Saturday, July 6, 2013

Suddenly Summer

Suddenly it was summer. And still is. I forgot how much work there is around here in the summer time. First it was lawns and arboretum paths to mow constantly, now it's tansy ragwort to pull out of horse pastures and pasture weeds to mow. The garden always needs hoeing and weeding and watering. The flowerbeds grow weeds faster than I can pull them. Roses require dead-heading, the greenhouse wants watering, produce needs picking and dealing with. And goat milking and feeding needs to be done early morning and late evening when it's not too terribly hot. I don't do heat well.

Two days a week we escape to the cool coast to survey Black Oystercatchers. How I love those coastal bird surveys.  The once-a-year Breeding Bird Survey from Valley of the Giants is not as much fun, but at least we didn't have any vehicle breakdowns this year. We did miss a stop, though, and we had a non-functioning flashlight which made the hike into the first stop at 4:30 in the morning rather difficult. Thank goodness for moonlight. After all that effort, we heard no Marbled Murrelets for the second year in a row... disappointing. But we were serenaded by a pair of Barred Owls as we hiked in.

At home, the Barn Owls are providing nightly entertainment. A few friends sat out on the lawn watching the fledglings fly last night. While waiting for my friends to arrive, I turned on the sprinkler for the strawberries, intending to turn it off before doing chores. But I forgot and left it on all night... and ran the well dry. We spent most of today rigging a pump and hose to move water from the creek to our well. We usually don't have to do that until August, if at all. But this year has been drier than usual and... well... I left the water running all night. I should have been watering with pond water, as I do the garden, not well water. Sigh.

I took no photos of today's ordeal, but here are some taken over our first few summery weeks.

On one of our surveys, this Peregrine Falcon took down a gull and plucked and gutted it in front of us, then carried it to his family. We thought that was fascinating to watch, especially when he flew fifteen feet from us carrying his heavy cargo. We were not so delighted to hear that a Peregrine took out one of the Black Oystercatcher chicks at another location. But Peregrines are bird hawks, after all, and need to feed their own chicks..

Sometimes, it's a very long look to find BLOY. Here's my scope pointed at Haystack Rock, Cape Kiwanda. I was on my way to the north side to hunt for our missing north side pair.

My scope brings the rock up much closer.

 But Johnny had a closer view yet. He's the tiny dot on the top of Rogue Wave Ridge in the above photo. I'll zoom him up. He's looking through a smaller scope that we inherited from my dad.

At another site, Boiler Bay, we discovered a new trail that opened up several viewpoints. Friend Dawn is now surveying Boiler Bay, saving us that trip south. It was fun to explore a new trail and then show our finds to Dawn.

 Of course, I had to take a photo of a waterfall along the way. I love waterfalls.

 On another survey day, we headed north to Short Beach and discovered a BLOY nest there that we had heard about, but never located in years past. I love Short Beach. I forgot to bring my camera this day so prevailed on Johnny to take pictures with his little camera. The nest is just beyond one of the many waterfalls.  (See why I like Short Beach?) It's way in the distance in this first photo.

 A bit closer here, with the waterfall in view.

  Zoomed up, if you have a very good eye, you can see a black dot on the offshore rock and another on the ledge on the cliff. Those are the BLOY pair. The nest is on the ledge.

 Our friends John and Barbara waited for us up at the road. They were entertained by a group of Bald Eagles in a tree behind them. They saw six at one time.


 After a bit, the two adult eagles moved to a dead tree a little removed from the sub-adults.

In between coastal trips, I photographed this pair of Evening Grosbeaks on a dead tree behind the barn, just to show that our dead trees can have interesting birds, too.

But then it was back to Road's End and my favorite survey spot, The Thumb. The walk up is glorious with red elderberries, twisty trees, and this day, a deer in the meadow. I'm glad I remembered my camera this time.

It's always exciting when the BLOY eggs hatch and we catch sight of chicks. Here is one if you can find it, in front of a parent.

Zoomed up and blurry, here are parent and chick. This chick is already about two weeks old.

Johnny took a photo with his camera through my scope of the parent BLOY covering her two chicks. She is all fluffed out at the sides to fit those chicks under her wings.

 Sometimes, when we have finished our surveys and it isn't quite time to hit a restaurant for supper (Johnny's favorite part of the day), we explore new territory. One day, we found an unmarked viewpoint off the beaten path. Lots of sea denizens had found it before us. Johnny took these photos of Brown Pelicans...

 And Brandt's Cormorants showing off their handsome blue throat pouches...

 And seals, sunbathing...

I was intrigued by, and took photos of, the condos on the shore with the cormorant condos in the grottoes below.

Can you see them? Here's a cropped and lightened version, and then a close-up of one cormorant condo.

Another day we took a hike at Cape Meares that we have never taken before. But that's a story for another time, another blog. Plus to prove we do stay home at times, I'll get photos of the roses and vegetable garden that are enjoying the summer sun more than I... and write a blog on them... when I'm not watering, weeding, hoeing... or running the well dry.


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