Lewis’s Woodpecker Oak Creek May 21, 2015
One of my favorite birding spots is Oak Creek where you can drive the road and see perhaps dozens of Lewis’s Woodpeckers – often on snags at eye level and close by. Highly recommended for birders and photographers. This is also the place where I had one of my big disappointments for 2015. Dusk and early darkness are great times here to hear, see and possibly photograph Common Poorwills. That night I drove the road and heard several of these mostly nocturnal birds. Finally I saw one in the road ahead – its eyes reflecting the headlights of my car. As I slowed to try for a photo it took off. Sigh… Then maybe 15 minutes later, more reflecting eyes. This time I was able to position myself just right with the car as a blind and I had the bird clearly in my viewfinder. I pushed the shutter release and … nothing. My settings were wrong in the darkness and the camera would not take the photo. I had not reset from earlier and tried to correct this quickly. My skills were not up to the task and by the time I was set, the bird was gone. Lesson learned…hopefully.
Yellow Billed Loon/Ancient Murrelets/Long Tailed Duck/Pigeon Guillemot Sequim Boat Trip December 31, 2015
Following up on a great Christmas Bird count report from the area, I organized a boat trip out of John Wayne Marina specifically with hopes of finally getting a photo of a Yellow Billed Loon. We had great weather and all 20 onboard got great looks at this loon and one other. Another highlight was hundreds of Ancient Murrelets and abundant Long Tailed Ducks. The great sun afforded a super photo of a winter plumaged Pigeon Guillemot in flight as well.
Merlin Edmonds Marsh July 27, 2015
This has been a good year for Merlins with more than a dozen seen. I enjoyed watching a couple with Barb Diehl in North Seattle and then later had this lovely photo op close to home at the Edmonds Marsh.
Mountain Quail Port Orchard Quarry July 11, 2015
Earlier I had flushed a small group at Mary Hrudkaj’s street but no photo. Later in the year Brian Pendleton and I found this single bird at least 300 yards away at the Quarry. Not a great photo but in the unedited original it was hardly a speck.
Northern Mockingbird Olympia Neighborhood November 2, 2015
When I arrived at this stakeout spot I wondered how anyone could ever have looked here let alone found this rather uncommon bird. When a gentleman came out of one of the houses and introduced himself as Keith Brady, a super birder, it was clear. Of all places the Northern Mockingbird had chosen this one to hang out. Thanks Keith.
Parasitic Jaeger Westport Pelagic September 5, 2015
I chose this photo both because it is a favorite bird but also because it is the only one I have taken showing the undersides of the wing, belly and beautiful head pattern. My others all are with wings down. A few moments earlier I got a photo of a Long Tailed Jaeger (not very good) and also had both Skua and Pomarine Jaeger – the so called Skua Slam!!
Orchard Oriole Neah Bay April 8, 2015
This female continued to come to this feeder from November 2014 until at least April 2015. Getting this photo was just luck as I had not realized the bird had over-wintered and just happened to see it at the feeder as I drove by.
Northern Waterthrush Calispell Lake June 3, 2015
A favorite bird at a favorite place. Jon Isacoff first showed me this area a couple of years ago. Beautiful country and wonderful birds. Other specialties found nearby include American Redstart, Red Eyed Vireo and Bobolink. Brian and David Pendleton and I had over 60 species in about an hour this year.
Northern Saw Whet Owl Bridgeport SP December 26, 2015
C’mon – you gotta include a NSWO in any group of favorites. I had missed one at the Park earlier on my way home from a late November Okanogan trip. Samantha Robinson and I found this cutie by looking for owl “poop” on the snow beneath the trees. It is still being seen there in Mid January.
Northern Pygmy Owl Chinook Bend January 21, 2015
Usually this would be a shot from the Okanogan (where for example Jon Houghton and I had at least 6 in November) but there was a pair of Northern Pygmies at Chinook Bend. The Heibergs and I hiked around with Paul Bannick and found one of the owls providing ok photos. When we returned to the car this owl stared us down from a perch within feet of the cars.
