One of the biggest charms about the Fill is that every day brings a surprise, and every surprise is good. Where else in life does THAT happen?? On the contrary, in my regular life, I usually dread surprises: the notice in the mail from those happy folks in the traffic department who caught my picture at the camera intersection and now want to celebrate by giving me a big ticket; the report from my doctor about cholesterol levels that, if they were the DOW Jones Industrial Average, would make the nation leap for joy; the cheerful little beep from my computer-driven oven that announces I will now have to buy a new computer for it or go back to roasting my kill over an open fire.

How much more welcome are the Fill surprises! Like the one earlier this week that happened near the chip pile at the west end of Wahkiakum Lane. I was busy trying to locate the little male Anna’s Hummingbird who has been guarding the restoration plants there all year. He has grown out his iridescent head feathers now so he is almost completely helmeted in a magenta so bright it is almost blinding. I like to catch him just when the sun reflects fully off his magnificence – otherwise, his feathers can appear nearly black.

As I was standing near the chip pile, waiting for him to appear, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Ah, the hummingbird. I raised my binoculars, but instead of the Anna’s, there was a male Rufous Hummingbird. Back to front, he was cloaked in cinnamon. His chin was draped in an iridescent red so bright he looked like a fire-engine gone wild. He flitted from flower to flower, spreading his tail to hover while he drank nectar. He stayed for all of half a minute and then was gone, leaving me with only one appropriate word to say. Wow.

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbirds sometimes breed here at the Fill, so be sure to check out every hummingbird you see. Perhaps you’ll be surprised as well. (Hint: A female Rufous has been showing up fairly often near the Wedding Rock; I think she’s nesting nearby.)

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