Friday, April 27, 2012

A great deal has gone on since I last wrote in this blog...I have spend a pretty penny on camera gear..I am working two part time jobs, being in charge of the music at the church my husband pastors, and working part time in retail. I started getting together with my old birding buddies again, albeit not enough...I have struggled with a serious health crisis for the past several years, and am finally starting to feel like my old self again...Basically, I am pretty much well don't worry about it... Life is a struggle when you are at the age, AARP wants you to subscribe. You feel like a kid still, and then the creakiness in your bones reminds you, you are not so young anymore. You find your childhood friends are struggling with heartache, loss of family, sick grandchildren, and health issues, none of you gave a thought to, when in your youth. And some have said goodbye to their parents, and siblings. I have lost two brothers; I cannot comprehend how difficult it would be to lose my parents, two great mom's and a fantastic father. I just finished my very first photography class at Pierce College, with a fine instructor, named Kerrie Ellsworth. I hope to learn more from her. Time is precious and it slips away so quickly. You want to make the most of it, and really work at doing what you love, AND Love what you are doing. So this is what I have chosen to do with the rest of my life. Nature photography, with a focus on birds...Of course you have to find the birds to get the I have a lot of other photos, and will be adding as I visit Switzerland and Germany this spring, and Israel this fall...
There is so much beauty in this world, I cannot capture it all. I cannot comprehend it all. I only know when I step outside to view the nature God created, I am overwhelmed, by its beauty. My senses are overcome by the colors, the light, the density of what is here for us to see, and to care for.
So anyway, I am done with my speech. I am hoping to start posting pictures a couple of times a week, my best bird ones, and my best nature ones... Vicki

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bumblebees find new home, my chickadee birdhouse!

This was a lot of fun to make, I had never tried to edit a video before, but this was a prime opportunity to do so. I also have a photo of mine, on the Seattle times nature blog, and I will post that link if I can remember where I put it.

Our trip to Europe was rather uneventful bird-wise, altho I was able to get lots of good looks at all different plumages of male Ruffs, in Sweden, in a marshy area of the Black River valley, I think that is what it is called.
I will post more later. A Lazuli Bunting was in my yard this morning, and a male Tanager is visiting quite a bit, now that my waterfall is working, I think it will be much better.

All I can really think about is my toothache, something that happened in Germany. There IS such a thing as crusty bread that is just too hard!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning to use my Canon 40D and flash

This is Ziva, at 4 months.......I have not edited it yet, as I am still learning Photoshop, and really want to do it correctly. However, I do have someone who has asked to purchase this shot. I have so many good pics of her in a series, someone asked me to make a calendar of her!

Boy, I have NOT been on here for a really long time. I have been so busy trying to learn to use my camera, and have made some progress, but...long way to go. I did finally get a 300 fixed lens, and found a great instructor, who has done photography for 30 years. I have only gotten to have one lesson, but am hoping to get one tomorrow. That depends on the weather.
I don't have many pics on this laptop, but will include my favorite photo of our new kitten Ziva. She has a stage 3 heart murmur, and cannot be fixed until she is 8 months old. Of course, inside only for her.
Just the usual suspects in my yard, one treat being the occasional Townsends Warbler.

After working with my new-to-me camera, I deleted most all of my photos, as I now see how very bad they truly are. And now I have a really nice Epson printer. SOME of my photos have turned out really good, and many given as gifts this past December.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Playing With Roses

Birthday Rose

This morning, we had fairly decent filtered sunlight, so I thought I would try my new lens for a bit of macro, on the roses I got for my birthday (they are a week old now).
I tried several backgrounds, but this one here was by far my favorite. I used iphoto only, as the photoshop I have is for older Macs, and will not work on this one.....
It was fun, and I look forward to working with this lens more.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Evening Grosbeak shot

Handsome Grosbeak, new lens

Got this pic with my new lens. I was NOT going to feed the Grosbeaks, but they make such a great subject to work on with my 300 fixed lens. I think the Townsend's Solitaire has moved on....But the Bewicks Wrens have paired up and are busy, and Orange Crowned Warblers, as well as Yellow Rumps and Kinglet songs fill the air.
Mornings bring a most wonderful morning serenade, and I cannot help but sleep with the window cracked open.
I did buy a tripod, that is very lightweight for travel. But is is about a foot too short for me, and with the lens, very top heavy. So I will use my very sturdy Manfrotto for my camera.
We go to Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany April 28th, IF the volcano settles down.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Townsend's Solitaire, here for his yearly visit

