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I joined Friends of Mt. Adams for a hike on Crofton Ridge via the Shorthorn Trail on Saturday.  Our group met at the Trout Lake School for an early start.

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Led by Darvel Lloyd, who grew up climbing and exploring Mt Adams, it was a very educational hike.

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Our group of twelve headed up the Shorthorn Trail through burned forest from the 2012 Cascade Creek fire.

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Fascinated with the charred forest remains, contrasting with new growth I stopped for many photos.

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Can we call this ‘Fall Color’?

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Although it is late in the season, many wildflowers are still in bloom.  I think this is a Pearly Everlasting.

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Looking back I was surprised to see Mt Hood.  We parked at an elevation about 4740 feet and would end up at 6227 feet after our 3 mile hike to the ridge.

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I believe this in the Lupine family.

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A beautiful bouquet of Asters.

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Crossing Shorthorn Creek.

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On the other side of the creek we found pink Monkeyflower.

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Another fork of Shorthorn Creek.

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Crofton Creek.  Looking up, I found a tiny waterfall!

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Looking down the creek I felt amazed and awed….

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When I looked UP from the creek I wondered if I could climb that hill.  See the tiny hikers at the top of the first switchback?  Hint…the dot of red.

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No, I’m not gasping for air….I’m stopping to take pictures!

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This is where we’re heading.

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A vast landscape that takes my breath away, I could stand here for hours.

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Almost there at Round the Mountain Trail #9.

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The last section of our hike, the crest on Crofton Ridge.

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A spectacular view of Mt Adams from the southwest side.

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Looking west at Mt. St. Helens.

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As we sat and enjoyed our lunch, four Clark’s Nutcrackers joined us!

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Zooming in on a waterfall from where we sat in the shade.

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Zoomed in on the almost uncovered lookout tower at the top of Mt Adams.  12,276′

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Rested, nourished and hydrated we began our three mile descent.

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Use caution when heading downhill on a rocky sandy path.  I landed on my cushy backpack twice, but yay my camera landed on my lap!  Might as well take a picture of the view!!  Don’t worry, I wasn’t hurt but even more cautious as I continued.

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Trudging back down I pretty much kept my eyes on my footing and tried to keep up!  Oh look, another pretty wildflower!!  Fireweed.

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Yes, out of breath again I stopped for another pretty picture.  You know I love rocks!

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I looked up from time to time (especially after we reached a gentler downhill section), still amazed at the charred remains of a once green forest.

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You know me, I can’t resist stopping for a ‘critter’.

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Darvel often stopped to discuss history, flora and fauna of the neighborhood.

Photo by Bob Squires

Photo by Bob Squires

I am so fortunate to have met and hiked with such an interesting and cohesive group of people.  Another wonderful September adventure!!!

 

 

Sunday Drive

September 5, 2016

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I don’t enjoy crowds, so instead of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge or going to a waterfall on Sunday (a three-day holiday weekend), I took a drive.  Surprisingly I ended up at one of my favorite places, Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

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It was a lovely quiet day and felt like I had the entire place to myself!  The shot at top was looking east and this shot was looking west.  Sun on one side and rain on the other!

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After watching a bachelor of bucks close to home practice their rutting techniques the previous night, I was hoping to find elk doing the same.  Alas, no elk and very few birds revealed themselves to me.

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Instead I found a ton of dragonflies!  I watched this one eat a bug!!

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And a Sulphur finally let me capture it!  I can’t tell you how long I’ve chased these beautiful butterflies hoping for a picture!

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I did see several sparrows ~ I believe this is a Song Sparrow.

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Swallows are still filling the sky and I managed to capture this Violet-green Swallow in flight!

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I entertained myself for a moment studying this stand of Quaking Aspen.

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From the top to bottom they are a magnificent tree.

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Just look at that beautiful bark!

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Speaking of magnificence, wildflowers abound on the refuge.  I’m not sure, but I think there were two bees sharing pollen in this aster.

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Goldenrod lit up some of the roads…..

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…interspersed with Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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I thought I heard a Western Meadowlark!   He pretended to not notice me as I pretended to not sneak closer to him.

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He thought he was invisible and he almost was.  My camera had a hard time focusing through the branches so I had to give it a little help.  Yes, I can still focus manually!

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House Wren made a lot of racket as I chased some nearby butterflies.

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Sandhill Cranes are still roaming the refuge, but I only saw 6 all day long and they were in flight.

