September 19, 2015
I left you hanging at the end of my last chapter in my Forest Project. I finished the ‘Slash Pile Burn‘ part of it earlier this year, and have slowly brought firewood up to the house all summer. I tried to haul 10 wagonloads per day up to the house, but pretty much stopped everything when working in the woods became a fire hazard.
Today I revved up my chain saw & commenced slicing all the longer branches. According to my DNR rep I can use it until 1pm. In the heat of the day with risk of fire too great, I have plenty of other tasks. The photo above is my make-shift holder for little branches where I sawed 4 to 5 at a time. Cute little pile, isn’t it? The previous photo shows a cool tool that holds a branch while sawing, but it only holds one at a time. It’s a bit cumbersome to put the saw down while I reload.
When 1:00 rolls around, I turn off the saw and fill my wagon.
…and split some larger rounds. Yep, I learned how to split wood this summer!
I may not get all these branches finished this year, but will do my best.
There are a couple of logs still lying around that I’ll tackle after I’m more adept at sawing. I’ll have to saw them in place since I can’t even roll, much less lift these up to any tool or make-shift holders!
The best news of the day is my neighbor, inspired by my project cleared HIS property. This makes it possible for me to get a truck down to the bottom of my property! Yay, instead of hauling my little wagon uphill, I’m now hauling it a short distance downhill to the truck. Truck gets loaded & I simply drive out ~ YAY!! Of course, then I have to unload the truck and stack it, but that’s a story for another day.
September 14, 2015
Fall migration is a good time to go out and scout for birds in the Columbia River Gorge. Our local group of ‘Bird Nerds’ had a wonderful time walking one section of The Dalles waterfront on Sunday.
After a wonderful breakfast at La Petite Provence in The Dalles our first encounter was a Great Blue Heron that saw us before we saw him. He flew out of the cove and onto a diving platform in the Columbia River.
While standing in that cove we also saw a Brewer’s Blackbird and his mate…
…and at least one Killdeer as well as several ducks … possibly Mallards … possibly females …. definitely brown.
It was thrilling to watch a trio of terns fishing from the next cove.
They also made use of the diving platform that the heron had abandoned.
We saw many smaller birds flying overhead ~ I managed to capture this one, a Scrub Jay.
As we walked into the next section I caught a Raven taking a break in the sun.
We spotted a Western Grebe swimming in the distance.
A couple of Ospreys hunted from overhead.
A rack of American Coots drifted in the Columbia River….
….and more ducks flying overhead that we couldn’t identify…
…and some in flight that brought discussion ~ is it a crow or a raven and the characteristics to look for.
The surrounding bushes were filled with delightful song, but alas we couldn’t see the choir.
We saw plenty of gulls, most were white but some were brown. Without an expert along we just enjoyed the sightings and hoped we’d figure out who was who later.
My highlight of the day was a Great Egret who gracefully flew directly in front of us.
This bird is simply stunning. It felt so magical to watch that I almost forgot to lift my camera!
Heading back to the parking lot a flock of Cedar Waxwings landed in a tree ahead of us.
A friend said to watch for a Red-necked Grebe, but I didn’t see one. I believe this is a Pied-billed Grebe. Check out the tiny fish jumping out of the water all around him!!!
Returning to our starting point the ducks were gone but a lone Domestic Goose brunched his way across the pond. Those of us who met on Sunday consider ourselves novices, but we did ok locating and identifying most of what we saw. Most being the operative word, we also saw plenty of LBBs (little brown birds), Peeps, Gulls and Waterfowl.
Afterwards I took a Sunday Drive and found Bighorn Sheep east of the John Day River.
Returning home the region filled with smoke from yet another wildfire. This shot is from the Westbound Cellilo exit on 84. It was the first point I could see brown mixed with the white smoke, giving me an idea of where the fire was, east of Horsethief Lake.
This shot of the Horsethief Fire in the Columbia River Gorge was taken from directly across the Columbia River and digitally enhanced to see through the smoke. Sounds like it is close to controlled as of this post according to the Goldendale Sentinel.
If any of my birding friends have corrections for me, they are always welcome!!
September 8, 2015
Monday night looked like a good chance of an Aurora storm, but it didn’t happen in my part of the world. It was good practice for me anyway, using my new lens!
Trees at my back made it a challenge to capture the Milky Way, but again, good practice and I loved getting out during my ‘Birthday Weekend’.
On Sunday I went for a hike with some old & new friends up Herman Creek in the Columbia River Gorge.
A seldom traveled area, we crawled through dense brush and branches to get to this part of the creek.
It was an overcast, drizzly, wet, dark and slippery kind of day. A couple of friends took a dip in the creek when they slipped on rocks.
Glad I went in spite of weather, it’s always fun to hike with friends!!
