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Showing posts from December, 2015

Gilliam Christmas.

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Where better to spend the holidays than the middle of nowhere?  Chris and I headed out to Gilliam County a couple days before Christmas so I could complete my second raptor survey there, and to do some general exploring and scenery-enjoying.  One of our first stops was for a dead Great Horned Owl in Sherman County:

The eyes still looked like eyes. 

We drove down 206 as the near-full moon rose and the sun was setting, making it to Condon a little before 5. 


We pulled in to the snowy parking lot of the Condon Motel, one of two options in town; the other being the historic Hotel Condon which does not allow pets.  A sign on the door said "Back at:" with a picture of a clock that read 5:15.  So we sat in the truck waiting till the fellow came back, watching Roxy the rottie poke her head through the blinds of the main building checking for her people.

The next morning we packed up and began our long day of counting raptors.

The raptor of choice, the Rough-legged Hawk

Highway 206 west…

Plovering.

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Four years ago on a rainy December day much like our recent rainy days, I drove south to the Corvallis area to look for a Mountain Plover I read about on OBOL.  It was not to be found anywhere, though the pounding sideways rain made it difficult to scan the fields properly.  That day was redeemed with a successful Blue Jay chase at Bald Hill Park and can be seen in this lengthy blog post.

Yesterday I feared a similar failure but drove to Newport for the reported plover anyway.  I parked by the restrooms at South Beach State Park, walked up the trail over the dune and back down the other side, and boom!  The first bird I saw was the Mountain Plover.  The second through ninth birds seen were all Snowy Plovers.

Nice to meet you, you handsome devil you

Most of the time the Mountain Plover was hunkered down, not a bad idea with the steady rain and wind.  The Snowy Plovers were a bit more active, running around doing plover stuff.


Five Snowies, One Mountain




After laying in the wet sand with th…

Floods and a hawk.

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This week has been a wet one here in the Pacific Northwest, the complete opposite of our hot and drought-ified summer.  Record-breaking rainfall and floods and landslides and all kinds of fun things have been going on.  My brilliant decision to not clean out my gutters this fall set the gears in motion for a basement swimming pool. 

There have been some bright spots, though...

Vancouver Lake, after a thunder/lightning/hail storm

The highlight of my week has been a new back yard regular, a young Cooper's Hawk.  I'm calling her a she, because she seems pretty big, but I don't actually know for sure.  Anyway, she first showed up last Sunday on my camera trap, which I had left out in the yard while I went to work.

Sunday

I was psyched.  I was even more psyched when three days later she showed up again and snagged a goldfinch, which she ate right out by the feeders.

Wednesday

She disappeared for an hour and then she was back, looking for her next snack.  She took off in pursuit of…