Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Deer and Bear, Oh My!

Having entertained everyone with bear poop in my last blog, I thought it only fair I provide photos of the creatures who produced it. I gathered trail camera cards yesterday and today and found images of I-don't-know-how-many-bears because I can't tell them apart. Well, one looks small and one looks very large and others (or other) are (is) in-between.

Thanks to my close-up photo of bear-poop-with-grain-imbedded, I now realize that it did not come from in front of our barn, where I throw out grain for the birds. The oats in the grain I throw is rolled, not whole oats like in the bear poop. I do feed whole oats to the chickens but their bag of oats has not been molested in the chicken house. That bear found his grain somewhere else. All other bear poop piles are full of apples. One of my videos has a bear eating apples... and standing on many more... under one of the swamp apple trees. Below are still captures from those videos.

First the bear (or bears) seen in the swamp camera... on different days.

Then the bears caught by the lake pasture camera...

The trail cameras caught deer, too. These are easier to tell apart, thanks to the varying sizes of antlers, if they have any... The swamp camera caught more deer than bear... and no bear poop piles were noticed by me.

These first two bucks hung out together eating... and sometimes sparring.

A 4-point buck came alone.

There were does, too.

These young does were always together.

The lake pasture camera caught different deer...

Another four-pointer, with different antlers than the one in the swamp.

 This poor little fawn looks like it lost its mom too soon.

A five-point buck, on the other hand, is in fine shape.

 Below is Split Ear, the doe we have watched in our camera for several years. She is followed by her two fawns.

Also caught by the trail cameras were birds, raccoons, and a neighbor's cat. But no bobcats or coyotes this time.

It is always exciting to see what the trail camera has seen... and rather nice to have bears to look at from the safety of my office chair.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall North American Migration Count

My new camera arrived in time for this past weekend's North American Migration Count. But I took few photos because the birds didn't stand around waiting for me to click the shutter. And many of them I only heard.

Well, I took a lot of photos but not of birds.

On Saturday, I birded our farm for the Yamhill County NAMC and was a bit nervous when I found, on my early morning walk through our woods, several new bear poop piles. I was even more nervous when I found yet another on my afternoon walk through... this one filled with grain... Where did the bear find that grain? It looks like what I throw out in front of the barn for the birds each morning. Oh dear.

But it was good to see, on my afternoon walk, a Dipper on our creek. It was not thrilled to see me though and gave me one distant chance at a photo before heading farther downstream.

We found five Dippers upstream on our morning survey on Agency Creek road. But none of those posed for a photo.

On the way back out of our woods in the afternoon, I was scanning the trees for birds, instead of watching where I was going. This is what a bear poop pile looked like after I stepped in it. This bear had been eating apples, of which we have a good plenty down in the woods.

Okay, enough of the bear poop. On the way through the arboretum, I stopped to take a photo of one of our Amur Maples in its fall glory...

...and a Cedar Waxwing, who cooperated long enough for me to snap this photo.

The only bird to pose up Agency Creek Rd. was a Great Blue Heron, sitting on a snag very far away, in the middle of the forest. I didn't have time to zoom him up close before he flew.

Sunday we headed to Lincoln City to check on our Black Oystercatcher chicks. The day was quite windy and misty as we headed for The Thumb, our lookout point. 

 Johnny was way ahead of me, climbing the wet and slippery slope. He is the yellow dot where the two paths merge.

We did not stay on top long as the wind was threatening to blow us off. We saw the two adult BLOY and one of their chicks. Likely the other one was out of sight and out of wind. Johnny slid down the hill on his bottom as it was too slick to walk the path. I walked down in the grass alongside the path.

We pulled in to the Road's End wayside to take photos of gulls we had seen on our way up to our trailhead. I figured someone could tell me what the ones I didn't know were. Dawn did. She said the little dark one in front of the bigger Western Gulls is a Heerman's gull.

Here's a juvenile Western begging from its parent (presumably).

 The weather deteriorated from then on. We did not find the Dipper that should have been at the Van Duzer Wayside but did not stay long in the pouring rain. The weather was a bit better on the east side of the mountains, so on our way home, we stopped to hike a forest road in Polk County that is usually full of birds. And there were birds, in spite of the lousy weather, but I could not see them with rain all over my glasses. Johnny saw a few and I heard a few. And we both got very wet. We went home, took hot showers, and headed for Shenk's Wetlands to hopefully get a few more birds for the Polk county NAMC.

