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 28, 2018 Port Townsend, Washington

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

Fawns, Flowers, and Whale Watching

Lounging Blacktail Bucks
Lounging Blacktail Bucks

Port Townsend has a large intown resident deer population, and some would say, a large intown deer problem. Click here and here for local news articles on these urban deer.

Blacktail Buck
Blacktail Buck

It is difficult to drive anywhere in the residential part of town without encountering these beautiful animals.

Backyard Grazing
Backyard Grazing

As a person that formerly maintained a large collection of perennials in gardens around my home and business, I can’t imagine what the folks here in Port Townsend have to put up with in trying to maintain their gorgeous landscaping.

Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

As a tourist here, I enjoy being able to see and photograph these youngsters, there really are few animals as cute as these guys.

Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

To the many serious gardeners here in Port Townsend, I am sure it’s a different story.

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

These youngsters obviously can’t read that they are not supposed to be here.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

And here is the reason the inner city is so popular with all these deer, just an unlimited buffet of delectable gourmet deer food.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Many gardeners in town have erected deer fencing in an effort to keep the deer out. Local ordinances limit the height of any fences to six feet, not an unsurmountable height for for some of these deer.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

A drive around town reveals some very impressive landscaping. I envy the ability to grow such a wide diversity of plants in this environment. The difference in available plant selection in Zone 4 where I gardened and here in Zone 8 is huge. Don’t envy them the challenge of growing some of these flowers amongst the deer herds though.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Some wonderful dogwoods in bloom right now.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Tree Bark
Tree Bark

Even the bark of some of the trees is photo worthy.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Whale Watching Trip on the Redhead

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

A four hour whale watching trip out of Port Townsend was a wonderful way to enjoy a beautiful calm and sunny day ( the only one here so far ).

Orcas
Orcas

The whale watching part of the trip was actually kind of disappointing …

Orcas
Orcas

… spotting only one lone Humpback Whale and one small pod of transient Orcas or Killer Whales.

Orcas
Orcas

Regulations require all boats to remain at least 200 yards from the Orcas and 100 yards from other whales and our captain certainly didn’t come close to violating those rules. I would say we never got within 500 yards of the Orcas, thats over a quarter of a mile away, meaning you could barely discern their large dorsal fins poking out of the water and certainly could not get any kind of decent images of their activity.

Container Ship
Container Ship

But spending four hours on the calm waters of Puget Sound on a nice day was a welcome change of pace for me and there were other interesting sights to see out on the water.

Sea Lions
Sea Lions
Fort Worden Lighthouse
Fort Worden Lighthouse

The Fort Worden Lighthouse is much more scenic from the water than it is from land.

I hope to remain here in Port Townsend through the 4th of July week and then will venture farther out onto the Olympic Peninsula after the holiday week, hoping I might then be able to find a place to stay.

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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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