waters, but this next picture also gives a good view of how rough the water is in the center of the river.

Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream.Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream. Did they just stay and rest in the calm water, no, they continued upstream. I was pretty concerned for the chicks at this point, because they must have been exhausted, and just upstream of this point was another side stream feeding into the Yakima.  

Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream.Baby Common mergansers fighting their way upstream. This is not a good photo, but the chicks are fighting those rapids to get up the side stream.  At this point I lost track of them.  I don't know how they got into this predicament in the first place, but I sure hope they made it home safely, or mom came and found them.  Quite the drama.

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(Nature by Nancy) Common merganser chicks https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/mini-mergansers-misguided-mission Mon, 12 Jun 2017 23:00:26 GMT
Raccoon attacking a Northern Flicker nest - Update https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/raccoon-attacking-a-northern-flicker-nest Never a pleasant thing to watch, but yet fascinating.  A raccoon was attempting to attack a Northern Flicker nest.  As far as I could determine, the raccoon was never successful.  I did not see him pull any chicks out of the nest, but not for a lack of trying.

Flicker defending the nestFlicker defending the nest

The flickers did everything they could to drive the raccoon away.

Flicker defending the nestFlicker defending the nest I thought that it was interesting that Crows entered the fray.  I not sure exactly why.

Flicker defending the nestFlicker defending the nest

Flicker defending their nestFlicker defending their nest I never saw any chicks pulled out of the nest, so the cavity must be quite deep.  To see more pictures from the day, click here: June 4, 2017

Update: I went back to the nest today, and the parents are showing up feeding (although the chicks must be very young, as I could not see them): 

June 5th, daddy feeding at the nestJune 5th, daddy feeding at the nest

Papa carried out a fecal pouch, so we know the chick are alive and pooping:

Male flicker carrying out a fecal sackMale flicker carrying out a fecal sack

Yea! Happy ending!

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(Nature by Nancy) Northern Flicker Raccoon https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/raccoon-attacking-a-northern-flicker-nest Sun, 04 Jun 2017 18:01:26 GMT
Obliging Rufous Hummingbird https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/obliging-rufous-hummingbird I got my first real view of a Rufous Hummingbird, and she was most obliging.  These photos are not cropped.  She was only about 6 feet away from me.

Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird

Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird

Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird

This last photo is just slightly cropped because she was close to the bottom of the frame.  It was a very exciting encounter for my first sighting. Most likely she has a nest somewhere in the vicinity because she came back to these Lonicera numerous times.

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(Nature by Nancy) Rufous Hummingbird https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/obliging-rufous-hummingbird Sun, 04 Jun 2017 04:38:16 GMT
Yellowthroat heaven https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/yellowthroat-heaven I finally found my dream location for photographing the Common Yellowthroat.  Either that, or I got extremely lucky.  There was one yellowthroat who was hanging out in some bushes right by a busy road.  He seamed immune to the noise and to my presence.  I got the closest I have ever been to one, and he was up high in the bushes in the open.  It was 6:30 in the morning, so the light was nice and warm.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

I can finally check this bird off my list of the "next to impossible to get a good picture" list. For more photos from the day, click here: May 27, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) common yellowthroat https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/yellowthroat-heaven Sun, 28 May 2017 14:09:55 GMT
Cliff Swallows building their nests https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/cliff-swallows-building-their-nests I have never seen a cliff swallow before, much less watching them build their nests.  It was just fascinating.  We also were extremely lucky that we arrived at fairly high tide.  This forced the swallows to gather the mud for their nests very close to shore.  I want to go back near sunset sometime soon to see the nests in the sun.  They are located under a bridge, and very late afternoon is the only time the sun will shine on them.

Cliff Swallows building their nestsCliff Swallows building their nests

The mud gathering was incredibly fascinating.  I need to make a video of it.  Their wings were beating at VERY high speed.  I presume this was to give them leverage to scoop up the mud. Cliff Swallows gathering mud for their nestsCliff Swallows gathering mud for their nests

Cliff Swallows gathering mud for their nestsCliff Swallows gathering mud for their nests

After scooping up the mud, they flew off to the nest.

Cliff Swallows gathering mud for their nestsCliff Swallows gathering mud for their nests

To see more pictures from the day, click here: May 21, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) Cliff Swallows https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/cliff-swallows-building-their-nests Thu, 25 May 2017 02:25:16 GMT
Red-Winged Blackbird fledgling https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/red-winged-blackbird-fledgling I have been following several red-winged blackbird nests, and they are beginning to fledge.  Both mama and papa fed them while in the nest, but apparently only mama feeds them once they have fledged.  I watched many feedings, and not once did papa show up.

