Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Walking and watching in Tracy

I'm staying with my friends in Tracy, California. It's a much different habitat than home. Tracy's climate is much different than home, I get almost 10 times the rain at my home. It was fun to explore such a different habitat. I don't know many of the birds and plants.

On Tuesday I went for a walk along the California Aquifer. I did recognize a pair of Northern Harriers. They were flying low over the edge of the aquifer across the water from me. I watched them for quite some time. It didn't surprise me they were there, because I saw many rabbit holes and 1 rabbit. I saw turkey vultures, swallows, warblers and ... other small birds. I also found a nice little marsh. It was just past gravel pit and I wonder if the two had some connection. I wish I could have gotten closer! As I headed back to the car and water (Coal and I were thirsty!), I kept disrupting a kildeer.

After walking I drive around looking for other birds. I drive along a river and many farms. I also drove by another factor. When ever I found water I could eventually see birds. Mostly I was seeing egrets. It was such fun to see a bird completely different then I typically see. I also saw a white faced ibis. Most of the birds I saw were off in the distance. I did find one raptor. I was actually trying to turn around and head home. I pulled off onto this tiny street that had become a dump site for people's gargage, saddened I almost missed the big guy in the tree! It took me a bit to identify him, the silly tree kept obscuring my view. It was a Rough-legged Hawk! It was amazingly cooperative with my picture taking attempts; it watched me but never seemed all that worried.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sunny California

OK, this is going to be a short post because I want to get outside and play. I am here in Central California, at my friends, for a week. I had a grand time yesterday sitting in the sun. It's been in the 70's here. I sat outside and enjoyed the warmth, read and watched the birds and butteflies. There are hummingbirds! Then I couldn't resist getting out my camera. All I did is spend time exploring their backyard but there was plenty to see.

I was playing a bit with taking some more abstract pictures. And playing with Renae's photosoftware. And now I'm off for some more adventures

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Going to California with a camera beside me

I've spent the past two days driving down to California. As I headed south the fog began to lessen and I started seeing more Autumn colors. I stopped in Albany, Oregon for lunch. Coal and I needed a walk. I went to Waverly Park. It's just a small park around a little pond, but there were some great birds.

As I was walking I was startled to see a Great-Blue Heron very close. He (or she) was sitting beside the water. I had been lookin at a beautiful tree when the Heron moved a bit. We were both surprised to see each other but he let me take a picture before he flew. He landed along the pond edge again. The trail tooks us past the Heron again who did a wonderful job of blending in with the reeds. I love how still they can stand. I watched him for a bit before moving on, hoping he would relax into natural behavior. Apparently Coal and I were too much to ignore so we moved on.

There were also some nifty waterfowl. I haven't seen Shovelers for a whle. There's something about them I really enjoy. They were out in the middle of the lake. I noticed they didn't mingle with the other ducks. Closer to the shore there were the usual Mallards, domestic ducks and and Coots. I also saw some grebes. I thought they were Pied-billed at first but they were Red-necked Grebes. It was so neat because they were right next to the Mallards and the size difference was so noticable. The grebes looked tiny beside the mallards.

I got back on the road then. I saw some amazing birds. On about a 15 mile stretch of 1-5 I saw 14 Red-tail hawks perched right beside the road. When I got to California I started seeing some cranes. And on of the biggest delights was at a road stop in Northern California. When I got out I had to jog quickly to the bathroom but I noticed some people with binoculars watching the trees. After I got out of the bathroom I went to see what they were watching but the people were gone and I coudl see no birds. But as I was walking Coal I saw a Peregrine Falcon!!!! It was just a brief view but way cool.

I enjoyed the scenery as well as the birds. It reminds me what a beautiful country I live in.

Cemeterary at Waverly Park

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Upper Twin Falls with Katie and camera

Sometimes it's good to rediscover your 'back yard'. I haven't been to Twin Falls as much lately. Katie had never been, it's quite nice to watch your friend discover a new place. I love that hike. I tend to avoid it because it can get crowded and because it's close and I think I just did it, but it has such amazing beauty. It was very crowded today because I-90 was closed and people were looking for an alternative place to enjoy. I'm glad I went up yesterday to play in the snow!

We got a break in the rain today; there was actual sun! Katie and I stood looking a the Lower Falls talking about the process of erosion. We could trace several different paths the river had worn through the rock. What a fun thing to explore together. We continued up the Upper Falls and I realized I'd never taken a picture there. I quite like the Upper Falls, there is something unruly about it. We turned to head back down the trail but I caught site of the light and moss on the trees and I had to get one more picture. It's a good thing Katie is patient (waiting through various camera struggles). I'm pleased with the result though.

Upper Twin Falls

The magic of the Northwest Forest

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Time to play in the snow- PCT

What a difference a month can make. Once again I went a short distance on the Pacific Crest Trail heading north from Snoqualmie Pass. I am still a child at heart, it seems like some magic trick when familiar things change in such dramatic ways. I walked into a rock at one point. All I saw was a slight soft, round bump in the snow, but my feet discovered it was something entirely different. That's what delights me; that curiosity about what has changed or is hidden. It seems like November has brought winter this year and I was excited when it started snowing in the Pass. I went up Thursday after work with Coal and played in the snow in the dark, but today I got to spend quality time.

The difference from last time I hiked this trail was truly striking. The trailhead parking lot was full of snow and people. I had to hike in from the ski area and after letting Coal play with some other dogs I started down the trail. Before I was looking at the berried and fall color, this time I was looking at trees and snow. I really need snow shoes (I've been saying this for several years now!). We didn't cover anywhere near as much ground as Coal would have liked, which if you've ever walked a long walks in the snow you'll understand. I also let myself stop to take pictures, listen to the snow, catch snowflakes and watch the snow fall off the trees in a dense white shower. Once I'd moved away from the parking lot I left the people behind and there was that hush that comes with a heavy snow.

It amazes me how the plants can survive. I saw berry bushes and small trees covered in snow and it seems they should be flattened. I even saw some Bunch Berry still green and vibrant, protected by a log. I took a picture of the end of a log that I had taken on the last trip when it had been deeply green with moss.

I couldn't ignore the beauty of the trees. The rich colors and delicate intricacy is always there and the snow emphasizes this. These giants, often lost in the background, are given a chance to drape themselves in finery and parade their grace.