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On Friday I took a little trip up to Trout Lake, at the base of Mt Adams to photograph a bird.

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A RARE bird in Washington State.  I’m told this is only the second documented sighting in my state. EVER!

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It’s a Gray-headed Junco hanging out at Jim & Kathy White’s feeders!  Kathy first noticed it on Jan 2 at their feeders with a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos.  It has come back each day, all week.

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You know I had to invite myself to go up and see it!  Even if it didn’t show up for me, I HAD to take the chance, drive our snowy roads and maintain hope that it would grace me with its presence.

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Local birding expert, Stuart Johnston went with me and to our delight the unusual bird showed up for us!!

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As I well knew, my first shot through the window was not crispy clear.  I was going to have to photograph it outside if I wanted a decent shot.  I quietly exited the back door and peered around the corner, waiting and hoping this special bird would allow me to photograph him.

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He did not disappoint.  Even with triple layers of clothing, double gloves, plus coat, hat, scarf, hand and toe warmers I could only stay outside for 10 to 15 minute intervals in the 10º temperature.

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Confirmed via email and photographic documentation ahead of my visit, from several top-level birding experts in Washington and Oregon the sighting still goes through a process within Washington Ornithological Society for it to be a valid sighting..

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Jim and Kathy have turned in a ‘Rare Bird Report’ to the Washington Ornithological Society and I’m proud to say they’re using my photos in addition to their own for documentation.

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This is a Dark-eyed ‘Oregon’ Junco, the typical Junco we have in our area.  You can see how different they are from the Gray-headed.

~My first sighting of a Catbird last summer, Bohemian Waxwings in December, and now my first sighting of the Gray-headed Junco, Trout Lake is turning into BIRD Central!!~

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A friend had me walk her property to capture wildlife, pretty flowers or anything interesting I could find. When we first arrived, even though it was a glorious morning it was still and quiet. We walked in dew covered grass until our shoes and pant hems were soaked.

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Our first sighting was a Western Gray Squirrel. I saw a flash of it’s tail under the morning sun as it ran across a log. My trigger finger clicked away until he ran out of sight.

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Overhead a juvenile Bald Eagle soared majestically as we searched for little birds.

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A pair of Turkey Vultures seemed to float high overhead ~ too high for my camera to take decent pictures, and they eventually landed in a snag far in the distance.

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Finally we heard familiar bird songs and found a Mountain Chickadee singing from a branch.

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We watched a Red-breasted Nuthatch gather nesting material.

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A Yellow-rumped Warbler made it’s presence known. A couple of ravens flew noisily overhead and we discovered their nest later.

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Then a White-breasted Nuthatch appeared! I love seeing this bird as I rarely see it at home.

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We also saw a plethora of wildflowers. I’m told this little pansy is unusual so will share it here. I don’t recall the name, but will edit in when I recall or learn!  I’ve been out and about taking lots of wildflower shots lately, and will have to write a post just on those!

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This was the first butterfly of the day we saw. I’m guessing it’s a Hairstreak or a Duskywing, but I hope to know after Robert Michael Pyle’s lecture (founder of the Xerces Society) at the White Salmon library on April 29th.  By the way, you can see some of my nature photography there for the rest of April.  I tried to choose images that correspond to the weekly lectures, so you’ll definitely find a butterfly or two!

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We saw something move in a tree…..seeing a lizard instead of a bird was a big surprise! Looks like I need to buy a book on reptile I.D.  Tree Lizard?  Fence Lizard?

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As the morning progressed we saw hawks, more vultures and THIS!! A Golden Eagle juvenile, on my list of birds to find and photograph!! My morning delight, for sure!!  Not the best image due to how far away it was, but nevertheless a Golden!!

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Closer up, we found this Dragonfly when we sat down for a little break. Could it be a Robust Pink Skimmer? It was fresh and shimmering as though it had just emerged.

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Walking back to our car we found this sweet little bird. Hutton’s Vireo? We heard one singing earlier.  Originally we thought it a Kinglet, but his beak looks a bit longer than my book shows.  Looking further through my book, it might be a Phoebe, a Vireo, a Flycatcher, or a Kinglet!  I have so much still to learn!!

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Another Butterfly guess, Elfin? We chased an Orangetip but I couldn’t get a clear shot of that one.

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Exiting, we spied this Western Bluebird watching us from the tree it clung to. We saw and heard more, but these are some of my highlights from the 1500 photos I took!

 

Steider Studios:  Barred Owl at Tualatin Nature Park

I went back to Tualatin Hills Nature Park just in time to see the last Pileated woodpecker fledge.  You can see it’s first moment outside the nest on my 365 -Empty Nest post.  Afterwards I planned to search for the Barred owl again, but I didn’t have to.  It was sitting on a branch directly over a path around the corner from the woodpecker nest!

Steider Studios:  Barred Owl in Tree

Usually when you see it you have to wonder why you missed it as you walked past it the first time.  This time there was already a group of people under the tree looking up at it so it was easy to spot.

Steider Studios:  Barred Owl Back

This barred owl was smaller than the one I saw last week, but much easier to photograph since he wasn’t in the thick of trees.  As the crowd grew he turned his head watching us.

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You know I took 500 shots of him.  These are my favorites.  With my new lens!!

Steider Studios: Fluffy Barred Owl

At one point he fluffed up his feathers – isn’t he gorgeous?

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Some people left, others came then left.  I will go back to this amazing park to enjoy again without a crowd.  It has a spiritual, magical feel to it.  You might want to check out their Facebook page to see photos that people share of the amazing landscape and wildlife.

Steider Studios:  Owl Ready to Pounce

My last shot of him is a blur as he flew directly toward, then past me.  This is the last shot before he left the branch.  I could not manipulate my camera with the new lens fast enough to catch his flight.  Still practicing with it!!  Starting to get excited about how I’ll translate these images into glass.

Edit:  I’ve had a couple of requests today for specific images in prints and cards.  I’m adding them to my next order.  If you’d like one of my images in print form or as an all occasion greeting card, let me know so I can include it in my next order.  You can message me via the comments here or email, linda at steider studios dot com.  Thanks for your interest in my work!

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