Every year now, it seems he comes. I am certain that the Cotoneaster that has filled the front slope of my yard is what draws him.
He was hard to get a shot of this morning, as he was feeding under the self planted, (and much loved) Madrona that popped up several years ago. Eventually he flew up to the spot I had seen him on the day before, but the sun was much more cooperative, and I got a couple of decent shots.....
Love this bird!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Burrowing Owl tonight, Highway 18 and 167

This was amazing. I was driving,(just after 9PM) so we were not going too fast. I was westbound on Highway 18, getting ready to go over 167, when a BURROWING OWL flew up from the dead grass and onto the 167th Highway entrance sign.
I did almost have a wreck. I have spent a lot of time watching Burrowing Owls the last several years, as there is a nest on private land, not so far from our property in Rim Rock Meadows. Earlier, there was one that stayed in a flowering cherry tree for a while, and several really nice shots were taken.
Mark would NOT let me go back, as there was no place that I could park. I do not know how to use my flash yet, so I will go tomorrow and scout out the area, hoping I do not get into trouble, and that I can find a good parking spot.

To my knowledge, no one saw the Rose Breasted the past two days, except me in the early morning on Saturday, so with all the Evening Grosbeaks, he must have left.

Evening Grosbeak invasion, Rose Breasted missing in action!

Well, the abundance of VERY noisy and rambunctious Evening Grosbeak's now have overtaken my front and back yard. They have taken over platform feeders; and now I fear my Rose Breasted Grosbeak found their manners to be quite offensive, and has moved on. He has not been seen since very early Saturday morning.
I do feel badly as many came from all corners of the state, yesterday. (one couple who flew in from Arizona, drove straight to my house, and waited several hours on Saturday)

Most birders were very polite and courteous, a few were rather rude, and some, extrememly rude at first; only to be gushing with joy once they got good looks at the birds. But then, there were a couple that were rather nasty when they did not see the bird. But I was glad they did not, as such behaviour does not merit the honor of such a fantastic opportunity.

There have been many activity changes in my yard as well. The robins are much more active, gathering nest material from partially decomposing garden plants. Chestnut Backed Chickadees have been going out of their way to court, as the Juncos have also.
A beautiful Male American Goldfinch has shown up on a regular basis the past few days. Swallows fly overhead, and bushtits are not in just big flocks as they feed, seem to be in smaller groups.

A pair of Spotted Towhee's are making their ground nest in the cotoneaster this time.
A couple of years ago the Steller Jay's nested in my neighbors Juniper.

The Rufous (two males right now and several females) have had huge battles, and everyone is so busy chasing the other off the feeder, I am surprised they have enough time to even feed.

My Anna's female seems to be quite secretive in a very overgrown portion of my yard, so I wonder if she is nesting there. It is just a huge pile of weeds, a few Vine Leaf Maples, snall ceder, hardy Rhodies, and an abundance of Fireweed, I expect to come up in bunches. I think in the midst are some wild roses, that grow well, but do not give good flowers.

The Bewicks are an obvious pair, scrounging and looking for where they might make a nest site. A couple years ago they started one in the cover for our outdoor faucet. They did get the boot, before they were done.
I could go on, but I will stop now, I have lots of house work to do. I got behind with our special guest and and the people who flocked to see him.
And I am not filling the platform feeders after today; unless the Rosy shows back up. I am certain he is on his way to his nesting site, which will likely be in North East B.C.