Success! The rain let up and the raptors appeared in good variety: Red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, one Rough-legged Hawk, and two White-tailed Kites. I was thrilled to see the kites are back where they raised a youngster last spring. They were on the far side of the field, too far for photos but I took some anyway. Here is one hovering way off in the distance, with my camera zoomed up its entire 60X.

 We had hopes of adding Vaux's Swifts to the Polk county list, but they did not appear at the chimney where they had been spending nights earlier in the fall. The people who live there said they quit coming at least a week ago.

Nevertheless, it was a fun, but exhausting, two days of birding. a nice break from canning and freezing garden produce. And so good to be able to document it with a camera!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Life Without a Camera

How to write without photos to help tell the story? For years, I wrote magazine articles, humor columns, feature stories, and even books, most without any photos at all. Now I can't write a sentence without having a photo to illustrate it. But I sent back the camera I had bought to replace the one I drowned...  I have since learned that the movie function most likely did not work (the main reason I sent it back) because the memory card I was using was not fast enough to buffer the movie. However, the camera did not have a viewfinder and I can't see well through the monitor screen, so it's best I sent it back. Sob.

I have ordered another camera... with a viewfinder. But it has not yet arrived. Last weekend, I wanted so much to take photos of Jessica riding Rudi in the Debbie McDonald clinic at Traumhof. So I borrowed Johnny's camera. Alas, I seem to be a camera jinx. On the second day it gave me a memory card error and refused to perform. Kevin tried to resurrect the photos that were already taken but to no avail. All were lost to a crummy memory card (a different crummy memory card from the one that plagued the returned camera.) So I have no photos of Jessica and Rudi, Ian and his beautiful cats Jasmine and Bangle, the mini horses Penny and Daisy with manes braided for the weekend by Jessica's sister Sarah, or anything else.

My jinx runs to more than cameras. Before leaving for the weekend, my computer mouse died. This is the second mouse that has died this summer. They are serial mice, old, and no longer able to be purchased. Kevin came to the rescue with an unused USB mouse. My USB ports were full but one was full of something I never use so I unplugged it and plugged in the new old mouse. Voila! I have a computer again and can type this blog. Without photos. Sigh.

Life goes on, even without a camera to document it. The garden is producing wildly... wish I had a photo of the jungle... and I'm canning and freezing madly. For once watermelons and cantaloupes have done well here. I can quarts of tomatoes daily... hooray! Last year there were not enough to can. Lots of peas, beans and broccoli have made their way into the freezer. We are eating corn daily.

My newest project is drying flowers for wreaths. This insanity was brought about when friend Jim called to say he was not going to make holiday wreaths this year... after 25 years, he was tired of it. Plus his statice crop (for dried statice flowers) failed. We give Jim's wreaths to relatives and friends every year. It's a tradition. So... I researched wreath making and decided to do it myself, with material gathered exclusively here on our farm. However, I have no statice flowers so am experimenting with everything I can find. The "play room" is now full of flowers hanging upside down, hopefully drying, hopefully beautifully. Some experiments have already failed: dandelions and Queen Anne's Lace from our weedy lawn just shrivel up and look ugly. Purple asters from a flower bed are somewhat better. The jury is still out on Autumn Joy Sedum. It's so fleshy it may take a year to dry... and then may well turn brown, as it does when left on the stalk, as I do every winter because I like the looks of them. How brown flowers would look in a wreath, though, I don't know.

Greens we have aplenty here thanks mostly to my arboretum: sequoia, eucalyptus, doug fir and more. Plus lots of wild rose hips for a touch of color. (Maybe rose hips would look good on a background of brown sedum?) I have ordered wreath rings and florist wire. Johnny just rolls his eyes. He doesn't think I need another project. I don't, but wreaths are a tradition! By the time I actually make the wreaths, hopefully I'll  have a camera to show them off. And hopefully, they'll look good enough to show off.

But wait! I do have cameras on the place! Three of them in fact: trail cameras. And they don't seem to mind my cheap memory cards. I have them set to take videos, but then I take still captures off some. Here are two recent still captures, first of "Split Ear", the doe with twins. In this photo, you can see why we dubbed her Split Ear.

And here is a young buck, just beginning to grow his antlers... and very curious about the trail camera.

A bear has been decorating the driveway the last few days with his poop. I put a trail camera there to try to capture him but all I got was Johnny walking up to get the mail yesterday.

