September 8, 2014
As I stepped out the door I heard an owl call from the fir tree directly in front of me. A second hoot responded from the neighboring fir tree. Then a third owl joined in their conversation from the next tree over! If I had not been in a race to meet the sun rising on the Columbia River, I would’ve grabbed a flashlight to seek them out. My date with the sun would not wait so I left the owls conversing and sped down the hill to meet my sunrise at Mayer State Park.
My BirthDay is in September and I generally spend the entire month celebrating. One of my birthday gifts was a NEW CAMERA! So, after three hundred sunrise photos I headed to Lyle Point, a favorite birding spot to see how my new camera would capture birds. I watched this pretty Starling sitting on a snag observing his world for a while.
There were tons of black birds at Lyle Point – I am including the speckled Starling because from a distance they look black. I watched a group of them flying through a pine tree, having a little pine cone breakfast. Trying to learn my new Nikon D-7100 while keeping up with the action was daunting at times. I was thrilled to have this bird pose for a minute.
To our delight, we found a flock of Ringed Turtle Doves flying from tree to tree shortly after our arrival at Lyle Point. It was such a beautiful morning, windless, warm and the river was crystal clear and calm. By now, it is daylight and I can see all the buttons on my camera. Trying to learn and remember each button and it’s function!
A Red-winged Blackbird landed on the top of a tiny tree and posed for just a minute. I think he was saying ‘Happy Birthday’ to ME!!
To my surprise, one of my favorite birds appeared for just a moment, a Lewis’ Woodpecker! I managed to get 3 shots of him before he skipped town. I followed in his path, but to no avail – he was gone or very well hidden.
I love how iridescent the wings of a Brewer’s Blackbird are. This is another black bird that I was unfamiliar with. We saw a lot of these, but they kept their distance and didn’t pose long. Yes, I needed them to pose because my 150-600 Tamron lens is heavy; and I am trying to learn my new camera!
I think this is a Brewer’s Blackbird coming in for a landing, but I think I’m starting to get all the black birds confused.
“This is a female Brewer’s Blackbird” she said as she put down her birding field guide to re-check her camera manual and re-read how to change the white balance and f-stop. Again.
Although there were a few more black birds at Lyle Point yesterday, this is the last of the black birds I’ll show you. For now. A pair of crows. I believe. Thankfully they were not in flight. Just posing on a snag for me. Where was that re-play button on my new camera?
While we were in Lyle, we snapped some shots of the Cycle Oregon folks taking a break. And I re-read page 6 “The Mode Dial”.
By late morning we found a cove on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. It was a stunning spot – calm, peaceful, restful. We took our time exploring.
We found a few woodpeckers but they were in dense forest. Instead I focused on this sweet Song Sparrow taking a bath in the Columbia River.
A blue Dragonfly resting on a rock – I had my lens locked and by the time I unlocked it the dragonfly was gone so I only snapped this one shot of him. A late summer picnic lunch, then we were off to our final destination for the day.
As we arrived at the Bingen Marina, a Cormorant flew by and I managed to grab this shot. He was flying low and slow just for me. And my new camera. He landed on a piling and we meandered over to watch him and his friends bask in the sun. I know it’s a matter of ‘practice, practice, practice’ and my new camera will become as comfortable as my (barely) old camera, but I want to learn everything now. Right now. Today!
There were a ton of Mallards at Bingen Marina, but this Coot was a nice contrast and an interesting duck for me to practice with my new camera. I’ll be out and about almost every day this month, so if you see me, stop & say hi. I love my BirthDay month! And my new camera!! I have new photos from Ridgefield and Conboy Wildlife Refuges to show you too! As soon as I process and ‘tag’ them in my still ‘new’ish’ LightRoom Program. Yet another learning curve I’ve been playing with!
Thanks to all who voted for my image in last week’s Daily Depiction of Nature photo contest, I WON!! Thanks for following my adventures! And letting me know that you are noticing and enjoying nature and wildlife because of something I posted!! I love nature and wildlife! xoxoxo
September 1, 2014
September is my favorite month, it’s still summer, still warm and my garden is full of color. Birds and wildlife abound and I take a daily hike. I entered the photo above in Daily Depiction of Nature’s photo contest. I would love it if you’ll take a moment and vote for my Hummingbird in Honeysuckle image. You can use this link, for an easy and fast vote.
Wildfires have finally died down and our skies are clear.
I find my way to Conboy National Wildlife Refuge often, hoping to see more wildlife like this sweet buck ….
…and this Townsend’s Warbler on my daily hikes at home.
So, Happy September, I have to get going, Treasure is pulling her leash out! Enjoy the last days of summer and if you’ll take a moment to vote for my hummingbird image at the top of this post, I’d really appreciate it. Voting closes Sunday, Sep 7th, here’s the link again, for an easy and fast vote!
August 9, 2014
I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 months since my last post! This summer is flying by faster than ever and I am barely keeping up. My garden is overrun… with weeds and deer.
My studio is working overtime catching up with orders. I’m having a run on recycled glass wall pocket vases at the moment ~ you can see the finished versions here.
Since the first day of summer I’ve traveled to Conboy National Wildlife Refuge often to find Sand Hill Cranes, Elk, Otters, Waterfowl and any wildlife that presents itself to me…
I’ve learned to use LightRoom for my photo processing and management; celebrated my sweet girl Treasure‘s 7th BirthDay and my BFF’s 60th! I’ve had lunch, dinner, coffee and wine with friends over the last 7 weeks…
…I’ve had brush removed from my property for fire protection by a 6 man crew that knocked it out in three days! We seem to have wildfires near us every summer now. This wildfire is almost out At Rowena Oregon, across the Columbia River From Lyle WA where I watch eagles and osprey.
I went on a very fun multi-generational family vacation across Western Washington exploring only a fraction of what my state has to offer, including a ride up the Space Needle for the first time and a drive on the beach at Long Beach!
I continue to check on several families of Osprey along the Columbia River. The babies have grown up so fast. I was shocked at the rate of growth in the 10 days that I missed while in Alaska.
Yes, I was in Alaska teaching for Half Moon Creek for the 4th time. My 4th visit to Alaska was magical and deserves a post…no, several posts just to show you how beautiful Alaska is and how much fun we had.
I have volunteered for Columbia Arts, managed my way through the relaunch of my sales site, Zibbet…
…and formed new friendships with a new hiking group while traversing Bird Creek Meadows!
In short, I have not been able to make myself sit at the computer while the sun shines and I can play outside! I’ll try to get my Alaska Adventure up soon for you to dream up your own Alaskan Adventure. It’s one of those places that I wish everyone could experience. I am already working on getting back there!
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!!!