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My birthday is the first day of Spring – the Equinox – and I like to celebrate it out in nature. This year the snow lingers most everywhere in our region making hikes or even long walks pretty challenging. So we went down to the big river – the Columbia – where the temperature is more moderate and the snow melts more quickly. Still, there was snow on the ground. Not everywhere so we all were happy to walk or in the dogs’ case, run on ground for a change. And Sky got to jump in the river so all of her wishes came true.

Ken and I watched birds and enjoyed the diversity of species we got to see. Sometimes in winter there are just not many birds around. Spring and migration change all that. We saw over fifty species in a few hours of birding. That includes the birds at home. One of those was a Great Horned Owl that woke me up before dawn, hooting from a snag in our yard. I had hoped to maybe see Sandhill Cranes but it seems that they are put off by all the remaining snow. I imagine when they do head north, they won’t stop here very long since they need to get to their nesting grounds. We did see lots of ducks and geese and swans too.

We are finally getting a little bit of snow but nowhere near enough for skiing. Hopefully it will come soon.

I have been keeping the bird feeders full and enjoying the little birds – mostly finches and the occasional woodpecker. This year we have quail too. That’s quite unusual. They roost in a brush pile down below the house. Eagles are all over the valley, scavenging dead fish and roadkill. I watched a young Bald Eagle as a pair of Black-billed Magpies tried to share its lunch.

For the second half of our camping trip, we went to Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon. It is also at the mouth of the Columbia River but on the south side. It is an enormous park with lots and lots of paved bike trails and miles and miles of beach. Much of the beach is open to driving which decreases the wild nature of the place but there weren’t too many cars on the sand while we were there. The tracks were evident though.

The campground is a long ways from the beaches so we drove to them with the dogs. Some beaches are much less popular due to a high dune to cross to access the water. And the campgrounds cram a lot of people into a small space so they were noisy and crowded. We probably won’t go back to Fort Stevens. Oregon has lots of other nice state parks on the coast. This park is good for families and people that bring their bicycles.

While walking the dogs in a park on the Columbia River, we saw several Bald Eagles, at least five. Two or three of them were juveniles, like this one, and pretty much oblivious to our presence. We were able to walk under the trees where they perched. Most of the time they watched us and the dogs but this one flew, showing off its strength and grace in flight.

Yesterday as I returned from a meeting on a bluebird day, I noticed a flock of Common Ravens near the side of the road. Not only were the birds next to the road, there was a pullout. As I slowed down (fortunately there was no one behind me) I could see at least two Bald Eagles in the group. Unseen to me, there must have been a roadkill behind the snowbank. As my car approached the group, the ravens all flew off. I was able to drive into the wide spot off the side of the road and watch and photograph the eagle for a few minutes before it decided that I was intruding on its space and it flew off, although it didn’t go far. As I drove away, I could see it in my rear view mirror, returning to the roadkill.

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