Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Gray Day on the Coast

We took a day off on Thursday, Oct. 20, to visit friends on the coast and see what we could see. We were barely onto Hwy 101, north of Hebo, when we spotted a hawk on the wire that did not look like the usual Red-tailed Hawk. We circled back and discovered it was a Red-shouldered Hawk. It did not stay around long enough for a good photo. 

When we reached Netarts Bay, on the 3 Capes highway, we found seal torpedoes resting on the exposed sand at low tide. Well, they looked like little torpedoes.

Also lots of Double-crested Cormorants and Brown Pelicans

Before meeting our friends for lunch at the Upstairs cafe in Netarts (great food and nice folks), we drove to Short Beach to look for Black Oystercatchers. I'm on a mission to find fledglings. Three flew in to bathe in the fresh water creek in the middle of the photo below, but they were all adults. Notice the rocky outcropping on the left of the photo as later, we came back and found 8 over there, including at least one fledgling. Most had their heads tucked so we could not see if their bills were all red or had the fledgling darkness toward the tip.

Two adult BLOY

After lunch, we all headed to Cape Meares which was fogged in. However looking south from one of the observing platforms, we could see the Three Arch Rocks off Oceanside.

...And the rocks off Short Beach, pretty even on a gray day.

We drove back to Short Beach but the tide was in and people were clambering all over what little rocky beach was left, so the BLOY had moved to the rocky outcropping where they were invisible... until I propped my other camera, the Nikon P900, on a tripod and zoomed in. It found 6 BLOY (and a lot of gulls) on the rock and 2 more on a rock beyond.

It's pretty hard to see black birds on black rock.

Here they are in a cropped version.

 This silhouetted bird was a very long way away and refused to take his bill out so I could see if it was a juvenile or adult. Nor could I see the eye, which has a red ring in adults, missing in juveniles.

This one, a juvenile, was more cooperative.

We drove on to Oceanside and scoped the Three Arch Rocks from the other side. There are actually 9 rocks in this 15 acre National Wildlife Refuge, 3 big ones and 6 little ones.

The rock on the right, Finley Rock, has a sort of ramp that goes from water level in the middle of the rock up to the left. At the tip of that ramp, an eagle is usually perched. And so it was this day.

 My Panasonic camera is wonderful, but does not zoom up enough for eagles as distant as these (there were two after awhile). So again I propped my Nikon P900 on the scope tripod. (It's too heavy to hold still when zooming in.)

 The ramp is the darker area in the middle of the photo, angling up to the left.

 And there's the eagle...

And a bit later, two eagles...  Our friends told us that these eagles nest out there every year and begin repairing or rebuilding their nest in November.

 The farthest south rock, out by itself, Shag Rock, looked deserted until I zoomed in on the left side.

It looked like there were bumps on the left side at this distance...

A little more zoom and the bumps are getting bigger...

And here they are as far as my camera would zoom... Brown Pelicans! Lots of them!

It was time to head homeward so we followed our friends as far as Hwy 101, then turned south and drove to Munson Creek Falls, It is so close to the highway that we always stop and hike in to this highest falls in the Coast Range if it is still daylight.

The trail follows the pretty, rocky stream up to the falls. Sometimes we see Dippers along the stream, but not this day.

It was a good day with good friends, lots of birds... and pretty views, even in the gray.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Beware the Ides of October!

Actually, the storm dubbed the Ides of October, on October 15, was not nearly so bad as predicted. But the cumulative effect of a series of wet and windy storms knocked out power to lots of people, downed quite a few trees, and even spawned several tornadoes, one of which did considerable damage in the coastal town of Manzanita.

Here on the farm we did not lose power, but we did lose part of a tree... a big one... across the whole front yard and driveway. Our hybrid poplar lost a piece of itself in a wind storm several years ago and again on October 15, the Ides of October.

But it was the wet and wild storms in the days preceding that had the most spectacular cloud formations. I could not stop taking photos, as you can see...

The horses were not impressed with the clouds or the fall colors.

Johnny was more impressed with the fallen tree that went down with a loud CRACK! after a powerful gust on the 15th.

I was glad it had not fallen on our house, but sad that it broke my beautiful red maple.

It demolished quite a few other colorful bushes on its way across the driveway.

 Johnny cut the part across the driveway first and hauled it to the goats. They were very appreciative.

The next day, Johnny cut up the rest of the tree.

I salvaged the maple branches and put them in a bucket of water outside the front door.

 From inside the house, I can look through the glass door into the jungle room and see my maple-in-a-bucket outside.

 The storms also tore the netting that was over the garden and knocked down the supports holding it up, so we spent part of today taking all that down and storing it for another year. The garden is still producing like crazy... corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash and lots of pumpkins. The kale and chard are going strong and the spinach reseeded itself and came up thickly. We have not yet had a killing frost and are eating melons and watermelon from the garden.  Because there is no netting over the garden anymore, we have penned the peacock, our chief garden predator.

It's an ill wind that blows no man good, my mother always said. And that is true of the Ides of October wind... at least it made our goats very happy, gave us more firewood, and got us started early on our ready-for-winter chores. And, oh, those beautiful, stormy, October skies.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October before the Storm

October is a beautiful time of year on the farm. I was even inspired to ride one of my horses yesterday, after almost 3 years of not riding. I knew storms were coming and I would not be riding again very soon. But mostly I took photos of the mist in the hills. I love the drifting, ever changing fog...

And fall colors...

My dahlias are pretty now, too. Many thanks to friend Ron who gave me the tubers to plant... This is the first time I've grown dahlias.

The fall produce is colorful, too. Some of the rainbow carrots grew a lot too big before I pulled them. Many more carrots are still in the ground, hopefully not growing bigger any more. I'm hoping to be able to harvest them all winter. The onions are harvested, though.

On Tuesday, I set up a new trail camera, then hiked to the creek. While looking downstream, I noticed something blue stuck under a log. I zoomed up with my camera and discovered it was a raft. I decided to hike closer and try to retrieve it.

The creek was not too deep where I needed to cross to the log. Except the last 4 feet or so... I took off my shoes and socks and waded to a rocky "island"...

rocky "island" in bottom right

A floating flat piece of log was trapped in the area between my "island" and the log jam. I hoped it would hold me as I stepped on it. Well, it held me but it moved so I made a flying leap to the log jam. Success!

Having learned from past disasters, I did not take my camera with me but took a photo of the scene of the rescue after getting back to dry land with the raft. The return trip was easier... I just flung the raft onto my island, then jumped after it. Then waded back to shore carrying the light raft.

It likely belongs to our upstream neighbors. We have rescued their rafts before. They make a habit of leaving them on the shore close to the stream, which goes up and down with the rains. It will be interesting to see how high the stream is after this series of storms has passed.

Back up by the house and barn, the birds have been happily eating the seed I provide. Here is a fall-plumaged American Goldfinch.

And a few of the jillions of California Quail that call our farm home...

Visiting yesterday was a young Cooper's Hawk who made many passes at the quail and other birds but caught none while I watched.

Our resident Barn Owl has been hiding out in the barn loft days, making it difficult for me to feed the goats their hay without scaring him outside, where the jays harass him. Thankfully, this morning he was not in evidence. I will bet he spends this rainy night inside, though! For the first storm has arrived with lots of rain.

I'm glad I was able to enjoy the farm's autumn beauty before wind and rain change the scenery...