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.
December 1, 2015
Too few trips to Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge this season, I decided to take a drive up to the refuge in the shadow of Mt. Adams on a glum overcast day.
Not much moving around and close-to-freezing temperatures so I stayed in my car and drove over to Mill Pond where I found a couple of OTTERS (!!!) swimming and hunting.
I willed them to swim closer to me as I stayed quiet and low and my trigger finger clicked away. I was so excited to see them this close.
Lo and behold they did! They swam closer and closer and seemed as curious about me as I was about them. Then I started wondering just how close would they get? The front swimmer was filling up my frame. How close to shore were they? What would they do if they climbed ashore? What would I do if they climbed ashore? They are after all wild animals!
They must have sensed my … fear(?)…yes, it must have been fear … of the unknown. They dove and swam away, but kept circling back, still checking me out. I grabbed a few parting shots and then they were gone, across the pond. What a thrill for me! OTTERS!! Did I say I was excited? I was excited!!
Since my new friends left, I headed back to the refuge, but it was still quiet. I think this was the last of our November fall color. Even a quiet day is peaceful and comforting at Conboy Lake NWR.
As December enters and snow flies, I’ll keep adding more of my summer and fall adventures as well as the Winter return of our Bald Eagles and Tundra Swans!
November 26, 2015
November 25, 2015
I signed on for a route in Audubon’s Winter Raptor Survey. My route is basically along Hwy 14 between Bingen and Dallesport along the Columbia River. The first run yielded my first ever sighting of a Prairie Falcon!!
I expected to find Red-tailed Hawks, and did find six of them.
Non resident Eagles are returning to the Gorge ~ I found these four in one snag and six more along the river.
I also counted three American Kestrels, but not close enough for a good shot. This shot is from Sauvie Island in January.
The following day broke with a beautiful clear blue sky so I followed my route hoping to recreate my photos with better light and composition. Alas I saw no eagles, but the Klickitat River was gorgeous.
And on a little side trip I found a Northern Shrike across the road from the entrance to Balfour Park! Told this is a rare sighting, I ‘penned’ my first entry into ebird.org. He is a hatch-year (1st winter ~ thanks to my friend Cathy for that info!)
I love these little birds and couldn’t believe how close they allowed me to get. This is a male Lesser Goldfinch.
The day before my route I’d gone looking for eagles with my friend Carolyn. Although we didn’t see eagles that day, we found tons of Lewis’s Woodpeckers, one of my favorites!!
We watched a heron fishing on ‘golden pond’ from afar.
A Cormorant flew by pretty close!
And we saw a lot of Ruby-crowned Kinglets! See his Ruby Crown?!!
He’s a bit blurred, too fast for me to keep up with his movement, but I wanted to show you his front too!
In spite of only finding Bald eagles on my official ‘Raptor Count Day’, we saw many beautiful birds including a Kingfisher, Wood Ducks, Robins, and Meadowlarks. It’s always a good day driving through the Gorge.
November 10, 2015
Another wonderful day with the Columbia Gorge birding group ~ this month we went to the mouth of the Deschutes River. We decided to walk along the west bank starting at the Heritage Boat landing, but failed to get that message to some of our people, so had to wave at each other across the river. It turned out good though, because collectively we were able to see both the west and east sides of the river. Yes, I like a positive spin!!
One of the first sightings was an American Kestrel on a utility pole wire stretching its wings.
We saw plenty of waterfowl swimming and fishing, including this Bufflehead pair. Light rain and clouds made lighting along the river not as optimum as I’d like.
Much discussion whether this was a Barrow’s or Common Goldeneye. I believe it was settled as a Barrow’s.
We saw Common Mergansers in several spots – lucky us the sun came out for a bit.
I always love finding a Great Blue Heron. Instead of a close up, I want to share his gorgeous environment.
A Spotted Sandpiper was discovered, apparently staying a little longer than usual in our area.
The Downey Woodpecker in this mullein flew off JUST as I focused! He really was there. Really. I saw him.
We saw several Northern Flickers frolicking in the shrubs…or perhaps working for food.
Here’s an American Kestrel in flight. He was really too far away for a good shot but I have to try!
A Bewick’s Wren came in and out of view in thick brush as we traveled a path heading upriver.
Several little birds were seen in the same thicket area including Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets; Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows and this Yellow Bird that I think is a Goldfinch but it could be a Warbler.
We saw several American Robins in trees, and large groups of them flying overhead.
A Song Sparrow munching his way through sage and thistle seed heads.
We all thought this large tree trunk lying near the path was fascinating. Color, texture, size ~ it was impressive.
Several in our group watched 3 Otters playing in the river for a few minutes. I had a shrub blocking most of my view, so vignetted this image a bit to showcase the one otter that I saw a little better. See him? Gray critter against a gray rock in the gray river (towards the bottom right side).
I think I caught another Song Sparrow, but I can always use help naming my sparrows!
Back at Heritage Boat Landing, I spotted a Western Grebe fishing. What is that on his neck?!! He was in a fight, or potential prey or maybe a fish bigger than him gave him a run for his money!
I also saw a Green-winged Teal swimming with Mallards. Why do they never swim toward me?
As we stood in the parking lot, saying goodbye we watched a Black-billed Magpie in the tree across from us.
The Deschutes River always has something of interest, it’s a favorite place of mine. If I have wrong identification on any of these birds, I’d appreciate your correction. Next month, we’ll head to Drano Lake!