June 28, 2017, Bend, Oregon

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Some Good News!

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

First off, I would like to thank all of you that have sent encouraging comments regarding my current health situation, it is greatly appreciated. I originally had no intention of posting progress reports on that front, but several readers suggested I should, so I will keep you posted.

But since the main purpose of this blog is to showcase the landscapes and wildlife of this continent, let’s proceed in that direction first.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I am currently camped along the loop road around the Saint Charles Hospital Campus in Bend. The hospital has a small, eleven space campground with full hookups that it graciously supplies to it’s patients and their families, free of charge. And for me, it has been a lifesaver! The Bend area has a few very nice, and very expensive RV Parks, and the surrounding area also has several public and private campgrounds. However, they all have one thing in common … they all are booked pretty much solid throughout the summer months. And, until I was allowed to park my rig here, I was out of luck trying to find a place to stay for my chemo treatments. So, thank you, Saint Charles !

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I have been here undergoing weekly treatment now for seven weeks and really haven’t had the emotional, or at times, the physical energy to get out and explore the area.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

A couple weeks ago, on a ninety plus degree day, I needed to cool down, so I hopped in the Prius, turned the AC on and did the 100 mile drive east to the John Day area of central Oregon. I only made it to the painted hills section of John Day, but that alone was worth the trip as I hope some of these shots may show.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Earlier this month, I made a return trip to Malhuer NWR in the Prius to check out what the refuge had to offer in early summer. I was really hoping to be able to explore the Stines Mountain area and perhaps get a chance to see some of the wild horses there, but the road was still gated.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

The refuge certainly looked different than on my previous visits, both of which were in very early spring. There was very little bird activity, and the roadside shrubs and bushes were now all leaved out and the fields were now covered with three and four foot high grasses, so even if there was anything there, it would be impossible to see anything.

The only shot I even took was of this common nighthawk sitting in the middle of the refuge road.

Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor

Memorial Day weekend, I drove up to Mount Bachelor, only 20 miles out of Bend. Base depths on the hill were still at eight feet at the end of May and the parking lot was quite crowded, with many RV’s and folks staying in tents below the high parking lot snow banks.

Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor

Seventy-five degrees and sunny, ideal weather for golf or fishing down in town, yet perfect spring asking weather half an hour away, not hard to see why this area is so popular. Just an incredible amount of building going on and housing is very expensive here.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

Got a kick out of this lab enjoying himself chasing snowballs on the parking lot snowbanks.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

OK, Here’s the Progress Report

Hood Canal Action
Hood Canal Action

I have forced myself to resume painting and just completed my first acrylic painting on canvas. This is a composite of a few photos from the Hood Canal in Washington, where Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons congregate in late spring to take advantage of the sculpin spawn in the oyster beds along the shore where  Big Beef Creek enters the canal.

This painting measures 24″ x 16″ and depicts the way the Bald Eagles harass the herons to give up their catch. The eagles perch in tall pines along the shore and watch while the herons hunt through the oyster beds looking for the spawning sculpins. As soon as a heron plucks a fish from the water, the eagles swoop down from the pines and force them to give up their catch. You can right click on the image if you would like to see a larger version of the painting.

On the myeloma front, I just completed round two of my multi-drug chemo therapy, and my oncologist is very pleased with the results thus far! My kidney function, not that long ago at a stage four kidney disease level, just a hair’s breath away from requiring dialysis, has already returned to completely normal function. My red blood cell count is slowly increasing and all the bad stuff is rapidly decreasing, indicating that the chemo is doing it’s job. Other than some severe fatigue initially, the result of the disease and the aggressive chemo approach, I really have had very little, if any, adverse side affects, no nausea, no pain, no hair falling out, etc., and the last couple of weeks, even the fatigue has gone away, as the red blood cells continue to increase.