Red-winged blackbird and chickRed-winged blackbird and chick

Red-winged blackbird and chickRed-winged blackbird and chick

To see more pictures from the day, click here: May 10, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/red-winged-blackbird-fledgling Thu, 11 May 2017 01:38:44 GMT
May 7th was a very good day https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/may-7th-was-a-very-good-day Went out with my friend Michelle, and we had a surprise at every turn.  We were on our way to Van Doren's Landing Park in Kent, but we ran into another friend who was photographing an American Bittern in a marshy area along Orilla Rd.  We stopped and got some great shots of the Bittern (thank you Dave Cowell: DaveCowell.com). This was my first life bird sighting of the day.

American BitternAmerican Bittern

In addition, we got some great shots of a Marsh Wren collecting cattail fluff for its nest:

Marsh WrenMarsh Wren

Marsh WrenMarsh Wren

We then left the area (don't even know what to call it, sorry), and drove on to Van Doren's.  We had just arrived when we ran into two gals just leaving the area.  Christine and Xanthia were searching for the Yellow-headed Blackbird, so we asked if we could join them.  We drove to several sites and searched and searched, but never found the blackbirds.  As a group, we then decided to go on to Boeing Ponds to check out the Coots and the potential for chicks this year.  There were lots of Coots, so the area is well worth checking out in a few weeks.  But, we were treated to a sighting of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow (my second lifer for the day).

Northern Rough-winged swallowNorthern Rough-winged swallow

As a group, we then headed back to our first site of the day to try to show Xanthia and Christine the Bittern and Cinnamon Teal.  We were successful on both counts:

Cinnamon TealCinnamon Teal

After seeing the Bittern and Teal, I was treated to my third life bird of the day: two Western Tanagers:

Western TanagerWestern Tanager

The last few minutes of the day I decided to focus on my original mission of the day: to get a half-way decent photo of a Common Yellowthroat.  I think I finally succeeded: 

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

All in all, it was a spectacular day, thanks to Michelle, Dave, Christine and Xanthia. If you want to see more pictures from the day, click here: May 7, 2017.

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(Nature by Nancy) American Bittern Cinnamon Teal Common Yellowthroat Marsh Wren Northern Rough-winged Swallow Western Tanager https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/may-7th-was-a-very-good-day Mon, 08 May 2017 00:57:38 GMT
Fun with Flickers https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/fun-with-flickers We went out to 3 different birding sites today, but the last stop at Juanita Bay Park was by far the best.  As the afternoon progressed, the clouds started to move in in earnest, so we decided to pack it up and head out.  Just as we were leaving, we noticed some Northern Flickers flying in circles around some trees.  We went over to investigate, and it was males defending their territory.  It was an amazing show for about 15 minutes.  Despite the low light, we did our best to capture the action. To see more pictures from the day, click here: April 29, 2017

Northern FlickersNorthern Flickers

Northern FlickersNorthern Flickers

Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker

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(Nature by Nancy) https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/fun-with-flickers Sun, 30 Apr 2017 03:00:17 GMT
A day with the Tree Swallows https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/a-day-with-the-tree-swallows I spent the day up at the Skagit Wildlife Area yesterday.  We had a rare day of sunshine, so I thought that it would be a good opportunity to catch the swallows on the wing.  I mostly used a shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second.  Even then I was not freezing motion.  If you want to see more of the photographs from the day, click here: April 21, 2017

My main objective for the day was to get the swallows dipping into the water, but I could not resist getting them flying overhead as well: 

Tree SwallowTree Swallow I only partially succeeded in getting images of them flying over and into the water.  

Tree SwallowTree Swallow

Tree SwallowTree Swallow

Juvenile Tree  SwallowJuvenile Tree Swallow Tree SwallowTree Swallow Where I totally failed was getting images of them dipping into the water.  Every time I got an image, it was out of focus.  

Tree SwallowTree Swallow I also tried to get images of them diving into the water.  I was partially successful:

Tree Swallow divingTree Swallow diving Tree Swallow divingTree Swallow diving Lastly, I got just a few images of some Barn Swallows.  They were even more difficult to capture than the Tree Swallows.  I did not think that this was possible.

