Sunday found yet another day blanketed under clouds but the budding naturalists ventured to the Theler Wetlands despite the gloomy weather. The wetlands promised some outstanding birding, a chance for our daughter to run around and some photo opportunities for me among its 75 acres of trails and wildlife.
On the way we stopped in Poulsbo for coffee because we were out of beans. Though we've driven through Poulsbo numerous times we've never before stopped at Sluys Poulsbo Bakery — what an oversight. We eat doughnuts maybe once a year, and Sunday was that day, as the chocolate glazed drew us in. This meant our daughter experienced her first doughnut and promptly did a doughnut dance. Priceless!
The drive to Belfair was easy enough and we were soon in the parking lot for the trails. Not boding well, the maintenance guy was driving his garden tractor down the boardwalk on which we were walking. After he saw us, he immediately offered to drive far ahead and park as he said he'd just finished mowing. This was welcomed news because my daughter is in the no-loud-noise-unless-she-makes-it stage.
When we caught up to him he chatted us up for a solid ten minutes and offered a number of opinions about the trails, where to see 800+ year old tree stumps (take the left branch of the Y at the end of the trail) and what draws him to the area (not the birds because if he looked at them he'd drive the tractor off the trail). I've always loved the candid portrait shots I've seen others display from their travels but I've never been able to bring myself to ask permission to take such a photo — I should — for his would be forever memorable.
There are a couple of trails to take and since the path down the long boardwalk seemed empty, we chose that direction first. My daughter happily bounced down the walk — encouraged by promises of goldfish crackers — and climbed on the railing as we made our way out to the middle of the wetlands.
From the boardwalk you overlook the Hood Canal and Union River, as well as numerous swallows, namely Tree Swallows, eating the plentiful supply of bugs.
After spending some time trying to photograph swallows, and failing miserably, we turned around and started walking — slowly — to the pond. Despite my wife "learning" how to use the binoculars and my daughter picking up every pebble we finally neared the pond. We were still well over a mile from the 800+ year old tree stump so I knew that was out for the day as it was nearing lunch. Fortunately the numerous Red-winged Blackbirds entertained as they dive-bombed each other.
As we were getting ready to depart, this little fellow, I believe a muskrat, swam toward us. We were waiting for him to get a little closer and then he dove straight under the water and didn't return. Where did he go?
I wish the weather had been a bit more accommodating, dark skies dark photos, but I did get a chance to experiment with the different autofocus and metering modes. We had a great time and intend to return.