Peregrine Falcon with Green Winged Teal Waatch Valley November 3, 2015
2015 was a good year for Peregrine photos and choosing among them was difficult. I watched this falcon swoop down and grab the Green Winged teal off the river and then with powerful wingbeats lift its prey and fly past me. Exhilirating!! Earlier I had seen a banded Peregrine on the open beach at Ocean Shores take a small shorebird. Very keen birds.
Red Naped Sapsucker Washington Park Arboretum January 23, 2015
Both Red Naped and Red Breasted Sapsuckers shared sap wells in the Arboretum and provided great views for many birders. Later Frank Caruso and I joined Bill and Deb Essman in their high clearance jeep for a great trip up into Coleman Canyon where we found this species at its nest…their more usual habitat east of the Cascade Crest.
Red Throated Loon Ocean Shores August 16, 2015
Not the greatest picture in the world but a favorite species and there is no mistaking the red throat.
Rhinoceros Auklet with Fish/Tufted Puffin Protection Island June 27, 2015
Rhinos breed on Protection Island. We often saw auklets with fish to take back to their nests. This one had more than any others. What a remarkable bill structure that enables them to hold on like this. This was the second time Samantha Robinson and I had been on this boat trip that is organized by George Gerdts. Tufted Puffins are the main appeal and while not as many as on our first trip, they put on a show again.
Ross’s Goose Ellensburg March 25, 2015
A very poor and distant photo of this Ross’s Goose and a Canadian to give a size comparison. Usually I have seen this species mixed in with a large flock of Snow Geese. No snow geese in sight this time.
Ruddy Turnstone Bottle Beach May 24, 2015
Pretty hard to beat a Ruddy Turnstone for beauty with the Ruddy wings and red legs. Earlier in the year at Ediz Hook a winter plumaged Ruddy Turnstone worked the rocks along with Snow Buntings as we searched for the Thick Billed Murre (below). The pattern is similar but a prime example of how showy breeding plumage can be.
Ruff Oyhut Game Range September 14, 2015
I saw my first Ruff at Ocean Shores in 1979 (not sure cameras had been invented yet – well certainly not the world of digital photography yet). Another last year. This one was extra fun because he was so often with the mixed flock of American And Pacific Golden Plovers.
Rusty Blackbird Crescent Lake WMA February 4, 2015
A most cooperative fellow except that he never got completely in the open. But the corn kernel makes up for that.
Sharp Tailed Grouse Scotch Creek near Happy Hill Road December 27, 2015
This was a first ever picture of a Sharp Tailed Grouse which has been a nemesis bird. Earlier Jon Houghton and I had missed this species in the Okanogan despite looking in all the right places. The key now was that there was snow – lots of it and Samantha Robinson and I got stuck in the snow as we pulled over to get a closer look. This was almost at the intersection with Happy Hill Road following directions Bill Brynteson had given from his success there a couple of days ago. Getting stuck was well worth it for a photo of what had been so elusive in the past. Very nice locals helped us get out. Nice story. A few days later Jon and his spouse Kathleen found Sharp Tails everywhere – life birds for both of them.
Shrub Steppe Birds Quilomene Wildlife Area March 2015
I led a fun Shrub Steppe field trip for Seattle Audubon in March with Jean Olsen. This is a compendium of birds seen on that trip or on the scouting trip in advance. It was great to get all of our targets. (As an aside I often put together compendia like this using PowerPoint, a good way to show comparisons or to picture groups like Washington Warblers etc.)
Slaty Backed Gull Tacoma March 25, 2015
This is the third or 4th year for this striking dark mantled gull. This photo was from maybe 25 feet in my car on the slab next to the bridge. Sure beats distant rooftop shots. Later there was a “probable” Slaty Backed Gull in Snohomish County – distant rooftop views only.
Snowy Owl Waterville Plateau February 12, 2015
There was very little snow in the Okanogan Highlands or on the Waterville Plateau. However there were a few small patches. This was one of 4 owls seen on a few such spots on F NW near Road 12.
