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!!
July 11, 2015
The last Sunday in June a friend and I went to Cloud Cap Inn for a tour offered by the Forest Service. It’s only available during summer and only on Sundays.
It’s one of those places near me that I’ve always wanted to go see, but until now didn’t take the opportunity.
Bear Grass blooms lined one section of the winding gravel road bringing life back to the charred forest from the Gnarl Ridge wildfire in 2008.
Ranger Ron Kikel is incredibly knowledgeable and led us through the Inn room by room, telling us the history of the Cloud Cap Inn.
Most of the interior was too dark for my camera without a tripod or flash but one of the tiny bedrooms, flooded with light from a window displayed signatures from those who stayed at the inn and signed their names on the bedroom walls.
The dining area ~ boots lining the top beam belong to Crag Rats, the oldest volunteer mountain rescue group in North America. They have leased this building for more than 50 years as a staging site for rescues on Mt. Hood.
“Built in 1889, the Cloud Cap Inn is the country’s oldest high alpine ski cabin. It was built on the site of the first “season long” public resort at timberline (1883), a tent camp hosted by Mrs. David Cooper, of the Cooper Family which gave its name to the distinctive ridge above the inn.
The inn, built at an elevation of 5837′, was constructed of amabilis fir, cut from a site about 2.5 miles below the inn and hauled up the mountain by teams of horses. William Marcy Widden, a Portland architect drew the plans.”
You can read more here and Google for images of days gone by.
Out the back door, we enjoyed our picnic lunch, then hiked this little path.
Clouds gently blew in and we caught a few sprinkles of rain.
One last shot of Mt. Hood before heading back to our ‘city’.
By the way, we thought we had to park at the campground below Cloud Cap Inn and walk up, but there’s a large gravel parking lot you drive up to. The road isn’t as daunting as it looks.
On the way back down we stopped at Inspiration Point. The waterfall and river were muddy brown.
At the bottom of the Inspiration Point trail is this stone monument. I would love to know the story of Stephen.
Driving on Cloud Cap Road through the scorched forest was eery. On a clear day we could’ve seen Mt Adams glow as the sun lit her up.
July 7, 2015
The Columbia Gorge Bird Nerds journeyed to Laurance Lake on Sunday to see what we could find. Of course we expected to find birds…. We stopped at the dam first and found this cute little chipmunk eating and posing! We saw an American Robin high in a tree, an Oregon Junco singing it’s heart out and a White-crowned Sparrow sitting on a fence. Across a clearing we saw warblers scampering about. They were mostly too fast for me, but I caught this juvenile Yellow-rumped warbler before we headed for the lake. We saw bumblebees playing in knapweed… …and Swallowtails drifting among tall stands of fireweed. At the lake we saw an Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler high in a conifer. Did I mention it was a gorgeous blue-sky day? The campground was full, the day after Independence Day but we arrived before most campers woke. I believe this is a Western Wood Pewee, hope you’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Looking for Pica on the rocky hillside as we walked down the path, half our group missed the Bald Eagle that flew low over our heads. Towards the end of the lake an Otter delighted us with his fishing skills. This end of the lake was full of activity, including a family of Mallards. Two of the kids bathed in the sun while Mama and 3 siblings stayed in the shade until they all went for a foraging swim. We saw Red-winged Blackbirds and a Merganser and an Osprey in flight. I was mesmerized by a flock of Cedar Waxwings including a parent feeding a juvenile. We watched a Northern Rough-winged Swallow skimming the surface of the lake and a Spotted Sandpiper skittering along a beaver dam. We all squeezed through a narrow path and found ourselves next to a beautiful little creek so clear we could see the rocky bottom. An American Dipper worked his way very close, until he noticed us & quickly left. It was a great place to snap some group shots, splash cold water on our hot heads and just enjoy the morning. As we exited, our last bird sighting was the same that we started the day with, an American Robin. Most of our group then headed up to Pinnacle Trail head where we found huckleberries!!! Mt. Hood photo at the top of this post was shot there. We ended the day with lunch and ice cream in Parkdale.
A few of the Columbia Gorge Bird Nerds cooling off by the creek. Photo courtesy of Ann Zuehlke.
Other birds that were heard and/or seen by others: Pileated Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, Chipping and Song Sparrows and a Western Tanager. Fun times!! See you next time, first Sunday in August.
June 25, 2015
Closing in on the end of June and I’ve started many posts for this month but have yet to stay at my computer long enough to finish one! Instead of going in chronological order, I MUST share my exciting adventure from last night. I shot my FIRST AURORA BOREALIS!!! I am so excited I can’t stop thinking about it and don’t even care that Mt. Adams is blurry.
Wednesday’s adventure began when my friend Darlisa invited me to a ‘Solar Storm’ event on Facebook. I’d seen all the Monday posts (with photos!) about the gorgeous Northern Lights occurring this week but it didn’t occur to me to stay up all night myself to photograph this amazing light show.
Wednesday morning I studied blogs and help forums about how to shoot an aurora, then spent the afternoon scouting locations. I chose this view of Mt. Adams because it was clear and close ~ easy to get to & a short drive home. Then I reviewed my camera, remote, lenses and chose the best gear I had for the task while waiting for late night to arrive.
