Original Post submitted to the PBC Newsletter (Feb 2013 edition)

My morning walk today ended with me watching two bucks chasing each other around the ravine that is above the fox den. They disappeared for about 10 seconds and then reappeared at a full run. A 2 point was in front being chased by a larger 3 point. Last week in the same spot I got to watch 5 bucks gathered together in the early morning hours, incredible. Yesterday, in a different location, I watched 20 does as they were waking up and beginning to stand and graze.

I participated in the GBBC over the last 4 days. I walked the river twice a day recording 33 species of birds. The pair of Pileated Woodpeckers made a brief and noisy appearance while I was playing with my dog in the park. They landed on a light post just feet from me and stayed for about a minute before flying off across the river. Some of the other birds that I saw were Red Winged Blackbirds, Lesser Goldfinches, Juncos, Black Headed Grosbeaks, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Pine Siskins.

 As I was stopped, watching the hole in the cliff where the Kestrel is living I saw something flying above the ridge. I lifted my binoculars higher to see a 1st year Bald Eagle come flying in through the ravine. When it got to the river it turned west and headed down stream. I followed him with my binoculars and as I passed the tree to my left there sat an American Robin in the top of the tree. The Eagle flew by allowing me to catch the two of them in my binoculars at the same time. I stood in complete awe seeing the contrast in their sizes.

 Yesterday morning there were 12 Great Blue Herons in the rookery. I have been seeing some courting going on as well as a few fights. Once in awhile one will scream as it is being chased off from an already claimed nest, the sound of their scream sometimes sends chills down my back.

 We have 5 pairs of Common Mergansers on the river now. On sunny mornings I get to see the males in their true beauty. Their long red bills, bright orange feet, and snowy white bodies contrasting with their amazing emerald green heads, takes my breath away every time.

 The 3 female Hooded Mergansers are finally paired up, the males kept leaving for some reason but I think that they’re here to stay now. I watched one of the females actually run across the top of the water a few days ago.

 Two of the Northern Flicker nests that I have been watching have been taken over by Starlings. I was mad at first but I reminded myself that I am here to observe nature, not to tell the birds how or where they can live.

 The Yellow-Bellied Marmots are out and about. They are fun to watch scurrying around on the rocky cliffs. I got to watch a big male walk along a trail that the deer had so graciously provided for him. I was watching another one every morning as it sat out on a rock just below the fox den. I haven’t seen it now for 2 days, I’m thinking the fox has found him.

 One morning I watched a beaver eating its breakfast of cottonwood as it sat along the shore of the river.  After about 5 minutes my dog barked sending the beaver into the river with a loud smack of its tail on the water. It turned back to see no threat so it slowly ambled on along the waters edge.

 My favorite sighting this month happened just yesterday as I was walking along in the sun filled morning. I got a glimpse of something red over in the meadow. I looked over to see a male Ring Necked Pheasant walking on a trail down towards the river. He came out at the rivers edge and began drinking from the river. The sun was on him as I stood watching his emerald green head, his red face, the blue and purple and gold of his chest. I stood with my mouth open in amazement. His beauty was beyond words. He turned around after taking several drinks and headed back up the trail and back out into the meadow.

 
link to my article in the Pendleton Bird Club Newsletter http://www.pendletonbirders.org

Fishing …

I was out on my walk early Thursday morning and as I approached the end of the levy I saw a man fishing along the river. I stopped and watched him with my binoculars and noticed that he was wearing a suit with a camo jacket over it. I thought this was cute and assumed he must be an attorney or something getting in a bit of fishing before going to the office.

I walked a short distance away and began watching the herons in the rookery. After a few minutes I noticed him approaching from my right side so I turned and asked him “where’s your fish? He laughed and said that it was still in the river. We both chuckled as he walked on by, nice looking man I said to myself.

I continued walking along and watching the nests and searching the hillside for deer and the skies for eagles. About a 1/4 mile to the west I looked north and there he was along the river, again with his line in the water. This time I walked down to the rivers edge and asked him if he was fishing for steelhead. He answered that he was. I asked him if he wanted me to show him where they’re at. He turned and smiled and told me that he had to leave in a few minutes for jury duty. I pointed west and told him where to go to catch the big ones. He smiled again and thanked me. 

As I turned to walk away the light fragrance of his cologne drifted up the path in my direction. I smiled inside. Now that’s a man I said to myself …