December 9, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Still in Bend

Haven’t been able to escape from Bend … yet! Snow almost every night, though no accumulation thankfully. I managed to survive three straight nights of temps in the low teens with no freeze-ups so the minor insulating and interior changes I made to accomodate the low temps appear to have worked … again, thankfully. Glad to now know I can survive in temperatures that low, I thought for sure this motorhome was not built to allow winter camping, but am now pleasantly surprised that it up to the task.

Robin
Robin

More Parking Lot Birds

I didn’t intend to bother with anymore cedar waxwing shots from the St. Charles parking lot crabapple trees, but this morning when I glanced out the window, there were so many birds flying back and forth across the parking lot, I had to go out and see what was going on.

Sorry to bore you with still more of the same type of images, but with the roads now slick with ice every morning, me with no snow tires ( and not about to ever get any, ever again ), I am going a little stir crazy stuck here. With the winter conditions, I am now confined to quarters most every day, and have almost gotten used to being a little exited when Wednesdays come around and I have to go for chemo, this now being the only excitement iI have for the week. Pretty weird, to say the least.

Robin
Robin

A flock of around 50 Robins had joined forces with the Cedar Waxwings, now numbering close to 70 or 80 birds, to strip the remaining fruit from the decorative crabapple trees … and they were making fast work of it! So since I do dare to drive across the road to the parking lots, even with the icey roads, I took the occasion to get out of the motorhome for an hour or so.

Robin
Robin

The sheer number of birds flying in and out of the trees made getting nice clean shots of the individuals a little tough, as there was almost always a blurred bird in flight darting through the scene when I snapped the shutter.

Robin
Robin

But, of course, when you snap that shutter 600 times or so, you almost always get a few decent shots.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

The problem with getting decent shots here is that these small trees are all situated on little landscaping islands in the parking lot with no way of getting a suitable background for the image. I can only attempt these shots on weekend mornings because of the traffic in and out of the lots all day long. There is no place I can park the car ( needed as a photo blind to avoid scaring off the birds) on weekdays as the lots are jammed full with employees cars, except on weekends when the hospital staffing is minimal.

So even on weekends when I can park myself with the sun behind me, there still are no suitable backgrounds for these shots as the image immediately above demonstrates. That bright red background is the St. Charles Hospital Entrance sign.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

What I am always looking for, of course, is an uncluttered, neutral background like this one, made possible when this bird chose the very bottom branch of the tree to feed from and I got the distant pavement to serve as a backdrop.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

I wish there were more variety in the types of birds here to photograph, but at least these waxwings remain as one of my personal favorites.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

This coming Wednesday I begin my new chemo drugs that hopefully will lead to my being able to escape Bend within a few weeks before I am trapped here for the entire winter. The forecast for the next several days is for warmer temps and light snow, so the freezing up worries are lifted for a bit.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

I sort of promise no more Waxwing shots until I can hit the road to warmer climes. The way these flocks are growing, they will have cleaned out these trees pretty soon, leaving me nothing to shoot anyhow.

December 1, 2018 Bend, Oregon

"High Above Salmon Glacier" Acrylic Painting on Canvas 18" x 24"
“High Above Salmon Glacier” Acrylic Painting on Canvas 18″ x 24″

Did Not Escape in Time!

Snow
Not Where I had Hoped To Be on December 1st

Unfortunately, I am still in Bend, Oregon and winter has caught up with me. The scene above is what I see when looking out my motorhome window, here at the St. Charles Hospital camping area. The snow is bad enough, but the temperature is going down into the low teens for the next several nights and I am not sure the motorhome is meant to withstand temperatures that low.

I have added foam and fiberglass insulation to the outside storage compartments that contain my water and sewer hookups, and have dumped 4 gallons of antifreeze into my waste tanks, but I am afraid that won’t be enough to prevent me from freezing up. This motorhome was never intended for winter camping and God knows I never had any intention of finding out what camping in the snow would be like.

My plans had been to make my escape and head for the desert Thanksgiving week, but some poor bloodwork test results has my oncologist scrambling to find a new chemo formulation that will get me back on track before leaving the area.

If I do freeze up, then I will most likely be stuck here for the foreseeable future, though I have no idea what I will do for shelter. I’m afraid things are looking a little bleak right now.

"High Above Salmon Glacier" Acrylic Painting on Canvas 18" x 24"
“High Above Salmon Glacier” Acrylic Painting on Canvas 18″ x 24″

On the plus side, my situation has forced me to resume painting ( to keep from going stir crazy ) and today I was able to complete my latest, one that I actually started last year when I was here for treatment. Only took me 13 months to complete this painting, though for 11 months of that period, I never actually worked on it, just moved it around the motorhome any time I wanted to change the bedding or look for anything in the bedroom.