September 4, 2015
I went to Portland yesterday to buy myself a new lens for my BIRTHDAY. Yes, I buy myself birthday gifts…often and not necessarily on the actual day. Usually I gift myself a little something every day in September.
While in the city, I took a side trip up to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
It was a quiet day with very few sightings and even fewer people. It was, however a day filled with turtles! And in this image a frog ~ can you see it?
I found a couple of ducks and a grebe enjoying a swim.
OH! My new lens. I bought a wide angle to get better pictures of the Aurora Borealis. You can read about my first adventure with Northern lights here. It’ll be handy for landscapes too, but mostly I was thinking about colorful night skies.
I almost missed this Pileated Woodpecker as I slowly drove through the refuge. I heard him drilling in a section of densely shaded trees. Lucky me, he made his way to the top of a snag near my car!
Is he a juvenile? His feathers are sort of spiky around his neck making me wonder if he had been in the creek.
I only saw one pair of Wood Ducks.
Back to turtles….this poor guy spent about 15 minutes climbing up to share a log.
Unfortunately his friend wanted nothing to do with him & shoved him off!!
I had a lovely lunch in the shade at this bend in the creek. As I ate my sunflower seed honey butter sandwich, I desperately wanted the Kingfisher flying back and forth to land on the snag in front of me. If he had, this is where his photo would go.
I slowly finished the route, watching more herons, egrets, and Northern Harriers.
Another gorgeous day of sun, rain, clouds and end of summer fun at Ridgefield NWR.
August 9, 2015
…for birds! A sunny summer Sunday in the Gorge ~ perfect for the monthly excursion of Bird Nerds as we’ve dubbed ourselves. Forgive the quality of some photos, I forgot to double-check my camera settings again….
An abundance of Gulls at the Spit today, including Bonaparte’s sunned, swam and preened as we scoped.
John was the first to notice a group of female Northern Shovelers swimming just off shore.
A Great Blue Heron always attracts my attention.
A couple of Caspian Terns joined the group of Gulls.
Then they flew off to join another group.
Speaking of flight, a group of little shorebirds teased us all morning, flying back and forth across the Spit but never landing where we could view them.
Dense vegetation grows on the west side of the Spit, perfect for this Western Kingbird…
…and Bewick’s Wren.
Several sparrows searched for breakfast among the brush and shrubs growing all over the rock and sandy beach. I still have a hard time deciphering Sparrows, but was informed this is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.
Another White-crowned Sparrow, perhaps a sibling of the one above.
As we left, an Osprey flew directly overhead, making me wish I could stay a little longer….There were many more birds, I’ll edit this post when I receive the official list.
If you’d like to join us for an outing (usually in the Columbia River Gorge), we meet once a month with an extra outing here & there. Send me an email for information, linda at steiderstudios dot com.
Welcoming me home ~ a Blue Grouse resting near my blueberry bushes. Love where I live!
July 29, 2015
I’ve had several fun adventures lately, but today I have to share how fun my own ‘back yard’ is. I knew I was going to have a great hike when a Northern Flicker landed right in front of me as I headed out!
Meandering along the path I noted it was fairly quiet ~ yesterday the forest was filled with the sound of woodpeckers…..
….and little Tree Sparrows chatting to each other,
parents still bringing food to babes.
I was also thrilled when a Clark’s Nutcracker flew into a pine tree on the bluff ~ I watched him as long as he let me.
Today when I arrived at my destination I watched a flock of Lazuli Buntings!
It was amazing to see them here. Staying in the shadows, I crept closer hoping to get a better shot.
My dog, usually passive by my side while I photograph suddenly alerted. She didn’t bark but was insistent, so I tried to see what she was so intent on. Suddenly a black bear slowly ran behind the trees about 25 feet away. I froze, my heart pounding with a bit of fear, but I was thrilled and awe-struck. The sun made his fur glisten and I thought about lifting my camera, but I didn’t want to miss a second of watching him. If I had, the above is what it would probably look like!
I have NEVER been more alert on my way home from a hike. Yesterday I leisurely hiked home stopping for this bee, but not today…..
Back home an abundance of sweet little fledglings take advantage of my bird bath. American Goldfinch siblings above.
Black-headed Grosbeak just out of the bath.
Sweet, serene, and fun to watch. Did I say I saw A BEAR today? I DID!! I am giddy with excitement that I saw him!!
July 14, 2015
I knew there wasn’t much of a chance, but I had to try anyway. Practicing for the next Aurora is what I’m calling last night’s little adventure! Since my first exposure to Aurora photography, I’ve been waiting for another opportunity!
I only saw city lights behind Mt Adams (or was it the last of sunset at midnight?) and gorgeous stars in the night sky. I’m glad I went because I did get a better understanding of how to photograph in the dark at night. Still not great at it, but practice makes perfect!!
Bonus, I get to sleep in when I’m out photographing at night!!