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Thrilled to be included in a bird banding session with friends Cathy and Stuart, we arrived at St. Cloud Recreation Area at dawn.

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We trudged out to the Columbia River, then followed the Arthur Slough back in a little way as the sun came up on an early October morning.
3aSteider Studios.Banding.10.9.15-5It was difficult for me to keep up with them because the scenery was so gorgeous, I must have stopped for a photo-op every ten steps.

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Fall had arrived on this part of the planet and I was soaking it all in.

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When we arrived at the banding station, Cathy and Stuart set up nets to capture birds, then as we waited for birds they unpacked their tools.

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The sized-to-fit metal bands fit various sized birds and have numbers stamped on them.  The information is recorded as each bird gets banded.

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While waiting for birds we go check out the shoreline of the Columbia River to see what’s been around by checking tracks in the mud.

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I was so excited to see bear tracks in the mud and secretly hoped one might come out to say hello to us.  Yes, trust me I’d keep a safe distance!

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Back to banding….  Birds fly into a net then drop unharmed into netted pockets.  An Orange-crowned Warbler was one of our first to capture.

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A Song Sparrow is carefully and gently freed from the net and brought back to the banding station.

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Held ever so gently at the neck a Brown Creeper is quite compliant while being banded, measured, weighed and examined for health and age.

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Wings are spread to see patterning on a Brown Creeper.  I love these little birds.

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Wings get measured on an Orange-crowned Warbler.

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Stuart examines the Kinglet’s wings to determine age and wear.

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Checking tail feathers.

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To help judge age, the head feathers are moistened with water then gently parted to reveal the scalp.

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Cathy and Stuart use Sibley’s Guide for confirmation of aging and further identifying.

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Sweet little Song Sparrow, finished with his exam and awaiting release.

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I didn’t quite click in time as he flew away down by the slough.

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Chickadees tend to take a bite now and again during the banding and exam.

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He settles down and allows the process.

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Black-capped Chickadee receives a wing exam.

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The band is gently clinched closed after being placed on the Orange-crowned Warbler’s leg.

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A ‘bracelet’ is placed on a Spotted Towhee.

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Blowing on the Chickadee’s belly, reveals body fat under his feathers.

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Same with the Spotted Towhee.  His eye will turn more red as he matures.

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Another release….another miss with my trigger finger!

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I’m fascinated with the Golden-crowned Kinglet ~ isn’t he gorgeous?!

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We checked the nets every 20 to 30 minutes and between checked area flora.

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I will try to come back and edit with correct names.

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No promises though, it’s been a busy season and I have many more adventures to tell you about.

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Back at the parking lot we noticed a tree full of Cedar Waxwings!

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We also saw a flock of Bushtits!  My first sighting of these sweet little birds!!

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My last & luckiest shot of the day was a female Varied Thrush dressed for fall.

Swan Song of Sweet Summer

September 30, 2012

As September draws to a close, I wistfully say goodbye to summer, my favorite season.  I love the long warm days and relish the time I’ve had to play in my garden.  My daily hikes were cut short this month due to high fire danger in my surrounding ‘neighborhood’.

Most days we can still see the river in spite of the smoke.

A wildfire on Mt. Adams broke out just after my last post and is still burning.  Called Cascade Creek it’s 60% contained entering its fourth week and has burned over 15,000 acres in the Mt. Adams wilderness north of Trout Lake.  Started by lightning on Saturday Sept. 8 from a storm that started over 200 wildfires across eastern Washington – Mt Adams wilderness, surrounding areas and trails are closed because of it.

Today we can’t see the river at all due to the smoke from two wildfires near us.

Yet another wildfire began September 25 across the Columbia River between Hood River and Mosier.  The smoke from both these fires surrounded us in the Columbia River Gorge for many days, keeping me inside the studio finishing up a commissioned project and starting a new series of earrings.

September is also my birthday month and I like to celebrate all month by catering to my every whim…which is mostly just being outdoors experiencing nature!  I received a new camera that has given me endless hours of joy while trying to capture butterflies, birds and flowers in my garden.

Can you see how much my photos have improved?

Soon enough I’ll prepare for fall shows, letting my energy level shift into high gear to get all the ideas from my head turned into glass.  Of course, I never get them all off the drawing table, but with so many ideas I don’t think I’ll ever have a day of boredom.  Until then, I’ll take advantage of these warm sunny days as long as I can because I’ll have all winter for studio time.

Here’s a quick shot of my recently finished commission.  The client wanted monochromatic cobalt blue triangles, specifically arranged in a textured 12″ – 14″ square.  A departure from my usual style, but it was fun and I think I’ll do a few more of these in multiple colors and sizes.

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