Saturday, December 6, 2014

Non-raptor Highlights on our Raptor Routes

There are more things than birds to make our raptor routes fun. On December's Grand Ronde route, we came upon our friend Susan driving her handsome team of draft horses.

On another private sector that we drive through, Mt. Jefferson loomed majestically in front of us.

Coming and going, this face can be seen on a hillside south of Highways 18/22 between Willamina and Fort Hill. We have been told that it was created (planted) at the same time the clearcut was replanted. The orange face is larch trees, a deciduous conifer. When the needles fall, the face will disappear. But right now, it is quite visible and fun to see. Just don't wreck your car looking. I pulled off the highway to take these photos from the west-bound lane.

A few days later (on Dec. 6), we did our North Santiam route for the month. It was a gray and drizzly day but I took some photos anyway of waterfowl and a noisy Kingfisher at John Neal Park in Lyons where we stop to eat our lunches. I love the woodsy ponds and so do the birds.

Gadwalls, clothed in soft gray to match the weather

Ring-necked Duck, handsome even through drizzle

Fluffed up Kingfisher, standing noisy guard over his ponds

I walked on farther with hordes of juncos, a Bewick's Wren and this Downy Woodpecker paying me no attention.

My goal, as always when I hike in John Neal Park, was to hopefully find the pair of Red-shouldered Hawks we discovered there a couple years ago. They were not to be seen on our November run. But this day, fate smiled on me. The pair of impossibly beautiful Red-shouldered Hawks sat for photos. How could any raptor be this colorful?

Raptors are, indeed, the point of our raptor surveys, but there are many non-raptor bonuses, too, including lovely scenery, a smiley face on the mountain, and, at least once, a team of gorgeous horses.

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