March 2, 2017
On Saturday morning, my third day at Winter Wings Festival, I went on a field trip with Dick Ashford to improve my ability to identify raptors in the field. Lucky me, I was placed in the lead car with Dick!
After Friday’s classroom training, I was already far more confident in my ability to age Bald Eagles and identify various Buteos
Most of the raptors we saw were far away sitting in a field atop a pivot, or like these in flight far above our heads.
These were a pair of juvenile Bald Eagles, one chasing the other hoping to steal food. If you look close, you can see a rodent trapped in the front eagle’s talons.
We don’t know how it ended, they continued the chase until well out of sight.
I saw something move on the ground and look! More Coyotes!! This pair was hunting for rodents or perhaps small squirrels that race across the fields then dive into underground tunnels.
We saw several Rough-legged Hawks ~ aren’t they gorgeous?!!
And THEN I saw my first Ferruginous Hawk!! He didn’t stay long for this portrait.
Shortly after we arrived he took off in flight and of course I followed as best I could.
We saw a few more that day, but this was the only one close enough for me to get a good shot at.
We saw a few American Kestrels and they are always a challenge to capture because they’re so fast.
I was thrilled to keep this one mostly centered in my viewfinder until he landed….
….and then he let me take a portrait while he hunted from his wire perch.
We saw over 100 Bald Eagles. We tried to keep track of what we saw, but I didn’t hear the final tally.
We watched him fly closer to us…
…then he turned and flew away….
We moved on to find a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a post and Dick indulged me to grab this photo because the bird was right next to the road.
One of our last stops of the day was for this Great Horned Owl sitting in her nest. If you didn’t know she was there she’d be easy to miss.
Wherever Mama sits, Daddy is somewhere nearby and one of our participants spotted him right away. I went back another day but could not find him again.
Lucky us, our last sighting of the day was a Golden Eagle. Like any bird, he was not going to sit for us very long at this close distance, so in order for everyone behind the lead car to get a good look at him, we drove past him pretty fast after I took a few shots.
Sitting in the back seat, window down, driving fast over a very bumpy road I grabbed as many shots as I could while we drove by. This is a ‘drive-by-shooting’ in my world. I mostly got shots of his feet, his perch, and air ~ check out those talons! Lucky me, I also managed to capture this ONE shot. All in all it was an inspiring day filled with literally hundreds of raptors mostly in the Butte Valley and near the two refuges south of Klamath Falls, Tulelake and Lower Klamath.
Saturday’s keynote speaker was author and researcher Scott Weidensaul who shared his research on Snowy Owls and Project Snowstorm. Again my friend and I sat in the back row because there was no way we’d stay awake until the end of his talk after yet another full day that began too early. You guessed it…mesmerized by his talk, we stayed for his book signing because after hearing about Project Snowstorm we HAD to have his new book, “Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean” …with autograph of course!
Tomorrow will be our earliest wake-up call ~ 4:30am to get to our field trip on time….
March 2, 2017
I paid close attention to his every word in yesterday’s workshop, so my camera was ready and I was ready!
About a dozen photographers had plenty of room to spread out in our school bus that took us to the first eagle sighting.
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.
It was difficult to choose which images to share out of the many I took.
The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was amazing in spite of overcast skies and threat of rain.
We watched swans and geese take off and land, especially after an eagle ‘fly by’.
There were literally thousands of Tundra Swans and Greater White-fronted Geese.
Tundra Swans are another of my favorites.
We saw a few Sandhill Cranes and lucky us, we caught them dancing!
I didn’t count the Bald Eagles but they were plentiful … and as usual in a group, fighting over food.
There were also thousands of Snow Geese.
They were especially sensitive to eagle fly overs and took off at every sighting of a Bald Eagle.
They usually landed not too distant from where they left.
Looks like a pair of Tundra Swans having some alone time away from the group.
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.
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.
To my delight we also found a Rough-legged Hawk! I am getting to know this raptor quite well.
Another Red-tail ~ a juvenile that hasn’t fully developed his red tail yet.
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.
He stood there posing for a bit then ran off with a glance over his shoulder.
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.
We noticed Barrow’s Goldeneye in the river as we watched the herons…
…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.
January 8, 2017
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.
After counting all the birds surrounding the wastewater treatment plant ~ thousands (!!!),
…including a Northern Shrike who was very far away, we headed into residential Goldendale.
