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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring is in the Air

Today, for the first time, it really felt like spring could be just around the corner. It was pleasant enough out that I got to eat outside, drive with the windows down, and even take my first flower photographs of the year! While this unseasonably mild weather has been difficult for the winter Olympic games taking place here in the Northwest, it has been great for getting outside. Today I took advantage of it to spend 45 minutes at the Rhododendron Gardens where I saw 19 bird species, including all the expected waterfowl.

There were two double-crested cormorants hanging out on the lake. In this version of the photo it's harder to see, but click to see the larger version and look at that turquoise eye!

The birds are sensing the changing of the seasons, too. There was lots of courting going on among the mallards and wood ducks, and the American wigeon and gadwall were definitely hanging out in pairs rather than large mixed flocks. This male wood duck wasn't far from his prospective mate:

The neat thing about the Rhododendron Gardens is that you get great views of a wide variety of duck species. It's a great place for the beginning birder to learn the common local waterfowl. The mallards and Canada geese also get fed a lot there, making them especially tame. That makes for some unique photo ops, like this close-up of part of the wing of a female mallard:

Canada geese normally dominate the scene at this park, but today there were easily more than 400 cackling geese there. They look so petite and, I must say, cute, compared to their larger cousins. Look at those tiny beaks!

As mentioned, the flowers are starting to bloom as well. The first of the rhododendrons are blossoming as well as some early daffodils. As far as native plants go, I also noticed yesterday the first Indian plum blossoms while on a walk in my neighborhood. Indian plum is always one of the earliest plants to flower every year.

When I got my new camera in December, I also got new lenses that don't feature some of the macro options my old lenses did. I'll have to take a different approach to flower photography, but I liked a few of the results today.


Warren Baker said...

As you saw from my post monika, it was spring like over here, but today it was back to rain and watch out!

Was that cherry blossom ? already ?

Monika said...

I'm very aware it may be temporary....but looking at the forecast it seems we may have clear skies for at least the next couple of days!

They're rhododendrons, but I have seen some cherry blossom buds, so they're not far off!