A Peaceful Pose

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This week’s photo, taken September 9, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER striking a peaceful pose.

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Careful What You Wish for

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This week’s photo, taken September 5, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a PARASITIC JAEGER (on the right) chasing a CALIFORNIA GULL.

It’s September, which means PARASITIC JAEGERS are migrating south through Puget Sound. This year, I hope to get closer looks of these exciting, fast-moving, acrobatic, food-stealing sea birds than I got last year when virtually all of them were flying far from shore.

Be careful what you wish for. When I spot my first jaeger of the season, it’s fairly close. It’s flying south rapidly and parallel to shore. After I take a few photos, the jaeger unexpectedly turns 90 degrees and flies directly toward me. It’s in pursuit of a gull that’s in-between it and me, and within a few seconds both birds are above the beach, attempting to outmaneuver each other. The jaeger lets out a loud squeal, separates from the gull and heads back out to sea. While resuming its journey south, it finds the time to harass another gull (see photo).

I was eager for a closer view of a jaeger this year, but I never expected to see one fifty feet away. It was astonishing how quickly the action developed, and then suddenly it was over. I now understand how a jaeger can startle a gull and cause it to drop its food. If I had any food on me at the time, I probably would have dropped it when that intimidating sea bird came at me.

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The Nondescript Warbler

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This week’s photo, taken August 28, 2016 at a private residence on Whidbey Island in Washington state, spotlights an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.

Although the most distinguishing feature of the ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER may be that it has no distinguishing features, it is still a very attractive bird.

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Feline with Feathers

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This week’s photo, taken August 29, 2016 at a private residence on Whidbey Island in Washington state, features a GREAT HORNED OWL.

Monday morning, while we were finishing breakfast at our friends’ house on Whidbey Island, I glanced out the dining room window and noticed a large, dark animal on the branch of a fir tree. My first thought was that it was a big black cat, even though it seemed crazy that a feline would be perched so high in a tree. After quickly retrieving my binoculars from the back room, I confirmed that it was an owl, the darkest GREAT HORNED OWL that I’ve ever seen. Nevertheless, with that posture, that face, those “ears” and those eyes (especially those eyes!), it’s amazingly cat-like, don’t you agree?

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Instant Gratification

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This week’s photo, taken August 24, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a CASPIAN TERN, the largest tern in the world and also one of the most widespread.

CASPIAN TERNS are a common sight during the summer months here in Washington state. They fly high above the waters of Puget Sound, looking for a meal. When they spot a fish, they might hover for a few moments, then tuck in their wings and perform a spectacular dive. Their plummet into the water can be as impressive to watch as some of the dives we saw during the recent Olympics, and while some of the athletes eventually receive medals for their efforts, the tern usually surfaces with an immediate award – a tasty fish in its bright red bill.

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Young Gold

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This week’s photo, taken July 8, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a juvenile GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET. This youngster doesn’t yet sport a bright yellow-orange central crown stripe. Right now, it’s just trying to get used to its new world out of the egg.

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Bird Yoga

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This week’s photo, taken August 10, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a BONAPARTE’S GULL slowly moving into a challenging yoga pose called Bird of Paradise. Unfortunately, right after I took this photo, my camera jammed, so I wasn’t able to photograph the completed pose, where the gull points its leg to the sky, wraps its wing under the raised leg and connects that wing to its other wing, which it crosses over behind its back.

The gull concluded its yoga session with Crow Pose, Eagle Pose and Pigeon Pose.

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