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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.

Sunday Drive

September 5, 2016

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I don’t enjoy crowds, so instead of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge or going to a waterfall on Sunday (a three-day holiday weekend), I took a drive.  Surprisingly I ended up at one of my favorite places, Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

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It was a lovely quiet day and felt like I had the entire place to myself!  The shot at top was looking east and this shot was looking west.  Sun on one side and rain on the other!

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After watching a bachelor of bucks close to home practice their rutting techniques the previous night, I was hoping to find elk doing the same.  Alas, no elk and very few birds revealed themselves to me.

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Instead I found a ton of dragonflies!  I watched this one eat a bug!!

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And a Sulphur finally let me capture it!  I can’t tell you how long I’ve chased these beautiful butterflies hoping for a picture!

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I did see several sparrows ~ I believe this is a Song Sparrow.

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Swallows are still filling the sky and I managed to capture this Violet-green Swallow in flight!

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I entertained myself for a moment studying this stand of Quaking Aspen.

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From the top to bottom they are a magnificent tree.

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Just look at that beautiful bark!

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Speaking of magnificence, wildflowers abound on the refuge.  I’m not sure, but I think there were two bees sharing pollen in this aster.

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Goldenrod lit up some of the roads…..

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…interspersed with Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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I thought I heard a Western Meadowlark!   He pretended to not notice me as I pretended to not sneak closer to him.

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He thought he was invisible and he almost was.  My camera had a hard time focusing through the branches so I had to give it a little help.  Yes, I can still focus manually!

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House Wren made a lot of racket as I chased some nearby butterflies.

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Sandhill Cranes are still roaming the refuge, but I only saw 6 all day long and they were in flight.

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I think this is a Golden-crowned Sparrow, but it could be a juvenile White-crowned.  Help with ID is always appreciated ~ especially for sparrows, the ultimate of Little Brown Birds!

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As the afternoon wore on, dark clouds moved closer and a few spots of rain hit my dusty car.

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The dragonflies didn’t mind.

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Oh look, another Sulphur resting long enough to let me watch him.

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As I thought about calling it a day I heard Sandhill Cranes calling from afar…

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…and watched a Heron crossing Kreps Lane ~ first time I’ve seen them in this area!

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With the arrival of colorful foliage, I wish you a Happy September my friends.  I’ve had a magical summer and hope to stay at my computer long enough to tell you about it!!  One day soon…..I promise….I hope….maybe…..after my next adventure!

By the way, I’m now on Instagram, I hope you’ll follow me there!  Just look for Steider Studios!

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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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Have I mentioned I love the American Pika?  Today I hiked around the Horsetail Falls area in the Columbia River Gorge, hoping to see these cute little critters.

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I overslept a bit so didn’t expect to see any since I arrived later than planned.  But LOOK, he popped his little head up as if to say “Here I am!”.

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I ended up seeing two and hearing at least 2 others in the distance.

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A couple of families stopped to ask what I was capturing with my camera and I think I convinced one kid playing Pokemon Go to seek out Pika instead of Poke!!

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As long as I was above Horsetail Falls I decided to hike in to Ponytail Falls.

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-7It was by now lunch time and a bit crowded, so I creatively eliminated people from my viewfinder.

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-8From inside the cave….

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-11Heading back down the trail…

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-9Another beautiful day in the Columbia River Gorge…

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I watched for more Pika all the way back down, but I think they were in Siesta Mode.

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I DID see a Robin!

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Back at the bottom of the trail and surprised at how few people were gathered around Horsetail Falls, I grabbed a shot of it while there.  I look forward to comparing it to the shot I took in January when the falls were raging and ice formed along the rocks.

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At the very bottom of the falls, the water level was low enough I could climb down the rocks and take a shot at creek level.

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Here’s my little Pika friend again for your enjoyment.  Did I already say I love these little critters?!

Worth It

July 28, 2016

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I decided to take myself to the top of Angel’s Rest on this hot summer day.  I’ve been on the trail, searching for Pika with Cascades Pika Watch, but for various reasons never got to the top.  Above is the view looking west toward Portland.

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I headed up the trail at 7:30am and arrived at the top just after 9.  I stopped here and there to catch my breath.  Watching for Pika along the way gave me ample reason for frequent stops.

