Pacific Northwest Signs of Spring

Our time in the Pacific Northwest has been heavy with family and the brand new babies as our previous posts will attest. However we have managed an outing with our old friend and fellow birder Paula Johnson who lives in the area. Paula was kind enough to guide us to a couple of birding hotspots in the region one day this past week. They are the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in southern Washington near the Columbia River and also the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia.

We got on the road long before dawn, were blessed with some decent spring weather (read no rain) and were rewarded with some excellent sightings of the areas wildlife feeling the urgings of spring.


Nisqually NWR

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Bald Eagle


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Tree Swallows were in abundance on their way north to breed

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Nisqually NWR

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A pair of river otters frolic

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A Pair of Cinnamon Teals

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Newly fledged Bald Eagle watching

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Hooded Merganser pair

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Hooded Merganser pair

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A family of raccoons

Dowitchers yellowlegs

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A pair of Wood Ducks

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A Yellow -rumped warbler migrant just showing up at NIsqually NWR on its way north

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Cinnamon Teal Drake preening

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Red winged Blackbird displaying his colors proudly hoping to attract a mate

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A pair of Northern Shovelers

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Read more.. Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Wild Cape Cod Notebook: Winter

One of the benefits of the continuous storm track we have seen on Cape Cod this winter is the incredible “post storm” landscapes that are left once the snow stops and the system’s move up into the Canadian Maritime Provinces. One needs to bundle up but the results are worth it. In particular the magnificent snowy owl has been easier to find and shoot! Check out our latest images here.

Morris Island, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham

Morris Island, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham

Read more.. Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Wild Cape Cod Notebook: Winter

The new year greeted us with our first serious Nor’easter of the winter season. Circumstances set us up here on Cape Cod to be near the center of a convergence of several powerful low pressure systems which raced up the eastern coast packed with lots of moisture and collided with a massive arctic blast of frigid air and the result was significant coastal snowfall in often whiteout blizzard conditions with temperatures that plummeted near to zero degrees F. In Chatham we received about 12 – 14 inches and with drifts in the wind some north facing structures got buried. We clocked wind gusts to 56 MPH. Fortunately we did not lose power so the experience was exhilarating around a cozy fire. We worried about the birds and yesterday decided to range further afield to survey the land and wildlife.

Read more.. Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Wild Cape Cod Notebook: North Country

Took a day trip to the lower Cape this week – which means if you live in Chatham, as  we do, one travels to the north toward the unique and beautiful landscapes of the Cape Cod National Seashore  and the sprawling sand spit that is the Provincelands. The deciduous forests here are at their peak in fall foliage color and when one observes these surroundings in the incredible autumn light at this time of year ……well…..see what you think. Also lovely to study the magnificent Northern Harrier hunting rodents amongst our stunning natural environments. Other notable bird life observed were a sharp shinned hawk , 2 pairs of hooded mergansers , several golden crowned kinglets, a ruby crowned kinglet, a blue headed vireo, a black throated blue warbler and a magnificent blue winged teal which was foraging among the cat tails.  Note that some of the images are made of the same vistas as lighting conditions changed in the warm late afternoon offering changes in the mood.

All part of the “septober” magic we have been blessed with again this fall on Cape Cod..

Harrier hunts in the Provincelands

Harrier hunts

Harrier hunts

Fort Hill, Eastham - looking toward Coast Guard station

Fort Hill, Eastham

Northern Harrier hunting

Pilgrim Heights, Provincelands

White Cedar Swamp, Wellfleet

Race Point, Provincelands

Race Point, Provincelands


Hooded Mergansers and a Blue winged teal

Blue headed vireo, Cedar Swamp

Mallard at the Beech Forest, Provincelands

Read more.. Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Wild Cape Cod Notebook: Autumn

We are down to the last few days of our beloved “Septober” season and the changes toward winter have been signaled by the return of waterfowl from the arctic and our shortening days. One beautiful bonus however. We are enjoying the characteristic golden “light” at the beginning and end of each day which highlight the splendor of autumn color here.

Outer Beach, Chatham

Buffleheads return

Mute Swan, Chatham

Mallards, Chatham

Powderhole from the air, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

American Black Ducks

House Finch, Chatham

Surf Scoters, Monomoy

Common Eiders of Chatham

White winged Scoters, Monomoy

Nickerson State Park, Brewster

Coyote hunts in Chatham

Read more.. Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Flight & Pursuit: Autumn Migrations

South Monomoy - the Powderhole

Canada geese in flight

Mute Swans gather at the Powderhole

October is now half gone and the water temperatures on the Outer Cape are slowly dropping while beautiful sunny skies and autumn colors take over our landscapes on Cape Cod.  Keen on observing raptors our patience has finally paid off. A visit to South Monomoy in a light easterly wind conditions has yielded a fine sighting of nature’s fastest predator, the Peregrine Falcon on its regular southerly migration following other migrants. Perfect opportunity to showcase our raptors. Also at South Monomoy in the fresh water ponds we found a number of migrating waterfowl as well. Fantastic birding!

Peregrine Falcon flies in from 12:00 o'clock high at 60 knots!

Peregrine strafes a flock of migrating Dunlins

South Monomoy from the Air

A pair of Marbled Godwits on Tern Island, Chatham

South bound Red Knot with a some breeding plumage still visible

American Oystercatcher

Northern Harrier hunting on Monomoy

Ringed Neck Plover on South Beach, Chatham

Dunlin in non breeding plumage


Dunlins in Flight

American Oyster catchers in a group on South Beach, Chatham

Morris Island, MNWR - Chatham

Migrating Lesser Scaup in flight at Powderhole

A Rare Marbled Godwit

Read more.. Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Cape Cod Winter Journal: Storm Warning

Common Eider Drakes

Winter Storm Nemo at 1200 February 8

Bufflehead Drake

Black Duck

As an intense winter storm bears down on New England we are wondering how our wildlife will fare during the festivities. Hearty they are but still we wonder.

As we have reported on this blog many times, Cape Cod is an important migration stop for many species. In winter the outer Cape in particular is a destination for many waterfowl species which come to feed in our cold waters  before they return to the Arctic to breed in the North American summer . As a result we are blessed to have thousands of water birds grace our bays and estuaries until spring. It is pleasure to get out and observe them as well as our resident land birds as they all go about the business of finding food, dodging predators and generally biding their time until spring.

In preparation for the storm we have re-stocked our feeders and will be looking for opportunities to observe and record the experiences as the storm rages here over the next 48 hours.

Canada Geese on Black Pond

Stage Harbor, Chatham

Bufflehead Drake

Red breasted Merganser Drake

Red breasted Mergansers females

Red breasted merganser (young female)

Song Sparrow

House Finch


Carolina Wren

Read more.. Thursday, February 7th, 2013