Leaving Soon

IMG_3754

This week’s photo, taken April 18, 2015 from the rock jetty in Westport, WA, features a COMMON LOON bobbing on the surface of the Pacific Ocean. It probably has spent the winter here along the Washington coast. Now that it’s mid-April, and this loon has acquired its lovely breeding plumage, soon it will migrate north, most likely to a lake somewhere in Canada, where it will nest and raise its young.

Cards/Prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cancel My Flight

IMG_3581

This week’s photo, taken April 18, 2015 at Westhaven State Park in Westport, WA, features a LAPLAND LONGSPUR, an adult male in breeding plumage.

When I lived in San Diego, I saw a few Lapland Longspurs during the winter months, but they were always sporting a drab combination of mostly light and dark brown feathers. In Washington state, a Longspur will likely show up as an uncommon migrant in the fall, and it will be wearing those same dull colors. It’s considered rare here during spring migration, which is unfortunate for bird-watchers since spring is when the adult male displays its most vibrant colors.

When I look at photos on the internet of Longspurs on their breeding grounds, I think how neat it would be to see those beauties when they are decked out in their flashiest outfits. But since they breed up around the Arctic, I’d have to fly to Alaska to view them at their best.

Surprisingly, last Saturday, while we were enjoying a family weekend at the Washington coast, I stumbled upon a male LAPLAND LONGSPUR in breeding plumage. I took some photos of this handsome fellow, and then I cancelled my flight to Alaska.

Cards/Prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Formal Attire

IMG_3220

This week’s photo, taken April 13, 2015 from Edmond’s Pier in Edmonds, WA, features an adult HORNED GREBE in breeding plumage.

I’ve been birding regularly from the Edmond’s Pier for 6 months now (2 – 3 days a week), and lately I’ve observed that some of the regular species are beginning to dress up for the spring season. Until about a month ago, HORNED GREBES wore their drab gray and white outfits, displaying no vibrant color other than a bright red eye. Well, that’s all changed now. A Horned Grebe swam directly towards me the other morning. Perhaps it never noticed me, or maybe it wished to show me its flashy threads. Whatever its intentions, I was impressed.

Cards/Prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cranky

IMG_2439

This week’s photo, taken April 2, 2015 at a private residence on Whidbey Island, WA, features a brilliantly handsome adult male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD.

The RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD breeds farther north than any other hummingbird. After wintering as far south as Mexico, many Rufous Hummingbirds migrate as far north as Alaska, with many of them either passing through or nesting in Washington state.

Whether protecting a sugar-water feeder or a flowering plant, this fiery red and feisty hummer doesn’t like to share its food; so, it often chases other hummingbirds from its food source. Perhaps if you were traveling a couple thousand miles, and you didn’t know where you would find your next meal, you might also be feeling a bit cranky and less than generous.

Cards/Prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

7500

IMG_1498

This week’s photo, taken March 28, 2015 in Skagit County, WA, features a fraction of the approximately 7500 SNOW GEESE that descended on a field. The numbers were so impressive that even non-birders stopped their cars and got out to experience the presence of thousands and thousands of big, loud birds.

Cards/Prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Logrolling

IMG_0833

This week’s photo, taken March 23, 2015 from the Edmonds Pier in Edmonds, WA, features a flock of SANDERLINGS striving for balance in life.

Monday morning, while I was birding from the Edmonds Pier, I watched as an extremely long log drifted by, with dozens of SANDERLINGS poised as passengers atop the slow-moving vessel.

Suddenly, the Sanderlings became restless, as if they were about to fly. Yet, when I examined them through my spotting scope, I discovered that the shorebirds had no intention of disembarking their no-frills cruise ship. The problem was that the log was beginning to roll!

Every bird was forced to leap up and re-land (some of them multiple times) to avoid falling off the back of the log. That amusing predicament reminded me of the sporting event on television where a lumberjack tries to outlast his or her opponent while they both attempt to stay upright on a spinning log.

No birds were harmed during the development of this story.

Cards/Prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Final Answer

IMG_9761

This week’s photo, taken March 7, 2015 from the Edmonds Pier in Edmonds, WA, features a female COMMON GOLDENEYE in flight.

Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, in particular the females, are tough to tell apart, especially when the birds zoom by at a high rate of speed (and I’ve never seen a goldeneye fly at a slow rate of speed). That’s why I like to stop the action with a photo, and then later on in my comfortably cushioned chair, I cradle my computer and calmly compare characteristics of my captures with credible candidates for consideration.

Ok, no more alliteration for now.

The female COMMON GOLDENEYE has a bill that’s usually more black than yellow, the Common’s forehead is more gently sloped, and the female Common has more white on the wings than the Barrow’s. Therefore, this here’s a Common Goldeneye, and that’s my final answer.

Cool Cards: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment