Photo of the Week - January 28, 2013

Stranger in a Strange Land
Old School Pizzeria
Olympia, WA

January 28, 2013

Photo of the Week - January 21, 2013

Lake View Cemetery as seen on a foggy winter morning
Seattle, WA

January 21, 2013

Dew Covered Rose
Lake View Cemetery

Photo of the Week _ January 18, 2013

Glaucous-winged Gull pursuing
Female Common Merganser with Fish

Budd Inlet
Olympia, Washington
January 18, 2013

There is a large group of Common Mergansers who overwinter on Budd Inlet of Puget Sound In Olympia. It is not unusually to see them swimming in groups of twenty to fifty. The female Mergansers make a elegant sight, parading with their red head plumage extended.

Glaucous-winged Gulls are equally common around South Puget Sound. They spend much of their time looking opportunistically for a free meal - or at least one that takes minimal effort.

On a cold winter morning, while watching all sorts of diving ducks, I was witness to a chase that would make a Hollywood cinematographer proud. The Merganser bobbed and weaved while the Gull swooped and chased. Ultimately, the gull won the day and settled in to feast on someone else's fish breakfast.

Here is a video which portrays the full sequence of events.
The whole chase was over in less than 30 seconds.
Click on this link to see the high resolution version of this video

Photo of the Week - January 11, 2013

Silhouette of Ring-necked ducks swimming
against a backdrop of winter sunlight
Capitol Lake
Olympia, WA
January 11, 2013

The cold crisp days and angular sunlight of our Mid-January cold spell made for excellent photographic opportunities. Bundling up against the cold winds and low temperatures, I was able to spend many a glorious hour outside observing the wintering ducks.

Capitol Lake is a favored wintering spot for fresh water dabbling and diving ducks. Large rafts of coots, flocks of widgeons and groups of Scaups and Ring-necked ducks are a common sight. It is a marvel to watch as the Ring-necked ducks and Scaups dive and forage. And, if they become alarmed, they will take off from the surface of the lake en masse, fly a few hundred yards and then land again on the lake to resume their feeding.
Male Bufflehead diving into Puget Sound at Sunset
Swantown Marina
Olympia, WA

The Bufflehead is one of my favorite divers. Both sexes are distinct in their black and white plumage – dominantly white on the male and black on the smaller female. Buffleheads are easy to spot on the water as they are quite acrobatic in their diving ability. Watching them in motion reminds one of an Olympic Gymnast. Buffleheads are found wintering locally on both fresh and salt water.

Photo of the Week - January 6, 2013

Snowy stream crossing
Government Mineral Springs
Wind River

Carson, WA
January 6, 2013

Photo of the Week - January 2, 2013

Double-crested Cormorant pair
perching and drying wings.
Phalacrocorax auritus

Capitol Lake
Olympia, WA
January 2, 2013

Cormorants are among the most easily recognizable birds. Their tall bodies, black silhouettes and long necks are easy to spot. It is their wing-drying posture that makes them so quickly identifiable. In an essay on spread-wing postures, Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye state that Cormorants use spread-wing postures for drying their wings.

"The structure of cormorant and Anhinga feathers decreases buoyancy and thus facilitates underwater pursuit of fishes. Hence their plumage is not water-repellent, but "wettable." It has been suggested that the function of the spread-wing postures in these birds is to dry the wings after wetting. Biologists once thought that deficient production of oils from the preen gland necessitate wing-drying behaviors. We now know, however, that the degree of waterproofing of feathers is primarily due to their microscopic structure, not to their being oiled. In addition to helping wing feathers to dry, other suggested functions for these postures include regulating body temperature ("thermoregulation"), realigning of feathers, forcing parasites into motion to ease their removal, and helping the perched bird to balance."

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