Barn SwallowBarn Swallow

 

 

 

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(Nature by Nancy) Barn Swallow Tree Swallow https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/a-day-with-the-tree-swallows Sun, 23 Apr 2017 01:39:13 GMT
Why did the Killdeer cross the road? https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/why-did-the-killdeer-cross-the-road I have been monitoring a Killdeer nest in my neighborhood for the past few weeks.  The chicks hatched yesterday, and today, the parents decided that it was time to undertake the major journey to the other side of the road.  The only problem: towering curbs.  What ensued was quite amusing.

The chicks wanted nothing to do with jumping off that cliffThe chicks wanted nothing to do with jumping off that cliff Mama and Papa tried repeatedly to teach the chicks to jump off the curb:

Mama trying to teach the chick to jump downMama trying to teach the chick to jump down

The chicks wanted nothing to do with jumping off: 

Mama tried repeatedly to teach them to jumpMama tried repeatedly to teach them to jump

The chicks were frightened for very good reason:

The chicks were afraid of jumping down to the road for very good reason.The chicks were afraid of jumping down to the road for very good reason.

The chicks were so frightened that they repeatedly dove under mama or papa:

The chicks got so frightened of the jump, the repeatedly dove under mama.The chicks got so frightened of the jump, the repeatedly dove under mama.

Finally Papa had had it will this wussy behavior, so he knocked one chick down with his wing: 

Finally papa had had it with the wussy behavior.  He knocked one chick down with his wing.Finally papa had had it with the wussy behavior. He knocked one chick down with his wing.

This left the remaining chick with a major dilemma: 

The remaining chick was now confronted with a major dilemma.The remaining chick was now confronted with a major dilemma.

I did not see the second chick jump, but he must have, because suddenly the family was reunited:

i did not see the second chick jump, but there he was, and the family was reunited.i did not see the second chick jump, but there he was, and the family was reunited.

Now the next obstacle: that darned curb on the other side:

Now the chicks had a new dilemmaNow the chicks had a new dilemma

Mama and Papa tried repeatedly to get the chicks to jump up, but the reality finally dawned on them that they were asking the impossible, and they led them around the obstacle. 

After repeated attempts to coax the chicks to jump up, they wisely decided to lead them around the formidable curbAfter repeated attempts to coax the chicks to jump up, they wisely decided to lead them around the formidable curb

The chicks were now in the relative safety of the large field:

Finally to the relative safety of the large field.Finally to the relative safety of the large field.

But, crows and Brewer's Blackbirds were swooping through the area:

A crow came swooping throughA crow came swooping through So, the chicks did what they know best, they dove under mama and papa.

The chicks dove for cover at the sign of the crowThe chicks dove for cover at the sign of the crow

Life is going to be tough for these little guys.  Let's wish them well! If you want to see more picture from the day, go to my full album: April 15, 2017

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(Nature by Nancy) killdeer chicks https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/why-did-the-killdeer-cross-the-road Sun, 16 Apr 2017 02:30:46 GMT
Hummingbird Chicks have fledged https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/hummingbird-chicks-have-fledged I am happy and sad at this event.  It has been so much fun watching them grow, but they are now out of the nest.  As of today, they have not flown very far because mama is still watching after them and feeding them on a very regular schedule.  They are practicing their flying frequently, flying from branch to branch.  To see more photos from the day, click here: April 8, 2017 Hummingbird chickHummingbird chick

I loved this image of mama flying in to feed the chick. Mama flying in to fee the hummingbird chickMama flying in to fee the hummingbird chick Mama feeding Hummingbird chickMama feeding Hummingbird chick

The chicks were practicing their flying a lot.  It was very cute to watch. Hummingbird chickHummingbird chick

I was definitely being watched.  But, these two have been so photographed over the past month, I don't think camera's phase them very much. Hummingbird chickHummingbird chick

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(Nature by Nancy) Hummingbird chicks https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/hummingbird-chicks-have-fledged Sun, 09 Apr 2017 03:44:04 GMT
One more life bird this week https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/one-more-life-bird-this-week I went to Union Bay to watch a hummingbird nest, but I also got the treat of seeing my first Orange-Crowned Warbler. He/she was bright yellow, which I gather is associated more with the west coast.  Further east they are more subdued colors. We had the good fortune to have the rain stop and she skies clear for a few hours.  Made for some very nice images.

