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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!

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Mother’s Day Tribute

May 13, 2017

Happy Mother’s Day to all who make a difference in a young life.

This year I want to acknowledge and pay homage to all our younger Mothers.

We typically honor those who raised us and rightfully so but each year I marvel at what good Moms my daughters and their friends are.

They are raising kind, honest, and intelligent children who will go out and live authentically in our world.

My daughters are raising their children to be thoughtful and considerate of others….

…yet able to stand their ground on issues important to them.

I so admire their strength in not giving in to toddler or teenager tantrums.

Instead they’ve been incredible at redirecting focus.

I’ve learned so much from them and admire their parenting skills.

My collective grandchildren will be an amazing group of individuals thanks to their Mothers (and Fathers).

Maybe it takes a village, but it starts with a Mom and Dad.

I share these photos of parents and children in their environment in honor of Moms everywhere….

…especially young Moms ~ they deserve applause and gratitude.

Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to my daughters, my surrogate daughters, and your daughters.

I love, admire and cherish you…..and am forever singing your praises, xoxoxoxo

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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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