This painting was a composite of two photos, the eagle taken in Seabeck, Washington where the bald eagles gather to take advantage of a sculpin spawn, and the Salmon Glacier landscape background was taken in British Columbia just outside, and high above, Hyder, Alaska. I’m actually kind of proud of this one, one of the more complex paintings I have attempted, and it actually came out quite well ( in my humble opinion, he says ).

Still hoping I may yet make it to the desert, but I am getting very nervous about my chances.

 

November 11, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

More Birds From the Hospital Parking Lots

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Hopefully, this will be my last post from Bend, Oregon as it is getting quite chilly here in the morning, temps in the low 20’s and even dipping into the teens once in a while. I’m getting tired of scraping heavy frost off the Prius’ windows before heading out to appointments in the morning and the 70 degree temperatures outside of Yuma are looking pretty good right now.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Wednesday is the first chemo treatment on my new bi-weekly schedule and if the numbers look right after that session, I plan to head south first thing Thursday morning. Was planning on driving down the California coast but with all the recent fires have decided to go inland down through Nevada.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

The parking lots at the St. Charles Hospital have many decorative crabapple trees  and birds other than the Cedar Waxwings appear to partake of the fruits of these trees.

Robin
Robin

In addition to the Waxwings, I have found Robins …

Nibbling
Nibbling

House Finches ( ? ) …

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

Goldfinches, and Northern Flickers hopping through the branches and picking off fruit..

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

The Waxwings, however, remain my favorite bird to chase here. A flock of around 30 birds frequents the area daily and I can just see them in the tops of the aspens up the road from my campsite. On weekends, when the hospital parking lots are mostly empty, when I see them fly in, I hop in the Prius and go out for some shots ( during the week, the parking lots are full and thus I can’t get the car anywhere near the trees where the birds are feeding, needing the car to serve as a blind as these guys are quite skittish ).

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

When the Waxwings get spooked from the trees near my campsite …

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

… by creatures such as this sinister looking predator, I can usually follow the flock’s flight to trees in a different parking lot …

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

…where they settle in the tops of taller trees and check for predators before descending to the crabapple trees to feed.

Goldfinches Browsing on Aspen
Goldfinches Browsing on Aspen

Crabapples are not the only food source around the many parking lots as this flock of Goldfinches demonstrate …

Goldfinch Browsing on Aspen
Goldfinch Browsing on Aspen

…dining on the fruit of the birch tree.

Hopefully, my next blog post will be from somewhere on the road in Nevada as I head south to the LTVA north of Yuma, Arizona.

November 6, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

A Welcome Change of Pace

I was sitting in my recliner reading yesterday when I happened to glance out the motorhome window and saw some birds bouncing around the branches of one of the decorative crabapple trees that line the entrance to the hospital parking lot. Being about a hundred yards away, I couldn’t tell what kind of birds they might be, but experience has told me that one of my favorite birds, the cedar waxwing, was most likely to be partaking of the bountiful small fruits that these trees were laden with.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

So, I dug out my long camera lenses and hopped in the car to see if I might get a few shots of these beautiful birds. I chose to use the car so that I could use it as a blind, it’s not that I didn’t want to walk the short distance to the trees. And sure enough, my hunch was right … cedar waxwings! Unfortunately, these trees are completely out in the open with no kind of backdrop to shoot against, so all I could get were shots like the one above, a colorful bird against a bright white sky, certainly not the most desirable of shots.

Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

So, I took a short drive around the hospital grounds, looking for more crabapple trees and waxwings. Only a couple hundred yards from my motorhome, I noticed a fair number of birds gathered at the top of a poplar and saw some of them flying down to a couple of crabapple trees to feed, then zipping back to the top of the poplar.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

After a couple of false starts, I managed to position the car so that I was shooting with a hospital building serving as a background to the trees, and all I had to do was wait for the birds to choose a branch where I had an unobstructed view of them feeding.

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

As I stated previously, these birds are one of my favorites, love the distinctive black mask and the small dabs of brilliant color on the wings and tail.

Immature Cedar Waxwing
Immature Cedar Waxwing

I was a little disappointed that 80% of this small flock were apparently juveniles like the one above, not having fully achieved the distinctive coloration of the adult birds.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

When downloading images to the computer of today’s shots, I found this image of a common nighthawk that I took last spring in the campground I stayed at when I visited Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I couldn’t believe the bird remained still as I took these shots with a short lens, approaching to within six feet of the fence rail he was sleeping on. I didn’t need to get any closer and he was still relaxing there when I walked away after taking his picture.

The opportunity to get out and do some bird photography today was greatly enjoyed and makes me all the more anxious to get out of here and head south for the desert and hummingbirds, quail, and all the other birds that are waiting for me there.

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