Snow Goose Frenzy

Thousands of Snow Geese make the mutual decison to leave.

Inside the chaos of a Snow Goose flock.

You likely will hear them before you see them. When thousands of Snow Geese make the mutual decision to move, even if it’s only a few hundred yards, the resulting cacophonous frenzy is like no other, at least in nature. About 75 miles south of where you see Snow Geese in the Puget Sound region is CenturyLink Field, after all, home of the loud-decibeled 12th Man.
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Hawking Homework

The Samish Flats provides a spectacular setting to view wintering raptors, including Bald Eagles.

The Samish Flats provides a spectacular setting to view wintering raptors, including Bald Eagles.

I know from experience that Bald Eagles are masters of the long chill. I once observed a nesting pair through the viewfinder of my camera, waiting at least three hours for something to happen. A lot happened, if you consider a change in gaze or slight settle on a branch “something.”

That’s why the Bald Eagle may not have been the best subject for my homework assignment from Bud Anderson’s Western Washington Hawk Watching class, which I have been taking down at the University of Puget Sound. Let me amend that: The Bald Eagle may not be the best subject for the way I usually like to tell stories these days, which is visually.
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Before the (Sea)Hawks, an Owl

A Short-Eared Owl on Samish Flats.

A Short-Eared Owl on Samish Flats.

For some reason, the Short-Eared Owl has been fairly elusive photographic quarry for me. I’ve now been photographing birds, off and on, for almost a year now. I started with a class in Padilla Bay from my friend Paul Bannick, during which one of the participants mentioned this curious bird.

From that moment, I was determined to photograph one. I returned almost immediately to a spot in the Samish Flats, about 75 minutes north of Seattle, that is managed by the Washing Department of Fish and Wildlife and to which birders refer as “West 90.” No luck, though I was told they were “abundant” there. Another birder/photographer told me the Short-Eareds were so omnipresent at Rawlins Road, near Fir Island, it almost wasn’t fair to photograph them there. The day I went, they must have taken a holiday.
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