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Tag Archives: Okanogan Highlands

Baby birds need to eat a lot and eat often. They have a lot of growing up to do in a short time. By fall, these tiny babies need to be able to fly away to the ocean or maybe the Columbia River where they will find water and food and safe havens. Both parents feed the little ones, diving often to search for small tidbits to feed the babies.

Common Loons need lots of water surface to get airborne and then, at a small lake like this one, they need to circle it two or three times to get high enough to clear the tall trees. It’s all pretty dramatic.

I have found that birds are easier to view when I am in my kayak than when I am walking around. The birds don’t perceive a person in a boat to be as big a threat as a person on the ground. The kayak provides a good point of view for some of the smaller songbirds which often elude me, leaving me to guess their species by a call or a song. I struggle with birding by ear, especially the warblers and Empidonax flycatchers. Except Willow Flycatchers. They have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘fitzbuuu’.

The Pileated Woodpecker was seen from our campsite. The Yellow-rumped Warbler darted back and forth catching bugs above the water. There were baby Song Sparrows along the lakeshore and adults singing and calling from the shrubs above. Red-winged Blackbirds NEVER perch still for me to get a photo. Never. An Empidonax flycatcher waited for insects in between its frequent ‘fitzbuuu’ calls. See the crack in that snag? In the next photo, look carefully for the departing Tree Swallow. They are fast. I waited and waited to get that one image. I have several of the bird’s tail feathers flying away. The Yellow Warbler was lovely in the green alder leaves. Coots were elusive in the marshy area of the lake, quickly gathering their bright orange chicks and moving them into cover. An Eastern Kingbird gracefully hurled a pellet while I was making its photo. I came across the Killdeer family while on a drive about.

Of course, there were loons. And another highlight, not photographed, was a Sora with babies!

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.

These photos are from our recent camping trip. I love to watch and photograph birds from my kayak. Some birds, like Common Loons, will approach a boat if it is quiet and this family did just that. If I was close to the birds, I’d sit quietly in the boat and hope that they would come closer. They didn’t always. Early mornings and evenings were best. It was busier around the lake during the day and the birds tried to keep to themselves. The first day we saw the baby loons, they were not yet diving but by the time we left, they were diving and preening and acting like their parents. The youngsters have big feet, like a lab puppy and I imagine someone asking the parents, ‘do you think they will ever grow into those feet?’ Well, people still ask me that about Sky and she’s almost six years old, so no.

At another lake, I was able to look down at the loons and see them swimming underwater. They strictly used their feet for propulsion. I also observed this from my boat but they were too close for photos!

I know, this is a lot of photos but the birds are so beautiful.

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