April 22, 2016
A friend had me walk her property to capture wildlife, pretty flowers or anything interesting I could find. When we first arrived, even though it was a glorious morning it was still and quiet. We walked in dew covered grass until our shoes and pant hems were soaked.
Our first sighting was a Western Gray Squirrel. I saw a flash of it’s tail under the morning sun as it ran across a log. My trigger finger clicked away until he ran out of sight.
Overhead a juvenile Bald Eagle soared majestically as we searched for little birds.
A pair of Turkey Vultures seemed to float high overhead ~ too high for my camera to take decent pictures, and they eventually landed in a snag far in the distance.
Finally we heard familiar bird songs and found a Mountain Chickadee singing from a branch.
We watched a Red-breasted Nuthatch gather nesting material.
A Yellow-rumped Warbler made it’s presence known. A couple of ravens flew noisily overhead and we discovered their nest later.
Then a White-breasted Nuthatch appeared! I love seeing this bird as I rarely see it at home.
We also saw a plethora of wildflowers. I’m told this little pansy is unusual so will share it here. I don’t recall the name, but will edit in when I recall or learn! I’ve been out and about taking lots of wildflower shots lately, and will have to write a post just on those!
This was the first butterfly of the day we saw. I’m guessing it’s a Hairstreak or a Duskywing, but I hope to know after Robert Michael Pyle’s lecture (founder of the Xerces Society) at the White Salmon library on April 29th. By the way, you can see some of my nature photography there for the rest of April. I tried to choose images that correspond to the weekly lectures, so you’ll definitely find a butterfly or two!
We saw something move in a tree…..seeing a lizard instead of a bird was a big surprise! Looks like I need to buy a book on reptile I.D. Tree Lizard? Fence Lizard?
As the morning progressed we saw hawks, more vultures and THIS!! A Golden Eagle juvenile, on my list of birds to find and photograph!! My morning delight, for sure!! Not the best image due to how far away it was, but nevertheless a Golden!!
Closer up, we found this Dragonfly when we sat down for a little break. Could it be a Robust Pink Skimmer? It was fresh and shimmering as though it had just emerged.
Walking back to our car we found this sweet little bird. Hutton’s Vireo? We heard one singing earlier. Originally we thought it a Kinglet, but his beak looks a bit longer than my book shows. Looking further through my book, it might be a Phoebe, a Vireo, a Flycatcher, or a Kinglet! I have so much still to learn!!
Another Butterfly guess, Elfin? We chased an Orangetip but I couldn’t get a clear shot of that one.
Exiting, we spied this Western Bluebird watching us from the tree it clung to. We saw and heard more, but these are some of my highlights from the 1500 photos I took!
April 11, 2016
The Klickitat Wildlife area isn’t that well-known or used and I traversed it for the first time this past week. It’s a vast wide open space about 5 miles northwest from the junction of Glenwood Hwy and Hwy 142.
The manager, Sue gave me a quick tour and as we drove in, our first sighting was a small group of deer jumping over a boundary fence.
I specifically went there to find an Acorn Woodpecker after hearing about a pair seen in the area. This snag is a good sign they’re here!
We saw Warblers flitting from branch to branch, so fun to watch.
Several Robins warily watched us as we walked around a stand of oak trees.
A couple of Western Bluebirds allowed us to view them before flying off.
The view of Mt Adams is spectacular, but we did not see the elusive Acorn Woodpecker, so Sue & I parted ways after my morning tour.
Of course I wasn’t satisfied ~ I knew the woodpeckers were there, so I went back. An American Kestrel greeted me in the snag I stalked.
With delight, I watched more Warblers catch bugs in flight, stopping to rest and even pose for me.
It was a gorgeous warm spring day and as I watched a hawk fly overhead, getting my fill of little birds may have to be enough for now, I thought.
Just as I was ever so close to giving up, look what landed in the snag! I’m told Acorn Woodpeckers are a rare find in the state of Washington. I felt such joy as I watched this little bird move from branch to branch with his ‘catch’.
Unbelievably, moments later his mate landed at the top of the snag! I concentrated on the new arrival and didn’t even notice the original woodpecker leaving until I saw this image later at home.
The second Acorn Woodpecker stayed for about 20 minutes in the same place, then flew off just as suddenly as it had arrived. I am one happy woman!
Three or four Turkey Vultures flew overhead to see me off as I headed back to my car.
A wonderful spot in Klickitat County, I’ll be heading back soon! Thanks again to Sue for spending some time with me!!
April 6, 2016
‘Wild About Nature’ is a lecture series at the White Salmon Library that runs through the month of April. Produced by Joy Markgraf, you can experience a lecture by noted natural science experts each Friday evening at 6:30pm. I am beyond thrilled to have my photography included in this year’s event.