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It’s only 2.3 miles up but with an elevation of 1600 feet, it felt steeper (to me) than it probably is.  Heading back down I stopped for a snack in a likely place to see Pika.

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They didn’t disappoint!  Unfortunately, I only had time for a couple of shots of this American Pika before a noisy trail-runner scared him off ~ I was hoping on a weekday I’d have a quieter hike, but alas it is summer and the trails were busy by mid morning.

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Heading down I decided to stop at the stream that feeds Coopey Falls and found some stacked rocks that someone kindly left me.

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A tiny bit further I followed a lesser trail to view the stream cascading over some rocks at the top of Coopey Falls.

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Just beyond that is the last part of the stream near the top of the falls.  Any further downstream, I’d be tumbling in the waterfall (which is only accessible via private property).  Steider Studios.AngelsRest Hike.7.28.16-7

Back down at the trailhead at 11:30, I grabbed a shot of the sign, a memento of another fine day in the Columbia River Gorge.  Such a beautiful place to live and play!  It was definitely worth it!

Final Postcard Front

I have so many adventures to tell you about but time keeps slipping away!  I must stay home this week to prepare for Art in the Gorge.  18 artists showing our work downtown Hood River at 301 Oak (Third and Oak) in a Pop-Up art show on July 1, 2, and 3!  Open hours 11 am until 7 pm Friday & Saturday; 11 am until 5 pm Sunday.  First Friday in Hood River will be Fabulous!!  Arrive early for easy parking.

A few of the newest prints I’ll have in my booth will give you a glimpse of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to the past few weeks:

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Sea Turtle on the North Shore of Oahu

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White-headed Woodpecker nestling with Mama

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Moonrise on Kauai

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Strawberry Moon, Summer Solstice Full Moon 2016

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…and this year’s crop of Eaglets!

I’ll have all-occasion greeting cards and prints on paper, metal and canvas.  My art glass earrings, bracelets and a few other small items will also be available.

If you’re interested in my larger work I plan to re-stock my on-line boutique soon.  Most images that I share here can be printed in any size.  You can always contact me for an appointment if you’re in the area.

Come see me and my fellow artists  July 1, 2, and 3 downtown Hood River at 301 Oak.  

A Month Without Internet

January 10, 2016

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Yes.  A month without internet.  Could you do without online communication, shopping, banking, game playing, and more for a month?  I decided I couldn’t, so am sitting in a warm cheery wi-fi cafe in Hood River checking up on all the above.

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It started with a snow storm.  Then an ice storm.  Then more snow & more ice.  Eventually after only a few days the snowy, ice-encrusted trees completely blocked my line of sight to the internet tower on Underwood Mountain.  When will the ice melt?  March?

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I’m not waiting.  I ordered a new service, but alas the installer has left for vacation and won’t be back for another two weeks.  So, until then, I’ve cleaned out closets.  I’ve gone through reams of old paperwork from my business; and design ideas stacked in my studio.

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I’ve shoveled my deck countless times and romped in the snow with my dog.

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I’ve watched my icicles grow and fade and grow again.

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I’ve checked on my trees to see how much longer the ice might remain.  Looks like forever to me!

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I’ve played with bubbles in the snow and ice….

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…on more than one occasion!

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One day the sun even came out, but the temperature didn’t rise above 30º.

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I can sometimes see the sunset glow outside our constant inversion.

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One snowy day a Northern Goshawk landed on the snag below my deck!

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He didn’t stay long, but I was glad to witness his presence in my neighborhood!

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I’ve come into town every couple of days to keep up with my email but also to watch for eagles since it is the season.  This pair was right off Hwy 14 between Lyle and Bingen.

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A couple of occasions I was able to watch eagles chase each other and fight over food.

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I saw other raptors like this little Kestrel and a Peregrine Falcon!

Steider Studios.Raptors.12.27.15-10 I even saw a Northern Harrier at Bingen Marina for the first time.  I usually see them in more open spaces.

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Each adventure down my mountain first involves a hike up to the road where our cars are kept.

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And a hike back down at the end of the day.

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In between, it’s a 30 minute drive down to the river, and when I arrive, it’s Raptor Heaven.

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I think this guy pretty much sums it up.  I want my internet!!

In case I don’t have another opportunity to sit in a cafe for this long, I’ll catch up with you again at the end of the month when I’m ‘connected’ again.  I hope!!

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