Snowy Plover Grayland Beach April 24, 2015
This guy sure had lots of jewelry with bands on both legs. Unquestionably a favorite bird. I later had Piping Plovers in Maine – also a great treat.
Sooty Grouse Bahokas Mountain Neah Bay September 10, 2015
This Sooty Grouse was a consolation prize as our main quest (failed) had been to find the Red Legged Kittiwake which had been seen two days earlier. This is a good spot in migration for Broad Winged Hawks. I hope to give it a try this year.
Sora/Virginia Rail Wylie Slough August 6, 2015
My best photo ever of the reclusive Sora rail. There were also 6 Virginia Rails that day.
Spotted Owl Lewis County June 7, 2015
How much longer will we be able to see these vanishing owls in Washington? Thanks to Doug Schurman for organizing the trip.
Spruce Grouse Bunchgrass Meadows October 16, 2015
This was a trip to Salmo Mountain and Bunchgrass Meadows with Charlie Desilets, Ken Hemberry and Khanh Tran. This was our only Spruce Grouse but it could not have been more cooperative. A life picture for me. We heard many Boreal Owls but sadly never could get a visual or photo. We also had some White Winged Crossbills and Boreal Chickadees – other specialties in this remote northeast Washington wilderness.
Stilt Sandpiper Eide Road August 7, 2015
Over the years Eide Road has been a great shorebird site. So sad that it will be destroyed as such. This Stilt Sandpiper was one of 5 I saw in Washington this year.
Thick Billed Murre Ediz Hook January 19, 2015
This rarity has returned to Ediz Hook for at least two and maybe three years. Bob Boekelheide and I studied it at length through the scope and kept hoping it would come closer. It did not. This is a highly magnified distant photo but suffices at least for ID.
Tufted Duck Marina Park February 8, 2015
There are some birds that are easily identified because the most distinctive field mark is also in their name. Tufted Duck tufts are not always this visible. Thank you on this day.
White Headed Woodpecker Kindle Lane/Umtanum Road April 22, 2015
Not the best photo but definitely a wonderful and favorite bird. I had discovered a nesting pair along Umtanum Road and saw this bird on several occasions. Nice that others found it there too when given specifics.
White Faced Ibis Millet Pond May 19, 2015
This bird was quite distant so ID photo only. I missed this species a couple of times in past years but have now seen them more than once. Dry conditions in Oregon and California seem to have pushed them further North. Let’s see if the pattern continues.
Western Screech Owl Whitman College Library May 8, 2015
Thanks to Mike and Merry Lynn for taking me to this little guy. As they searched the trees near the Whitman Library I happened to look up and found it sitting on the window ledge three stories up. Not the most natural setting but hey my first good Western Screech photo. Last year (or was it 2013?)Steve Pink and I visited the Dennys and they gave us a marvelous tour. At the end of the day they asked if there was anything else we wanted to see. We mentioned Western Screech Owl and they directed us to a four block residential area near downtown and said just walk around and “you can’t miss”. We walked the entire area and thought MAYBE we had heard one owl. Disappointed we returned to the car…where in the tree immediately overhead there was a Western Screech. You can always count on the Dennys!!
Western and Clark’s Grebes Lind Coulee June 2, 2015
You could not ask for a better comparison photo op for these two species. Brian Pendleton and I were treated to this “Close Encounter of the Grebe Kind”.
White Throated Sparrow Norman Road January 7, 2015
I later saw dozens of these sparrows in Maine and learned their mournful song. This bird was with a number of White Crowned and Golden Crowned sparrows (and others) at the trough on Norman Road – a favorite spot to find them in Washington. (Don’t tell anyone but there is also a Barn Owl in the nearby Red Barn…)
Wood Duck February 24, 2015
No comment necessary – just enjoy!!
Yellow Throated Warbler Longview December 16, 2015
It took two trips to get this photo of a new Washington state bird (and a beauty). Car trouble prevented me from finding it on the first trip but the second trip was fun and successful joining numerous other birders chasing it from tree to tree at the end of the lake. It often came down on the ground and foraged there–other times acting like a Brown Creeper. With thanks to Russ Koppendreyer.