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Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16

Have I mentioned I love the American Pika?  Today I hiked around the Horsetail Falls area in the Columbia River Gorge, hoping to see these cute little critters.

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I overslept a bit so didn’t expect to see any since I arrived later than planned.  But LOOK, he popped his little head up as if to say “Here I am!”.

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I ended up seeing two and hearing at least 2 others in the distance.

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A couple of families stopped to ask what I was capturing with my camera and I think I convinced one kid playing Pokemon Go to seek out Pika instead of Poke!!

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As long as I was above Horsetail Falls I decided to hike in to Ponytail Falls.

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-7It was by now lunch time and a bit crowded, so I creatively eliminated people from my viewfinder.

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-8From inside the cave….

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-11Heading back down the trail…

Steider Studios.Pika.Horsetail.8.10.16-9Another beautiful day in the Columbia River Gorge…

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I watched for more Pika all the way back down, but I think they were in Siesta Mode.

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I DID see a Robin!

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Back at the bottom of the trail and surprised at how few people were gathered around Horsetail Falls, I grabbed a shot of it while there.  I look forward to comparing it to the shot I took in January when the falls were raging and ice formed along the rocks.

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At the very bottom of the falls, the water level was low enough I could climb down the rocks and take a shot at creek level.

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Here’s my little Pika friend again for your enjoyment.  Did I already say I love these little critters?!

Worth It

July 28, 2016

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I decided to take myself to the top of Angel’s Rest on this hot summer day.  I’ve been on the trail, searching for Pika with Cascades Pika Watch, but for various reasons never got to the top.  Above is the view looking west toward Portland.

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I headed up the trail at 7:30am and arrived at the top just after 9.  I stopped here and there to catch my breath.  Watching for Pika along the way gave me ample reason for frequent stops.

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It’s only 2.3 miles up but with an elevation of 1600 feet, it felt steeper (to me) than it probably is.  Heading back down I stopped for a snack in a likely place to see Pika.

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They didn’t disappoint!  Unfortunately, I only had time for a couple of shots of this American Pika before a noisy trail-runner scared him off ~ I was hoping on a weekday I’d have a quieter hike, but alas it is summer and the trails were busy by mid morning.

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Heading down I decided to stop at the stream that feeds Coopey Falls and found some stacked rocks that someone kindly left me.

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A tiny bit further I followed a lesser trail to view the stream cascading over some rocks at the top of Coopey Falls.

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Just beyond that is the last part of the stream near the top of the falls.  Any further downstream, I’d be tumbling in the waterfall (which is only accessible via private property).  Steider Studios.AngelsRest Hike.7.28.16-7

Back down at the trailhead at 11:30, I grabbed a shot of the sign, a memento of another fine day in the Columbia River Gorge.  Such a beautiful place to live and play!  It was definitely worth it!

Klickitat Wildlife Area

April 11, 2016

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The Klickitat Wildlife area isn’t that well-known or used and I traversed it for the first time this past week.  It’s a vast wide open space about 5 miles northwest from the junction of Glenwood Hwy and Hwy 142.

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The manager, Sue gave me a quick tour and as we drove in, our first sighting was a small group of deer jumping over a boundary fence.

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I specifically went there to find an Acorn Woodpecker after hearing about a pair seen in the area.  This snag is a good sign they’re here!

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We saw Warblers flitting from branch to branch, so fun to watch.

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Several Robins warily watched us as we walked around a stand of oak trees.

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A couple of Western Bluebirds allowed us to view them before flying off.

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The view of Mt Adams is spectacular, but we did not see the elusive Acorn Woodpecker, so Sue & I parted ways after my morning tour.

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Of course I wasn’t satisfied ~ I knew the woodpeckers were there, so I went back.  An American Kestrel greeted me in the snag I stalked.

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With delight, I watched more Warblers catch bugs in flight, stopping to rest and even pose for me.

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It was a gorgeous warm spring day and as I watched a hawk fly overhead, getting my fill of little birds may have to be enough for now, I thought.

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Just as I was ever so close to giving up, look what landed in the snag!  I’m told Acorn Woodpeckers are a rare find in the state of Washington.  I felt such joy as I watched this little bird move from branch to branch with his ‘catch’.

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Unbelievably, moments later his mate landed at the top of the snag!  I concentrated on the new arrival and didn’t even notice the original woodpecker leaving until I saw this image later at home.

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The second Acorn Woodpecker stayed for about 20 minutes in the same place, then flew off just as suddenly as it had arrived.  I am one happy woman!

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Three or four Turkey Vultures flew overhead to see me off as I headed back to my car.

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A wonderful spot in Klickitat County, I’ll be heading back soon!  Thanks again to Sue for spending some time with me!!

Wild About Nature

April 6, 2016

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‘Wild About Nature’ is a lecture series at the White Salmon Library that runs through the month of April.  Produced by Joy Markgraf, you can experience a lecture by noted natural science experts each Friday evening at 6:30pm.  I am beyond thrilled to have my photography included in this year’s event.

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This coming Friday, April 8 Rachel Suits, an Education Program Assistant for Master Gardeners, Small Farms, and SNAP-Ed at the Hood River and Wasco County Extension Service will speak about the ecological impact of insects.

