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Winter Wings in Klamath Falls

February 28, 2017

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I finally made it to the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls.  There is so much to tell you I will have to break it up day by day.

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My friend and I were only 50 miles from home when we had a wonderful portend of what was to come ~ a Rough-legged Hawk!  It was early in the morning, dark, snowy and cold so we were lucky to have seen him.

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The six-hour drive was easy with clear roads and mostly snow-free.  As we arrived at Upper Klamath Lake we could see hundreds of swans basking in the sun.

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We were ahead of schedule so decided to explore the swans a little more before registration.

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They were magnificent!  Sleeping, preening, swimming, eating and even chasing each other.

steider-studios-swan-group-2-16-17 It was a sunny day and the cacophony of swans made us feel that we were in our own nature show.

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An eagle drew our attention when he landed on a post nearby.

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Our first workshop was with Paul Bannick and we didn’t want to be late so headed over to the OIT to register….

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…after we watched a Red-tailed Hawk fly over.

Paul’s class was fabulous.  He asked each of us to state one thing we wanted to learn from him, then proceeded to discuss every single question raised and more.  I couldn’t wait for our field trip the following day to put into practice everything I’d just learned……

Paul was also a captivating Keynote speaker that evening sharing experiences from his new book,  “Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls“.

 

Birds on the Hook

January 16, 2017

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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.

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Yesterday at ‘The Hook’ a group of friends met for coffee then a bit of bird-watching…or finding….or simply enjoying.

steider-studios-bird-walk-1-15-17-16It was frozen, quiet and snowing and most of the birds we saw looked like they were doing their best to stay warm.

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The first bird we saw after a couple of Bald Eagles was a Great Blue Heron.  Doesn’t he look cold?

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Shortly after seeing us he took off upriver to the next frozen rock outcrop.

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We saw Greater and Lesser Scaup resting offshore.

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A Bufflehead flew close to the river…

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…and unknown (to me) ducks flew high overhead.

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Lesser Scaup drake…

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…and another Lesser Scaup drake.

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Greater Scaup female.

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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.

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Mallards swam near the shoreline on the west side of The Hook.

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A Bald Eagle perched near the nest on the north side of Wells Island with a snowy Underwood Mountain in the background.

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A Common Merganser female appeared from around the corner…

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…and took off as soon as she realized I was there!

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Looking across to Wells Island we saw a swarm of blackbirds and robins foraging on the shoreline.

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This is the south side of Wells Island, looking west down the gorge.

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A Killdeer hopped along the shore as I stood looking at Wells Island.  Did I mention it was snowing?

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A Horned Grebe fished in the distance.  Notice the ice chunks?  By now it was about 14º.

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We headed back to our cars but watched the river as we walked and spotted a female Redhead!

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Thankfully my friends are expert birders and discussed details that identified her species for me.

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We continued watching ducks arrive as we slowly headed back to where we parked.

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Last shot of the day ….a female Greater Scaup taking off down the river.

Christmas Bird Count ~ 2016

December 23, 2016

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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.

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In addition to birds, we found a gorgeous BOBCAT and a Western Gray Squirrel!  I wasn’t fast enough with my camera for either.

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The only raptors we saw were 9 Bald Eagles and 9 Red-tailed Hawks.

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We saw lots of waterfowl: 100 Lesser Scaup, 1 Common Goldeneye, 2 Barrow’s Goldeneye…

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…6 Green-winged Teal, 12 Northern Shovelers, 16 Ring-necked Ducks,

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19 Bufflehead, 6 Northern Pintails, 6 Double-crested Cormorants,

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2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Pied-billed Grebes, 4 Horned Grebes, 59 Western Grebes,

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90 Gadwall, 170 American Wigeon, 38 Mallards, 133 Canada Geese and 958 American Coots!

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We saw 4 Killdeer, 6 American Pipits,

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1 Glaucous-winged Gull, 2 Belted Kingfishers,

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5 Collared Doves, 6 Rock Pigeons, 3 Mourning Doves, 2 Anna’s Hummingbirds,

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278 Dark-eyed Juncos, 9 Black-capped Chickadees, 3 White Breasted Nuthatches,

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14 California Quail, 8 Lewis’s Woodpeckers, 4 Downy Woodpeckers, 21 Northern Flickers,

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3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 15 Golden-crowned Kinglets,  1 Hermit Thrush, 16 Varied Thrush,

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21 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 78 European Starlings, 43 American Robins, 12 Song Sparrows,

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13 Spotted Towhees, 7 Steller’s Jay, 47 Scrub Jays, 2 Crows, 14 Ravens,

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2 White-crowned Sparrows, 44 Golden-crowned Sparrows, 19 House Finches, 133 House Sparrows,

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62 Red-winged Blackbirds, 4 Brewer’s Blackbirds, and 18 Bohemian Waxwings!

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The last and best of the day were the Bohemian waxwings we found…

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…dining on crabapples.

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The rest of the flock was perched in a neighboring birch tree, high in the branches.

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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!!

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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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June’s bird outing with the ‘Bird Nerds’ began north of Trout Lake.  We found one of my favorites, a Lazuli Bunting along with a surprising number of other species.

