Our good friend and Discover Port Townsend.com contributor, photographer and birding expert, Dave Grainger, has compiled some amazing shots taken on his various birding expeditions. He has graciously shared them with us here for all to enjoy!

VIEWING NOTE: Click on any bird to enlarge it. Hovering over the picture will stop it so caption can be read.

  • White Pelican

    Odd spur on beak, is only there during mating season; naturalists at Malheur said that nobody knows what, if any, other than display, purpose this has. I don’t believe the Brown Pelican has this oddity.
  • Snow Geese

    Fir Island is formed by delta of the Skagit River and Puget sound. It is one of the wintering over places for enormous flocks of Snow Geese and lesser numbers of swans. The leave in February to return to the far north. This flock had perhaps 50,000 birds. As they walk along eating grass, birds in the rear do not find any, so there is a constant motion of geese flying from the back to the front in order to get to grass, which causes a perpetual slow movement of the flock. We noticed that there were occasions when some signal caused every head to be raised, followed by a simultaneous mass take off of the entire flock. I set up camera on tripod and aimed over their heads as this flock walked and somersaulted towards me. As soon as heads snapped up, I started a burst of shots and caught quite a few such as this one. Note in the image that one bird still has a piece of his lunch! Dramatic photo with the cloud cover. We have a 16 by 20 hanging in our house.
  • Tufted Puffin

    I had an invitation to go help a friend pull his crab pots in Discovery Bay, after which we went to vicinity of Protection Island to photograph birds. Puffins fly like little jet planes. I predicted approximately where this one planned to land, focused there, used extremely high shutter speed, and had the boat owner tell me when this bird was headed in a circle our way. I fired a long burst of frames, resulting in several good ones. He, the Puffin, only stayed on the surface a few seconds, took off again.
  • Pileated Woodpecker

    This guy was the inspiration for cartoon character Woody the Woodpecker. They cut large rectangular nest cavities in dead trees; after they finish raising their babies, other critters re-use these cavities including owls, squirrels, others. Pileated also cut rectangular holes looking for food grubs and insects in trunks with heart rot fungus. No other wood pecker makes such large excavations, making it easy to know when they are in the area. Photographed at Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island WA a couple of years ago. Saw another while we were stuck in traffic returning form Vancouver BC a few days ago.
  • Kittiwakes

    A variety of gull.
  • Black Turnstones

    Black Turnstones on pilings at breakwater guarding entrance to Hudson Point Marina in PT. Usually in sizable noisy flocks. Name derives from feeding tactic of flipping things over on the beach to find critters and sand fleas.
  • Bald Eagle

    Bald Eagle
  • Eared Grebe looking over his shoulder. This is one of my favorite shots. Got this two years ago at Elk Horn Slough near Moss Landing, CA.
  • Loon


    Loons are a lot bigger bird than I had imagined. They are also unable to walk on land as their legs are all the way back by their tails for powerful swimming. This one was about 200 feet away on a foggy early morning with soft light. Another one of my favorites. Think “On Golden Pond” movie.
  • Oyster Catchers

    Oyster Catchers: those strong orange beaks are used to open mussels and other shellfish. These guys nest on wave-washed rocks, are about the size of crows. This photo taken at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles WA; they are all over the west coast.
  • Red Crossbill

    Bill actually crosses itself, evolved as a tool for specialized feeding, to pry seeds out of cones. This (a pair) visited for three days, ate sunflower seeds and used the birdbath before moving on.
  • Blue Dragonfly

    Well, so that isn’t a bird. We were visiting Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, where I found these guys at a beautiful pond in their Japanese Gardens section (of some 1,150 acres). [Does it go” ). “, or “ .)” ] I took photo lying prone on walk way, shot thirty or forty images. When I got them on my PC I discovered that, in every image, all Dragon flies were looking at my camera!