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Steider Studios.BirdWalk.8.14.16-11

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.

Steider Studios.BirdWalk.8.14.16

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.

Steider Studios.Sunrise.11.2.14

As I raced down the hill and through the fog Sunday morning, on my way to join a group of birders I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. Simultaneously the fog lifted, the sun began to rise and the colors in the sky were rearranged into this magnificent order. I thought of a friend who’s fighting cancer. I had to stop and take this shot for her. I felt overpowering love from this sky, the kind of love where your heart opens without bounds. It was a fabulous beginning.

Steider Studios.Columbia River Gorge From Bridge.11.2.14

Then as I crossed the bridge and saw that gorgeous light behind those clouds….I had confirmation of the fabulous day ahead!  Lucky for me there was no one behind me on the bridge!!

Steider Studios.Golden Crowned Sparrow

As we walked toward the river from where we parked at The Hook, we saw this cute little Golden-crowned Sparrow, wearing his winter feathers.

Steider Studios.Kingfisher.11.2.14 HR Marina

We slowly worked our way to Waucoma Basin, but I lagged behind when I heard the call of one of my favorites, a Belted Kingfisher!  We know he’s a male because he has no orange belt.

Steider Studios.Shoveler Duck.HR Marina.11.2.14

Down at the Basin we saw Mallards of course, but among them were a couple of Northern Shovelers, including this female.

Steider Studios.Wood Ducks.HR Marina.11.2.14

Several Wood Ducks were also in the Basin – they were our big draw.  The males are easy to see, but there are two females in this image also!

Steider Studios.Grebe.HR Marina.11.2.14

Walking further along the Hook’s gravel road, we felt the warm sun gracing us with better light on this Horned Grebe in winter plumage.  There was a large raft of Grebes and Ducks farther out on the Columbia.

Steider Studios.Ring Necked Duck

Just when I thought I had my Wigeons and Ruddys down, I suddenly can’t identify most of the waterfowl I saw.  This is a male Ring-necked Duck and I love his golden eye!

Steider Studios.White Crowned Sparrow.11.2.14

Half our group decided to go over to the marina and a couple of us watched this little White-crowned Sparrow for a moment before we joined them.

Steider Studios.Raft of Ducks.HR.11.2.14

I cropped this raft of ducks super tight because I didn’t see the ‘Redhead’ that everyone wanted me to see until I looked at my photos.  I wish I had written down all the names of waterfowl the other birders were calling out!

Steider Studios.Trio of Ducks in Flight.11.2.14

Trio of ducks taking off from the raft.  I thought I knew what these were yesterday.

Steider Studios.Bonaparte's Gulls.HR.11.2.14

I had never noticed this size difference in Gulls…or maybe I hadn’t noticed little Boneparte’s Gulls before.  They were on the sandbar at the Hood River Marina.

Steider Studios.Heron.HR Marina.11.2.14

A resident Great Blue Heron greeted us as we walked along the path next to the Hood River from the beach towards the foot bridge.

Steider Studios.Killdeer.HR Marina.11.2.14

On our way to the foot bridge we stopped to watch a large group of Killdeer.

Steider Studios.Sandpiper.HR Marina.11.2.14

I learned to watch for other birds like this Least Sandpiper when Killdeer are present.

Steider Studios.Merganser in Hood River.11.2.14

We crossed the Hood River and checked Nichols Basin for Night Herons but didn’t see any.  This female Common Merganser slept (or pretended to) during our walk out and back in – see her peeking out at me?

Steider Studios.Salmon Spawning.11.2.14

To finish off the day a couple of us stood on the foot bridge watching salmon spawn!  Then back at the beach I got close enough to watch a Merlin bathing in the Columbia at the edge of the sandbar, but alas my shots are too blurry to share.

I love going out with this group!!  The first Sunday morning of each month.  Care to join us?!!

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