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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.

This morning was cold – cold enough to freeze the old snow and make a hard platform for walking. The dogs were incredibly happy to walk and run anywhere without worrying about crushing into the soft snow. I was too. I remember that this happened last year about this time too. We took advanage of it and really enjoyed a long walk in the hills.

I’ve been visiting Lost Lake for nearly twenty years now. From the first time, I remember the loons. It was news to me that there were Common Loons in Washington. And then I realized that they were nesting here too!

Lost Lake is a small lake so it only hosts one nesting pair. There are a few other lakes in eastern Okanogan County and also in Ferry County that support a small population of nesting loons. Loons face many obstacles to raising their babies. Both parents take turns on the nest so the eggs (often there are two) are never left exposed. Predators that could take them include Bald Eagles, Common Ravens and otters. After they hatch and the young birds are on the water, the parents are constantly wary of attacks from the air and the water. An eagle can easily take a young loon from the water’s surface.

Loons aren’t the only birds at Lost Lake but they might be the most charismatic. Lots of people fish there in non-motorized boats so the birds are accustomed to boats and will approach fairly close. They are especially interested in the anglers. I find that if I sit quietly in my kayak, the birds will come close and offer great looks. Not that close though. These photos were mostly made with a 600 mm lens. The forest bird photos were made with a much shorter lens.

Spotted Sandpipers are a real joy to watch. They trot along logs and sticks on the water, bobbing their tails up and down and issuing their calls when they fly to the next lot. There are lots of swallows around the lake, taking advantage of many of the cavities in the trees for nesting sites.

 

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