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!
October 9, 2016
This summer I invited myself along on a friend’s camping trip to Goose Lake in the Mt Adams Wilderness, with her two grandsons.
This was my first camping experience (that I remember ~ my mom tells me we camped when I was a toddler) and I couldn’t wait to see sunset and sunrise over the lake without having to get up or get home at an ungodly hour.
The boys brought fishing poles to catch our food, a BB gun to fend off wild animals in the wilderness, and a machete…I presume to clear a nice space for our comfort. All but the fishing poles were abandoned as soon as they saw the lake!
When sunset arrived in front of our campsite, it was pretty nice!
Sunrise the following morning was quite beautiful as light overtook shadow.
I was hoping to see a ton of wildlife, and made sure I was the first one on the lake after a brutally cold and nervous night’s sleep. Between my husband’s 30-year-old worn out sleeping bag and a twig or branch crackling seemingly every few minutes I think I got 3 hours sleep max.
Surrounded with golden light and a sweet little Sandpiper to entertain me in early morning solitude.
As the sun rose higher I could hear campers stirring and looked for more photo opportunities before anglers or boats disturbed the lake.
I found a family of Mergansers beginning their day.
They chased each other back and forth…..
…and did a bit of their own fishing while humans launched boats into the lake.
A little Junco serenaded me from a branch behind my spot on the beach…
Did I already say the morning light was Golden? Breathtakingly so!
As I headed toward sounds of the boys talking, a pair of Bald Eagles flew overhead.
I had to climb over a series of logs to get to where my friends were fishing for breakfast.
As I began my climb, I stumbled upon a pair of Crossbills! Good reason to stop!!
Finally, I made it across the logs only to find we had no fish for our breakfast. Luckily we brought a camp stove and eggs!!
Goose Lake is so beautiful and a perfect place for little boys to fish and dream about all the wilderness has to offer ~ hopefully they’ll take their children one day.
It’s also a pretty nice place for a photographer to catch some lovely reflections! I even heard a PIKA speak!!! I must tell you, I didn’t like the part about no showers and the lake too cold to take a dip ~ but I loved being there at dusk, dawn, and every moment between.
October 5, 2016
I went to BirdFest at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate the end of September and beginning of October.
Thrilled to be there, I was in a small group that watched Sandhill Cranes fly into their roost on Friday night. Lucky me, I went back the following morning to watch them fly out.
We stood as silently as possible in a blind, after finding ‘the best spot’ for viewing. As the lights dimmed the cranes began to fly in. I zoomed in to isolate a few here and there.
While waiting for the next group to fly in, I watched a Snowy Egret working the shoreline.
‘Wheels’ down. Coming in for a landing.
The sky changed color as the sun went down and family after family of cranes arrived for the night. The sound was breath-taking.
A couple of times ALL the birds in this area swarmed up and out, then resettled. Awesome. Incredible. Fantastic. Amazing. None of these words fully express the feeling or sounds.
Sandhill Cranes like this marshy area, surrounded by water that keeps them safe from predators. A few of us saw a coyote walk by the blind when we arrived the next morning. Sorry, too dark, my camera would not cooperate in spite of my pleading for that shot!
Each family unit ~ 2 adults and 1 to 3 colts ~ flies in and out together. Here comes another!
As the night got darker, my ISO turned higher, but my shutter speed couldn’t keep up with all the activity. I like this shot anyway ~ shall we call it ‘artsy’?
Between incoming groups of cranes it was fun watching other birds like this Yellowlegs foraging for an evening meal.
A Great Egret also flew over, joining his tribe behind the cranes.
Saturday morning we woke early and headed back to watch the Sandhills leave their roost.
Again in a small group, we huddled quietly in a blind and waited for the show to begin. The birds began taking off before the sun came up.
Watching the cranes fly against this magical sky while listening to their song….I felt as though we could be in a PBS nature show.
Except we WERE there, right in the midst of a cinematic show filled with beautiful birds taking off in glorious light!
High ISO = grainy shot, but this is one portion of our morning view just after the first few groups of cranes flew out. I hope to make a panorama of the entire lagoon filled with 500 or more Sandhill Cranes.
As the light changed I had a clearer view of the cranes and their flight patterns.
