June 21, 2014
I woke to a gorgeous Summer Solstice in the Columbia River Gorge & decided to stay close to home today with a hike out my back door. As I grabbed my gear I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in the snag across from my deck – a good omen!
There’s a bird magnet in the form of a crippled old tree at the top of Burdoin Mountain that I like to watch. The first birds I saw there this morning - a baby Rufous-sided Towhee and it’s parent screeching at him to take cover.
When the babe was safely tucked away the parent came back out to keep his eye on me. I decided to take better cover & crept behind a wild rose bush. I am loving my new Tamron 150 – 600 mm lens and how much closer I can zoom in on birds and wildlife!
Near the old tree I kept seeing a flash of brilliant yellow. A baby Evening grosbeak!
Then this little Lark Sparrow showed up, a bird I’ve only seen a couple of times! Instead of hauling my tripod with me I decided to convert it into a monopod since I hadn’t done that yet. My camera with a long lens gets quite heavy & it’s easier for me to rest it on my tripod when a bird actually ‘poses’ for me. The monopod worked out great once I got used to it!
I noticed this cocoon with emerging caterpillar type bugs on the rose bush I was using for a blind. Anyone know what it is?
Decided I didn’t want those bugs to land on me, so I headed back into the forest & found this little guy looking like he was napping. With his eyes open.
I love this section of Burdoin Mtn – I’m surrounded by tall trees that I can stand next to and watch for birds. This is the area where wood-pecking birds hang out. A hairy woodpecker flew from tree to tree, then landed on this snag & posed for a fraction of a second!
I love these colorful Red-breasted Sapsuckers – they’re quieter than the woodpeckers but easier to spot because of their red heads. He came by later with a beak filled with bugs and I thought I heard the sounds of babies nearby, but did not see a nest.
This little bird was a first sighting for me – my best guess is Yellow-rumped ‘Audubon’s’ Warbler. I don’t remember hearing his song, just that he swooped in on the snag where the woodpecker had just been.
I thought it fitting as I left the forest & headed up my path home, a Pileated Woodpecker appeared again! He was halfway up the tree before I could get my camera ready. I need to practice my ‘quick draw’ more!!
Yesterday I went to Conboy National Wildlife Refuge and posted my photos from that adventure on my Facebook Page if you’d like to take a look.
Monday I have a date with Columbia River birds and Tuesday I’ll be back up at Conboy. I LOVE summer!!
June 10, 2014
The Columbia River Gorge is filled with magnificent birds, but for today my focus is the Osprey. I’m regularly watching ten nests dotting the Columbia River between Bingen and Lyle with an occasional foray over to Oregon’s side of the river to watch a few more.
Like most other things - the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.
For example, I had no idea they were hawks! I wondered how much longer I would have to wait to see baby Osprey. Did they mate for life? These and other pressing questions led me to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds.
Osprey build their nests in open areas on tall snags, treetops or artificial platforms. Most of the nests I’m watching are over water on channel markers and pilings or near the water on utility poles.
Ospreys build their nest with sticks – I’ve watched them carry sticks that look like branches. The nests are lined with bark, grass and assorted findings to make a comfy abode for the family.
Osprey eat fish. 99% of their diet is live fish. They carry their ‘catch’ head first for less wind resistance.
I’ve watched them pluck fish out of the river but didn’t know they can dive up to three feet to catch it!
They live 15 to 20 years and mate for life or until one dies. Osprey lay 1 – 4 eggs that hatch on separate days, the first chick emerging up to five days before the last one. The incubation period is 36 to 42 days and nesting period is 50 – 55 days.
Nesting Ospreys defend only the immediate area around their nest rather than a larger territory; they vigorously chase other Ospreys that encroach on their nesting areas. I’ve also seen them chase Bald eagles away from their nest area!
“After the 1972 U.S. DDT ban, populations rebounded, and the Osprey became a conservation success symbol. But Ospreys are still listed as endangered or threatened in some states—especially inland, where pesticides decimated or extirpated many populations. As natural nest sites have succumbed to tree removal and shoreline development, specially constructed nest platforms and other structures such as channel markers and utility poles have become vital to the Osprey’s recovery.” To learn more about Osprey and other birds go to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds.