This coming Friday, April 8 Rachel Suits, an Education Program Assistant for Master Gardeners, Small Farms, and SNAP-Ed at the Hood River and Wasco County Extension Service will speak about the ecological impact of insects.
On Friday, April 15 an eleven-year-old (!) activist, Dae Dahlquist will eloquently speak about climate actions and issues.
On Friday, April 22 Ellen Morris Bishop, a geologist, photographer and writer whose
passion is telling the stories of Oregon’s landscapes and geologic history will speak about waters and rivers, a history of sculpting the Columbia River Gorge.
The last Friday, April 29 we’ll hear ‘For Love of Aspen’ a lecture by Steve Strauss, a Distinguished Professor of Forest Biotechnology in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. Also speaking is Burke Greer, a PhD student working with Strauss at OSU who is studying Rocky Mountain aspen in relation to climate change.
‘Of Books, Birds and Butterflies: All About Nature Writing’ by Robert Michael Pyle, a lepidopterist, writer, teacher and founder of the Xerces Society is the grand finale.
The first Friday (sorry, already past) I thoroughly enjoyed an introduction by Jeremy Takala, a Columbia River Native American, Rock Creek band of the Yakama Nation, currently employed with the Yakama Nation Fisheries Program.
Bill Weiler, a wildlife biologist and habitat restoration consultant who founded the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute had me on the edge of my chair as he discussed Cougars. Although I’ve seen one in my neighborhood, it was long ago and I did not have a camera with me.
Dark Skies & Light Pollution was discussed by Jim White, an amateur astronomer and
Vice-President of the Friends of Goldendale Observatory, and a friend of mine. He was fascinating and afterwards set up a huge telescope so we could see Jupiter and it’s moons. (Jim, correct me if my memory is wrong!)
If you’re a Gorge resident, I hope to see you at the White Salmon Library each Friday night. Yes, I will be there for all the lectures, it’s a wonderful event!!
Thanks to Joy, there is also a lovely display of natural history as you enter the library.
For more information you can call the library at 509.493.1132.
March 30, 2016
After an exciting late winter and early spring, I will try to catch up with all my ‘wild’ wildlife adventures. Can you believe how fast 2016 is flying by?!
But first, let me tell you about yesterday. Another exciting day on the wild side.
I was photographing my spring garden…ahhhhh spring has finally arrived in my part of the world. At a slightly higher elevation, 2400 feet or so Spring takes her sweet time getting here.
I heard our resident Wild Turkeys gobbling at each other in the background, but there was something else…
…a familiar sound that I hadn’t heard in a while. Coyote!! I ran toward the sound, camera in hand and saw it meandering down in the forest!
I managed to catch one good shot of him in spite of the fact that I had the wrong lens set to take photos of flowers, not wildlife! Oh, I have plenty of other shots, but they are too blurry to share.
Afterwards, on my way to town for supplies I had to stop for photos of piglets on a nearby farm.
Like all babies, they are way too cute! Who can resist?
Bingen Marina was my next stop and I’m thrilled to tell you our Osprey are back! Speaking of Osprey, I’m also thrilled that a couple of my photos are included the April issue of the Ruralite, supporting a great article written by Lori Froehlich!
Back at the Marina, a lone female Bufflehead was staying cool under the warm sun.
A Raven landed on a branch near me.
I’ve been waiting for this Grebe to break out in courting plumage.
Next I stopped at a favorite place near Lyle, where this Red-tailed Hawk welcomed me. At least I think he welcomed me!
Found a deer resting in a semi-shady spot as I turned the corner.
Yay, my favorite woodpecker is still in the neighborhood ~ Lewis’s Woodpecker. Isn’t he gorgeous?
I almost missed this! I started to leave but noticed a bumpy looking log. I jumped out of my car ever so quietly so I wouldn’t scare them away. A pile of Pond Turtles!
This little guy stopped and posed for me, but he was semi hidden behind tallish grass.
Another Lewis’s Woodpecker ~ did I say I love these birds? I love these birds!
Almost to The Dalles where I needed to pick up a few items for my bath remodel (that will have to wait for another post), I stopped to watch a Great Blue Heron hunt for a while at a pond I recently found.
Just as I realized I’d taken 4.5 hours to drive to The Dalles, I had to stop one last time for a MARMOT!! Yes, I found a Marmot!! I actually found it last week, but didn’t know it. I photographed it, then immediately dismissed it as a rock until I saw it on my computer screen at home. I remembered where it was and stopped to see if I could find it again.
Not only did I find it, but I found TWO! They were fun to watch as they frolicked over, under and through the caves between rocks. Finally I had to leave them and finish my errands. I hope to catch you up with all the critters I’ve found this past season ~ the weather has been divine, making it difficult to stay indoors!