Did I already say they were amazing to watch? They were A-mazing!! You can sense the power in their wings.
Young Sandhill Cranes remain with parents for 9-10 months, accompanying them in migration.
One of my favorite birds, they mate for life.
As it got lighter, the background landscape became prettier too.
Last little family left. Two adults, two colts. What a fabulous experience.
Cranes live an average of 20 years in the wild, and generally have 1 to 2 colts per year. Photo above is at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge where I was lucky to observe their courting dance. You can distinguish adults from juveniles by the red on an adult’s head.
Sandhill Cranes nest in freshwater wetlands and are the oldest known bird species in the world. They have an average weight of 10 pounds, a wingspan of 5 to 7 feet and are approximately 4 feet tall. Omnivorous, their diet varies with location and season. They eat insects, roots of aquatic plants, rodents, snails, frogs, lizards, snakes, nestling birds, berries, seeds, and cultivated grains like corn.
Sources if you’re interested in reading more about my favorite bird: Audubon, Nature Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Wikipedia, and National Wildlife Federation. Oh there’s more, but I don’t want to overwhelm you!
September 12, 2016
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.
Led by Darvel Lloyd, who grew up climbing and exploring Mt Adams, it was a very educational hike.
Our group of twelve headed up the Shorthorn Trail through burned forest from the 2012 Cascade Creek fire.
Fascinated with the charred forest remains, contrasting with new growth I stopped for many photos.
Can we call this ‘Fall Color’?
Although it is late in the season, many wildflowers are still in bloom. I think this is a Pearly Everlasting.
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.
I believe this in the Lupine family.
A beautiful bouquet of Asters.
Crossing Shorthorn Creek.
On the other side of the creek we found pink Monkeyflower.
Another fork of Shorthorn Creek.
Crofton Creek. Looking up, I found a tiny waterfall!
Looking down the creek I felt amazed and awed….
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.
No, I’m not gasping for air….I’m stopping to take pictures!
This is where we’re heading.
A vast landscape that takes my breath away, I could stand here for hours.
Almost there at Round the Mountain Trail #9.
The last section of our hike, the crest on Crofton Ridge.
A spectacular view of Mt Adams from the southwest side.
Looking west at Mt. St. Helens.
As we sat and enjoyed our lunch, four Clark’s Nutcrackers joined us!
Zooming in on a waterfall from where we sat in the shade.
Zoomed in on the almost uncovered lookout tower at the top of Mt Adams. 12,276′
Rested, nourished and hydrated we began our three mile descent.
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.
Trudging back down I pretty much kept my eyes on my footing and tried to keep up! Oh look, another pretty wildflower!! Fireweed.
Yes, out of breath again I stopped for another pretty picture. You know I love rocks!
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.
You know me, I can’t resist stopping for a ‘critter’.
Darvel often stopped to discuss history, flora and fauna of the neighborhood.
I am so fortunate to have met and hiked with such an interesting and cohesive group of people. Another wonderful September adventure!!!
September 5, 2016
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.
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!
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.
Instead I found a ton of dragonflies! I watched this one eat a bug!!
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!
I did see several sparrows ~ I believe this is a Song Sparrow.
Swallows are still filling the sky and I managed to capture this Violet-green Swallow in flight!
I entertained myself for a moment studying this stand of Quaking Aspen.
From the top to bottom they are a magnificent tree.
Just look at that beautiful bark!
Speaking of magnificence, wildflowers abound on the refuge. I’m not sure, but I think there were two bees sharing pollen in this aster.
Goldenrod lit up some of the roads…..
…interspersed with Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
I thought I heard a Western Meadowlark! He pretended to not notice me as I pretended to not sneak closer to him.
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!
House Wren made a lot of racket as I chased some nearby butterflies.
Sandhill Cranes are still roaming the refuge, but I only saw 6 all day long and they were in flight.
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!
As the afternoon wore on, dark clouds moved closer and a few spots of rain hit my dusty car.
The dragonflies didn’t mind.
Oh look, another Sulphur resting long enough to let me watch him.
As I thought about calling it a day I heard Sandhill Cranes calling from afar…
…and watched a Heron crossing Kreps Lane ~ first time I’ve seen them in this area!
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!