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I think this is a Golden-crowned Sparrow, but it could be a juvenile White-crowned.  Help with ID is always appreciated ~ especially for sparrows, the ultimate of Little Brown Birds!

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As the afternoon wore on, dark clouds moved closer and a few spots of rain hit my dusty car.

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The dragonflies didn’t mind.

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Oh look, another Sulphur resting long enough to let me watch him.

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As I thought about calling it a day I heard Sandhill Cranes calling from afar…

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…and watched a Heron crossing Kreps Lane ~ first time I’ve seen them in this area!

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With the arrival of colorful foliage, I wish you a Happy September my friends.  I’ve had a magical summer and hope to stay at my computer long enough to tell you about it!!  One day soon…..I promise….I hope….maybe…..after my next adventure!

By the way, I’m now on Instagram, I hope you’ll follow me there!  Just look for Steider Studios!

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We chose the Spit at Hood River’s Marina for today’s monthly Columbia River Gorge Bird Walk.  After a fabulous breakfast with riverfront seating at Riverside, we headed over to the beach.

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We couldn’t help stopping for a Great Blue Heron basking in the sun as he stood in the river.  I barely caught him before he flew away.

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Our intent was ‘Peeps’ or Shorebirds and we found a Least Sandpiper scurrying over the rocks.  We also saw a Spotted Sandpiper and a pair of Killdeer.

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We watched a juvenile Least Sandpiper.

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As the others moved onward, I stayed back to grab one last shot of the juvenile because he was just too cute.

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It was a ‘Gorge~ous’ summer day with Purple Loosestrife complementing yellow Coreopsis blooming amidst rocks and sand.

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Alas we saw no more ‘Peeps’ but heard many little birds tucked away in the shrubs.  Two are shown here, can you find and identify them?

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A group of Cormorants flew west along the Columbia River…

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I think the smaller the bird, the faster they are…see him?  NO.  He flew away before I could even focus!!

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A Scrub Jay posed for a minute and let me photograph him…..

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…and Osprey were plentiful.  Large, slow enough for me to catch and a beautiful blue sky background!

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It was maddening to have these beautiful Yellow Warblers land for less than a second then take off before I could document them.

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Until this little guy towards the end of our stay.  They blend with habitat so well that unless I see them move, they’re difficult to find.

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We looked up just as a Western Kingbird flew over the Columbia River.  We speculated migration could be taking place a bit early this year.

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We watched a pair of Western Wood Pewees flit from perch to perch, across the beach and throughout the thickets all morning.  I am grateful one finally landed on a branch were I could get a good view!

Most people go to the Hood River marina for water sports but it’s also a great place for birding.  While there we also saw a Green-winged Teal fly overhead. Moving too fast for me to photograph or inside dense thickets were a Willow Flycatcher, Bewick’s Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Savannah Sparrow (shown in the picture above where I asked you to guess!) and a Brewer’s Blackbird.  Black-crested Night Herons typically overwinter here and I look forward to their return each year ~ it should be soon.

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Have I mentioned I love the American Pika?  Today I hiked around the Horsetail Falls area in the Columbia River Gorge, hoping to see these cute little critters.

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I overslept a bit so didn’t expect to see any since I arrived later than planned.  But LOOK, he popped his little head up as if to say “Here I am!”.

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I ended up seeing two and hearing at least 2 others in the distance.

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A couple of families stopped to ask what I was capturing with my camera and I think I convinced one kid playing Pokemon Go to seek out Pika instead of Poke!!

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As long as I was above Horsetail Falls I decided to hike in to Ponytail Falls.

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-7It was by now lunch time and a bit crowded, so I creatively eliminated people from my viewfinder.

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-8From inside the cave….

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-11Heading back down the trail…

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-9Another beautiful day in the Columbia River Gorge…

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I watched for more Pika all the way back down, but I think they were in Siesta Mode.

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I DID see a Robin!

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Back at the bottom of the trail and surprised at how few people were gathered around Horsetail Falls, I grabbed a shot of it while there.  I look forward to comparing it to the shot I took in January when the falls were raging and ice formed along the rocks.

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At the very bottom of the falls, the water level was low enough I could climb down the rocks and take a shot at creek level.

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Here’s my little Pika friend again for your enjoyment.  Did I already say I love these little critters?!

Aurora Borealis

August 3, 2016

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Did you see it?  Aurora Borealis tonight!!