January 10, 2016
Yes. A month without internet. Could you do without online communication, shopping, banking, game playing, and more for a month? I decided I couldn’t, so am sitting in a warm cheery wi-fi cafe in Hood River checking up on all the above.
It started with a snow storm. Then an ice storm. Then more snow & more ice. Eventually after only a few days the snowy, ice-encrusted trees completely blocked my line of sight to the internet tower on Underwood Mountain. When will the ice melt? March?
I’m not waiting. I ordered a new service, but alas the installer has left for vacation and won’t be back for another two weeks. So, until then, I’ve cleaned out closets. I’ve gone through reams of old paperwork from my business; and design ideas stacked in my studio.
I’ve shoveled my deck countless times and romped in the snow with my dog.
I’ve watched my icicles grow and fade and grow again.
I’ve checked on my trees to see how much longer the ice might remain. Looks like forever to me!
I’ve played with bubbles in the snow and ice….
…on more than one occasion!
One day the sun even came out, but the temperature didn’t rise above 30º.
I can sometimes see the sunset glow outside our constant inversion.
One snowy day a Northern Goshawk landed on the snag below my deck!
He didn’t stay long, but I was glad to witness his presence in my neighborhood!
I’ve come into town every couple of days to keep up with my email but also to watch for eagles since it is the season. This pair was right off Hwy 14 between Lyle and Bingen.
A couple of occasions I was able to watch eagles chase each other and fight over food.
I saw other raptors like this little Kestrel and a Peregrine Falcon!
Each adventure down my mountain first involves a hike up to the road where our cars are kept.
And a hike back down at the end of the day.
In between, it’s a 30 minute drive down to the river, and when I arrive, it’s Raptor Heaven.
I think this guy pretty much sums it up. I want my internet!!
In case I don’t have another opportunity to sit in a cafe for this long, I’ll catch up with you again at the end of the month when I’m ‘connected’ again. I hope!!
December 19, 2015
I love hanging out with a group of birders calling themselves ‘Bird Nerds’. We travel locally in the Columbia River Gorge seeking birds of all sorts. Many of us are still learning and are appreciative of the ‘experts’ that have undertaken our education.
We meet the 2nd Sunday of each month and in December went to the Little White Salmon River. A small group this month, we had the entire river and Drano Lake to ourselves. As we pulled in, two Bald Eagles flew out of a tree next to the road. The two photos above are juvenile Bald Eagles.
We watched eagles soaring above and ducks swimming below the road as we walked adjacent to the river. A trio of Goldeneye, the lead is a Barrow’s and his cohorts are Common Goldeneye.
We watched this American Dipper fishing along the rocky bank of the Little White Salmon River.
For awhile, it was hard to decide – look up at soaring birds in the sky, or look out into the river at all the waterfowl! Is it possible to see both at once?
Not really, but if I just look straight across, I can see this Kingfisher looking for his next meal!
Looked back at the river just in time to see a Barrow’s Goldeneye taking off from the ‘herd’.
Had it been a windless day I would’ve caught a great reflection in this shot! You can still kind of see it….can’t you?
As we continued our walk we spotted several Gulls, including this Glaucous-winged Gull on a sandbar in the river.
Across the river more Bald Eagles perched at the top of a tree.
This section is normally just grass, but due to recent rains had become a little pond. It was perfect for a Pintail Duck to hide out with a couple of Mallard friends.
A Common Raven flew overhead in just the right formation to show you his tail, shaped like an arrowhead ~ different from a Crow’s tail which is straight across.
The day started cloudy, but we were graced by the sun as we headed back to where we’d left our cars.
A Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead as well as a couple more Bald Eagles.
Just before we left we spotted a sweet little Mountain Chickadee singing his heart out. Another wonderful day of birding in The Gorge.
December 7, 2015
Pouring rain outside, I thought I’d take a little time travel break ~ back to a beautiful September day at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
It was a day filled with turtles!
I remember watching a Pie-billed Grebe and several ducks in the creek.
I only saw one Wood Duck pair.
It was a quiet day with very few sightings and even fewer people.
I watched a Pileated Woodpecker for a bit. Is he a juvenile? His feathers are a bit spiky around his neck making me wonder if he had been in the creek.
Back to turtles….this poor fella spent about 15 minutes climbing up to share a log.
Unfortunately his friend wanted nothing to do with him and shoved him off!
I ate my lunch in the shade while watching a Kingfisher fly back and forth across the creek. I desperately wanted him to land on the snag in front of me. If he had, that’s what you’d be looking at now.
I slowly finished the route, watching more herons, egrets and Northern Harriers.
It was a gorgeous day of sun, rain, clouds and end of summer fun at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
*In case you didn’t know, you can purchase many of my images as prints on paper, metal, canvas or as all occasion greeting cards. I have many listed in my on-line store but you can also send me a message to order.