March 9, 2017
Sunday, the last day of Winter Wings Festival, we woke at 4am to heavy snowfall with 4″ built up in the parking lot.
It was cold, dark and early but we headed over to the OIT to catch our ride for the last event my friend & I signed up for, “Call of the Wildfowl” with Jim Szemenyei.
After discussion about weather and road conditions, only 5 of us decided to go on our field trip to Lower Klamath NWR in the heavy snow.
We let our bus driver off the hook and drove slowly down the highway in Karl’s 4WD.
Because we were late, I watched a magnificent sunrise from the backseat, and as we arrived waterfowl were already bustling about their day. (Lucky me to see my first Eurasion Wigeon pair!)
I must say this was one of the most amazing nature scenes I’ve ever witnessed……
….for hours and hours.
It was cold and windy but the sun peeked out from behind clouds off and on all morning.
Each time an eagle flew overhead a giant flock of birds would take off, fly across the marsh and land at a nearby section. Swans, geese, ducks, blackbirds, all taking off at once amidst a cacophony of calls.
Jim, our guide let us know Pintails are his favorite duck so I snapped a few shots for him.
I’d not seen a Greater White-fronted Goose before.
Did I mention the noise? It was incredible. Like being in our own PBS nature show.
An American Wigeon flew oh so close to us.
Another herd of Pintails….yes, I know they are not herds, hahaha.
As the morning progressed more Tundra Swans flew overhead.
Snow Geese were constantly in motion.
This group of swans were settling farther out than where we would have liked.
I thought this was an interesting view of a Northern Shoveler.
There goes another eagle hunting across the marsh.
Then we saw Sandhill Cranes arriving!
As our morning came to a close, Jim noticed this tree filled with Bald Eagles.
We walked over to investigate as waterfowl continued their routine.
A giant flock of Red-winged Blackbirds tormented us by not sitting still for portraits.
Another take off and landing for Snow Geese.
More Tundra Swans overhead.
Edit: I failed to mention I saw my first Tri-colored Blackbird. Not the best photo, but yay!
My friend secretly grabbed this shot of me sitting back for a minute, joyfully taking it all in. Another beyond fabulous day and it wasn’t even noon yet!
Note 2 hats (and I eventually pulled my hood up!), 2 gloves with hand-warmers, 2 shirts, a sweater and coat; 3 pants, 2 socks with toe warmers slipped inside insulated boots! Alas I left that scarf somewhere in Klamath Falls! It was deliciously warm on all my cold winter outings this season.
Our group headed back to campus to warm up, grab food and head out in different directions. Nancy and I went back to Lower Klamath that afternoon and found delightful treats that I’ll show you in my next post!
November 10, 2015
Another wonderful day with the Columbia Gorge birding group ~ this month we went to the mouth of the Deschutes River. We decided to walk along the west bank starting at the Heritage Boat landing, but failed to get that message to some of our people, so had to wave at each other across the river. It turned out good though, because collectively we were able to see both the west and east sides of the river. Yes, I like a positive spin!!
One of the first sightings was an American Kestrel on a utility pole wire stretching its wings.
We saw plenty of waterfowl swimming and fishing, including this Bufflehead pair. Light rain and clouds made lighting along the river not as optimum as I’d like.
Much discussion whether this was a Barrow’s or Common Goldeneye. I believe it was settled as a Barrow’s.
We saw Common Mergansers in several spots – lucky us the sun came out for a bit.
I always love finding a Great Blue Heron. Instead of a close up, I want to share his gorgeous environment.
A Spotted Sandpiper was discovered, apparently staying a little longer than usual in our area.
The Downey Woodpecker in this mullein flew off JUST as I focused! He really was there. Really. I saw him.
We saw several Northern Flickers frolicking in the shrubs…or perhaps working for food.
Here’s an American Kestrel in flight. He was really too far away for a good shot but I have to try!
A Bewick’s Wren came in and out of view in thick brush as we traveled a path heading upriver.
Several little birds were seen in the same thicket area including Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets; Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows and this Yellow Bird that I think is a Goldfinch but it could be a Warbler.
We saw several American Robins in trees, and large groups of them flying overhead.
A Song Sparrow munching his way through sage and thistle seed heads.
We all thought this large tree trunk lying near the path was fascinating. Color, texture, size ~ it was impressive.
Several in our group watched 3 Otters playing in the river for a few minutes. I had a shrub blocking most of my view, so vignetted this image a bit to showcase the one otter that I saw a little better. See him? Gray critter against a gray rock in the gray river (towards the bottom right side).
I think I caught another Song Sparrow, but I can always use help naming my sparrows!
Back at Heritage Boat Landing, I spotted a Western Grebe fishing. What is that on his neck?!! He was in a fight, or potential prey or maybe a fish bigger than him gave him a run for his money!
I also saw a Green-winged Teal swimming with Mallards. Why do they never swim toward me?
As we stood in the parking lot, saying goodbye we watched a Black-billed Magpie in the tree across from us.
The Deschutes River always has something of interest, it’s a favorite place of mine. If I have wrong identification on any of these birds, I’d appreciate your correction. Next month, we’ll head to Drano Lake!
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.
November 5, 2014
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.
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!!
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.
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.
Down at the Basin we saw Mallards of course, but among them were a couple of Northern Shovelers, including this female.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Trio of ducks taking off from the raft. I thought I knew what these were yesterday.
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.
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.
On our way to the foot bridge we stopped to watch a large group of Killdeer.
I learned to watch for other birds like this Least Sandpiper when Killdeer are present.
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?
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?!!