Friday, April 9, 2010


He is still here, feeding and having a grand time. The Evening Grosbeaks feed along side him, altho more than two on HIS Royal Highnesses open feeder, seems to be beneath his dignity, so he flies off into the shrubbery. Very hard for others to see there. I have grown accustomed to this flashy fellow, and shall miss him when he departs for breeding!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rare Wintering Rose Breasted Grosbeak Continues on

The last Friday evening of March, just as the sun had almost set; I happened onto this very rare bird at my feeder. I could NOT believe my eyes! This was too much, and I quickly grabbed my digiscope set to get fast shots; I knew without them NO ONE could believe this.
He has now been here on a regular basis, for two weeks. Many have come to see him, and I hope that if he stays, many more will. I should have been blogging about him all this time, but I have been busy just watching for him, and helping other birders who come; so they might get good views.
It has been wonderful to share this bird. Here in Bonney Lake, now on the map of most Washington birders, who only heard of it, via a few of us tweeting on the Tweeters birding email. I will try to post more photos at a later date, and a total of how many came and saw the bird.
The last known good looks anyone got of this bird, was in 2002, Seattle, and I think he only stayed a few days. I got that bird the last day he was seen. This bird is an adult, going into breeding plumage. To see more photos, find the flickr link, and check them out. This is an amazing experience, which I will always treasure!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Please do not copy or take my photos, Thanks

I do not want to make this a private account, but if pictures are taken from this or my flickr account I will have to, which ruins the whole purpose. I know those who subscribe would not, but others might. I have plans in the future for some of the better shots, as I learn about editing. I am no pro, and I know it, but I respect other photographers shots, and hope mine are respected as well.
Vicki Biltz
Bonney Lake Washington

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

quick Trip to Okanogan, New Camera and photos

This past Monday, I went with a Canon 40D, and 75-300mm IS USM lens, just having purchased the camera from a friend who makes gift cards. She just upgraded. She and I spent the day trying to scout out a few birds, and teaching me how to use this camera. I do have better photos, just not on this computer. These have not been edited, but I am very happy with the results.
I am going to try to get this lens asap, and upgrade as I learn more.
It was a beautiful day..........

Monday, September 28, 2009

Memories of a Barn Owl hunting

Sept 17th my husband and I went to the Mountaineers presentation Paul Bannick did, as a fund raiser. About 280+ people were there. It was a great presentation, lots of new photos. I swear the guy could do a presentation on EACH Owl and Woodpecker alone. The new photos were great and I wish he could do another book that is an extension of The Owl And The Woodpecker.
In the presentation, it was discussed about the adaptability of these fantastic birds. I recalled on the way home, the great time I had several nights with a Barn Owl.
I used to belong to the Tacoma Symphony Choir, and would take River Road in Puyallup to head back to my home in Bonney Lake. It was always nice and dark by the time I got there, and I would go onto Levy Road. More than one time I had a Barn Owl follow me, flying evenly with my car lights, low to the ground. She was at the edge of the road where it dropped, and I found her behaviour fasinating as she followed alongside for quite a distance.
I realized after Paul's presentation, she had adapted to her surroundings, taking advantage of the rodents that might be flushed along this rather isolated road, which was quiet in the late hours, and traffic slow enough she could enjoy her hunting.
She did not fly in the light, but straight across from my front bumper; then she would, without warning, drop down and to the right, and be gone. I now know that she must have found what she was looking for.
I am glad to have been part of her hunting adventure. And now that I know just what was going on, I am even more blessed and honoured by this special creature.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Young Female Pileated Woodpecker

Young Female Pileated Woodpecker

I have been unable to get any decent photos, she does not hold still for a minute. I heard her again this morning, her constant squeaking noise, begging for food. She and her dad were on the backside of the trees out front. I think I interrupted his morning schedule of hammering on that poor birdhouse!
I have only seen one fledgling this year.

I have also had the Hairy juvenile showing up alone. He sits on the post, where he was getting regular feedings, and making little sounds. I think he is whining about having to feed himself. He then flies over to the suet basket and gets some grub, goes back to the post and feeds himself. I hope eventually he figures out he can just sit on the suet cage and fill up. without all the flying around!

Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary. This weekend we head back to RimRock Meadows, and will be getting our property prepared for a large shed. My biggest concern is the weeks long argument about any sunroof things (what ever they are called they let the light AND heat in, big time. It is a huge mistake for a place to sleep in in the desert!