Orange-crowned warblerOrange-crowned warbler Orange-crowned warblerOrange-crowned warbler  

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(Nature by Nancy) Orange-crowned Warbler https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/one-more-life-bird-this-week Fri, 07 Apr 2017 03:25:59 GMT
Six life birds for me this weekend https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/six-life-birds-for-me-this-weekend I traveled to the Long Beach Peninsula this weekend to visit friends.  Fortunately, they were birders, so we got out a lot.  As a result, I saw 6 life birds (Eurasion collard dove, Red-throated Loon, Semi-palmated plover, Brewer's blackbird, Western Grebe and Sanderlings). To see the rest of the pictures from my weekend, click here: March 25th, 2017 weekend

Eurasian collared doveEurasian collared doveEurasian collared dove Red-throated LoonRed-throated Loon Semi-palmated ploverSemi-palmated plover Brewer's blackbirdBrewer's blackbird Western grebeWestern grebe SanderlingSanderling

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(Nature by Nancy) Brewer's Blackbird Collered Dove Red-throated Loon Sanderling Semi-palmated Plover Western Grebe https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/six-life-birds-for-me-this-weekend Mon, 27 Mar 2017 03:29:59 GMT
Killdeer nest https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/killdeer-nest I found a killdeer nest in the parking lot of a local school.  The nest is in a fairly vulnerable location, so hopefully a lawnmower will not run over it.  Why killdeer choose to nest in parking lots is beyond me, but it seems to work fine for them. When I first got there, mama was sitting on the nest while papa stood guard (actually, I am just guessing. I cannot tell male from female): Killdeer mama sits on the nest as papa keeps watch.Killdeer mama sits on the nest as papa keeps watch. I tried to stay as far as possible from the nest, and they seemed reasonably comfortable that I was there.  I got a good shot of mama on the nest:

Killdeer mama sits on the nestKilldeer mama sits on the nest After getting her on the nest, I stood up to go.  My back was to her as I packed my camera away.  I heard her call, and I turned around and she was off the nest doing the broken wing thing:

Killdeer mama doing the broken wing deceptionKilldeer mama doing the broken wing deception I have no idea if it was me who scared her, or if it was something else since my back was turned when she left the nest.  I did decide that this may well be my one and only chance to see how many eggs were in the nest, so I got off one shot quickly and then vacated the area.

Two killdeer eggsTwo killdeer eggs I will keep an eye out over the next few weeks to see when the chicks hatch.  Incubation is 22 to 28 days.

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(Nature by Nancy) Killdeer Killdeer eggs https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/killdeer-nest Tue, 21 Mar 2017 01:19:16 GMT
Second Sunny day all month https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/second-sunny-day-all-month Seattle has had a less than stellar month, even for Seattle.  March 19th was only the second sunny day all month.  We have broken all sorts of records for rainfall, cloud cover and many other parameters one does not normally have to think about.  So, if the sun comes out, we all go berzerk and run outside. I chose to go to the Ballard Locks to view the Great Blue Heron nests. It was late in the day nearing sunset.  The herons were very active, as were the Double-Crested Cormorants. The Herons have their rookery in trees by the locks, and the cormorants use the trees to roost at night.  There were all sorts of squabbles as sunset approached and roosting spots were at a premium. To see more pictures from my visit to the lock, here is the link: Ballard Locks Great Blue Heron coming in for a landing, and a double-crested cormorant trying to stop himGreat Blue Heron coming in for a landing, and a double-crested cormorant trying to stop himGreat Blue Heron coming in for a landing, and a double-crested cormorant trying to stop him It was a very windy day (did I mention that Seattle has been getting a lot of wind in addition to all the rain?), so it was very amusing to see the herons having a bad hair day:  Great Blue Heron on a windy dayGreat Blue Heron on a windy dayGreat Blue Heron on a windy day There was also a very large flock on Barrow's Goldeneyes at the locks.  It was low tide, so we were able to get right down to the water to photograph them at close range.  The sun was getting very low at that point, so they were in the shadows a lot.  There was a bit of the courtship behavior going on, and lots of feeding on the shellfish. Barrow's Goldeneye trying to attract a mateBarrow's Goldeneye trying to attract a mateMale Barrow's Goldeneye trying to woo the females. I loved how the color of their heads changed dramatically depending on the light: Barrow's GoldeneyeBarrow's GoldeneyeBarrow's Goldeneye feeding on muscles.

