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Sky and I got away for three days last week. The weather continues to be fairly cool, well cold, most days. The dog water froze outside each night and I was grateful for a working heater in the camper. We walked and walked and walked and saw a fair number of deer. There was one otter that entertained me for an afternoon. We also saw a skunk on one of our rambles in the hills. Luckily, I saw it before it saw us! I identified 64 bird species and am sure I missed some whose songs I didn’t recognize. We had a fine campsite overlooking a small lake with a variety of waterfowl and one lone swan. There were numerous buttercups in bloom and one Astragulus and some tiny lomatiums. The snow had just finished melting and while we were there, we had one impressive snow squall that left the hills white til the sun came out again. Mountain Bluebirds were everywhere! Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robins and Canada Geese woke us each morning with their songs and calls.

Here is my bird list for the three days:

Canada Goose 

Tundra Swan 

Wood Duck 

American Wigeon 

Mallard 

Green-winged Teal 

Ring-necked Duck 

Greater Scaup 

Bufflehead 

Barrow’s Goldeneye 

Hooded Merganser 

Common Merganser 

California Quail 

Ruffed Grouse 

Dusky Grouse 

Pied-billed Grebe 

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 

Eurasian Collared-Dove 

Mourning Dove 

Virginia Rail 

American Coot 

Turkey Vulture 

Osprey 

Northern Harrier 

Red-tailed Hawk 

Great Horned Owl 

Belted Kingfisher 

Red-naped Sapsucker 

Downy Woodpecker 

Pileated Woodpecker 

Northern Flicker 

American Kestrel 

Say’s Phoebe 

Black-billed Magpie 

American Crow 

Common Raven 

Black-capped Chickadee 

Mountain Chickadee 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 

Tree Swallow 

Violet-green Swallow 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 

Red-breasted Nuthatch 

Pygmy Nuthatch 

Brown Creeper 

Bewick’s Wren 

American Dipper 

European Starling 

Western Bluebird 

Mountain Bluebird 

American Robin 

House Finch 

Cassin’s Finch 

Pine Siskin 

Chipping Sparrow 

Fox Sparrow 

Dark-eyed Junco 

White-crowned Sparrow 

Song Sparrow 

Spotted Towhee 

Western Meadowlark 

Red-winged Blackbird 

Brewer’s Blackbird 

Yellow-rumped Warbler 

Our second site had the best sunrises and sunsets. That incredible October light. All these images were made from our lovely lakeside campsite. My girls look good in the evening light.

The girls and I headed to the eastern part of the county for a week-long camping trip. We enjoyed tall larch trees and a quiet lake. Ken joined us for the last two nights and we also enjoyed visits with several good friends. There were a few flowers blooming, including a small patch of coralroot orchids. It’s still very green with lush new growth on all of the conifers. It looked like there had been a big windstorm this spring. Many trees were uprooted or broken.

Here’s a bit of camping life.

The girls and I got away for three days last week and enjoyed a relaxing time bird watching, walking in the hills and playing in the water (for them, not me). It was pleasantly warm during the day and chilly at night with terrific dark skies and the milky way in all its glory (there will be a later post about that). We camped above a little lake, the one with the pine tree reflections and spent our afternoons watching Wood Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks and turtles lolling about in the sunshine.

WordPress continues to frustrate me. Now it is not showing captions on my images. The image above is the lake where we were camped. Our site is on the left on top of the hill, in the pines.

Last week the girls and I took the pop-up camper 300 miles away to the very scenic Takhlakh Lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The lake is at about 4300′ elevation on the NW side of Mount Adams. The nearest towns are Randle and Trout Lake and the roads to get there are not exactly what I would call good. I think it was 32 miles from Randle and that last bit, after driving 270 miles, seemed endless. Despite its remoteness, the campground stayed nearly full the five nights we were there.

For the first three days, the temperature was well into the 90’s in the afternoon and the black flies loved it. Our campsite was mostly sunny so there was no retreating to the camper in hopes of escaping the flies. It was like an oven in there. We walked often to the lake so we could cool off. Even our morning hikes were pretty warm and the insects were relentless – the worst I have seen in many years.

The area is known for lush meadows and numerous lakes and streams. This year, it’s been very dry and the meadows and trails were dusty. Our morning hikes were a struggle for Luna. At nearly 13, she doesn’t handle the heat very well and welcomes any bit of water she can find. So we had to spend our afternoons taking it easy. I was ready to leave Wednesday night but Thursday morning it was cool and misty so we stayed another day.

There is a shady one-mile trail around the lake and we walked it twice a day. It really was quite nice with lots of points to access the water. Most campers had some kind of people-powered watercraft from small fishing boats to every kind of inflatable imaginable to SUP’s to pool toys and I really wished I had one too. They said the bugs were not nearly so bad when they were on the water and I noticed a difference when I was wading in the water. I’ll know next time.

I saw a fair amount of birds in the area and a Barred Owl woke me up one night with its distinctive call. I wondered how many other campers heard it and wondered what it was.

Here is a list of birds I observed while I was there:¬†Mallard, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Common Nighthawk, Black Swift, Rufous Hummingbird, Spotted Sandpiper, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Canada Jay, Steller’s Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Pacific Wren, American Robin, Evening Grosbeak, Dark-eyed Junco

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