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The weather has been chilly and unsettled and there’s even been some rain. Mosquitoes are loving this. Loving it! They make it challenging to enjoy a walk in lots of my favorite places this time of year. If I stand still too long, the whining bugs are all around threatening to make me miserable.

The wildflowers are liking this weather too. Lots of color along the trails and by the lakes and streams. The same places that the mosquitoes like. Oh well. I’m glad for the flowers.

We joined Lindsey and Little Bear for a hike to Lookout Mountain, the site of a US Forest Service fire lookout. I wonder what came first – the mountain’s name or the fire lookout? The trail is only 1.3 miles but it gains 1100 feet up to a high point of 5518 feet overlooking the Methow Valley. Distant views were hazy with lingering smoke from prescribed burns. One of these days I will get there on a day with bright blue skies and snow-capped mountains but not this time.

As I said in the last post, we always enjoy the birding at Lost Lake and in the Okanogan Highlands. I am not equipped to do good bird photography but I always have to give it a try. Someday, I’ll buy a good long lens……

Our favorites are the Common Loons that nest on various lakes throughout the Highlands and also in Ferry County. Their mournful cries elicit a sense of another time and place. The black and white plumage is absolutely stunning. They are unique among birds because they have heavy, solid bones that allow them to dive deep in search of fish to eat and feed their young. Being so heavy, it is difficult for them to take off. They need a long body of water and Lost Lake is small for them, forcing them to circle the lake multiple times to gain altitude in order to clear the tree tops. Their feet are far back on their body so they barely walk and you will nearly never see them on land except for their nests which are at the water’s edge. Loons are curious about boats, maybe because people fish from them? If I sat quietly in my kayak, sometimes a loon would paddle right in front of me. What a treat!

At Lost Lake, breeding success for loons is threatened by the presence of Bald Eagles. In fact, most ducks and geese have given up nesting there. The eagles manage to nab most all of the baby loons, geese and ducks. What a quandary. It was obvious when the eagles were perched in the tall trees, that the loons were quite nervous, calling back and forth to each other.

We spent last week at Lost Lake in the Okanogan Highlands in eastern Okanogan County. If you’ve followed this blog for long, you know we go there just about every year. What is it about this place that we find so inviting? Let’s see: old growth western larch forest, Common Loons, wildflowers, historic CCC structures, peace and quiet, wildflowers, perfect small lake for paddling and relaxing, brook trout in that lake, good birding and much, much more.

Weather was kind of chilly and we enjoyed our campfires each night. Fishing was off from other years but Ken was able to bring in enough for two meals. A friend joined us for a couple of days. We did some serious birding and she got to paddle Ken’s fishing kayak. The dogs were happy and busy and they slept like rocks each night. I think we all slept well with the frogs in the background. We woke to singing Swainson’s Thrushes and Ruby-crowned Kinglets each morning.

The rivers and streams are too high and dangerous for the dogs so they were relieved when we came to a flooded stretch of road where they could get in the water.

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