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Lisa Wilson, Refuge Manager for Columbia, Conboy Lake and Toppenish National Wildlife Refuges (and a favorite of mine) will follow with a lecture about wetland restoration.

Steider Studios: Columbia River Gorge Magical Sunset

On Friday, April 15 an eleven-year-old (!) activist, Dae Dahlquist will eloquently speak about climate actions and issues.

Steider Studios: Hummingbird in Honeysuckle
Following Dae is Jake Jakabosky, who has had a life-long involvement with the natural world, both personally and professionally, working for the U.S. BLM for 28 years.

Steider Studios: Catherine Creek

On Friday, April 22 Ellen Morris Bishop, a geologist, photographer and writer whose
passion is telling the stories of Oregon’s landscapes and geologic history will speak about waters and rivers, a history of sculpting the Columbia River Gorge.

Steider Studios.Conboy.2.19.15The last Friday, April 29 we’ll hear ‘For Love of Aspen’ a lecture by Steve Strauss, a Distinguished Professor of Forest Biotechnology in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. Also speaking is Burke Greer, a PhD student working with Strauss at OSU who is studying Rocky Mountain aspen in relation to climate change.

Steider Studios: Northern Checkerspot Butterfly

‘Of Books, Birds and Butterflies: All About Nature Writing’ by Robert Michael Pyle, a lepidopterist, writer, teacher and founder of the Xerces Society is the grand finale.

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The first Friday (sorry, already past) I thoroughly enjoyed an introduction by Jeremy Takala, a Columbia River Native American, Rock Creek band of the Yakama Nation, currently employed with the Yakama Nation Fisheries Program.

Bill Weiler, a wildlife biologist and habitat restoration consultant who founded the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute had me on the edge of my chair as he discussed Cougars.  Although I’ve seen one in my neighborhood, it was long ago and I did not have a camera with me.

Dark Skies & Light Pollution was discussed by Jim White, an amateur astronomer and
Vice-President of the Friends of Goldendale Observatory, and a friend of mine.  He was fascinating and afterwards set up a huge telescope so we could see Jupiter and it’s moons.  (Jim, correct me if my memory is wrong!)

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If you’re a Gorge resident, I hope to see you at the White Salmon Library each Friday night.  Yes, I will be there for all the lectures, it’s a wonderful event!!

Thanks to Joy, there is also a lovely display of natural history as you enter the library.

For more information you can call the library at 509.493.1132.

Baby, its a Wild World

March 30, 2016

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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?!

Steider Studios.Garden Flower.3.29.16-4But first, let me tell you about yesterday.  Another exciting day on the wild side.

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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.

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I heard our resident Wild Turkeys gobbling at each other in the background, but there was something else…

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…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!

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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.

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Afterwards, on my way to town for supplies I had to stop for photos of piglets on a nearby farm.

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Like all babies, they are way too cute!  Who can resist?

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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!

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Back at the Marina, a lone female Bufflehead was staying cool under the warm sun.

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A Raven landed on a branch near me.

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I’ve been waiting for this Grebe to break out in courting plumage.

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Next I stopped at a favorite place near Lyle, where this Red-tailed Hawk welcomed me.  At least I think he welcomed me!

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Found a deer resting in a semi-shady spot as I turned the corner.

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Yay, my favorite woodpecker is still in the neighborhood ~ Lewis’s Woodpecker.  Isn’t he gorgeous?

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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!

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This little guy stopped and posed for me, but he was semi hidden behind tallish grass.

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Another Lewis’s Woodpecker ~ did I say I love these birds?  I love these birds!

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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.

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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.

Steider Studios.Wild Thing.3.29.16-12Not 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!

 

 

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Too few trips to Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge this season, I decided to take a drive up to the refuge in the shadow of Mt. Adams on a glum overcast day.

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Not much moving around and close-to-freezing temperatures so I stayed in my car and drove over to Mill Pond where I found a couple of OTTERS (!!!) swimming and hunting.

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I willed them to swim closer to me as I stayed quiet and low and my trigger finger clicked away.  I was so excited to see them this close.

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Lo and behold they did!  They swam closer and closer and seemed as curious about me as I was about them.  Then I started wondering just how close would they get?  The front swimmer was filling up my frame. How close to shore were they?  What would they do if they climbed ashore?  What would I do if they climbed ashore?  They are after all wild animals!  

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They must have sensed my … fear(?)…yes, it must have been fear … of the unknown.  They dove and swam away, but kept circling back, still checking me out.  I grabbed a few parting shots and then they were gone, across the pond.  What a thrill for me!  OTTERS!!  Did I say I was excited?  I was excited!!

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Since my new friends left, I headed back to the refuge, but it was still quiet.  I think this was the last of our November fall color.  Even a quiet day is peaceful and comforting at Conboy Lake NWR.

As December enters and snow flies, I’ll keep adding more of my summer and fall adventures as well as the Winter return of our Bald Eagles and Tundra Swans!

 

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Wishing you all a fabulous Thanksgiving!  I am so grateful for each of you who choose to follow me on this journey.  You inspire me.  I hope your day is filled with abundance.  xoxoxo

 

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