Category Archives: wildlife

Heron Fast Food Joint

I walked out on to the jetty at Olga to look back at the shoreline.  A short distance around the shore was an inlet which had about a dozen herons fishing within it.  They were constantly stalking through the shallows and grabbing at fish as they passed by.  With so many of them there, it must be a productive place to hunt.  A heron drive through (or should that be fly through?).


I shared some shots of lambs from Maltby Farm quite a while back.  The lambs weren’t the only creatures that got a lot of attention from the visitors.  There was an enclosure with a lot of goats.  Goats are curious creatures to look at.  They have a look that I guess is not very appealing since the goats head seems to have a lot of diabolical associations.  Not sure why but they can be a bit creepy.

Smaller goats have a cuter look like a lot of smaller versions of large animals do.  They do seem to like standing on precarious things.  There were some wooden structures for them to walk along and one of the goats came up behind another that wasn’t moving.  It was a small diversion to drop down to the ground and go around but, instead, it just stood behind the first goat waiting until it finally moved.  Maybe it is like a game you play as a kid (pun intended) where you won’t step on the cracks in the ground.


I was driving through the Skagit Valley quite a while back when I passed a farm that seemed to have a lot of donkeys on their property.  I only realized this as I passed at speed and I had somewhere else I was heading so I parked the thought for a while.  Later in the day, when I had finished whatever it was I was planning on doing, I remembered that I had seen them so retraced my steps to see if I could remember exactly where the farm had been.  That part of the valley has loads of farms so I wasn’t certain where it was exactly.

Fortunately, the road was quiet so I was able to slow down while passing each farm until I spotted the donkeys out in the field.  A quick turn and I was able to pull off the road.  Not only were they in the fields but they were also walking about in a yard right near the road.  My arrival probably got them to move a little further away but I still got a bunch of shots of them.  As a kid, a farm near where we lived for a short while had donkeys so I have always had a soft spot for them.  They just look like a friendly creature.

Hummers on Real Flowers

With the feeders in our backyard, I have been able to shoot plenty of photos and videos of the hummingbirds coming in to feed.  This has been a lot of fun but it has always lacked a little something because of the artificial nature of the environment.  Our recent acquisition of new hanging baskets for the backyard has changed this a bit.  They are plenty of tiny flowers in these baskets and these have appealed to some of the hummers.

Not all of them, though.  The majority still seem to prefer the sugar water in the feeders but some like to work their way around the flowers.  This requires a lot more flexibility from the hummingbird to get in to the flowers but they make it look so simple.  The flowers are only in sun for part of the day so some of the shots I have got have been in shade while others have been better lit.  What matters, though, is that a bird against a flower backdrop has a far more natural feel to it than when they are feeding from one of the artificial food suppliers.

I spent most of the time getting stills of them working around the flowers.  It all looks good when you are watching it but only certain angles make for good photos.  I did get some video too so a little edit of that is included below.

Crows Mobbing a Bald Eagle

I never fail to be amazed at the crap that large birds of prey take from smaller birds.  The eagles fly around here with crows and other birds swooping in at them and trying to drive them away.  The strangest part is that the eagles barely do anything about it.  I have seen how agile an eagle can be in flight and a rapid turn to point some talons at an incoming crow is well within their capability but they just don’t bother.  I was down south of Seattle recently and heard the familiar call of a bald eagle (not as cool as you might think).  It was sitting on a tree top.  Crows were coming in to hassle it regularly and it barely flinched.  I shot a small video clip to show the crows working as a pair and that is included below.


Our visit to Maltby Farm gave us a chance to look at some of the wildlife that the farm has.  They have a few sheep and there were some lambs in the enclosure too.  Lambs can be a riot to watch when they are young since they have incredible energy and bound around the place.  Clearly these were a few weeks older than that and they were taking a more lethargic approach to the day.  Aside from munching on the available food, they were lying down and resting in the sun.

As sheep get mature, they lose a lot of the cuteness that they have when young.  Some breeds are cute when adult but plenty aren’t.  A bunch of lambs, though, are going to be a lot more appealing.  Let’s not focus too much on how tasty they might prove to be…


Chatting with a work colleague recently, we were talking about Molbaks Garden Center in Woodinville which we have visited many times.  She asked if we went to Flower World too and I had to admit I had never heard of it.  It is in Maltby, about ten minutes from home but I had no idea it existed.  It not only is a nursery but it also has a farm with a farm shop.  A visit seemed in order.

There are a lot of chickens at Maltby Farm.  There are a bunch of them roaming the park areas around the garden center.  Within the farm ground, they have a large enclosure full of chickens and the eggs are sold in the shop.  Chickens are interesting creatures since they come in such a wide variety of sizes and plumages.  When the light is right, it really pulls the colors out of the feathers.  They are also amusing to watch with the little battles that break out with surprising regularity.

Buzzed By A Bald Eagle

We had a day out on Whidbey Island and we stopped off at Fort Casey to eat our lunch.  We parked up near the lighthouse and there was a bald eagle hanging around along the cliff tops.  The updrafts made soaring around a piece of cake for it.  It landed in the top of a tree near us as we walked along the cliff.  When we turned around and headed down the slope towards the fort, it started flying high above us and then appeared to swoop down into the bushes – presumably to catch a snack.  We lost track of it at that point but a short while later it emerged from the bushes flying just above head height and straight towards us.  I had the camera on the wrong settings to maximize my chance of getting a good shot but I still managed to get a few slightly blurry ones as it buzzed by.

Swallows Over the River

After a visit to a shop in Renton, I stopped by the airport to see what was going on.  I was taking a walk along the trail alongside the Cedar River that runs parallel to the runway.  As I headed back to the car, I heard a noisy bird making its presence felt.  Looking up at a power line across the water, there was an osprey a short distance away.  I didn’t have anything other than my phone with me so went back to the car to grab a long lens and to see if it would wait around for me.

Sadly, it didn’t appreciate the situation and had gone by the time I returned.  However, the river was not empty.  Tons of swallows were swooping along its length feasting on the bugs above the water.  Looking along the river towards the bridge from the Boeing ramp, you could see loads of them at work.  Getting photos of swallows is not easy.  They move very fast and do not hold course for long so getting a track on them with a long lens and keeping it is tough.  The 500mm is a challenge for this but it is what I had.

There were tons of failures but you don’t get to see these.  I was surprised how often I managed to track one and that the camera did a really great job of getting a focus.  There was a little predictability of the flight paths which did help but, even so, I was rather pleased with the results.  Also, given that these are still heavily cropped, to get this sharp was quite a result.

Killdeer With Attitude

Nancy and I were at Meydenbauer Park in Bellevue when we saw this Killdeer.  A crow was hopping about nearby and it seemed to be causing the killdeer some concern.  We wondered whether the crow was going to harm it in some way when we suddenly realized that the killdeer was far from defenseless.  It suddenly went on the attack and charged the crow which freaked out and took off.  There was I worried about this bird and it was totally in control.