Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anniversary on the Coast

We spent our 51st wedding anniversary, Feb. 13, at the coast. That's not quite as romantic as it sounds. Johnny dropped me off at McPhillips Park, where I start my quarterly mile beach walk for CoastWatch that extends from McPhillips Park south along Cape Kiwanda State Park to the Cape. Johnny drove around to the parking lot on the south side of the cape to wait for me. He is still walking with difficulty since his fall in November. We are still waiting for the doctors to figure out what's going on.

It was a lovely day... because I only pick lovely days at the coast for my mile walk. The high tides of January had eroded the access road, but vehicles were still bouncing their way over it to the beach.

The beach looking north toward Cape Lookout

The cliff eroding from the high tides of January

At the south end of my mile, I spotted two Black Oystercatchers on the point where they often hang out at high tide.

Here they are closer.

zoomed in and blurry

looking north from the north side of the dune

Cape Lookout in the distance

Looking mainly west from atop the dune

Haystack Rock from the top of the dune

Looking south toward the parking lot where Johnny awaits

I spotted our car, the farthest one right in this photo

Last car in the line-up is ours with Johnny inside enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to NPR
After I joined him, we drove to the Beach Wok for lunch. Their special that day was enough for us to have for supper, too. We miss the Mexican restaurant, though, that seems to have closed.

This was quite a change from our 50th anniversary hike last year, when we climbed Spirit Mtn. I was the one last year with a knee that went out on me on the way down. But it recovered. Hopefully, the docs will figure out what's happening with Johnny's aching body... and he will recover, too.


Snow on Daffodils

A friend who has lived in this area forever says it always snows when the daffodils bloom. And it almost always has since we moved here in 1977. Yesterday, Feb. 17, the first daffodils opened and I picked some for a bouquet, along with hellebores that have been blooming for weeks.

Today, Feb. 18, it snowed.

I hear it is snowing on the coast, too. Once a month I do a beached bird survey at Bob Straub Park by Pacific City, about 25 miles west of our farm. It is my way of having an excuse to go to the coast every month all year. In the spring and summer, I do Black Oystercatcher surveys several times a week, but once they are done nesting, I have no excuse to go... except this survey (plus a once-a-quarter survey for CoastWatch... see next blog post).

But I mostly just want to hike the beach in nice weather and enjoy the scenery, so I watch the weather reports and carefully pick a good day. Such a day was February 9. The beach had been remodeled by the high tide events in January, thanks to the Super Moon. I took lots of photos.

Waves took out a goodly section of the foredune.

I was there at low tide... the beach was very wide...

A closer shot of the bite the waves took out of the dune

Some of the beach grass is hanging on desperately. Imagine waves high enough to reach the top of that dune!

The sand stolen from the dune was deposited on top of the wood that the ocean routinely dumps on the beach.

Here's a closer look at the wood (logs) peeking out from under all that sand.

Looking toward Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda, where our family has been going forever. It is now very crowded by the Cape and I enjoy seeing it more, now, from Bob Straub Park beach. Here I see very few people, usually a few horseback riders, lots of shorebirds, and pretty views.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Sanderlings were on the beach this day.

Sanderlings up close

Haystack Rock up close
 I took lots of photos of Haystack Rock and could not choose which one I liked best. So here they all are...

Black Oystercatchers nest on that rock most every year but it is very hard to find them. Someone else now surveys that rock but has not found nests. I think I will bring my scope to Bob Straub Park next summer and see if I can find little black birds with red bills on the distant rock.

The access point to the beach has this sign for the Coast Guard to know where to come if beachcombers get washed away. The sign below it warning about extreme high tides is new since the Super Tides of January.

Happily, on this day I found no beached (dead) birds. Just a lovely flat beach with stunning views. Here's hoping I'll be as lucky in March. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A February Spring

Last year at this time we were buried under snow. But this year, as often happens during the first two weeks of February, we are having spring-like weather. So spring-like that I planted peas....