Also there is now a bit of concern about the rattle snakes, and making sure we do not help them find shade under our shed. I would hate to step on one in the wee hours of the morning, or worse yet, during a night time run to use the restroom!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Moment With A Swallowtail Butterfly

A couple of weeks ago, while working in my flower beds, I noticed this beautiful Swallowtail on these pink flowers. Not a color scheme I would have picked, but this Butterfly stayed for quite a while on this patch of flowers, and I think, drank nectar from every one of them. I just found a dead Swallowtail in the nasturtiums yesterday afternoon, and remembered this photo. I should have taken more, as I have had nice numbers of butterflies this year, much more than what is normal. I attribute all my wonderful wildlife to the fact we have been organic gardeners now for over two seasons, and everything is flourishing, including the aphids; bringing an ample supply to birds and predatory insects.
If you click onto the photo, you get a bigger version, and can see the droplets of water on the flower petals, as well as spider webbing below and to the right of the butterfly.

When I started birding, and a father's impact in the early years

My family, I am the tallest girl (about eight years old), standing in front of my mother. My oldest brother Jay (about nine) is to the left, Greg (less than one) the baby is in my mothers arms, and the rest, Gordon (about four), Veronica (about three), Teresa (about two), and Lisa (about 5).

Mark and I just got back from two events where he spoke. We were gone Saturday thru Monday, coming home late in the morning, and left to fly to San Diego Tuesday about 9 AM, arriving back home about 8:PM tonight.

A question I am asked everywhere I go, is what got me started birding. I have to honestly say, after much reflection upon the matter; my dad's love of the outdoors, and his taking me fishing as a very young child was probably what got me started.
I did not get hooked, on birding until my boys were 2 and 3 years old. But the one event I remember was playing with the worms my dad was fishing with; and his efforts to point out the birds that were flying past us, the big Great Egret. Great Blue Heron, the American Pelican, a Ruby Throated Hummingbird flying by (they scared me, as I was sure it was really a giant bee). The bird that got my goat was the Belted Kingfisher. One flew past on this particular day we were watching birds, but I could not see it. But a Kingfisher. I imagined the beautiful jewel crested golden crown atop his magnificent royal head, a staff held magically by his wing, and thought it the most wonderful creature that ever existed.
(This was the same day my father learned to never take me fishing if he was going to use frogs as bait. I had been playing with them also, and became hysterical when one was used to catch a fish. That day it was only the one!)
It was not until years later, while camping with my in-laws, who were birders, and had binoculars, that I actually got to see the Kingfisher. I had to laugh out loud, remembering my first impressions of this magnificent bird. There was no golden crown, no staff, no jewels. But instead he sported a wonderfully large bill, which had a small fish in it. He rattled off his call as he flew by us, and I was hooked. We were very poor, and very young, so it took about a year before I got some binos for myself.
Super heavy 10x50 binos from Sears, with a zoom lens. There were $69, and that was a lot of money in 1980. But I had them for years and years, and loved them dearly. I donated them to Audubon, and they sold for $10 at the rummage sale they were having. I still wish I had kept them, but the older gentleman who purchased them was thrilled, and was sure he could get them in working order again. It had been a long painful road learning how to even find birds with them, they had a narrow field of view, and I had no one to teach me the trade. It was not until years later, moving from the Wichita Kansas area, up into Washington State that I finally had opportunity to learn. The Tahoma Audubon had classes, and my husband finally talked me into taking a class with Ken Brown, who has, and still teaches intermediate birding.
My life has never been the same, and my enjoyment and passion for birding, the natural world, and the very adventure of learning the wonders of this world we live in, has only grown. I love the sounds of birds, the amusing mannerisms, the traditional roles they play in the family structure, so much like our own lives. Mother tends the children, and dad provides, until the children are a bit older. Sibling rivalry, fighting over food, getting the attention. With birds, the squeaky wheel, or the loudest and pushiest baby, DOES get the most food. It is utterly fascinating, and wonderful, and fills my life with joy.
Birds are God's treasures, and I am so grateful for them. (Not the Starling, or House Sparrow however!)
Anyway that is my story, and I am sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three Rattlesnakes in about an hour!!!! Plus the natural pond is done!

