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Yesterday morning at the breakfast table I could hear a Dusky Grouse making his booming noise to attract a mate. It is not unusual to hear them this time of year in the draw or up on the hill above us but yesterday it was really close to the house. I had to go see where it was. It was in the backyard, strutting between Sky’s agility equipment. There was a female picking at the weed seeds in our rather dilapidated lawn. Our lawn is more habitat than turf. The birds and bees like it.

The male grouse puffed up and showed his air sacs and made his noise and walked toward the sliding glass door where I was making photos. I think he may have seen his reflection and was getting a little bit defensive thinking there was another male in his territory. Then he turned his attention towards the female who remained mostly disinterested.

The next day was a little more laid back. Don and Mary flew a kite while Molly tried to catch it. We all went for a walk on the south end of the island and enjoyed long views and watched birds and seals. Back at camp our friend Kim arrived with her boat and we had a lovely afternoon paddle before dinner.

Friday night, Ken played at the Methow Valley Ciderhouse! It was a pleasant evening – not too hot for a change – and customers enjoyed his songs. He was joined by local cowboy poet, John Doran and also our good friend Mary sang with him too. Richard and Lynne, owners of the Ciderhouse, have put in a nice dog yard so people can bring their dogs and they can enjoy the music and hang out with their friends too.

In June we went camping on the coast starting with Cape Disappointment State Park in far southwest Washington. It’s a really terrific park and we recommend it. The camping area is near the beach for an easy walk. Dogs could run around on the beach as long as they were well behaved. There are two lighthouses and lots of trails. Bicycles would be handy for getting around but probably not with dogs along. It is the site of the North Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River. The jetty is currently being rebuilt and you can see a distant crane in one of these photos. It is used to lift just boulders into place. The jetty, along with the South Jetty in Oregon, is there to try to keep the shipping lanes open in the big river.

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.

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