My oncologist says I am, in his words, ” way up on the good side of the bell curve “, as far as my chances of having a good outcome to this process. He says the fact that I have had such a rapid reversal of the progression of the disease, along with my bodies ability to tolerate the potent drugs, bodes very well for my immediate future.

He assures me that I am a very viable candidate for a stem cell transplant and that procedure could possibly be done as soon as August. He has also suggested that perhaps, and he says he is about at a 50/50 position on this, I may be one of the folks that may be able to keep the disease in remission without the transplant because of how my body has responded so far, but the final decision will be made after another round of drug therapy.

But the overall prognosis has decidedly changed in a positive way, and for that, I am most grateful.

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June 2, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

Bald eagle approaching perch
Bald eagle approaching perch

 

My Last Day With the Eagles

This morning I drove up to Big Beef Creek for my final session with the eagles. On the way I stopped in Silverdale at the Bank of America branch to deposit the check from closing out my Citizens checking account, thus cutting my final tie to the state of New Hampshire, home for more than 30 years.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron landing
Dropping in

As usual, the great blue herons were the first to arrive on scene.

Bald eagle in tree
The lookout

Then the bald eagles, first one,

7 eagles in a tree
Favorite lookout tree

then many. At one point today, I counted 14 eagles perched in this one tree over the beach.

Bald eagle coming in for a landing
Coming in for a landing
Bald eagle on the oystertbed
Bald eagle on the oystertbed

A bald eagle coming in for, and then sticking a landing in the oyster beds.

Juvenile bald eagle
Juvenile bald eagle
2 bald eagles
Stealing from junior

This juvenile eagle was heading for the trees to enjoy his seaweed wrapped lunch until one of the adults attempts a midair heist.

Low flying bald eagle
Low flying bald eagle

A low flying eagle, for a very large bird their in air dexterity is pretty amazing to witness.

Bald eagle in dive
Dive
Bald eagle in dive
Dive

They hit some pretty amazing speeds when they see something and suddenly dive towards a fish, a heron, or another eagle.

Bald eagle with fish
Checking the cargo hold

This guy is doing his midair check of how visible his catch will be to other eagles before he makes the run to the trees to eat.

Redhead
Sorry, the red hair distracted me

Sorry, I don’t know why this is in an entry on eagles, but the red hair distracted me, kind of got the camera’s attention. Back to the eagles now.

Bald eagles
Bald eagles

At times these guys are all hanging around on the oyster beds, often shoulder to shoulder,

Eagle dispute
Food dispute
Bald eagle dispute
Bald eagle dispute
Eagle squabble
Eagle squabble

and then something to eat comes along and it suddenly just isn’t quite so buddy, buddy.

 

Bald eagles in flight
Bald eagles in flight

Wonderful weather continues on, but the harsh noon day light coinciding with the low tides once again made photography difficult.

2 eagles in flight
Chasing a free meal

I ended up spending about 3 hours on the beach, then said my good byes to my new found friends and headed back to Belfair State Park. All in all, an amazing time at this great spot, probably the best place in the lower 48 for bald eagles. I really hate to leave, and the friendly folks I have met here are a large part of the reason why. Thanks everybody!

Well, you probably noticed the new Amazon ads on the right. I am doing this to hopefully generate a small revenue stream from this blog to cover some of my blogging costs ( hopefully ). If you click through to Amazon from one of the ads on the right, Amazon pays me a small commission on whatever you may be interested in purchasing, it in NO WAY adds to what you will pay for the item, it simply helps this traveler stay on the road a little longer, and share his adventures with you.

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June 1, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

Bald eagle getting close
Bald eagle getting close

Yet Another Five Star Day

While planning this trip to Washington, I prepared myself mentally to being forced to spend many days cooped up in the motorhome waiting out the rainy weather this region is known for. Funny thing is, it just hasn’t happened. Today is yet another blue sky 70 degree day. What have I done to deserve this?

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Juvenile bald eagle harassing great blue herons
Juvenile bald eagle
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

See, I’m not kidding, blue sky everywhere you look, probably one of the nicest stretches of weather I have ever experienced, anywhere.

Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron
Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron

A couple of shots of the great blue herons as they arrived on schedule

Bald eagle and heron
Another futile protest

and yet another protesting heron surrenders his catch.

Bald eagle attack mode
Bald eagle attack mode

After a while observing these guys, you can tell by the way they leave their perch and by the look in their eyes, if they have locked onto someone catching a fish, or if they are just taking off on a scouting run. This guy has spotted someone with a fish!

Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide

The two shots above show an eagle gliding down to the water about to pluck an unknowing fish from the bay. I would love to have that great shot just as he is plucking the fish from the water, but the one imperfect aspect of the great weather is that the wind is always from the north and the eagles always turn into the wind as they snag their prey, or as they land on the oyster beds. And since I face north taking these shots from the beach, while I can get some nice pre-catch glide shots, when they actually grab the fish, I am always only getting yet another ” bird butt ” shot. I need a southerly breeze, but the only time the wind turns around and comes from that direction is when it is bringing in bad weather.

Attack coming from above
Attack coming from above
Eagle defending his catch
Defending his catch

After almost two weeks of shooting eagles, I still don’t have any great battle shots, like the one above, only a higher quality shot. There really haven’t been that many opportunities to get this type of shot, the only good scrapes I have witnessed have occurred at too great a distance, and there really haven’t even been all that many of them. With only one more day to go, I just might be running out of time.

A gathering of eagles
A gathering of eagles

This last shot is a composite of several photos taken today to show how concentrated this gathering of eagles at Big Beef Creek is getting. The number of shots was dictated by the very narrow depth of field of the 600mm lens that I had to use since these guys were a long way off. I focused each shot on a different eagle, or group of eagles, to get them all somewhat in focus in the combined final image.

Yesterday I could count over 50 eagles within eye site of my position, today, probably ” only ” 40. The locals tell me the month of June is always better than the two weeks I have been here, and with the eagle count rising rapidly the last two days, I would have to say they are probably right.

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Well, you probably noticed the new Amazon ads on the right. I am doing this to hopefully generate a small revenue stream from this blog to cover some of my blogging costs ( hopefully ). If you click through to Amazon from one of the ads on the right, Amazon pays me a small commission on whatever you may be interested in purchasing, it in NO WAY adds to what you will pay for the item, it simply helps this traveler stay on the road a little longer, and share his adventures with you.

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May 31, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

Great blue heron with sculpin
Great blue heron with sculpin

Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles

I returned to Big Beef Creek for 3 or 4 hours today. Unfortunately, yesterday and today harsh high noon light coincided with low tide. However, the weather is breathtakingly gorgeous, beautiful blue skies with a few puffy white clouds, temps in the 60’s with a gentle breeze, could not ask for a nicer day! Just not ideal for photographing dark birds with white heads.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Great blue heron fishing
Great blue heron fishing
Great blue heron fishing
Great blue heron fishing

A great blue heron exhibiting great fishing technique.

Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron liftoff

Then taking off.

Bald eagle on roof
Checking the gutters
Bald eagle landing
Bald eagle

Bald eagles choosing two different places to dine.

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald eagles soaring above,

Another kind of bird in flight
Another kind of bird in flight

and another type of bird doing the same.

Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle in flight closeup
Bald eagle in flight

Trying not to blow out the white heads and tails of the eagles while still preserving some detail in their dark bodies is made very difficult, if not impossible, in this kind of mid-day brilliant light.

Well, you probably noticed the new Amazon ads on the right. I am doing this to hopefully generate a small revenue stream from this blog to cover some of my blogging costs ( hopefully ). If you click through to Amazon from here, Amazon pays me a small commission on whatever you may be interested in purchasing, it in NO WAY adds to what you will pay for the item, it simply helps this traveler stay on the road a little longer. Thanks for helping me when you shop Amazon!