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(Nature by Nancy) Barrow's Goldeneye Great Blue Heron https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/second-sunny-day-all-month Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:45:57 GMT
Say, is that a Phoebe? https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/say-is-that-a-phoebe I had a lot of fun today finding and photographing a Say's Phoebe.  They are not really supposed to be here at this time of year, but there he was at Magnuson Park. When we first got there it was snowing/hailing/raining.  Really fun combination. After about 2 hours, the sun finally came out and the Phoebe really came alive.  He/she was sallying away and hopping from perch to perch.  But fortunately, he always stayed in one small region. At least we did not have to chase him all over the park. To see more of the pictures, here is the link: Say's phoebe Say's PhoebeSay's Phoebe

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(Nature by Nancy) Magnuson Park Say's Phoebe https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/say-is-that-a-phoebe Fri, 24 Feb 2017 02:45:12 GMT
Short-eared owl season has come to an end https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/short-eared-owl-season-has-come-to-an-end I went up to Stanwood for one last visit with the Short-eared owls.  As far as I could tell, the numbers are down already, so some have probably departed. However, this was the best viewing I have experienced all year.  There were just a few owls, but I swear it felt like they were playing with us.  They were literally flying circles around us.  I got my highest resolution pictures ever.  Sometimes they were flying so close I could not keep them in frame.  It was a great way to end the season.  To see all the photos from this magical day, here is a link to the album: February 13, 2017 Short-eared owlShort-eared owlSome of the best viewing I have had all year. Short-eared owlShort-eared owlSome of the best viewing I have had all year. Short-eared owlShort-eared owlSome of the best viewing I have had all year.

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(Nature by Nancy) Meadowlark Northern Harriers Short-eared Owls https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/short-eared-owl-season-has-come-to-an-end Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:18:51 GMT
Beautiful day up at Eide Road https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/beautiful-day-up-at-eide-road We finally found a sunny and calm day to go up to Eide Road.  The owls do not like to fly in the wind, so we lucked out on February 1st.  We got to see lots of short-eared owls flying and lots of Northern Harriers.  The owls and harriers were fighting a lot over both territory and food.  In one instance, two owls locked talons and spiraled to earth.  They were quite a distance from me, but I still captured part of the action.  It was a gorgeous day for my final trip to see the owls. To see the rest of the pictures, go to my gallery titled "February 1st" http://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/p1010753811 Northern HarrierNorthern HarrierNorthern Harrier Short-eared owlShort-eared owlShort-eared owl Two short-eared owls locked talonsTwo short-eared owls locked talonsTwo short-eared owls locked talons and spiraled to earth.

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(Nature by Nancy) northern harriers short-eared owls https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/beautiful-day-up-at-eide-road Sun, 12 Feb 2017 17:48:26 GMT
It was a hoot to shoot coots https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/it-was-a-hoot-to-shoot-coots Last June we found a pond in the Seattle area with numerous coot families.  We went primarily to photograph the coot chicks, but we were unprepared for the amazing show that the coot daddies would put on.  There is a lot of bluff and bluster, and no one got hurt, but the display was quite entertaining. Step one is that all the daddies would swim out from their respective nesting sites.  They would swim in circles displaying the white spots on their rumps, then tussle with each other, then swim back to their respective nest locations.  Pretty funny to watch. Coot males fighting for territoryCoot males fighting for territory Coot males fighting for territoryCoot males fighting for territory

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(Nature by Nancy) Seattle coot fighting https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/it-was-a-hoot-to-shoot-coots Thu, 09 Feb 2017 16:09:20 GMT
Yellow Rumped Warblers were sallying away https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/yellow-rumped-warblers-were-sallying-away Yellow-rumped Warbler sallyingYellow-rumped Warbler sallying Yellow-rumped Warbler sallyingYellow-rumped Warbler sallying Yellow-rumped Warbler sallyingYellow-rumped Warbler sallying I have only recently discovered where to find the yellow-rumped warblers in Seattle.  And, much to my surprise, they are spending more time sallying than anything else.  What a treat. I only have a few photos of them sitting on branches, because they were constantly in motion devouring the insects.  It presented a photographic challenge to keep up with their aerial acrobatics, but a few images came out pretty well.  The only problem I had, is that I took far more pictures than I expected, and I loved them all, so there are at least 30 pictures of the warbler sallying on the website.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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(Nature by Nancy) Magnuson Park Seattle Yellow-rumped warblers insect feeding sallying warblers https://naturebynancy.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/yellow-rumped-warblers-were-sallying-away Thu, 09 Feb 2017 03:40:14 GMT