Well, we had a wild time on Sunday. We had taken friends out to see our property, as they are interested in buying a lot in the Rimrock Meadows area, for building a small cabin. We arrived late Saturday evening, and started out mid morning, hitting our lot near the Moses Coulee area. There are only two lots sold there, and it is sagebrush mostly, lots of great birds, and a gorgeous view. When we first arrived our friend, (who had forgotten his boots, and only had flip flops on) had a small rattlesnake with three rattles bump his strap on his shoe, as if trying to bite him. Mark had just spooked him, but had not seen him. This little baby had just swallowed a field mouse, whose tail was still sticking out of its mouth. Then we started proceeding with caution.
After scouting out our area, and talking about the adjacent lots we are considering for purchase, we headed down to the creek area, on the Nature Conservancy property that is adjacent to ours. Of course I wanted to check out the bird nesting, see if the Mountain Bluebird has started a second nest in the cliff wall. While circling around, we decided to just do the grassy area, and afterwards I was hoping to take them up into the basalt rocks, where I had gone before, since the view after the climb is spectacular. The grassy trail is what held the last two surprises of this little bit of FUN! We followed the trail around the rock wall, and along the private property borders, to the foot bridge. Judy and I were ahead of the guys, and I was talking about the Lark Sparrow we had just seen. I was going back to get my digiscoping stuff, to get a pic, the lighting was perfect and he was a gorgeous bird.
Then we heard the guys hollar!!!! Rich had almost stepped on another Rattlesnake! It was still small, maybe 2 ft long. So Mark and I picked up sticks that we found, and began walking in front of our guests, and found another one still, just a few feet away from the creek, and this one was about 5.5-6 ft long, Some counted about 8-12 rattles, maybe more. It was a rather sluggish snake and moved slowly. None of these had coiled, but were just moving along, headed to who knows where. After these two I decided NOT to get my equipment. We also did not head to the climbing area, which is where I had originally wanted to start. I am glad we chose NOT to take our Golden Retriever, altho she has had her Rattlesnake shots, if she gets bit, she could be okay, but.........not worth the risk for her.
That evening we decided to head to the Grand Coulee Dam, Mark and I had never seen it. We were heading into an electrical storm, and the flashes of lighting were absolutely beautiful, filling the sky. Upon our return from the Dam, the lightening became more intense, near us, striking much closer. One hit the road just in front of our car, nearly blinding Mark and Rich, who were in the front seat. It was about the same width as our car was. I am wondering now, if the fact we had a plastic carrier on the top of us, may have been a reason we were not struck. Then about 10 minutes later one hit just to the side of us.
THEN the rain fell so hard, we could NOT see the road. In this deluge a huge rock had fallen from a cliff was and landed right in our path. Mark hit it dead on with the passenger front tire, blowing a large hole into the actual wheel. We had to get out of the car, and discovered we were missing the jack handle. But the guys managed with a screwdriver, to remove the tire, and put on the spare.
The next day Mark drove the Subaru into Ephrata and had Les Schwab replace the wheel. They had never seen such a huge hole in a wheel before. The amazing thing is, the tire was not damaged at all.
So aside from a few ticks, and enjoying the birdlife around us, Sunday was perhaps the wildest day in all of our lives.

The funny thing is, when we got home Monday afternoon, Sean, who was just finishing up my natural waterfall and pond, started talking to me about building habitat for garter snakes and salamanders, to help with the slug problem. So at least with the Garter Snakes, I will not have to worry about being bitten. I actually love snakes, and have always wanted to see a Rattlesnake, but had not expected 3 in such a short period of time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A few bird shots from Alaska trip

Pacific Loon, Alaska
Red Necked Grebe and baby

I spent a few days in Alaska recently, did not have much opportunity to take photos, but did add on a couple for those who are interested.
The Red Necked Grebes were in constant motion, thus the lack of decent focus, they were very busy feeding.
The best part of the trip was watching a battle between the Pacific Loon pair, and a lone Common Loon, who had invaded their territory.
The male Pacific attacked every time the Common Loon came up from the water (he was trying to get as far away as possible), who seemed twice his size, letting out a yelp, like a kicked pup many times.
The vocalizations of this battle were fascinating, as well and the "swimming" above water, pedaling rapidly with the feet, and using the wings as in a breast stroke.
A few times the female Pacific Loon would join in, and after about 30 minutes, the Common Loon disappeared. This activity occured in the Nancy Lake SRA, in a small boggy pond. The Red Necked Grebes were photographed on Long Lake, in a small inconspicuous outlet of that lake.
I went to Hatchers Pass to discover not only dogs running loose in the areas I had hoped for Ptarmigan, but the mail trail where the Ptarmigan's are most likely to be found, was closed for repair.
Oh Well! Maybe next time.
What was amusing to me, was the last two birds of that day were Savannah Sparrow, and Golden Crowned. I did get shots of the Savannah, but not of the Golden Crowned. There was a beautiful male Redpoll, in the same area, but he did not stick around long enough for me to get a shot.
Have a great week!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Evening Grosbeak female, unable to fly

