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My first field trip during Winter Wings was with Paul Bannick in and around the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

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I paid close attention to his every word in yesterday’s workshop, so my camera was ready and I was ready!

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About a dozen photographers had plenty of room to spread out in our school bus that took us to the first eagle sighting.

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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.

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It was difficult to choose which images to share out of the many I took.

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The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was amazing in spite of overcast skies and threat of rain.

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We watched swans and geese take off and land, especially after an eagle ‘fly by’.

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There were literally thousands of Tundra Swans and Greater White-fronted Geese.

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Tundra Swans are another of my favorites.

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We saw a few Sandhill Cranes and lucky us, we caught them dancing!

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I didn’t count the Bald Eagles but they were plentiful … and as usual in a group, fighting over food.

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There were also thousands of Snow Geese.

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They were especially sensitive to eagle fly overs and took off at every sighting of a Bald Eagle.

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They usually landed not too distant from where they left.

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Looks like a pair of Tundra Swans having some alone time away from the group.

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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.

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There was a plethora of Red-tailed Hawks floating in the sky for us to capture.steider-studios-field-trip-bannick-2-17-17-18

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.

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To my delight we also found a Rough-legged Hawk!  I am getting to know this raptor quite well.

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Another Red-tail ~ a juvenile that hasn’t fully developed his red tail yet.

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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.

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He stood there posing for a bit then ran off with a glance over his shoulder.

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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.

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We noticed Barrow’s Goldeneye in the river as we watched the herons…

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…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.

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“.

 

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I celebrated the last day of 2016 by participating in the Columbia Hills Christmas Bird Count.  There were four of us in Jane’s car, all focused on finding birds in and around Goldendale Washington on a brilliant-blue-sky but frigid day.

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After counting all the birds surrounding the wastewater treatment plant ~ thousands (!!!),

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…including a Northern Shrike who was very far away, we headed into residential Goldendale.

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We traversed block after city block with a stop at Ekone Park.  A pair of Red-tailed Hawks perched as sentries on tree tops at both sides of the entrance.

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We hiked along the stream from the parking lot to the bridge and although there wasn’t a lot of activity, we found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet!

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A Golden-crowned Sparrow was foraging on a lawn above the bridge.

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A Scrub Jay flew overhead, taking his treasure to possibly eat in a warmer spot.

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We found plenty of trees and shrubs full of the regular suspects, in this case House Sparrows with some finches tucked in between.

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We found a group of mixed Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings (yay!).

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Bohemians have a buffy body, white tips on their wing feathers and little or no white on their forehead.

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We met up with a second carload of counters who had finished  their section and wanted to see more Goldendale birds.

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We spotted a few Red-tailed Hawks as we continued our drive through town and along the outskirts.

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In one neighborhood we found three Wilson’s Snipes foraging in a tiny stream!  How do I know they were Wilson’s, not Common?  Because lucky me I had experts on my team!

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In this one tiny area we also saw a dozen Robins, and a couple of Scrub Jays, Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows…..

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……Spotted Towhees, House Finches and about a dozen Golden-crowned Sparrows.

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Over two dozen California Quail ran or flew to the other side of the street while we watched all the action in, over and surrounding the stream.

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Finished with our assigned section, we decided to head out Bickleton Hwy in search of anything interesting outside of town.  Yes!  A Rough-legged Hawk awaited us.

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Isn’t he beautiful?!  I believe this is my first sighting of a Rough-legged and I’ve fallen in love.

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We followed him in flight over barns and farmhouses as we continued our drive.

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Another raptor delighted us with his presence, a Northern Harrier.

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A big surprise was a group of seven Gray Partridges.  It’s uncommon to find them on agricultural land.

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Our last sighting for the day was a group of Bald Eagles circling overhead on our way back to town.

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I saw two adults and 2 or 3 juveniles (I knew I should have written this immediately as my recollection fades).

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One juvenile soared closer…

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…and landed in the top of a nearby Pine tree.

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He then took off as another eagle flew close to his landing spot.

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All in all a very good day spent with great company!

 

 

 

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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One of the reasons I love Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the peaceful quiet setting.  I went up on Wednesday to meet the new manager and ended up staying all….day….long….  It was simply put ~ a spectacular day.

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After leaving the office, I looked around Lake Road to see what I could find.  I thought this was a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe, but have since learned it’s a juvenile Coot!

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A Great Blue Heron fishing caught my attention…I watched him until he flew off to ‘greener streams’.

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Plenty of little birds filled the air with song.  Cedar Waxwing above; little sparrow below.

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I haven’t looked him up yet to see what he is.  If you know, do tell!!

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To my delight, I found a Yellow-headed Blackbird!  And I heard Soras!!  I crept around the reeds as quiet as could be and distinctly heard at least two & maybe three but they did not show themselves.  I’ll be back soon to stalk them!

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My next stop was the Kiosk area on the Glenwood Hwy.  Early in the morning I heard plenty of Sandhill Cranes calling, but by mid morning I only found one pair.  I became one with the field of grass hoping they wouldn’t see me.  OH!  See the vertical white splotches in the background?  Too far away for me to get a decent shot, but there were at least 15 Great Blue Herons lined up across the field!

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I usually see woodpeckers around the Kiosk, but did not.  Instead I found a Western Bluebird, …

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…and a House Wren.  Last year there was an Oriole nest here, but alas I didn’t see any this time.  There were also sparrows and Juncos flitting too fast for my heavy lens to follow.

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The Canal area is another favorite area for me and I went there to check on the Wood Duck Family but didn’t find them.  I found this little family though ~ Pintails?

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A Western Meadowlark stood sentry at the Glenwood Hwy and Canal intersection.

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See her?  I almost missed her!  And then her mate flew in….

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…With TREATS!  Western Tanager, yet another favorite.  Isn’t he gorgeous?!  Grasshoppers swarmed the canal area and filled the air with each step I took.  Several flew into my open car windows, so I decided to move on.

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No trip to the refuge is complete without a little drive down Kreps Lane.

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Red-winged Blackbirds greeted me on fence posts.

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Eastern Kingbirds posed for me.

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While Swallows evaded me.

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My last stop was off of Lakeside Drive and Outlet Creek.  Greeted by a couple of Turkey Vultures, I found a shady spot and enjoyed my picnic lunch while watching them.  Watching them watch me, that is!

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I watched the birds at water’s edge … what’s better than a female Red-winged Blackbird?

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A female Red-winged Blackbird with SNACKS of course!

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My focus went to Dragonflies as they were everywhere!

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I saw several varieties including these acrobats hanging out on reeds.  My shots of  red dragonflies turned out too blurry to share!

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Other insects buzzed about including this one as well as a variety of butterflies.

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A Killdeer foraged for food at the waters edge.

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Then I noticed a pair of Sandpipers across from me.

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And a Spotted Sandpiper ran across the grassy-covered mud right in front of me!

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When the Canada Geese took off I decided it was time for me to do the same.  Can’t wait to go back!!

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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!

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