March 9, 2017
Sunday, the last day of Winter Wings Festival, we woke at 4am to heavy snowfall with 4″ built up in the parking lot.
It was cold, dark and early but we headed over to the OIT to catch our ride for the last event my friend & I signed up for, “Call of the Wildfowl” with Jim Szemenyei.
After discussion about weather and road conditions, only 5 of us decided to go on our field trip to Lower Klamath NWR in the heavy snow.
We let our bus driver off the hook and drove slowly down the highway in Karl’s 4WD.
Because we were late, I watched a magnificent sunrise from the backseat, and as we arrived waterfowl were already bustling about their day. (Lucky me to see my first Eurasion Wigeon pair!)
I must say this was one of the most amazing nature scenes I’ve ever witnessed……
….for hours and hours.
It was cold and windy but the sun peeked out from behind clouds off and on all morning.
Each time an eagle flew overhead a giant flock of birds would take off, fly across the marsh and land at a nearby section. Swans, geese, ducks, blackbirds, all taking off at once amidst a cacophony of calls.
Jim, our guide let us know Pintails are his favorite duck so I snapped a few shots for him.
I’d not seen a Greater White-fronted Goose before.
Did I mention the noise? It was incredible. Like being in our own PBS nature show.
An American Wigeon flew oh so close to us.
Another herd of Pintails….yes, I know they are not herds, hahaha.
As the morning progressed more Tundra Swans flew overhead.
Snow Geese were constantly in motion.
This group of swans were settling farther out than where we would have liked.
I thought this was an interesting view of a Northern Shoveler.
There goes another eagle hunting across the marsh.
Then we saw Sandhill Cranes arriving!
As our morning came to a close, Jim noticed this tree filled with Bald Eagles.
We walked over to investigate as waterfowl continued their routine.
A giant flock of Red-winged Blackbirds tormented us by not sitting still for portraits.
Another take off and landing for Snow Geese.
More Tundra Swans overhead.
Edit: I failed to mention I saw my first Tri-colored Blackbird. Not the best photo, but yay!
My friend secretly grabbed this shot of me sitting back for a minute, joyfully taking it all in. Another beyond fabulous day and it wasn’t even noon yet!
Note 2 hats (and I eventually pulled my hood up!), 2 gloves with hand-warmers, 2 shirts, a sweater and coat; 3 pants, 2 socks with toe warmers slipped inside insulated boots! Alas I left that scarf somewhere in Klamath Falls! It was deliciously warm on all my cold winter outings this season.
Our group headed back to campus to warm up, grab food and head out in different directions. Nancy and I went back to Lower Klamath that afternoon and found delightful treats that I’ll show you in my next post!
March 2, 2017
On Saturday morning, my third day at Winter Wings Festival, I went on a field trip with Dick Ashford to improve my ability to identify raptors in the field. Lucky me, I was placed in the lead car with Dick!
After Friday’s classroom training, I was already far more confident in my ability to age Bald Eagles and identify various Buteos
Most of the raptors we saw were far away sitting in a field atop a pivot, or like these in flight far above our heads.
These were a pair of juvenile Bald Eagles, one chasing the other hoping to steal food. If you look close, you can see a rodent trapped in the front eagle’s talons.
We don’t know how it ended, they continued the chase until well out of sight.
I saw something move on the ground and look! More Coyotes!! This pair was hunting for rodents or perhaps small squirrels that race across the fields then dive into underground tunnels.
We saw several Rough-legged Hawks ~ aren’t they gorgeous?!!
And THEN I saw my first Ferruginous Hawk!! He didn’t stay long for this portrait.
Shortly after we arrived he took off in flight and of course I followed as best I could.
We saw a few more that day, but this was the only one close enough for me to get a good shot at.
We saw a few American Kestrels and they are always a challenge to capture because they’re so fast.
I was thrilled to keep this one mostly centered in my viewfinder until he landed….
….and then he let me take a portrait while he hunted from his wire perch.
We saw over 100 Bald Eagles. We tried to keep track of what we saw, but I didn’t hear the final tally.
We watched him fly closer to us…
…then he turned and flew away….
We moved on to find a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a post and Dick indulged me to grab this photo because the bird was right next to the road.
One of our last stops of the day was for this Great Horned Owl sitting in her nest. If you didn’t know she was there she’d be easy to miss.
Wherever Mama sits, Daddy is somewhere nearby and one of our participants spotted him right away. I went back another day but could not find him again.
Lucky us, our last sighting of the day was a Golden Eagle. Like any bird, he was not going to sit for us very long at this close distance, so in order for everyone behind the lead car to get a good look at him, we drove past him pretty fast after I took a few shots.
Sitting in the back seat, window down, driving fast over a very bumpy road I grabbed as many shots as I could while we drove by. This is a ‘drive-by-shooting’ in my world. I mostly got shots of his feet, his perch, and air ~ check out those talons! Lucky me, I also managed to capture this ONE shot. All in all it was an inspiring day filled with literally hundreds of raptors mostly in the Butte Valley and near the two refuges south of Klamath Falls, Tulelake and Lower Klamath.
