Not this year.
I have lots of excuses: sickness, weather, other-things-I-needed-to-do-or-would-rather-do. Now it's crunch time and I've finally ordered all the gifts and most have arrived... here. I have stacks of presents to wrap and send. But there was that cold snap that kept me busy hauling water. And once the ice melted (Saturday was the first non-skating rink day on the driveway), there were bird surveys to try to get done.
Monday was the annual Upper Nestucca Christmas Bird Count. We scouted for it the day before to make sure the roads were open. I planned to take photos of all the birds we saw on our scouting trip, but the birds had other plans. So I took photos of this pretty rock grotto in our section of the circle.
On Monday, count day, I tried again for bird photos. A beautiful Golden-crowned Kinglet, gold crown shimmering in the sunlight, was in the center of this photo... just before my shutter clicked. Kinglets are fast.
Our sector of the count circle is heavily forested and high. Creeks are tiny headwaters that become bigger streams after they tumble down out of our sector.
While most Christmas Bird Counts vie for the most number of species, we hope to break 50. In our sector, the usual number is 12 and that's what we had this year. But it's a lot of fun anyway and you can't beat the fresh air and the privacy. We saw two vehicles all day.
I intended to rest up on Tuesday... and wrap gifts... but the weather did not look great for the rest of the week and I still had my December Grand Ronde raptor route to do. So off we went Tuesday morning, in the fog. In spite of poor visibility, we saw lots of hawks and kites, but could not get photos because of the fog. At one point, it cleared a bit and I managed this photo of one of the lovely Red-shouldered Hawks that live along Willamina Creek.
Quite unexpectedly, we also found an Osprey along Willamina Creek. We had found one on our early December North Santiam raptor route, too. (Story here: http://lindafink-birdnotes.blogspot.com/2013/12/north-santiam-raptor-route.html) They should be far south by now. I don't know why they are still in this cold north country. This bird was a long way away so my zoomed up photo is rather poor.
Because we were driving slowly in fog, it took more time. The day grew late ... and increasingly foggy... so we quit and went home. We will have to finish the route another day.
Meanwhile, this pile of Christmas gifts is waiting to be wrapped... and I must stop procrastinating.