When walking along the shore at Mukilteo, I will often see one or two Murrelets diving for food in the shallows along the edge of Puget Sound. They are not rare but nor are they particularly abundant. Consequently, I was rather surprised when at the new ferry terminal to see a large number of them swimming in the water around the new pier structures. There was a constant stream of them diving down and surfacing again.
I can only assume that something is growing on the surface of the steel posts that support the new loading spans. The birds would swim up to the posts, dive straight down for a while – presumably as they grabbed the food – and then surface at an oblique angle. The result was a cycle of birds going down and back up again. It looked really strange and seemed like something that would stop but there must be plenty to eat as they just kept going. I figured video was the best way to show what was happening so below is a short clip of them feeding away!
Anyone a bird specialist reading this? I saw this heron sitting in the trees along the shore at Camano Island. It didn’t seem in a hurry to go anywhere and wasn’t spooked as I got closer to its perch to get some shots. It was high enough that it didn’t see me as relevant. I have seen Great Blue Herons but this didn’t look like that (it could be and I just didn’t recognize it). If you know what it is, please let me know.
There were a few bald eagles hanging out on Camano Island during our trip there. There was one in a tree near the shore when we first got there. It didn’t seem in the least bit interested in us as we walked below it. If an eagle has recently eaten, it is quite likely to hang around for a long time doing nothing so we didn’t wait around to see what it did.
When we came back there were now two eagles in the area. I’ve no idea whether one was our original or if these two had come along since. A third flew past at one point getting the two quite agitated. If you have never heard the noise a bald eagle makes, you might be quite surprised. They have a high pitched squeak which doesn’t seem in keeping with their size. It is easy to identify though.
I wandered around trying to get the two of them in shot together. They were quite offset distance wise which meant getting them both in focus wasn’t practical. I did try and little Photoshop focus stacking when I got home though. It’s funny that bald eagles are so common in this part of the world but it is still exciting to see one and everyone seems to respond the same way.
The visit of snow geese to the region is a regular feature of winter near Puget Sound. We went to Fir Island a couple of years ago to see the birds and I spent a free weekend day mooching around the area to see what I could see. I knew that there were plenty of geese around because, when I stopped off to photograph something else, there were endless flocks of them flying overhead. Sometimes they would be in tight formations and then others, they would seem to be a bit disorganized.
When on Fir Island, I came around a corner and realized that they had found a field of interest not far from the road. Pulling off to one side, they were a little further away than ideal but a long lens would help. As I focused on them, I saw a bunch of birds coming in to land in the background. I snapped away quickly as I didn’t want to miss this shot. I needn’t have worried. There didn’t seem to be any limit to the number of these geese as more just kept on coming.
It really is quite impressive to see so many of these geese in one place. They travel in huge groups – presumably for safety – and the local farmers are encouraged to plant crops that support their visits in winter. They must clean out a field at a time and then move on. Presumably they do some good work fertilizing the fields in the process.
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.
While out photographing some aircraft (I know, shocking), some small birds were flying around the bushes behind me. I glanced back at some point to see what was making the noise and realized that the light on them was far better than on what I was shooting. I figured a quick few shots were in order.
While waiting along the shore in Mukilteo for the return of a ship, I saw a heron standing on the water’s edge, presumably looking for something to snack on. With the gloomy light and the shadows on the heron, I liked the atmospheric nature of the image so took it.
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!
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.
The Growlers weren’t the only things flying at Coupeville while I was there. A bunch of bald eagles were also flying in the vicinity. They were crossing the approach path for the FCLP training which had me a little concerned. I thought they would get lost when the jets showed up but they clearly weren’t very concerned and were used the the jets. They might have got close but they seemed to stay just far enough away to avoid any conflict. A bird strike with a bald eagle would probably be messy for all concerned.