She has been hanging around a while. A few days ago there was a male, but he is gone now. Today I noticed rather sadly, that my female Evening Grosbeak is now hopping around on the ground, in the bushes and checking under the feeders. I tried to spook her just a little while ago, and she is unable to fly. I fear a long painful death for my little visitor, who stayed too long. She does not seem to have any thing visibly wrong with her, perhaps a wing is slightly off center, but I cannot tell really. I was thinking perhaps she is ready to lay an egg, so I hold onto that for now. We leave tomorrow afternoon for a couple of days in the tent trailer. I hope upon my return, she has re-gained the ability to fly, and goes where the rest did. I do not want to see her in my yard when I return. Poor little thing. There is no food on the ground for her, and I cannot put any out on the ground, since we live close to water, rats are a constant threat. I cannot tolerate them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Great Day birding with Bob Sunstrum, Birding By Habitat Class

Grasshopper Sparrow

Although Mark and I were late, we had a wonderful time with Bob Sunstrums class, hitting the area of Reecer Canyon, Robinson Canyon and everything in between, we got great looks and wonderful birds, and I learned a lot I did not know about the native plants in Eastern Washington. This photo, like so many others, seems over exposed to me, but I cannot really do any editing at this time, my Mac is in the shop.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lonely Grosbeak, ever chirpingWinter update, organic gardening

I guess she just could not leave the free food behind. She has been alone several days now, and sits all alone, sometimes surrounded by starling fledglings (I wish I had a high powered BB gun, and was a straight shooter)

She sits at the one feeder that has a few sunflowers left in it, and chirps, waiting for her knight in shining armor to come and rescue her. But they have all left, and she just sits, eats a bit, calls, and flies around.

I don't think she is injured, but there may be something wrong. I have in the past, had a pair of Evening Grosbeaks stick around for a while, but they never stay to nest.

Yesterday, I found the male Hairy feeding one of his young. It is cute to watch the babies poke about, trying to figure this thing out, imitating the parents behavior.

The Red Breasted Nuthatches have 3 young that I have seen, humorous to watch a baby the same size as the parent begging for food. It reminds me of my teenagers. When I would come home from the grocery store, I could barely get the food put away, before it started disappearing.
I was able to find another Vine Maple, for only $12 at the grocery store, it is going to replace a plant that the bees have loved, but seems to have suffered due to the bad winter. It is in the Rose of Sharon family, and gets huge and dies back every year, I am going to move it to a non-essential area, in hopes that it recovers and continues to take care of the bees that are so attracted to it.

I have many many honey bees this year, all over the cotoneaster, and in various places of the natural garden. The Weeping Birch in the back, which has been my main supplier of aphids, has started a cycle again. Last year was the healthiest it had been since I can remember, and very few aphids, and hardly a Lady Bug in sight.
This year, the aphids have rebounded, and small wasps and other predatory insects have started hanging around again. The birds love this tree. Altho it has had several years when it almost died, I have not treated it, letting nature take its course. The tree which was only about 3 foot tall a few years ago, is now about 10 ft, and very widespread, so it is doing well without my intervention.
Since I have switched to total organic gardening, everything flourishes, the roses are the only ones whose leaves seem to suffer some, but the flowers are wonderful, and aromatic...I hope to post an updated set of photos to my flickr account very soon.
An update on the dog, Winter, who is head of the team of the destroyer of books club. He is limping, and I can only hope that his ligament in his knee heals over, and does not cause too much pain this winter. I can only manage with pain meds. Otherwise this will be his last summer with us; as I am not one to make dogs suffer for my own selfish reasons.
As I sit here contemplating what else I should share in this rather long blog, I notice the female Evening Grosbeak is sitting quietly looking around, still. She has been on the same limb now for quite a while, and not under cover from the Cooper's Hawk that sometimes frequents our back feeders. I think she must not be well. The big question will be if I find her dead, do I take her to Dennis Paulson at UPS, and see if they can find what happened, or do I donate her body to the Audubon Society for the education program.
I hope I don't have to make any choice, maybe she will survive without the safety of her flock.
For a humorous antidote, check out travelgirl who is a subcriber to my blog, she has a hysterical video about the worlds worst job. I love it........