Saturday’s keynote speaker was author and researcher Scott Weidensaul who shared his research on Snowy Owls and Project Snowstorm. Again my friend and I sat in the back row because there was no way we’d stay awake until the end of his talk after yet another full day that began too early. You guessed it…mesmerized by his talk, we stayed for his book signing because after hearing about Project Snowstorm we HAD to have his new book, “Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean” …with autograph of course!
Tomorrow will be our earliest wake-up call ~ 4:30am to get to our field trip on time….
March 2, 2017
I paid close attention to his every word in yesterday’s workshop, so my camera was ready and I was ready!
About a dozen photographers had plenty of room to spread out in our school bus that took us to the first eagle sighting.
Still early, a bit dark, we had learned how to let more light into our sensors and clicked away as the pair of eagles came and went from their nest.
It was difficult to choose which images to share out of the many I took.
The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was amazing in spite of overcast skies and threat of rain.
We watched swans and geese take off and land, especially after an eagle ‘fly by’.
There were literally thousands of Tundra Swans and Greater White-fronted Geese.
Tundra Swans are another of my favorites.
We saw a few Sandhill Cranes and lucky us, we caught them dancing!
I didn’t count the Bald Eagles but they were plentiful … and as usual in a group, fighting over food.
There were also thousands of Snow Geese.
They were especially sensitive to eagle fly overs and took off at every sighting of a Bald Eagle.
They usually landed not too distant from where they left.
Looks like a pair of Tundra Swans having some alone time away from the group.
I have a series from this incident…a Great Horned Owl flew across a field then landed in the grass where we could barely see him. A Northern Harrier buzzed overhead & dove near the owl several times. Can you see the owl? He’s directly below the Northern Harrier in this shot, hidden by grass.
Bald Eagles and other raptors perch on utility poles. Generally there is only one bird per pole, so this shot with an adult and juvenile Bald Eagle was fun to see.
To my delight we also found a Rough-legged Hawk! I am getting to know this raptor quite well.
Another Red-tail ~ a juvenile that hasn’t fully developed his red tail yet.
I had to yell “stop the bus!” when I saw this coyote in a field. I rarely can grab my camera in time at home when I see them and he was so beautiful.
He stood there posing for a bit then ran off with a glance over his shoulder.
Our last stop for the day was back in Klamath Falls where Black-capped Night Herons roost in trees along the Link River near the Favell Museum.
We noticed Barrow’s Goldeneye in the river as we watched the herons…
…and a few interesting Mallard hybrids!
Later in the afternoon I enjoyed a class learning intermediate and advanced raptor ID that I am most grateful for! My next post will chronicle a fabulous field trip in search of raptors.
Our keynote speaker that night was Chas Glatzer. My friend and I sat in the back, expecting to leave early because we were so tired from a full day that began at 5am. We were literally the last to leave. We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to talk with and thank Chas for an exceptional presentation. I love that all three keynote speakers are ethical about capturing their wildlife shots. Chas’s parting words still ring in my ear as it applies to wildlife photography, “Do the right thing”.
I don’t think I’ve addressed ethics in my posts, but if you haven’t thought about it I would never bait my subject or interfere with its life in any way. I don’t whistle, rustle the brush or do anything that would turn its attention away from eating, feeding it’s young, sleeping, hunting or even just to direct it’s attention to me. I’m truly grateful and appreciate any opportunity I have to see birds and wildlife; and love sharing what I capture with you.
January 16, 2017
It is STILL snowing in the frozen Columbia River Gorge, a good month after it started. As I post pictures that look black & white you can see snow falling in many of them. I finally have a system to stay warm when I leave the house in 7º temperatures, without investing in ski-wear: heavy leggings under my thick hiking pants with rain-pants over; 3 tops plus wool sweater and coat; wool socks over regular socks plus toe warmers slipped into fur-lined boots; a heavy scarf covering my head, neck and ears with 2 hats over that; and finally glove liners inside my gloves with hand warmers between and mittens over.
Yesterday at ‘The Hook’ a group of friends met for coffee then a bit of bird-watching…or finding….or simply enjoying.
The first bird we saw after a couple of Bald Eagles was a Great Blue Heron. Doesn’t he look cold?
Shortly after seeing us he took off upriver to the next frozen rock outcrop.
We saw Greater and Lesser Scaup resting offshore.
A Bufflehead flew close to the river…
…and unknown (to me) ducks flew high overhead.
Lesser Scaup drake…
…and another Lesser Scaup drake.
Greater Scaup female.
Snowfall diffused sound but we heard a train heading toward us. Looking west between shoreline and Wells Island we used scopes to see waterfowl including Gadwall, Canvasback, Coot, Grebes, and Canada Goose.
Mallards swam near the shoreline on the west side of The Hook.
A Bald Eagle perched near the nest on the north side of Wells Island with a snowy Underwood Mountain in the background.
