Skip navigation

Yesterday a friend and I ventured out to the dryland wheat country south of here, across the Columbia and River and up on the plateau in search of Snowy Owls. It was a lovely sunny day. We saw quite a few interesting birds including numerous Rough-legged Hawks, a Prairie Falcon, Snow Buntings, American Kestrels and others. The landscape in that area is criss-crossed with a grid of roads every mile. The north/south roads have letter names – A, B, C, etc. And the east/west roads nave number names. That seems easy enough but often roads don’t go through or are not maintained so navigation can be a challenge. And don’t even think about using a phone app to navigate. No doubt, you will be sent down a road that has not been maintained in many years.

We were sticking to the rougher roads, thinking the owls would be off the beaten path but we were not finding them. We turned down a good paved county road and shortly my friend was slapping the door and saying STOP! There it was, maybe 20 meters off the road perched on the side of big rock outcropping. What a view! We were delighted. For my friend it was a lifer – the first time she had ever seen this species.

We watched it for a while and it seemed pretty unconcerned with our presence and when we left, it was still taking in the warm sun. Snowy Owls nest in the far north on the tundra. They eat lemmings and when there is a shortage of food they migrate farther south in the winter. This year there have been a few of them reported around Washington. It’s always such a treat to see these magnificent wild animals.

Following that we returned down to the big river and watched a variety of water birds and then we went to a park where she had seen  Northern Saw-whet Owls recently. We located the white wash on the ground and looking straight up we could see the tiny owl looking down at us.

It was a good day.

 

This is a male American Kestrel approaching a female on a delicate branch.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On Thursday I had to look at the calendar to remind me that it was only February 8! The temperature reached over fifty degrees, Fahrenheit! It was shirt sleeve weather when we should have been wearing down coats and heavy boots. Ken’s honeybees felt the warmth and flew out of the hives in great numbers, searching for something new to eat, fresh water, fresh air and goodness knows what else. The bees were everywhere and Luna didn’t like it. She had to go inside since she’s been stung more than once and goes out of her way to avoid any contact with the honeybees. Sky and I enjoyed the nice afternoon, poking around the yard, finding reminders of last summer, and she even posed for pictures.

The snow has been rapidly melting for the last ten days or so and where there was nearly three feet in late January, there is barely a foot now and none in the forecast. It’s colder today but with full sunshine, should be a nice day to be out and about.

We went out to the Washington Coast to dig razor clams at the end of last month. Clamming was good the first three nights (yes, clam digging at night, in January) but then it slowed down for us. Still we managed to eat lots of them. I even made razor clam ceviche for the first time (yummers!) and we brought some home for the freezer. It was a good time.

During the day, we enjoyed long walks on the beach and Ken did some fishing for surf perch. The first two days we had some sunshine and a little bit of rain and then the last two days, it just rained. Oh well. It was January on the coast. We tried to see the Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse but a thin and then a thick overcast mostly obscured it.

Feeder Birds

American Kestrel gives me a look

 

Northern Pygmy-owl strikes terror in the hearts of the finches.

 

Common Redpoll. It is in the same family as American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. This is an irruptive species, showing up in big flocks some winters and other years they stay farther north if the food is plentiful. This year I have been seeing a flock of 100 or more some mornings.

I’ve spent much of the first half of January right here. Staring at this screen. Rebuilding my website. It was a painful process – mentally and physically. Now it’s done. More or less. There’s always something more that could be done. And goodness knows, restoring all of those blog posts is on my ‘to do’ list. But for now it will have to wait. Take a look at Reflected Light Images if you are interested to see what I do when I’m not doing this other stuff.

There have been a few brilliantly sunny days but in general it’s been gray. There has been some new snow so skiing conditions are generally good whether for cross country or downhill. Ken and I made a trip to the Loup Loup Ski Bowl last weekend. It was a long ago gift from him to me and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could still do it. Tomorrow I have a wedding to photograph at the Loup and I am feeling confident about my downhill skills and looking forward to another fun day.

%d bloggers like this: