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My best winter news:  I won best in Wildlife in Friends of the Gorge annual photo contest for the above photo!

It was the first time I entered and I also took away an honorable mention for my adorable Pika!!

AND an honorable mention for my smoky sunset!  My prize for ‘First’ in Wildlife was a gift certificate to Pro Photo and a fabulous new Columbia backpack!

Feet back on the ground, on the first day of Winter I hiked out my back door to see who I might find.  Nuthatches!  White-breasted and…

…Red-breasted Nuthatch.

After that first sunny day of winter, we had a bit of snow.  I stayed close to home & watched Chickadees in my garden.

New Year’s Eve I went with a couple of young birders to High Prairie where they showed me a Great Horned Owl.

The younger birder has a great eye and spotted a Rough-legged Hawk in the distance and we were thrilled at how close it flew to us while hunting.

Alas my fellow birders couldn’t stay long, but I wasn’t ready to leave.  Lucky me I watched a Northern Harrier with lunch!

My winter raptor survey is in full swing and I loved finding this pair of Bald Eagles near sunset.

A few days later I drove along the Columbia just because the sun came out!  Saw eagles chasing eagles….


 A beautiful Great Blue Heron flew past.

And I passed a gorgeous Kestrel sunning at the top of a snag.

Back at the Bingen Marina I checked on our Tundra Swans.  Yep, still there.  They arrive and depart about the same time as migrating Bald Eagles.

I believe this is a Horned Grebe soaking up the sun, but I always mix it up with an Eared Grebe.

I took a couple of friends from Portland out hunting for Bald Eagles here in the Gorge and lucky us, we found some.

We watched a few juvenile eagles with an adult bathing in the Columbia, hiked into Balfour Park, then headed further east.

We found this beauty near The Dalles Dam where I was heading the very next week for Eagle Festival.

Eagle Festival at The Dalles Dam occurs every January when the Bald Eagle population is at its fullest.

I arrived super early hoping for a sunrise shot, but alas it was a gray morning.  However, because of my early arrival I had a pretty nice spot for watching eagles fish.

I ran into many of my birding friends there, especially after the sun came out!

California sea lions also came to the party at The Dalles Dam!

It was truly a glorious day.

I like taking long scenic drives to see what I can find.  This abandoned house had a young bald eagle perched at the top of a craggy old tree next to it.

The Klickitat River runs through many little towns in our area.

You can get down right next to it or view it from a great height.

This time of year it might be snowing or the clouds below so thick that the river is hidden.

You can almost always find a Bald Eagle near the Klickitat River.

That about sums it up, I think we’re caught up now.  Well except …

We put in a trail cam and now know what eats our bird seed every night!

Oh, and my really big winter news is I’m going to NORWAY where my paternal ancestors came from!!  I didn’t know I wanted to go until invited by a loved one.  I’m working overtime selling my remaining art glass to fund this surprise trip.  More about that in an upcoming post!

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On Friday I took a little trip up to Trout Lake, at the base of Mt Adams to photograph a bird.

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A RARE bird in Washington State.  I’m told this is only the second documented sighting in my state. EVER!

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It’s a Gray-headed Junco hanging out at Jim & Kathy White’s feeders!  Kathy first noticed it on Jan 2 at their feeders with a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos.  It has come back each day, all week.

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You know I had to invite myself to go up and see it!  Even if it didn’t show up for me, I HAD to take the chance, drive our snowy roads and maintain hope that it would grace me with its presence.

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Local birding expert, Stuart Johnston went with me and to our delight the unusual bird showed up for us!!

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As I well knew, my first shot through the window was not crispy clear.  I was going to have to photograph it outside if I wanted a decent shot.  I quietly exited the back door and peered around the corner, waiting and hoping this special bird would allow me to photograph him.

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He did not disappoint.  Even with triple layers of clothing, double gloves, plus coat, hat, scarf, hand and toe warmers I could only stay outside for 10 to 15 minute intervals in the 10º temperature.

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Confirmed via email and photographic documentation ahead of my visit, from several top-level birding experts in Washington and Oregon the sighting still goes through a process within Washington Ornithological Society for it to be a valid sighting..

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Jim and Kathy have turned in a ‘Rare Bird Report’ to the Washington Ornithological Society and I’m proud to say they’re using my photos in addition to their own for documentation.

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This is a Dark-eyed ‘Oregon’ Junco, the typical Junco we have in our area.  You can see how different they are from the Gray-headed.

~My first sighting of a Catbird last summer, Bohemian Waxwings in December, and now my first sighting of the Gray-headed Junco, Trout Lake is turning into BIRD Central!!~

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