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I spent two glorious days at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, thanks to Julee at Mt Adams Lodge for inviting me to lead a group of people on a bird walk.

It felt delicious to catch a sunrise without rolling out of bed at 3am to arrive in time.

During my preview tour of the refuge, I spotted a trio of Northern Harrier Fledglings.

It was delightful watching them practice take-off and landing in a field off Laurel Road.

On my preview and the walking tour, we found Four-Spot Skimmers ~ no they are not birds, but wonderful creatures with wings.

There were plenty of Western Bluebirds actively feeding families in nest boxes.

A few Western Kingbirds could be seen on fence and utility wires.

A Hairy Woodpecker high in a snag.  We decided he was still learning the ways of the world as he scrambled his way to the top.

American Kestrel on a wire off the main highway.

Bunny Rabbit!!!

Western Meadowlarks were plentiful, I love their song.

We heard Sandhill Cranes, but they didn’t venture close to us.

Cliff Swallow fledglings begged for food from their parents and each other.

Saw a herd of Rocky Mountain Elk shortly after sunrise while driving around the refuge before our after-breakfast-bird-walk.

Ruffled feathers on this Western Bluebird from feeding all his babies?!!

Tri-colored Blackbird sitting on a refuge sign begged to have his portrait taken.

I found Fireweed in several spots around the refuge, Community Forests and Mt Adams Lodge.

I’m not quite comfortable identifying warblers, but I am pretty sure this IS a warbler!

There were Mariposa Lilies growing in several spots.

Eastern Kingbirds were in their ‘usual locations’ on the refuge.

Another Western Meadowlark singing for me.

Common Yellowthroats were also seen in several places on the refuge and beyond.

Red-winged Blackbird mom heading back to her nest to feed the kids.

I found Common Paintbrush in a couple of spots on Kreps Road.

Lucky me to see this deer with TRIPLETS!  I could not stop and grab my camera fast enough!!  Glad no one was behind me on the road!!

I have a great butterfly book, but I couldn’t find this butterfly in it.  If you know the identity, please share!

I happened upon this Twelve-spot Skimmer!

I was given a lead that this Western Wood Pewee had a nest near the viewing platform on the Willard Springs Trail but no one in my group could find it.  He entertained us as we searched for his nest with our binoculars.

Spotted a few Dark-eyed Juncos during our walk.

An unidentifiable (to me) hummingbird resting as we hiked by.

Late in the afternoon this Tiger Lily glowed against the dark forest background.

An American Robin watched us watching him as we walked the trail.

This Red-breasted Sapsucker fledgling was so cute but alas wasn’t there when I took the group back to his neighborhood.

Yet another Four-spot Skimmer ~ aren’t they beautiful?!!  They were a golden glow in sunlight.

Tree Swallows are in many of the nest boxes along the Willard Springs Trail.

Group photo taken by Carya Meacham Bair from the bird walk event sponsored by Mt Adams Lodge.

I think a Sunset over Mt Adams on the refuge is a good closing photo.  A fabulous time was had by all!

My next several posts will spotlight a major undertaking that used ALL my time this spring and early summer.  I can’t wait to share it with you, but will take some time to organize my thoughts and photos….stay tuned!

Yes, its June, but I’m playing ‘catch-up’ today and I wanted to ‘plug’ an upcoming event!!  I’m leading a bird walk at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge thanks to an invitation from Julee at Mt Adams Lodge!  Saturday, July 1st right after breakfast at the Lodge.  Hope you can join me!

Thanks to a lead that Pintail Ducks were at ‘Pintail Lake’ I went up to the refuge in spite of the dark & dreary April day.

Lucky me, I found a huge herd of ELK.  I counted over 40!

Later that morning I saw the herd running through a marshy field while I searched for Sandhill Cranes.

The raven looked very black against a gray sky…wouldn’t a BLUE sky have been better??!!!

Red-winged blackbirds are so melodious, I love them and they were everywhere!

I also found a pile of snakes!  This one let me grab his portrait.

 

Swallows were building nests underneath a bridge.

Brewer’s Blackbird…

Northern Flicker….

Western Meadowlark….

I was surprised to find a Wilson’s Snipe!

And some birds we could see on our July 1st birdwalk, that I’ve seen during this time of year:  Yellow-headed Blackbird

Spotted Sandpiper

Eastern Kingbird

Western Tanager

Sandhill Crane

Cedar Waxwing

Maybe we’ll see dragonflies!  I know we’ll see a lot more than I’ve shown you here.  Join me!!   Mt Adams Lodge Saturday July 1st right after breakfast in Glenwood WA, at the base of Mt Adams!

No experience necessary, just your curiosity, willingness to take a walk looking for birds in a beautiful place.  Binoculars &/or your camera are good things to have with you.

 

 

 

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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!!

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