bird watching · holidays

An Afternoon of Pleasant Surprises


Wednesday afternoon it stopped raining. I was surprised by this because I’d been obsessively checking my weather apps for a break in the rain and my weather apps didn’t show anything but clouds and rain. And more rain. The Pacific Northwest has been getting hammered by rain storm after rain storm since the first of December.

Even though I hadn’t showered yet and my house was a mess and laundry needed to be done, I threw my hair in a ponytail, grabbed my camera bag and drove over to Flower World in Maltby. There were threatening clouds in several directions and I was just sure it would be raining again by the time I got there.

Instead, the sun came out. The sun, the beautiful, bright sun! I was so happy to see proof that it was still there! I picked my way through soggy ground and shot some pictures of the birds in Flower World’s pond area.

This gang of geese was quite formidable but I refused to be scared away.


I’m pretty sure this rooster was threatening me but I stood my ground.
Some of the chickens didn’t mind me being close.
This goose put on quite a wing-flapping, squawking show for me.
The peacock, however, was not willing to pose for me.

After getting frustrated by the birds, I went into the main greenhouse. This lead to another surprise: They had Christmas music playing and I liked it! I find most Christmas music annoying but this was wonderful. It was all instrumental. No George Michael, Mariah Carey or Taylor Swift. It was like Christmas music from heaven. I strolled around, looking at the poinsettias and wreaths while finally feeling a little Christmas spirit come over me. Even the frustration of realizing my camera battery was nearly dead didn’t ruin my mood. I still had my camera phone, limited though its capabilities are.

After taking some shots of poinsettias, which I will subject you to in another post, I wandered outside to the shrub greenhouses and the small pond area. Out there, I received the most pleasant surprise of the day. I saw a flash of black and white feathers fly by and I followed it into the trees. I just about dropped my camera when I saw this red head peeking up over a tree trunk.


It was a red-breasted sapsucker! Although they live here year round, I rarely see them (about once every 3-5 years). I worked my way around the tree, shooting as fast as I could, knowing that I only had seconds before the sapsucker flew away or my camera battery died. I wish I had taken a second to crank up the ISO first, because it was dark enough that my camera went to a very slow shutter speed and I didn’t get crisp images.




Cropping in just accentuates the blur from shooting at 1/25th of a second without a tripod. Still, I’m happy to have the red-breasted sapsucker as a member of my photo archive flock.

The last surprise was how lovely the greenhouses and trees looked with the sun setting behind them. I was captivated by this shadow of a tree on the greenhouse wall and ceiling but there was too much going on around it to frame it well.


I love what you can do with silhouettes taken by the iPhone.


I think I need to make a late afternoon trip to Flower World a regular thing during the holiday season. It’s too bad I couldn’t do all my shopping there but I doubt the boys would be happy getting shrubs for Christmas!


10 thoughts on “An Afternoon of Pleasant Surprises

  1. What a gorgeous bird to see in the dull wintertime.
    I doubt the ‘boys’ in your life would like shrubs either, but perhaps they can give you a voucher as a present to spend at the garden centre. 🙂

    1. It would be nice to have a voucher from there! It was wonderful to be amidst all that plant life that’s still flourishing. Of course, it wouldn’t for long if I brought it home!

    1. I wish you and yours a fantastic Christmas too, Julie! I’m sorry I’ve missed so many of your posts. I had to unsubscribe to email posts but then I found I’m missing certain ones that I don’t wan to miss – like yours. I re-subscribed via email, so I can keep up when you return to the blogging world. Enjoy your break!

  2. I’ve been the same way with Christmas music this year. The Red-breasted Sapsucker is gorgeous! I’m so glad you got photos, as I’d never even heard of them.

  3. I love that you said weather apps, plural. It means I’m not the only one who wants an abundance of weather info! One of the most frustrating things about no internet at home is not being able to check on the weather. (Looking out my window doesn’t help much since I can only see a very small patch of sky.)

    Looks like you had a great outing with the birds, and congrats on capturing the sapsucker! I’ve never seen one before. (I had the same ISO/shutter speed/no-time-to-change problem that day I saw the pileated woodpecker.)

    I love the sunlight and dark wood beams on the ceiling in that second to last photo.

    1. I’ve become rather obsessive about checking weather apps! Now that I’ve come to rely on them, it would drive me crazy to not have access. That must be so frustrating! I mostly get obsessive when we get stuck in a weather pattern and I’m hoping to see a change. Every time I open one now (several times a day), I plead “please, please, PLEASE” hoping to see something other than clouds and rain. On the news, they keep saying we’re going to shift into a drier patter but all I see are clouds and rain ahead. Even the overly optimistic eWeather HD isn’t showing any sun after today. It’s getting really old. I miss outside so much!

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