Prior to 1972, the average American consumer was told that DDT was safe to use. There are many chemicals on the market today that we’re told are safe to use. Over the last twenty years I’ve quit using any of them and my garden has filled with an abundance of birds, butterflies, bees and more. If you want more colorful flying beauties in your life it’s simple to eliminate weed and bug sprays from your habitat.
May 29, 2014
I went back to Tualatin Hills Nature Park just in time to see the last Pileated woodpecker fledge. You can see it’s first moment outside the nest on my 365 -Empty Nest post. Afterwards I planned to search for the Barred owl again, but I didn’t have to. It was sitting on a branch directly over a path around the corner from the woodpecker nest!
Usually when you see it you have to wonder why you missed it as you walked past it the first time. This time there was already a group of people under the tree looking up at it so it was easy to spot.
This barred owl was smaller than the one I saw last week, but much easier to photograph since he wasn’t in the thick of trees. As the crowd grew he turned his head watching us.
You know I took 500 shots of him. These are my favorites. With my new lens!!
At one point he fluffed up his feathers – isn’t he gorgeous?
Some people left, others came then left. I will go back to this amazing park to enjoy again without a crowd. It has a spiritual, magical feel to it. You might want to check out their Facebook page to see photos that people share of the amazing landscape and wildlife.
My last shot of him is a blur as he flew directly toward, then past me. This is the last shot before he left the branch. I could not manipulate my camera with the new lens fast enough to catch his flight. Still practicing with it!! Starting to get excited about how I’ll translate these images into glass.
Edit: I’ve had a couple of requests today for specific images in prints and cards. I’m adding them to my next order. If you’d like one of my images in print form or as an all occasion greeting card, let me know so I can include it in my next order. You can message me via the comments here or email, linda at steider studios dot com. Thanks for your interest in my work!
May 23, 2014
I’ve had a fantastic week of birding! After a very successful weekend at the Wine and Pear Festival, I took off Monday for the Tualatin Hills Nature Park because a friend shared his photos of a Pileated Woodpecker family! Thank you again Bob!!
A HUGE bonus was my very first sighting of a Barred Owl! It looked like a big fluffy teddy bear and I was mesmerized. My friend Nancy and I couldn’t believe our good luck (that we now refer to as good birding karma) with how long he let us watch him.
I went back later in the week hoping to find him again but did not.
Our main event, the Pileated Woodpecker pair and their three babies gave us a wonderful viewing and photograph opportunity. We met a few other photographers who had also heard about this nest high in a snag towards the center of the park.
We watched for several hours, waiting about 45 minutes between feedings. I had major lens envy knowing that my new Tamron 150 – 600 mm lens was in transit and I’d have it soon. But I needed it today!
Tuesday I went to Rowland Lake - I ran out the door, camera in hand before my husband finished telling me about the heron family, bald eagle, pair of osprey and more birds that he saw that morning while fishing . I arrived just in time to see a Bald Eagle being chased by a Raven.
I watched two Great Blue Herons fishing at Rowland Lake but did not see the babies.
I love the challenge of capturing any bird in flight and am very happy with this Great Blue Heron.
I watched an Osprey grab a fish that seemed to big for him to carry right in front of me. Shooting from behind a stand of trees, that photo was too blurry to keep.
The Bald eagle ditched the Raven and perched atop a pine tree for about an hour. Using my car as a blind I slowly rose up through my moon roof to capture him. I was still thinking about that new lens I did not have yet, and how much closer I could get if I had it.
Wednesday I went back to Tualatin knowing the baby woodpeckers would be leaving their nest any day. I was hoping to see them fledge. I was hoping to see the owl again. Neither happened, but I met more photographers and had a thrilling time watching the feathered family.
Thursday I helped a friend in her garden and when I arrived home, guess what?!! My NEW LENS ARRIVED!!! I tore open the box, attached the lens and went out to my garden. This is my first shot, hand-held (wow is that thing heavy!) with no editing other than sizing. Not a great photo, but I’m thrilled with the clarity and how much closer I can now photograph birds and wildlife!
