Dunlin attempting to eat a sand shrimp - May 8, 2017


A Dunlin, feeding on the upper beach at Bottle Beach State Park,
captures a sand shrimp and attempts to eat it

May 8, 2017

There is such a thing as biting off more than you can chew. Or, at least biting off more than you can swallow. In the photo above, the Dunlin in the front has just captured a small sand shrimp from the sandy beach. The other Dunlin thinks it looks like a mighty fine morsel and pursues the mighty hunter. 


After several evasive maneuvers on the beach, the first Dunlin manages to elude the pursuing shorebird. The Dunlin settles in to consume its prey. Only one problem... the shrimp is too large to go down easily. The Dunlin squeezes the sand shrimp in its beak, to break its exoskeleton, so the shrimp will bend. Next, the Dunlin waves the morsel back and forth in its beak, hopefully breaking it up more. Finally, the sand shrimp is dropped on the beach repeatedly and picked up to crack the shell in one more spot. 

When last seen, the Dunlin was spiriting its morsel away, uneaten. 













Red-necked Phalarope at Bottle Beach State Park - May 8, 2017


 Red-necked Phalarope at Bottle Beach State Park - May 8, 2017





Procession of the Species - Olympia - April 29, 2017

 http://www.micheleburton.com/Other/Procession-of-the-Species-Olympia-2017/

Scenes from
2017 Procession of the Species Parade
celebrating Earth Day, Spring and all Creatures

Olympia, WA
April 29, 2017

check out more photos from the parade at:















check out more photos from the parade at:

Band playing in alley at Olympia Arts Walk - April 28, 2017


Band playing during 2017 Spring Arts Walk 
in the alley opposite the Washington Center

April, 28, 2017
Olympia, WA


Baby Killdeer chicks in pink wildflower field - April 28, 2017


There are those days when you hit the photographic jackpot.
Today was one of those days. 

It was sunny this morning and so I decided to head over to one of our local urban birding spots to see if I could photograph any Spring migrants, like the yellow-rumped warbler or Black-headed grosbeak. I have been seeing many warblers, so I thought I would probably have good luck. 

As I was parking, I noticed an adult Killdeer towards the passenger side of the car. I got out of the car slowly, went to the trunk and quietly got my camera gear ready. For me, this includes setting the aperture and shutter speed, so that I am able to shoot as soon as I step away from the car. 

As I made my way around the driver's side of the car, I noticed a second Killdeer. I was thinking I need to ask my friend if the resident Killdeers on the roof of her office have laid a nest yet. Then, I noticed a very small movement. 

Very small movement indeed! About 20 feet in front of me was the smallest, cutest, fluffiest little Killdeer. It could not have been more than 2 inches from the tip of its' beak to the end of it's tail. What made it even more lovely were the explosion of small pink wildflowers surrounding this little chick. 

As I watched, I saw three chicks. Killdeers lay 3 - 5 eggs, so this pair is having success with their brood so far. 

One of the chicks decided to venture out onto the nearby blacktop, before being encouraged to return the relative safety of the grasses by its' protective parent. 

I watched the Killdeer family for about 45 minutes before I headed off for more birding. What a wonderful way to start my photographic day. 








Bushtits building nest from moss and lichen - April 27, 2017

Bushtits building their nest using moss, lichen, leaves and other materials.
Hawks Prairie Ponds
Lacey, WA
April 27, 2017

Male Bushtit exits the nest after depositing nesting materials inside.
The male bushtit has dark eyes

from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's web page on the Bushtit:
'Both male and female help build the remarkable hanging nest, a process that may go on for a month or more. The nest hangs up to a foot below its anchor point and has a hole in the side near the top that leads down into the nest bowl. The adults make a stretchy sac using spider webs and plant material, sometimes stretching the nest downward by sitting in it while it’s still under construction. They add insulating material such as feathers, fur, and downy plant matter and camouflage the outside with bits taken from nearby plants, including the tree the nest is built in. While the nest is active all the adults associated with it (the breeding pair plus helpers) sleep in it. The pair typically reuses the nest for its second brood of the season.'

Female Bushtit brings spiderweb to the nest.
The spiderweb binds the nest materials together.
Female bushtits have light colored eyes.
Bushtits are about 3 inches in length. They weigh between 0.1 and 0.2 oz. Bushtits weigh about as much as 2 or 3 pennies.
Male bushtit bringing nest materials.



Shorebirds at Grays Harbor during migration - April 24, 2017

May 5 - 7, 2017 marks the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival

Each year, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop at Grays Harbor and nearby beaches to feed and rest on their northbound Spring migration. Western sandpipers, Dunlins, Semipalmated plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers and various other shorebirds are seen in abundance. Many of these birds are travelling from South America to their summer breeding grounds in Alaska. Some birds fly as much as 15,000 in one round-trip migration. 

When the tide is low, the birds disperse throughout Grays Harbor. They feed anywhere there are nutrient rich mudflats. 

When the tide is high, mudflats are quickly inundated and the birds must congregate together on the highest remaining mudflats to feed. 

The best spot to see shorebirds in abundance during Spring migration is at the Bowerman Basin unit of the GHNWR. It is located adjacent to the airport.  

Onsite registration for fee events of the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival will be open on Friday from 7am to 3pm at the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge Office. Registration continues at Festival Headquarters on Friday from 4pm to 7pm, Saturday from 7:30am to 5pm and Sunday from 8am to 4pm. Check out a list of events here: http://www.shorebirdfestival.com/events/events







for further information:

Warblers! Warblers! Warblers! April 2017

Male Wilson's Warbler in an overgrown thicket at Bottle Beach State Park
Cardellina pusilla

Wilson's warbler flying from one branch to another
Wilson's Warbler shows its distinctive black cap

Wilson's Warblers dart about quickly while feeding
They are easy to recognize, but hard to photograph.
They are among the smallest warblers at about 4 inches in length
'Audubon's warbler' variation of the Yellow-rumped warbler
has a bright yellow throat

Setophaga coronata

Yellow-rumped warblers are easiest to see when they are feeding down low.
When they are perched up high, it can be difficult to see their vivid plumage.


Yellow-rumped warblers are quite common in the Spring in the Puget Sound lowlands.
Look for them in willow thickets 

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Orange-crowned warbler is its eye stripe.
Oreothlypis celata 

Orange-crowned warbler looking for insects while perched on an Oregon Grape bush.
If you look carefully, you can see a hint of orange on top of its head; this is where it got its name. 

The Orange-crowned warbler's plain coloration can make it difficult to identify.


To see more photos of warblers,

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