Birds on the Hook

January 16, 2017


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.


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.


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


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


We saw Greater and Lesser Scaup resting offshore.


A Bufflehead flew close to the river…


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


Lesser Scaup drake…


…and another Lesser Scaup drake.


Greater Scaup female.


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.


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


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


A Common Merganser female appeared from around the corner…


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Steider:  Eagles at Balfour Park

Happy New Year!  I look forward to sharing new adventures with you, starting with today’s!  My glassy girlfriends and I planned a hike up the Klickitat River in search of Bald Eagles.  This time of year they’re abundant along the Columbia River and it’s tributaries.

Steider:  At Dark Thirty You Can See Bald Eagles

At dark thirty an eagle’s white head absolutely glows.  We had the entire Klickitat River to ourselves – just me and my dog.  My friends bailed on me last night, but I can’t blame them – one was sick & the other was expecting a studio visitor today.  It was 22 degrees when I left at 7 a.m., 32 degrees when I arrived at the parking lot, but a balmy 40 down by the river!

Steider:  Klickitat River at the Confluence of the Columbia River

I hiked down to a sandy beach along the Klickitat River near the Confluence of the Columbia River to get as close as I could to the birds.  I am always inspired and invigorated when this close to nature and wildlife.  Even if it IS freezing outside!

Steider:  Geese on the Klickitat River

There were plenty of geese on the Klickitat River while I (im)patiently waited for bald eagles to become active.  They were understandably nervous about my dog being so close to them.

Steider:  Youthful Bald Eagle in Flight

A youthful bald eagle was the first to let me practice my ‘in flight’ photography.

Steider:  Youthful Bald Eagle Landing in a Tree Along the Klickitat River

He landed with grace and I managed to get 150 blurry photos of his skill.

Steider:  Another Young Eagle Lands in Tree

A second youth showed up right on his heels as I continued to snap away, getting as many practice shots of eagles in flight as I could.

Steider:  Ducks Landing on the Klickitat River

I think these ducks decided to take cover from the flurry of young eagles flying about.

Steider:  More Young Eagles in Flight

A third young eagle flew over shortly after the first two.

Steider:  Adult Bald Eagle Landing Above the Klickitat

This adult bald eagle flew in from the upper part of the Klickitat River and joined the five that I’d been watching.

Steider:  Geese Swimming to Shore

In the meantime, my new friends decided my dog wasn’t coming to the river’s edge after all.

Steider:  Bald Eagle on Tree Branch

I counted six adults and three young bald eagles this morning plus sighted one along the highway on my way home.

Steider:  Heron Flying Away

Oh!  Two herons burst out of one small creek and headed north along the river – they were thrilling to watch and I’m happy I caught one with my camera!

Steider:  Young Eagle in Flight

The young eagles put on a great show for me.  They seemed more active at 9 than they were at 8.  Think I’ll plan my next trip accordingly.

Steider:  Young Eagle Flying Overhead

It was hard to get a clear picture as they flew overhead against the gray sky.  Most of my overhead shots are just silhouettes.

Steider:  Ducks Coming in for a Landing

I don’t know why I like this shot of the ducks landing, but it’s so full of color against the gray water that I decided to include it for you.

Steider:  Bald Eagle Sitting in Tree

This was about the closest I could get to the eagles in the trees along the river.  I need a longer lens!  I hadn’t wanted to carry it, but next time I’ll pack along my tripod.  After about an hour and a half I was frozen in spite of three layers of clothing.  We’re expecting freezing rain this afternoon, so I’ll stay snug in my studio for the next few days gearing up for shows and photographing the hundreds of earrings I made the last few months.

The Glass Craft & Bead Expo is just around the corner.  I hope you can take a class with me this year!  I’ll post more info soon!

You can see many of my photographs published as all occasion greeting cards in my Zibbet shop. Just click this link.

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