I ran in, checked the images then ran back out. I’ve got a pair of Chickadees in the garden – building a nest or feeding babies? The pair took turns flying into the nest, and I caught this image of the male arriving before the female departed. I didn’t hear babies chirping so I’m wondering if they’ve hatched at all yet. I cropped and down-sized this image but didn’t take time for any other edits. If it were a ‘keeper’, I’d probably lighten it a bit. I did use my tripod for a series of the chickadees flying in and out.
Tomorrow I’m heading east for a lead on another Pileated Woodpecker nest with babies. Today I MUST catch up with studio business, household stuff and practice more with my new lens. Or maybe just practice – can’t the other stuff wait a little longer?!!!
If you’d like to see more of my bird photography I post frequently on my Steider Studios Facebook page. Many of my images are published into greeting cards, canvas wraps and metal prints available in my Artfire shop and my Zibbet shop.
You can also subscribe to my blog to get an email update each time I post by clicking the box in the column at the right, towards the top of this page. I can’t wait to show you all the new photos I’m about to take with my new Tamron 150 – 600 zoom lens!!!
May 15, 2014
While preparing for the upcoming Wine and Pear Festival, I decided to take a break early Tuesday morning. I am so happy that I did.
I left at o dark thirty to check up on the eight Osprey nests that I watch along the Columbia River and arrived at this one just in time.
I am thrilled that I captured a series of photos from this pair (that I haven’t finished going through yet because I am my own task master. There is an event coming up rather quickly, after all!)
The Columbia River Gorge is a magical place to live, filled with wonders of nature around every bend in the river. Many of my images will be available in my booth this weekend as greeting cards and prints on metal. Some of them are available via Zibbet and Artfire ~ I will add more images after my last art show of the season. This set of images will definitely be included in my next order!
My adventure on Tuesday ended just as magically as it began. Have a great weekend everyone & if you’re at the Wine and Pear Festival, let me know that you read my blog! Come see my newest work!!
May 10, 2014
Photo montage in honor of strong women who push the next generation forward. Yes, it’s ok to be pushy, bossy, and strong. Happy Mother’s Day to all women who encourage, empower, inspire and lead the way.
My mom was in the navy, became a deputy sheriff and was among the first women working the streets in patrol. She taught self defense for women; oversaw and encouraged incarcerated women learning a trade; and was one of two women and scores of men involved in the raid at Spahn Ranch that ultimately put the ‘Manson family’ behind bars. She later put herself through college and trained at the FBI academy through LASD. She referred to all these accomplishments as “A feather in my cap”.
She taught me independence, honesty and determination among many other things. She showed me how to savor a book and how to clean a house (neither of which I have time for at the moment). When young we played her records over and over, memorizing the tunes that she liked to dance to - Elvis, Marty Robbins, The Platters, Everly Brothers, Chubby Checkers, Sarah Vaughan, Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, The Brothers Four … Although she laments she didn’t do enough, what a rich childhood she gave me. I wouldn’t be who I am if she had done anything differently. Thanks Mom. I love you.
May 4, 2014
I took this series of shots at our first session at Elowah Falls at dark thirty in the morning. Yes, dark thirty – I left home at 5am! Mist was so high many of us got soaked while crossing the bridge in the foreground.
I played with different exposures & settings looking for that ‘wow’ factor. Not sure I found it, but I had fun and the experience was enlightening.
I like how you can see the falls and creek in this shot through the lush trees along the path.
I always like focusing on details when I’m out and about.
Another shot of the falls and creek through the forest from another stop in the path.
Wildflowers were plentiful.
I think I like how the trees and branches frame the falls……
…I like it cropped better though. Which version do you prefer?
I have a thousand photos to go through, so will have to take a couple of posts to tell you about the entire weekend. It was fantastic & I have to agree with Lori – if you have an opportunity to take a workshop with David Cobb, Zack Schnepf or any of the excellent photographers from Photo Cascadia do it!