Worth It

July 28, 2016

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I decided to take myself to the top of Angel’s Rest on this hot summer day.  I’ve been on the trail, searching for Pika with Cascades Pika Watch, but for various reasons never got to the top.  Above is the view looking west toward Portland.

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I headed up the trail at 7:30am and arrived at the top just after 9.  I stopped here and there to catch my breath.  Watching for Pika along the way gave me ample reason for frequent stops.

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It’s only 2.3 miles up but with an elevation of 1600 feet, it felt steeper (to me) than it probably is.  Heading back down I stopped for a snack in a likely place to see Pika.

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They didn’t disappoint!  Unfortunately, I only had time for a couple of shots of this American Pika before a noisy trail-runner scared him off ~ I was hoping on a weekday I’d have a quieter hike, but alas it is summer and the trails were busy by mid morning.

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Heading down I decided to stop at the stream that feeds Coopey Falls and found some stacked rocks that someone kindly left me.

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A tiny bit further I followed a lesser trail to view the stream cascading over some rocks at the top of Coopey Falls.

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Just beyond that is the last part of the stream near the top of the falls.  Any further downstream, I’d be tumbling in the waterfall (which is only accessible via private property).  Steider Studios.AngelsRest Hike.7.28.16-7

Back down at the trailhead at 11:30, I grabbed a shot of the sign, a memento of another fine day in the Columbia River Gorge.  Such a beautiful place to live and play!  It was definitely worth it!

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One of the reasons I love Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the peaceful quiet setting.  I went up on Wednesday to meet the new manager and ended up staying all….day….long….  It was simply put ~ a spectacular day.

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After leaving the office, I looked around Lake Road to see what I could find.  I thought this was a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe, but have since learned it’s a juvenile Coot!

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A Great Blue Heron fishing caught my attention…I watched him until he flew off to ‘greener streams’.

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Plenty of little birds filled the air with song.  Cedar Waxwing above; little sparrow below.

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I haven’t looked him up yet to see what he is.  If you know, do tell!!

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To my delight, I found a Yellow-headed Blackbird!  And I heard Soras!!  I crept around the reeds as quiet as could be and distinctly heard at least two & maybe three but they did not show themselves.  I’ll be back soon to stalk them!

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My next stop was the Kiosk area on the Glenwood Hwy.  Early in the morning I heard plenty of Sandhill Cranes calling, but by mid morning I only found one pair.  I became one with the field of grass hoping they wouldn’t see me.  OH!  See the vertical white splotches in the background?  Too far away for me to get a decent shot, but there were at least 15 Great Blue Herons lined up across the field!

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I usually see woodpeckers around the Kiosk, but did not.  Instead I found a Western Bluebird, …

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…and a House Wren.  Last year there was an Oriole nest here, but alas I didn’t see any this time.  There were also sparrows and Juncos flitting too fast for my heavy lens to follow.

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The Canal area is another favorite area for me and I went there to check on the Wood Duck Family but didn’t find them.  I found this little family though ~ Pintails?

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A Western Meadowlark stood sentry at the Glenwood Hwy and Canal intersection.

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See her?  I almost missed her!  And then her mate flew in….

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…With TREATS!  Western Tanager, yet another favorite.  Isn’t he gorgeous?!  Grasshoppers swarmed the canal area and filled the air with each step I took.  Several flew into my open car windows, so I decided to move on.

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No trip to the refuge is complete without a little drive down Kreps Lane.

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Red-winged Blackbirds greeted me on fence posts.

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Eastern Kingbirds posed for me.

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While Swallows evaded me.

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My last stop was off of Lakeside Drive and Outlet Creek.  Greeted by a couple of Turkey Vultures, I found a shady spot and enjoyed my picnic lunch while watching them.  Watching them watch me, that is!

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I watched the birds at water’s edge … what’s better than a female Red-winged Blackbird?

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A female Red-winged Blackbird with SNACKS of course!

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My focus went to Dragonflies as they were everywhere!

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I saw several varieties including these acrobats hanging out on reeds.  My shots of  red dragonflies turned out too blurry to share!

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Other insects buzzed about including this one as well as a variety of butterflies.

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A Killdeer foraged for food at the waters edge.

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Then I noticed a pair of Sandpipers across from me.

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And a Spotted Sandpiper ran across the grassy-covered mud right in front of me!

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When the Canada Geese took off I decided it was time for me to do the same.  Can’t wait to go back!!

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