Um, wrote that a few days too soon. February is now being more February like with snow in the hills, frost down here, alternating with sun and rain and... who knows what's next. But here are some photos of the spring-like February of last week...

Our Ash swamp, greening up

fragrant tree out back door

winter blooming jasmine (?) ... non-stop blooms for months


miniature iris

lots of primroses

These are last year's carrots, pulled this February still happily growing in the garden and still yummy.

The chard will not give up...

Some of the edible flowers I planted last year are alive and blooming again...

Willow Kitty likes to "help" when I work outside

Gertrude the Guinea Hen helps, too. She eats bugs.

Fred the peacock doesn't help but he's pretty... and displaying since it's "spring".

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon

For the first time in over 150 years, we had a Super Blue Blood Moon here on our farm. Super because it was at the closest point in its orbit around the earth and so looks bigger, Blue because it was the second full moon of the month, and Blood because it was eclipsed by the earth, letting only the red wave lengths from the sun reach the moon.

Johnny woke me up at 2:30 a.m. on January 30th to watch it eclipse. Alas, I had told him 2:30 instead of 4:30. And, more alas, we had thought January 30th was Jan. 31st. After sitting on a pillow upstairs staring out the window at the moon for awhile, which seemed to have no interest in eclipsing, I checked the computer and discovered we were up a day early. But I had taken a picture of the moon-that-looked-full on my way out to do evening chores at 7 p.m., thinking it was the Super Blue Moon soon to be Blood red. So here it is:

It may have been a day early but it looked full to me.

 And zoomed up close, it was quite lovely. A Super Moon, indeed.

 Why this image came out with a blue halo, I have no idea. But it made it look like a Blue Moon.

Of course, it did not eclipse so I did not get an early morning shot of a Blood Moon. In fact, I got no photo at all on the morning of the eclipse, Jan. 31, because clouds covered our sky. The only way we knew the moon was there was because the sky was somewhat light, at least we could see the tree out the window. We were lying on the guest room bed looking out that window, willing the clouds to dissipate. And periodically going upstairs to watch NASA's live feed of the eclipse from California, where the skies were clear.

But at 4 a.m., when the moon was totally eclipsed behind the clouds, we looked out back and realized that the night had become pitch dark. The moon was in eclipse! But no red hue behind those clouds for us. So I stole this one from NASA. I cannot figure out to downsize it, so here is the Super Blue Blood Moon, super sized.

a star filled sky

We have another chance at a lunar eclipse, also a Super Moon, next January 21st. It will not be a Blue Moon, however. I just hope the skies are clear on that night. Surely we will get the date right, since January 21st is Johnny's birthday. A Happy Birthday Super Blood Moon!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January on the Farm

Johnny turned 75 this month. Thanks to the ongoing pain and stiffness, he probably feels more like 100. Walking is difficult. Fortunately, driving is not so much so he is able to go on our birding treks, to stores (with the help of a wheelchair or motorized cart) and sometimes to church, when he is feeling well enough. We're hoping for a good diagnosis and then solutions from Hope Orthopedics in Salem... as soon as he can get an appointment. Update: Turned out they only do feet and ankles. So he now has an appointment on Feb. 14 with the excellent orthopedic surgeon in Tualatin who did his back surgery years ago. Here's hoping...

Meanwhile, Johnny keeps the home fires burning while I do chores and enjoy the unseasonably warm (although often wet) January weather... and now and then hike around taking photos of our farm.

reflections on our seasonal pond

wild rose hips

winter blooming jasmine outside the back door

one of our Speckled Sussex chickens

Fred the peacock

Northern Flicker

Gertrude the Guinea Hen
Nightingale, Jessie Anne and Mr. Smith with snow on the hills behind them

a Waxcap (Hygrocybe) in the woods

moss and lichen covered fir trunk

more reflections with invisible bathing Robin

grand old Bigleaf Maple

another waxcap

Sleepy Barn Owl in the loft of the goat barn