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.
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.