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Another lake, another Hooded Merganser, this one with a big family to care for.

Female goldeneyes are always hard for me to ID. There are two kinds – Barrow’s and Common. The males are easy to separate so if I see a female and male together, I often assume they are the same species. Last week we saw two females, one with ducklings and one on her own. Looking at the All About Birds site from Cornell University, I think both of these are Barrow’s Goldeneyes. But I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

These images are from an August camping trip to the Okanogan Highlands.

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.

Molly’s dad was hoping to get Molly some experience in his new canoe and I just wanted to enjoy some lake time before winter really gets started. Molly got very little experience and after jumping out of the canoe twice, she got to spend the rest of the afternoon in the truck. Next time I won’t be along to distract her. There were quite a few ducks, some grebes, a couple of herons and an otter to provide entertainment as we enjoyed one of the last nice afternoons.

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