Mushrooms and Natural Light

I love the glimmers of sunlight in the forest. No flashlight, no extra processing to get the light just right. Sometimes the sun sends down interesting rays of sunshine that capture those dark corners of the forest and highlight something just slightly magical. Capturing that special light can be quite the challenge.

I often expect a fairy to peek over the side of one of these mushrooms. The most I can get are butterflies in spring and summertime. But not in the fall and winter when mushrooms are at their grandest. But at least the winter sun offer some lovely illumination at this time of year.

Red-Tailed Hawk Above

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawk doing a fly-by, intent on its destination. Another of the birds of prey. Rarely will I find hawks stick around for very long in order for me to get a good shot. They tend to thwart me more times than not. But on occasion I can get a decent shot.

Late fall and early winter are the times when I have my best chance of getting a decent hawk photo as they seem to be around more during that time of year. This one was taken in November.

Eagle After the Rain

Bald eagles are a predatory bird that I see more often than one might expect. This one appeared to be drying off after a rainstorm, or perhaps after diving for a salmon for its lunch.

This is not a bird I often see close up, so, again, a long lens is necessity, especially since the trees are very tall, and eagles always like to take that top seat to get the best place to survey the world around. Again, if I’m out and about early in the morning, when few others are walking or running the trails, I have a better chance of seeing them nearby to photograph.

Wintering Swans

White Trumpeter Swan rising from the water

Swans arrive in winter and stay around till February. Just the other day a saw a wedge of swans flying by as I was out hiking. So, I’ll be looking for them as usual this year. Such graceful, lovely birds to watch and photograph, sometimes on the lakes, sometimes in the fields. If I can get out early in the morning I find them easier to spot on the water in smaller groups, sometimes called bevies. Further north, and I can get a glimpse of tundra swans, closer to home we see trumpeter swans. They winter with us for a short time, and then they move on.

White Trillium and Spring

White Trillium Wildflowers

One of the first wildflowers I always look for in the spring is the trillium. This one is a Western Wake Robin, or trillum ovatum, that blooms early in the spring, and is a wildflower that I often see deep in the forest. Bright spots all along the trail. Wake Robin because it’s a flower that blooms before the Robin begins nesting in the early spring.

The white trillium is thought to be a symbol of purity and recovery; also thought to symbolize the Christian trinity, among other interpretrations.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker, Fir Road, Skagit County

Downy woodpecker taken from an extreme distance. There are times when I take a photograph, but I’m not exactly certain what species of bird I’ve gotten until I get back to my computer to process images. This happened to be one of those images.

One of the fun aspects of photography is the surprise encounters. When I go out with my camera, I expect surprises because one cannot anticipate what nature and wildlife will appear on any given trip. Even if I’ve been there time and again, something new and different is always likely to occur. it might be a bird, it might be a flower, it might be an insect, it might even be a structure, anything can happen. As it happens this was my first trip to the wildlife refuge near Fir Road, in Skagit County. I hope to get back up there sometime in the near future. But for now, staying close to home. I’m glad I did get the chance to get there last year.

It’s about remaining open to the possible as well as the impossible, the expected, and the unexpected, be it familiar territory or unfamiliar territory. It’s never boring.

Junco with Personality

Junco at Mt. Ranier

Junco at Mt. Ranier, where you can usually find some snow even in summer. This little guy was perched at Paradise at the top of the mountain. He sort of looks like he’s ready to have a conversation starting with, “Who are you and what are you doing on my mountain?” Or maybe, “Got anything good to eat?”

Harbor Seals in Oregon

Harbor Seals

A few harbor seals chilling at the Yaquina National Wildlife Refuge near Newport, Oregon. A nice trip as we met up with my son and his family for a karate championship for my grandson, which, of course, was the highlight of the trip.

One of the side trips we took was to the Yaquina National Wildlife Refuge, and the lighthouse there. Much to my pleasant surprise we got to see quite a few frolicking harbor seals quite close to the shore. We also remember that these are wild animals, and as such do demand a safe distance, even if they might be used to crazy humans watching them from the shore. Always keeping a respectful distance. And why I’m generally using longer lenses to capture nature.

Part of the reason these seals are called harbor seas is because of their habit of frequenting sheltered waters. Female seals are referred to as cows, males as bulls, young seals as calves or, more commonly today, pups. A breeding herd of seals is known as a rookery.

Long View of Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

One of the places I love to visit regularly is Ruby Beach. I’ll usually check the tides, because I like going in the spring when I can view the sea life, starfish particularly, waiting patiently for the tide to come back in. The beach is always littered with interesting artifacts from the ocean. More than one artifact reminding us the power of those magnificent, yet often deadly, Pacific Ocean waves.

The first time we discovered this beach, we were taking a drive upstate on an Easter sunday, and as we were driving home after a very long day of exploration, near sunset, we discovered Ruby Beach, and were witness to an amazing burst of color across the ocean landscape. We vowed then to return, to explore more carefully. and since that time, we have done so again and again.

Sunlight in the Hoh

A visit to a little known trail up along a windy lumber road in the Hoh Forest. In the middle of winter, we had a lovely sunshine-filled morning as we hiked along the trail. Thick forest growth allowed for moments like this, where streams of sunlight cut through the shadowy trail. Another one of those magical moments in nature. Hoh is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. and truly an amazing experience.