Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Tour Part II: Ocean Shores Cripplers and Even Snowy Owls Need To Vomit

In one day I went from seeing 0 to 10 Snowy Owls. Thank the bird gods.

After getting less than 2 hours of sleep in Olympia, the one known as "Stilt" and I were whisked away for a deluxe birding trip in Ocean Shores, WA. The birding was incredible, we could not help but see everything we looked for. It wasn't even raining. I quickly came to the conclusion that birding in Washington is amazingly easy. King Eider (lifer!), Snowy Owl (lifer!), Emperor Goose, Rock Sandpipers, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Trumpeter Swans, Merlin and Palm Warbler were among the best birds of the day. Stoked.

Damon Point was a zoo of photographers, but they seemed relatively well-behaved. The owls high tolerance for people probably helped the situation...Tweeters, the Washington birding listserv, has been filled with various hilarious, dumb, and even intelligent messages about birders and photographers harassing this winter's massive crop of Snowy Owls. At least I can claim that our crew did not flush any birds...

Arctic royalty was the theme of the day, between the Emperor Goose and the King Eider (actually, a Queen Eider) being easy to find and readily viewable. I don't think things will ever be the same...thanks to Alex Wang, Charlie Wright and Annie Meyer for all their help.

One of the owls looked like it was attempting to puke up a pellet the entire time we were watching it. This owl was significantly more entertaining than all the other owls.

Snowy Owls make me think of cats, I don't know why.

Sometimes, it feels better if you puke.

Emperor Goose and Canada Goose. Royalty and Peasantry.

The Emperor enjoys putting greens as much as any non-royal goose.

This is the proper way to restrain your dog in seaside communities.

Rock Sandpipers with a Black Turnstone and Surfbird. If you want to see a Rock Sandpiper without trekking up to Alaska, Ocean Shores seems like the right place to do it.

Hordes of photographers were out. The lenses that my group was using seemed small and shriveled in comparison.

They were all looking at this Snowy Owl. It seemed more interested in sleeping than anything else. At one point I saw a dude sitting incredibly close to it...instead of taking pictures, he was eating a sandwich.


  1. Great snowy pix! but I think the dog is my favorite...

  2. The dog was hilarious. It was just running around with a buoy attached to it, with no owner in site.

  3. Weiner dog + buoy = brilliant. I'm trying it. Awesome snowy faces. Think I'm going back there this weekend to see them again, and demand the presence of the queen. I will pick up buoys on the way.

  4. @Jen - I knew you were good at picking up buoys...HEY-OH!!!