Oh yea, one more thing. We are turning our pondless waterfall into a natural looking pond in the front garden. I am hoping it is done soon, I want to give the worship team from our church a picnic in our garden, we have not done anything like that at all yet.
That is all

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time well spent at Lower Crab Creek May 20/2009

Yellow Breasted Chat 2

I left Ephrata, (I love staying at the Ephrata Motor Inn, very cost efficient, Andy and his wife and daughter are very nice to deal with, he wants some pictures, and was excited about the Bluebird, so maybe I will get one printed for him).....ANYWAY
I left Ephrata after spending the previous day out at Moses Coulee, which I shall write about after this, I am left handed so I guess that is why I do things backwards!!!!

I wanted to hit some spots around the Potholes area, and did head down Dodson Road and worked a bit on Frenchman's Hill (got my Swainson's Hawk photo there) but did not find much else to photograph, that was in the lighting I wanted, and ended up taking the road to Columbia Wildlife Refuge, which is a huge area. Next time I recommend seeing if they have a map, as I surely needed it by the days end.
My first stop was a small lake, whose name I cannot recall. A beautiful Bullock's Oriole was flying around landing between the top of sagebrush, and a large boulder, great lighting, perfect time to shoot. But a group of 30 or more kids were there, with about 5 adults. The kids were fine, but the adults were talking loudly about my tripod, and started approaching me, scaring off my bird. I tried another spot and got a somewhat nice pic of the Oriole, but it was a lot more work than the previous spot would have been.
I continued on and found Lower Crab Creek, and hit the riparian trail, and did part of the Marsh unit as well.
Trying to photograph birds in the wind with glaring sun, is really a pain in the butt, I must say. I had a number of birds with great views, but the wind kept blowing just as I was taking the shot. My Lazuli Bunting photos were not recognizable at all. Just a blur of vivid colors.
I had not played a recording for ANY bird photographs up until the time I heard the Yellow Breasted Chats, on either side of me. They were in nice numbers halfway through the riparian habitat, but I could not get them to stay up long enough for a shot. I kept walking, just for the love of the hike, and enjoyed listening and trying to make sure I knew what I was hearing before getting the bird in view. I HEARD Yellow Warblers but never saw them, but as I said it was very windy at this time of day.
Saw lots of Wilson's Warblers however, they were everywhere. As I finally got to the Marsh Unit, realizing I still had a long ways to go, I went on, and realized I did not have enough water to make it through the entire unit. I did hear Grasshopper Sparrow, and Canyon Wren (had Rock Wren several times at this point, but of course none in view) As I saw the left side of the Marsh Unit was all dried up, I decided to turn around, not even trying to find and photograph the Grasshopper Sparrow.
Overhead a couple of Turkey Vultures were circling. They saw me and foresaw my bleak future, lost in this vast wilderness, with no water, no hope (well it was only a mile back to the car, but it felt like 20!)
I did make it to the car, but not before running into a Yellow Breasted Chat who was calling from a short tree. They were calling back and forth, and I guess that this is what drew this one particular bird out. No recording, just a neighborhood squabble. So it was well worth the treat. Not the best photo, by any means, but I am ordering a hoodman, that covers my monitor on my camera, so I can see and focus better with no reflection to disctract me.
Later I found the Para Ponds, got a couple of Avocet and Stilt shots, as well as Yellow Headed Blackbirds. But a very dangerous road in the late afternoon. I did find one of the two coffee stands in Othello, and tried to return to Dodson Road.
I attempted to go through the Columbia Refuge to return and got very very lost, had a great time driving on roads my husband shall never know about, and did lots of hiking as well, just because I could!
I finally found a camp of young people, who told me how to get out of the Refuge, and I finally made it out, and hit Dodson Road again, and made my way to Cle Elum to spend the night.
I had a great day, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, getting lost when no one is there to complain about it is a blast!