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Cedar Waxwings were plentiful and not necessarily a surprise.  We also saw or heard Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Western Wood Pewee, Violet-green Swallow, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, a Western Tanager and many more.

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A CATBIRD was definitely a surprise for me.  I didn’t know they were in our area!  Last year one of our members, John heard one in Hood River’s Powerhouse Corridor but this is my first sighting!

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Half our group headed for Glenwood and were delighted to find this White-headed Woodpecker feeding her young.

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You know I took a gazillion photos ~ there are at least two in the nest, a boy & a girl.

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As long as we were in Glenwood we took a little hike at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge where we found Eastern Kingbirds including one sitting on a nest!!

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We watched this Red-breasted Sapsucker delivering lunch to a nest cavity that we watched last year.

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Birds ate from feeders in front of the headquarters office while this Black-chinned Hummingbird buzzed about.

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Our group parted ways leaving me to drive a couple of my favorite Glenwood routes.  The song of Red-winged Blackbirds was everywhere.

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There was no traffic on a Sunday afternoon, so I drove the refuge perimeter leisurely.

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I found a large Wood Duck family.

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Mama kept the ducklings swimming away from me.

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I pretended not to care.

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I found many more Eastern Kingbirds.

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I also found Western Kingbirds.  I think this is a young one.

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I saw a lot of fledglings including this Western Bluebird.

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Here’s it’s parent, encouraging it.

It was a fabulous day leaving me with way too many photos to go through.  These are just a few of my favorites!

Baby, its a Wild World

March 30, 2016

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After an exciting late winter and early spring, I will try to catch up with all my ‘wild’ wildlife adventures.  Can you believe how fast 2016 is flying by?!

Steider Studios.Garden Flower.3.29.16-4But first, let me tell you about yesterday.  Another exciting day on the wild side.

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I was photographing my spring garden…ahhhhh spring has finally arrived in my part of the world.  At a slightly higher elevation, 2400 feet or so Spring takes her sweet time getting here.

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I heard our resident Wild Turkeys gobbling at each other in the background, but there was something else…

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…a familiar sound that I hadn’t heard in a while.  Coyote!!  I ran toward the sound, camera in hand and saw it meandering down in the forest!

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I managed to catch one good shot of him in spite of the fact that I had the wrong lens set to take photos of flowers, not wildlife!  Oh, I have plenty of other shots, but they are too blurry to share.

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Afterwards, on my way to town for supplies I had to stop for photos of piglets on a nearby farm.

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Like all babies, they are way too cute!  Who can resist?

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Bingen Marina was my next stop and I’m thrilled to tell you our Osprey are back!  Speaking of Osprey, I’m also thrilled that a couple of my photos are included the April issue of the Ruralite, supporting a great article written by Lori Froehlich!

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Back at the Marina, a lone female Bufflehead was staying cool under the warm sun.

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A Raven landed on a branch near me.

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I’ve been waiting for this Grebe to break out in courting plumage.

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Next I stopped at a favorite place near Lyle, where this Red-tailed Hawk welcomed me.  At least I think he welcomed me!

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Found a deer resting in a semi-shady spot as I turned the corner.

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Yay, my favorite woodpecker is still in the neighborhood ~ Lewis’s Woodpecker.  Isn’t he gorgeous?

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I almost missed this!  I started to leave but noticed a bumpy looking log.  I jumped out of my car ever so quietly so I wouldn’t scare them away.  A pile of Pond Turtles!

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This little guy stopped and posed for me, but he was semi hidden behind tallish grass.

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Another Lewis’s Woodpecker ~ did I say I love these birds?  I love these birds!

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Almost to The Dalles where I needed to pick up a few items for my bath remodel (that will have to wait for another post), I stopped to watch a Great Blue Heron hunt for a while at a pond I recently found.

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Just as I realized I’d taken 4.5 hours to drive to The Dalles, I had to stop one last time for a MARMOT!!  Yes, I found a Marmot!!  I actually found it last week, but didn’t know it.  I photographed it, then immediately dismissed it as a rock until I saw it on my computer screen at home.  I remembered where it was and stopped to see if I could find it again.

Steider Studios.Wild Thing.3.29.16-12Not only did I find it, but I found TWO!  They were fun to watch as they frolicked over, under and through the caves between rocks.  Finally I had to leave them and finish my errands.  I hope to catch you up with all the critters I’ve found this past season ~ the weather has been divine, making it difficult to stay indoors!

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We watched this American Dipper fishing along the rocky bank of the Little White Salmon River.

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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?

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Not really, but if I just look straight across, I can see this Kingfisher looking for his next meal!

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Looked back at the river just in time to see a Barrow’s Goldeneye taking off from the ‘herd’.

Barrow's Goldeneye taking off from the Little White Salmon River. Photo by Steider Studios

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?

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As we continued our walk we spotted several Gulls, including this Glaucous-winged Gull on a sandbar in the river.

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Across the river more Bald Eagles perched at the top of a tree.

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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.

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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.

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The day started cloudy, but we were graced by the sun as we headed back to where we’d left our cars.

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A Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead as well as a couple more Bald Eagles.

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Just before we left we spotted a sweet little Mountain Chickadee singing his heart out.  Another wonderful day of birding in The Gorge.

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