Something Left

     Used to be I would pass trailheads and think to myself how one day I would take the time, gather the equipment and find out where they went. But I had no real reason to go, so I didn't. Oh, I took some short day hikes, but never the big trek. Now those short hikes are big treks! But that's all right, I still have no reason to go. Usually when I go away from the road, I am either looking for birds or just want solitude. I find that birds don't follow trails and once I am behind the camera, there's just me and whatever is in the viewfinder.
    But birds and wildlife do seek specific habitats and in order to photograph them, I must also. Sometimes that's a trek itself, but thankfully the habitat is there. The state and national parks, forests and wildlife agencies really do a good job. In spite of political pressures from all sides, they do a remarkable job of balancing the various purposes of these areas. Particularly I appreciate the National Wildlife Refuges or NWR's for the job they do in preserving and protecting habitat while still keeping it accessible for wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing. Notice, like many, I put my interest first. As I say, they do a fine job of keeping the balance.

Sandhill Cranes in flight

Sandhill Cranes

     Have you ever wished you could fly with the birds? Looking down on the landscape as you passed almost silently past. Being able to fly over a mountain range or dip down into the valley for a closer look. That's what I think of when I look at this picture.
    But I can't, and despite what it looks like here, I didn't. Both feet were flat on the ground and the nearest change in elevation was the hills in the background and they were at least a half-mile distant.
    Even knowing that, and knowing I took this picture myself, I still have trouble realizing this is an optical illusion.
Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee

     Southeast of Bend, Oregon there is a place called Cabin Lake. There hasn't been a lake there for many centuries. What is there is a seldom used ranger station and some catch basins that feed stored rainwater to two small pools where birds and small animals can water. Near each pool is a small structure, a "blind", where someone can watch and/or photograph the wildlife that visits.
    Sitting in a little wood shack in high desert in the middle of the summer doesn't seem like a fun thing, but when a small critter like this is in the viewfinder and only 10' away, who notices?
lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

     Hot and dry! So many birds seem to prefer that climate. Even so, within a short distance of some kind of water is where you find them. Here in the northwest we have several climate zones, but even the driest is never very far from water in most areas.
    I also like to spend considerable time in such places. I have lived most of my life in the moist climate west of the cascades. So, as often as I can, I migrate. In early years I went to hunt. Later I took up fishing and had some enjoyable times with friends and family. Now photographing the birds and other wildlife found there gives me reason to go.

Western Rattlesnake

     This rattlesnake was having a little R & R on the rocks about 50' from the bird above. Fortunately I was aware of its possible presence and was examining the ground around me carefully each time I moved. When I saw it I wasn't surprised and carefully took this picture from about ten feet away. It then slithered under the rock.
    Up to then I had been cautious but more interested than afraid. But now, after it was gone, I found myself almost unable to move. I wasn't really fearful but neither was I comfortable enough to stay in that area. That uneasiness persisted until I was well away from that spot.
American Dipper

American Dipper

     Making good pictures of this bird is tricky. It starts when trying to take the photo and gets harder from there. It seems he is either in deep shade and moving constantly or he is in bright sunlight with the glare from the water right in the lens. And usually I am so busy adjusting the camera from one circumstance to the other that I miss the rare occasion like this when he is in a workable position.
    I said workable and that brings up the other problems. What color should it be. I have seen pictures everywhere from black to brown to gray to a copperish color. And there is almost always too much contrast with the top of bird being washed out and the underside shadowed into invisibility. But if the photo is workable, then through the wonder of Photoshop, a usable picture.
    With or without getting a good shot it's a joy to watch him bounce on the rocks and swim in the fast current or even just work along the bank as he's doing here.
Goofy Yellow-rumped Warbler


     Meanwhile, back at the ranch............ It seems like something new and unexpected frequently happens right outside my living room windows.
    I have tried to make a small wildlife refuge in my yard. It's still in early stages but I have completed a small recirculating creek.Also I have a small brush pile close to it to provide cover while I wait for the plantings to mature. And there is also this small pine tree being utilized here. The tree, the brush pile and a large portion of the creek are within 15' of the windows.
    Many times like this I am able to take photos while standing in my living room in my slippers. It's hard work but I don't mind.
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