Category Archives: wildlife

Cormorant Having Dinner

The shallow waters near the new ferry terminal at Mukilteo seemed to be a popular spot for the local cormorants to hunt.  For a while, there was one cormorant almost directly below me that seemed to be having a pretty successful time fishing.  A couple of times I saw it pop up and swallow something large so I spent a bit of time tracking it waiting for it to return again.  Sure enough, it popped to the surface holding a rather large looking fish.

I am not a fish expert so I don’t know what it was.  I just know it was still struggling to get away and, given the size, I was curious as to whether the bird would be able to eat it.  I clearly underestimated its capabilities as a couple of quick adjustments and the whole thing went down in one go.  I waited for it to dive again but, having had a few decent sized snacks, it was clearly letting its lunch go down.  It was a while before it dived again.  Just before it did, a bloom in the water led me to believe that it was making space for its next course.

Cormorant Posing for Me

We went out for lunch at Ray’s Boathouse one Saturday afternoon.  It was not a great day, weather wise, with fog covering Puget Sound.  I didn’t take the big camera with me but I did take the M6 along just in case there was something to see.  In front of our table on their deck was a piling which had a gull sitting on it when we got there.  The gull soon flew off and then it was replaced by a cormorant!  It must have been especially for me!  It was drying its wings after its swim and I got a few shots of it while sitting at the table.  I could have run to the car to grab the big lens but that would have interrupted our lunch a little too much!

Who Could Miss a Deer This Size?

While walking through Fort Worden, we went through a selection of buildings to a trail up the hill.  As we turned a slight corner. I looked back where we had just come and there was a deer sitting in the shade of one of the buildings we had just passed.  It was looking very relaxed and I was amazed to realize I had just walked right passed it and never even noticed.

As we returned the same way a while later, I wondered whether it would still be there or not.  I looked for it but the space was now empty.  However, as my view opened up, I realized that a deer (I can’t say whether it was the same one or not) was strolling up the road.  It came to some shade from some trees and plonked itself down to rest.  We had to walk very close to it and it didn’t seem in the least bit bothered by us.  I took some photos as we went by and we left it in peace.

Cormorants on the Dock

How long is it since I have had a cormorant post?  Too long, that’s how long.  Taking trips on the ferries means you can get quite close to the cormorants on the pilings in the water alongside which the ferries berth.  Of course, whenever they are close by, I don’t have a camera to hand.  One part of the dock did have a ton of them resting on it so, given my recent dearth of cormorant shots, I felt I had to do it.

Focus Stacking and Backyard Arachnids

I’m sure a bunch of my relatives will look away for this post.  Maybe they aren’t fans of focus stacking but it could be the spiders that put them off.  My macro lens has been out a lot during the pandemic since it provides something to photograph close at home that is a bit different.  In fact, I have got so used to having it available, when I am out with a normal lens and come across something small and interesting, I am a bit frustrated to realize I can’t get a close up shot.

The problem with the lens is that it is not a very advanced one and the autofocus on it is pretty crap.  When I am trying to hand hold the lens and something is moving and so am I, things get a little unpredictable.  We had a few spider webs in the backyard with the owners sitting in the middle.  The afternoon sun provided great illumination so I figured I should give it a go.  I tend to go to manual focus and move to get the shot but with the breeze moving the web a lot, things are pretty tricky.  This is what prompted me to try cheating.

I figured that focus stacking does a good job of increasing the area in focus and it manages to align images and make use of what is already in focus.  If I can be straight on to the spider and stay reasonably still and roughly at the right focus point, let the web move towards and away from me and fire a bunch of shots off hand held.  Ignore the ones that have nothing in focus and then let Photoshop work on the remainder.

It isn’t a perfect solution and some weird things happen at the edges of the frame but the center works out pretty well and you can crop in a little to address the edges.  I was quite pleased with the outcome to be honest.  It is making the best of a few bad elements but it did do quite well.  You don’t get to control what is in focus for each shot so getting a complete set to work with is unlikely but overall, not a bad experiment.

Rabbit Rescue

A slightly sad tale for this post.  We get plenty of wildlife in our backyard including loads of rabbits.  They come in to much the grass all the time.  They are a combination of cute and inconvenient since they tend to spread a lot of seeds for things we don’t want in our grass.  Such is the way of nature of course.  Most days we will see one or more of them out there but they disappear quickly if we go outside.

One weekend morning Nancy looked out and saw one on the grass but not looking normal.  We went out to check what was going on and the rabbit seemed to have some injury which was preventing it from moving properly.  Without the ability to examine it, I thought its leg was hurt.  We pondered what to do.  Meanwhile, a bunch of crows started gathering on the fence sensing a meal.  They flew off when we went outside but the rabbit had moved itself somehow behind the aircon unit.  We know that nature has a course in these things but figured, if there was something we could do for the little thing, we should at least make an effort.  If it wasn’t going to make it, so be it.

A call to a rescue service told us that we should bring it to them and they would assess it.  Despite its injuries, the flight mentality was strong and it was not easy to scoop up.  However, I managed to get it wrapped up in a towel and into a box on another towel and off to PAWS in Lynnwood.  They did an evaluation and confirmed that this was definitely a fixable issue but not by them.  Off to Sarvey in Granite Falls.  This bun was getting quite a road trip.  We dropped it off with them which is when I took the picture above.  I hadn’t wanted to photograph it if it wasn’t going to make it since that seemed wrong somehow but, with someone taking care of it, I decided a photo was okay.

All this effort for one rabbit might seem strange when so many must die every day but it seemed like the right thing to do and it introduced us to two good organizations that deserve support.

Domed Spider Webs

Anyone out there a specialist in spiders?  I know plenty of people who absolutely hate spiders.  They are not going to be much use to me here.  Besides, a lot of them are from the UK and I never saw anything like this when I lived there.  As we were walking around the grounds at Bloedel Reserve, we saw a lot of spiders’ webs that were a domed structure.  They didn’t look like webs that I had seen before.  They seem to have a lot of web material above them and then a dome structure to the main web itself.  I think the spider sits underneath the dome awaiting its prey.  Anyone know anything more about this and how it works?

Frilly Ferns

While walking around on the grounds of Bloedel Reserve, we came across these ferns.  The shape of most ferns is pretty familiar.  These were unlike anything I had seen before.  The ends of the ferns split out into multiple mini fronds.  They looked like some sort of lace work that people would have created.  Maybe this is nothing new to some of you but I was quite taken but the ornamental nature of these fronds compared to what I have seen previously.