A Common Merganser female appeared from around the corner…
…and took off as soon as she realized I was there!
Looking across to Wells Island we saw a swarm of blackbirds and robins foraging on the shoreline.
This is the south side of Wells Island, looking west down the gorge.
A Killdeer hopped along the shore as I stood looking at Wells Island. Did I mention it was snowing?
A Horned Grebe fished in the distance. Notice the ice chunks? By now it was about 14º.
We headed back to our cars but watched the river as we walked and spotted a female Redhead!
Thankfully my friends are expert birders and discussed details that identified her species for me.
We continued watching ducks arrive as we slowly headed back to where we parked.
Last shot of the day ….a female Greater Scaup taking off down the river.
December 23, 2016
I participated in the Lyle Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, a snowy gray cold day. It was near 20º when we started at 7:25 and the same when we ended at 16:45 with 6 – 12″ of snow on the ground where we hiked.
In addition to birds, we found a gorgeous BOBCAT and a Western Gray Squirrel! I wasn’t fast enough with my camera for either.
The only raptors we saw were 9 Bald Eagles and 9 Red-tailed Hawks.
We saw lots of waterfowl: 100 Lesser Scaup, 1 Common Goldeneye, 2 Barrow’s Goldeneye…
…6 Green-winged Teal, 12 Northern Shovelers, 16 Ring-necked Ducks,
19 Bufflehead, 6 Northern Pintails, 6 Double-crested Cormorants,
2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Pied-billed Grebes, 4 Horned Grebes, 59 Western Grebes,
90 Gadwall, 170 American Wigeon, 38 Mallards, 133 Canada Geese and 958 American Coots!
We saw 4 Killdeer, 6 American Pipits,
1 Glaucous-winged Gull, 2 Belted Kingfishers,
5 Collared Doves, 6 Rock Pigeons, 3 Mourning Doves, 2 Anna’s Hummingbirds,
278 Dark-eyed Juncos, 9 Black-capped Chickadees, 3 White Breasted Nuthatches,
14 California Quail, 8 Lewis’s Woodpeckers, 4 Downy Woodpeckers, 21 Northern Flickers,
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 15 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 1 Hermit Thrush, 16 Varied Thrush,
21 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 78 European Starlings, 43 American Robins, 12 Song Sparrows,
13 Spotted Towhees, 7 Steller’s Jay, 47 Scrub Jays, 2 Crows, 14 Ravens,
2 White-crowned Sparrows, 44 Golden-crowned Sparrows, 19 House Finches, 133 House Sparrows,
62 Red-winged Blackbirds, 4 Brewer’s Blackbirds, and 18 Bohemian Waxwings!
The last and best of the day were the Bohemian waxwings we found…
…dining on crabapples.
The rest of the flock was perched in a neighboring birch tree, high in the branches.
I am thrilled that I captured better photos of these beautiful birds after seeing them in Trout Lake a couple of weeks ago! A long but fun day with great people!!
December 15, 2016
Since my last art show I’ve been out in the field enjoying wild critters and places with no looming deadlines or responsibilities.
Bald Eagles are back….
…Tundra Swans are back….
I gave a talk on Wildlife Photography to the Sherman County Camera Club, and played at the John Day Dam prior to their meeting.
…and I’m back at work in a new & different way!
Invited to join and show my photography at co-op gallery, Made in the Gorge… I said YES! 108 Oak Street, downtown Hood River ~ you’ll find me there on Saturdays. Come in & say hi!!
I know I keep promising to tell you of recent adventures….it’s just so hard to sit at my computer & tell you about the last one when I want to be out experiencing the next one!
My first sighting of a Red-necked Grebe in the Gorge!
Our first snowfall of the season on the White Salmon River at Husum.
A rare sighting of Bohemian Waxwings in Trout Lake! …
…and my photo used in Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library!! I so wish it had been a blue sky day instead of winter gray! Thrilled just the same!!
I tend to share more often on my Facebook page and would love you to give me a ‘like’ over there!!
For now, I’m on my way to shovel off our decks…again! Eight fresh inches on top of two earlier feet of snow this week! Fa La La La La and Happy Holidays to you & yours!!
October 18, 2016
I’ve had a long and wonderful journey with art from painting to fiber to glass with photography along every step of the way. A year or two ago I announced my retirement from teaching and selling art supplies. My announcement this year is the end of weekend art shows. Yes. This is the last one. I’ve sold my work at weekend art shows since I was sixteen years old. This. Is. The. Last. If you’re in the region I hope you’ll come out & snap up the last of my glasswork. I’ll be at the first spot on the map below:
200 SW Edgecliff, at my friend Ann Fleming’s studio. I’ll still play with art but just for myself, just for fun, and when I’m in the mood…probably only on rainy days. I’ll still be out in the field trying to capture wildlife with my camera, and will print on demand instead of speculation. Most of my images will always be available for you to order on paper, canvas or metal in most standard sizes.
This weekend, October 21 – 23; Friday – Sunday from 11am until 5pm. Come say hello, support our local artists!