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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June 20, 2018 Seabeck, Washington

Juvenile Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle

Hood Canal for Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

I visited the Hood Canal in my first year on the road and was absolutely amazed at the number of Bald Eagles gathered here to take advantage of the annual Sculpin spawn amongst the oyster beds here at the mouth of Big Beef Creek in Seabeck.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Unfortunately that was not the case this year. I was told that the number of eagles gathering here has been diminishing every year and I never saw more than five eagles at any one time over the four days I was here. In 2014 there would be as many as 60 eagles present at any one time, and back then I was told that I was there at a ” bad ” time, since there used to be over 100 gathered there during May and June.

( Since I don’t have any great eagle shots from this visit, you can see some of the eagle shots taken here from 2014 if you visit the following blog posts:

May 19, 2014     and   May 20, 2014  )

Bald Eagle
Attack!

Bald eagle diving down to persuade a heron to drop it’s catch.

Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron

There did seem to be as many Great Blue Herons here as there were in 2014, just not as many eagles, and the herons most likely were quite happy about the reduced number of eagles, so that now they could swallow their fish without the constant threat of theft from the eagles.

Bald Eagle Theft
Bald Eagle Theft

Still, on occassion, an eagle would spot a successful heron catch and swoop in to steal the fish.

Juvenile Bald Eagle Harassing Heron
Juvenile Bald Eagle Harassing Heron
Juvenile Bald Eagle with Sculpin
Juvenile Bald Eagle with Sculpin

You can just see the tail of the sculpin this immature eagle stole from one of the herons.

I again stayed at the Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck as I did in 2014, but could only get a site for Monday through Thursday as the campground has every site reserved for Friday and Saturday. That happens to be the case for almost every weekend during the summer months, not only here but at pretty much every desirable state park here in the northwest. But since there aren’t any eagles here to photograph anyway, I won’t be disappointed that I have to move on come Friday.

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June 2, 2018 Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Bison
Classic Western Scene

Last of the Wildlife Shots From Grand Teton

This park is proving to be a great spot for wildlife photos in the spring. I had been visualizing a shot such as the one above since I arrived here and heading back to the campground the other day, here they were, a small group of bison heading down to the Morman Farm area and needing to cross the road just as I was passing by.

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

And farther up the road, on the same day, this group of female pronghorns, grazing amongst the Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers. I had really hoped to finally get some shots of some pronghorn fawns but I guess I am just a little too early for that as these gals look like they are still a week or so away from having little ones.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I briefly ran into Bear #399 and her cubs again, though this time only for a brief moment as they crossed a meadow and quickly disappeared into the woods.

Retreating Elk with Calf
Retreating Elk with Calf

Finally I have seen a new born elk calf, though I couldn’t get a decent shot of it as mom hastily retreated when I appeared on the scene. At least I know that they are giving birth at this time, though I have seen very few elk cows out and about recently.

River Otters
River Otters

Jackson Lake Dam Outlet

I spent some time at the outlet below the dam on Jackson Lake yesterday and was surprised at the amount of activity there. I had stopped just to watch the shore fisherman and see what they were catching ( small Lake Trout and some Cut throat Trout ).

River Otter
River Otter

While watching the fisherman casting from shore I noticed a pair of River Otters diving in the rushing waters coming out of the dam. Unfortunately I missed getting the best shots as the pair would catch a fish, dash ashore and climb the bank, then rush across thirty feet of open ground to some bushes, where they would be mobbed by three young otters they were delivering the fish to. All quickly disappeared back into the brush to eat and then the adults would return to the river to fish again.

Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

Also actively fishing the churning waters were a small group of Common Mergansers, here seen resting on shore before heading out into the rapids.

Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

They concentrated their efforts at the edge of the rushing waters exiting the dam, most likely picking off fish that were stunned as they came through the dam.

White Pelican
White Pelican

A pair of White Pelicans were also working the same area.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
Trail Obstruction
Trail Obstruction

One morning I noticed a few large Bison Bulls as I was driving the main road in the park and pulled off and parked and headed down a trail through the willows to see if I could get a closer shot of them. As I rounded a corner of the trail, I ran into a trail obstruction, in the form of the aforementioned Bison. The three bulls stared at me as I looked around for the safest way out of this situation. Two of the bison turned and jumped over the fence you see on the right, clearing the top rail with their front legs but loudly crashing the rail as their bellies came down on the fence. The third bison simply stood his ground, so I retreated back to my parked car.

Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison

You just can’t appreciate just how large these animals are until you are face to face with them. Very powerful animals.

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