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.
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!
A Golden-crowned Sparrow was foraging on a lawn above the bridge.
A Scrub Jay flew overhead, taking his treasure to possibly eat in a warmer spot.
We found plenty of trees and shrubs full of the regular suspects, in this case House Sparrows with some finches tucked in between.
We found a group of mixed Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings (yay!).
Bohemians have a buffy body, white tips on their wing feathers and little or no white on their forehead.
We met up with a second carload of counters who had finished their section and wanted to see more Goldendale birds.
We spotted a few Red-tailed Hawks as we continued our drive through town and along the outskirts.
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!
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…..
……Spotted Towhees, House Finches and about a dozen Golden-crowned Sparrows.
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.
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.
Isn’t he beautiful?! I believe this is my first sighting of a Rough-legged and I’ve fallen in love.
We followed him in flight over barns and farmhouses as we continued our drive.
Another raptor delighted us with his presence, a Northern Harrier.
A big surprise was a group of seven Gray Partridges. It’s uncommon to find them on agricultural land.
Our last sighting for the day was a group of Bald Eagles circling overhead on our way back to town.
I saw two adults and 2 or 3 juveniles (I knew I should have written this immediately as my recollection fades).
One juvenile soared closer…
…and landed in the top of a nearby Pine tree.
He then took off as another eagle flew close to his landing spot.
All in all a very good day spent with great company!
March 30, 2016
After an exciting late winter and early spring, I will try to catch up with all my ‘wild’ wildlife adventures. Can you believe how fast 2016 is flying by?!
But first, let me tell you about yesterday. Another exciting day on the wild side.
I was photographing my spring garden…ahhhhh spring has finally arrived in my part of the world. At a slightly higher elevation, 2400 feet or so Spring takes her sweet time getting here.
I heard our resident Wild Turkeys gobbling at each other in the background, but there was something else…
…a familiar sound that I hadn’t heard in a while. Coyote!! I ran toward the sound, camera in hand and saw it meandering down in the forest!
I managed to catch one good shot of him in spite of the fact that I had the wrong lens set to take photos of flowers, not wildlife! Oh, I have plenty of other shots, but they are too blurry to share.
Afterwards, on my way to town for supplies I had to stop for photos of piglets on a nearby farm.
Like all babies, they are way too cute! Who can resist?
Bingen Marina was my next stop and I’m thrilled to tell you our Osprey are back! Speaking of Osprey, I’m also thrilled that a couple of my photos are included the April issue of the Ruralite, supporting a great article written by Lori Froehlich!
Back at the Marina, a lone female Bufflehead was staying cool under the warm sun.
A Raven landed on a branch near me.
I’ve been waiting for this Grebe to break out in courting plumage.
Next I stopped at a favorite place near Lyle, where this Red-tailed Hawk welcomed me. At least I think he welcomed me!
Found a deer resting in a semi-shady spot as I turned the corner.
Yay, my favorite woodpecker is still in the neighborhood ~ Lewis’s Woodpecker. Isn’t he gorgeous?
I almost missed this! I started to leave but noticed a bumpy looking log. I jumped out of my car ever so quietly so I wouldn’t scare them away. A pile of Pond Turtles!
This little guy stopped and posed for me, but he was semi hidden behind tallish grass.
Another Lewis’s Woodpecker ~ did I say I love these birds? I love these birds!
Almost to The Dalles where I needed to pick up a few items for my bath remodel (that will have to wait for another post), I stopped to watch a Great Blue Heron hunt for a while at a pond I recently found.
Just as I realized I’d taken 4.5 hours to drive to The Dalles, I had to stop one last time for a MARMOT!! Yes, I found a Marmot!! I actually found it last week, but didn’t know it. I photographed it, then immediately dismissed it as a rock until I saw it on my computer screen at home. I remembered where it was and stopped to see if I could find it again.
Not only did I find it, but I found TWO! They were fun to watch as they frolicked over, under and through the caves between rocks. Finally I had to leave them and finish my errands. I hope to catch you up with all the critters I’ve found this past season ~ the weather has been divine, making it difficult to stay indoors!
November 25, 2015
I signed on for a route in Audubon’s Winter Raptor Survey. My route is basically along Hwy 14 between Bingen and Dallesport along the Columbia River. The first run yielded my first ever sighting of a Prairie Falcon!!