!!!News flash!!! It's here!! I just walked up to get the mail and check the trail camera again and my camera was in the mailbox! And so was the expensive memory card I bought for it!! Now to read all the instructions and try not to mess anything up. This is the last blog without photos!! Hooray!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Catching Up and Camera Angst

My plan for September, after our busy summer, was to catch up and keep up. My plan is not working well. On the plus side, I have caught up on horse hoof trimming. I'll post a few photos of horse hooves to illustrate. These are unposed, some covered with mud (it rained one day... a little), photos. I was desperate to use my fabulous new camera before I sent it back. That story later...

Oh, but first I can't resist showing how much I loved the zoom on this camera. There is a small hawk on top of the big snag in the photo below, with lots of swallows dive bombing it. I could not tell for sure with my binoculars what it was... but thought it was a Merlin.

Until I zoomed it up and looked at the resulting photo on my computer. An American Kestrel!

And high in a tree by Agency Creek was a dark blob I couldn't tell what was until I zoomed it up in my Nikon Coolpix L820...

Snoozing raccoon

But back to catching up... We managed to survey Dippers on Agency Creek for the first time in months and found this busy bird singing and foraging in his nesting territory.

On the way home from our weekly Black Oystercatcher (BLOY) check at Road's End (I do keep up on BLOY nest monitoring), we found an American Dipper at the Van Duzer Wayside, where we had not been able to find one for the last half a year. It used to be a simple matter of stopping at the wayside, walking to the creek, and seeing a Dipper. Here's hoping it appears for the North American Migration Count in two weeks. (Dippers are not migratory, but the count is for finding out who is here in the fall, migratory or not.)

Van Duzer Dipper

Ah yes, and here are some of those horses' hooves that I trimmed last week ...

I also managed to start and finish editing a friend's book that he sent me months ago. It was a fun read and much more fun than the monthly humor column for United Caprine News that I struggled over at the beginning of the week. I finally did get a first draft down on paper a couple days before the Sept. 5 deadline. Alas, my editor emailed that he was leaving for Europe early the next morning and could I please get my column to him that night? Everything else in the paper was done. So I scrambled to make my first draft presentable and shipped it off. Yesterday, I finally got around to catching up on mail and read in the previous month's United Caprine News about the early deadline of Aug. 31. Oops.

More oops followed. Anything that is not on the calendar is out of luck. And so a major happening this past Saturday that we fully planned to attend was completely forgotten. Saturday night an email asked if we were ill because we had not appeared. I am diligently writing everything on the calendar now. Hopefully, I'll remember to check the calendar each morning.

Ah, but about my camera angst, which has been distracting me more even than I'm usually distracted... When our families were visiting in August, I dropped my beloved Nikon Coolpix P90 in the creek and ruined it. So I bought a new camera with a longer zoom and that is what the photos above were taken with... and also the photos in last week's blog post about the wonderful Black Oystercatcher week. But the movie function on this new camera did not work well for me: the movies were jerky and strangely colored. I called Nikon but they insisted it was my fault... with no remedy for fixing it.

I just could not justify keeping a camera where the movie function didn't work... at least for me... plus I could not see through the monitor in bright light. I need a viewfinder on a camera. I wear trifocals and trying to get the LCD screen at a distance where I can focus on it and still see what's in there is difficult. My old P90 had a viewfinder. So this morning I shipped the L820 back to Amazon, where I bought it just a few weeks ago. Right after that, the Nikon person I've been dealing with emailed that my video on youtube (where I had put it to show her) looked fine. Amazed I went to youtube and, yes, she was right. Apparently, youtube fixes problems like that. I have since read one review of this camera that said the movies do need youtube's editing to fix them. So I'm glad I sent it back.

But I feel naked without a camera drooped around my neck. I spent hours the last couple days, when I should have been catching up, researching cameras.

Meanwhile, I took photos yesterday of everything I could find to take photos of in preparation for being without a camera. Sob.

This handsome spider was spinning a web in the middle of the path. I walked off the path to get around it. I sent this photo to and learned it is Araneus nordmanni.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell on Autumn Joy Sedum

Red Admiral (identified by

Last night, with a lovely sunset  plus a sliver of a moon and Venus, I took the last photos with this wonderful camera...  Maybe I'll catch up on other things if I'm not wandering around taking photos all the time. Maybe.




                                                               ... gone.