In spite of careful preparation ~ my wireless remote wouldn’t work; I couldn’t find the infinity symbol on my camera; I was out in the middle of nowhere by myself far later than my comfort level (11:45 until 3:15); feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing; the LCD on the back of my camera showed a lot of nothing but BLACK ~ and then all my worries disintegrated when I first saw amazing color on the LCD!
A little side note, after about 15 minutes I had to get back in my car and maneuver it so the headlights were illuminating the field next to me ~ to be sure the sound of crunching brush getting closer and closer, and slurping sounds were indeed the cows I’d seen earlier in the day! Fortunately there was a fence between me and the cows!
I don’t know if this is part of the Aurora, and I really couldn’t see it with my naked eye. I’d see what looked like mist or a thin veil far off behind the mountain.
I played with the ISO and shutter speed. The widest I could get my aperture was around 5.6 ~ this makes me want to buy a better lens for this type of work!!
Instead of throwing away many of my ‘black’ images, after bringing up the exposure, I could still see some color in many of them.
Alas, most of the black shots looked like this after editing. So many technical issues I need to learn more about.
Of course I didn’t take notes as I shot, so instead of repeating my best efforts, I will have more learning sessions! When all is said and done, I must say it was a fabulous first learning experience.
Just after 3 a.m. I felt myself fading into the night and had to get some sleep. I grabbed one last shot of the stars above, then headed home. It was a gorgeous and glorious experience! I’m glad I went out to shoot the Aurora Borealis and can’t wait for the next opportunity!!
I’m learning more about Northern Lights while trying to wrap my head around all the information at Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard and http://www.ips.gov.au/Solar/1/4
June 1, 2015
A beautiful sunset last night closed out the month of May. It was full of hard work, but also full of adventure and good friends.
Yesterday my friend & neighbor Katie popped in with a trunk full of tools to help me repair my veggie garden fence. After we finished I started planting this years crop. Today I’ll buy more seeds and finish – I can already taste those yummy fresh veggies – an assortment of lettuce, zukes, cukes, carrots, and more! Below the veggies are grapes and blackberries.
My giant ‘Slash Pile Burn‘ Fuel Reduction project through Department of Natural Resources is finally finished with paperwork submitted! That was a long, hard, cathartic project, and I’m glad it’s done! Yay ME!! The image above is my friend Eileen who came up one morning & helped with her husband Jim.
My fabulous ‘Gorge Glass Girls’ (Leila, Terri, Charlene, Kathy and Carolyn (who isn’t in this shot, but also an instigator), gave me a wonderful gift:
They hired young men from ‘Wings’ to help bring up firewood from my now-cleared and burned forest. These sweet, polite and respectful, hard-working young men – under the direction of Walt – brought up firewood from the farthest point of my property to the woodpile outside my back door. They cut branches into wood-stove lengths and stacked as much as they could in a day. Image above shows the remaing piles of firewood and I have all summer to leisurely haul it up.
My friend Nancy & I have been out on several photo adventures, looking for wildlife. While chasing down a lead for a Wood Duck family we found a Hooded Merganser family!
We went to Ridgefield NWR, one of our favorite spots to photograph birds.
We went to Conboy Lake NWR for a day where we ran into friends who showed us a Red-breasted Sapsucker nest – can’t wait to go back and photograph babies!!
And we went to Crystal Springs to watch Wood Ducklings learn how to be a duck.
I’ve also traversed the Columbia River watching my favorite little owl family grow up…..I plan to write a post on their progress from when I first found them.
As I worked in my back woods all these months, I’ve watched more birds come to my now-open forest, like this Pileated Woodpecker;
and Western Tanager.
Now with most of my hard work finished, I plan to spend more time at Conboy Lake NWR watching for baby elk, baby birds, and maybe even see a baby otter this year!! You’ll find me along the Columbia River checking all the Osprey and Woodpecker nests that I find. And anywhere else that looks like a promising adventure!
May 17, 2015
This time of year is spectacular in the Columbia River Gorge. We are inundated with colorful melodious flying beauties. Plus Owls, Osprey, Eagles, Herons and more. Above is a Yellow Warbler we found at Trout Lake Marsh today. I’m so far behind in telling you what’s going on, that I’ll just start with today at the Trout Lake Marsh with our birding group and promise to add more later! I believe this is a Red-naped Sapsucker. I don’t remember what this little bird is! I knew I should have taken notes today. edit: Just learned it’s a Western Wood-Pewee. I think this little sparrow is cute balancing himself between the reeds. I think he’s a Song Sparrow. We were fortunate to see a Lazuli Bunting! I also saw them at the Sandy River Delta and at Ridgefield. Today was full of Warblers. This is a MacGillivray’s Warbler, a first for me! We saw a couple of Black-throated Gray Warblers and heard several other species of Warblers. We caught an Oregon Junco eating a dragonfly. Is this a Yellow-rumped Warbler? Western Tanager, one of my favorites! The end of another fun day. Over the last month I’ve watched a trio of owlets grow and learn to fly, plus 5 nesting Great Horned Owls further east. I’m watching a Bald eagle nest and almost a dozen Osprey nests along the Columbia River. I’ve been to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge several times. I finally went to the Sandy River Delta and I’ve traversed the Columbia River almost daily. I’ve easily taken over 5000 photos of all the above adventures. Oh, and my giant backyard forest slash pile burn project is very near finished thanks to several groups of friends who took it upon themselves to come help me! I try to post daily photos on my Facebook page if you’d like to see more images of all the birds and wildlife I’ve run into lately!