I expected to find Red-tailed Hawks, and did find six of them.
Non resident Eagles are returning to the Gorge ~ I found these four in one snag and six more along the river.
I also counted three American Kestrels, but not close enough for a good shot. This shot is from Sauvie Island in January.
The following day broke with a beautiful clear blue sky so I followed my route hoping to recreate my photos with better light and composition. Alas I saw no eagles, but the Klickitat River was gorgeous.
And on a little side trip I found a Northern Shrike across the road from the entrance to Balfour Park! Told this is a rare sighting, I ‘penned’ my first entry into ebird.org. He is a hatch-year (1st winter ~ thanks to my friend Cathy for that info!)
I love these little birds and couldn’t believe how close they allowed me to get. This is a male Lesser Goldfinch.
The day before my route I’d gone looking for eagles with my friend Carolyn. Although we didn’t see eagles that day, we found tons of Lewis’s Woodpeckers, one of my favorites!!
We watched a heron fishing on ‘golden pond’ from afar.
A Cormorant flew by pretty close!
And we saw a lot of Ruby-crowned Kinglets! See his Ruby Crown?!!
He’s a bit blurred, too fast for me to keep up with his movement, but I wanted to show you his front too!
In spite of only finding Bald eagles on my official ‘Raptor Count Day’, we saw many beautiful birds including a Kingfisher, Wood Ducks, Robins, and Meadowlarks. It’s always a good day driving through the Gorge.
February 8, 2015
February opened with a wonderful opportunity to see this leucistic Great Blue Heron along the Columbia River!!!
Bald eagles are still here, and as I said on my Facebook. Page, “Why YES officer, I DO consider it an emergency when I see a Bald Eagle on a snag next to the highway. My car always pulls over for this type of ’emergency parking only’ situation!!”
February 1st began with a small group of us meeting in Biggs and traversing the Columbia River to Maryhill State Park. One of the first birds we saw was a Northern Flicker.
I was looking for an owl said to be there, but didn’t find it. To my delight we found many little birds, like the Bewick’s Wren above.
It was a rainy gray day, but the little birds like this Fox Sparrow didn’t notice. I did. I left my camera’s raincoat in the car! Had to cover it with a plastic bag that was loaned to me.
I managed to catch a Spotted Towhee between thicket branches.
A golden-crowned Sparrow posed for me framed by branches.
A few of us drove down the highway looking for a Long-eared owl that was seen another day, but instead we watched this Townsend’s Solitaire watching us.
I think this is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, but I get many of my sparrows mixed up!
Yesterday I went to Sauvie Island with my friend Nancy for an Audubon event. Most of the birds were too far away, but fortunately Audubon had their birds there for us to see up close and personal! Love the little American Kestrels even more now!!
Mesmerized by this little Peregrine Falcon, I learned so much about him and other raptors from the volunteers staffing the many booths and bird-watching stations.
This is Ruby, the Audubon’s Turkey Vulture. My appreciation for this scavenger bird has grown since learning more about them last spring.
Since we couldn’t get close enough to photograph the Sandhill Cranes and Swans, we headed out to Crystal Springs in Portland.
It was raining and once again I left my camera raincoat behind! I used my rain pants, which was a great substitute! You can see raindrops on the Wood Duck’s back while we experienced a moment of clearing.
This American Wigeon and other waterfowl came running at the sound of children’s voices. Apparently they know when kids are around they get treats!
I tend to look for the unusual ducks, but this Mallard was begging to have his portrait taken.
I can’t figure out what the waterfowl behind the Mallard is. Canvasback maybe? Not exactly.
I have many more photos to process but will stop here so I can deliver a print today, ordered by a friend.
Don’t forget, “Fine Feathered Friends” opens at Columbia Art Gallery First Friday, March 6th and runs through March 30th. Co-curator Robin Panzer and I have put together a fabulous month of events for your enjoyment in addition to 16 artists presenting their artwork! Many of our artists will demonstrate their process during the month and we’ll have an interactive display on loan from Conboy National Wildlife Refuge. On Mar 7th come see Raptors, live in the theater at Columbia Arts! Mar 14 you can paint a birdhouse in the studio. Mar 21st, enjoy a fashion show of feathery tattoos and a tattoo demonstration. Mar 28 join us for a short hike up the Hood River stairs into an older neighborhood to see and learn about our resident birds with field biologist, Cathy Flick.