Fall Grouse

A sooty grouse on a rainy fall day on the Sourdough Ridge Trail in Mount Rainier National Park

I had just arrived at the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park and was taking a quick exploratory hike on the Sourdough Ridge Trail late in the day, as I had never been to that part of the park before. It was cold and raining but I found first a hoary marmot and then a group of sooty grouse on the way back to the car. My hands were soaked and cold so I was fumbling with the camera, but I watched them for as long as I could stand before continuing back to the car.

Shake It Off

Raindrops coat the back of a sooty grouse

Water drops coat the back of a sooty grouse on a rainy afternoon, but it has shaken most of the water from its head. I wish Canon would build teleconverters into all of its telephoto lenses like they did with their 200-400mm lens, as it would be very helpful on days like this. I was photographing multiple grouse who were moving all around me as I sat on the trail, sometimes walking right up to me as they fed, but I was also keeping my eye on a marmot that was feeding nearby. I would have preferred to switch my teleconverter in and out as my subjects moved about, but given the heavy rain I was hesitant to take the lens off the camera.

Birds of a Feather

A close-up view of the feathers of a sooty grouse

I’m amazed by how diverse the feathers on a single bird can be in size and shape and color and function. The feathers in the upper left are wet with rain, it was pouring up at Hurricane Ridge when I came across a handful of grouse that were huddling near some trees for a little protection from the elements. I had on a full complement of rain gear and was nice and dry, and thankfully my camera and lens had enough weather-sealing that they shook off the rain as well.