Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Last Week of 2014

It was a cold but mostly clear end to 2014. Christmas Day we drove to Tillamook to have dinner out with birding friends, as we have done the last several Christmas Days. Since it had rained heavily the previous weekend, we stopped on our way at two waterfalls to see them at their fullest. Gunaldo Falls is along the road but virtually invisible most of the year, hidden behind deciduous trees. Now, with the leaves off the trees and the water at its fullest, I finally was able to get a photo from the road.

Munson Creek Falls is a County Park along Hwy 101. We have been there many times. But this time it had more water than ever, thanks to the heavy rains. At 266 feet, it is the highest falls in the coast range.

After dinner at a restaurant with our friends, we went birding (of course) along Netarts Bay, where I took this photo of a Red-breasted Merganser, a bird we don't see inland much.

And a pair of Common Goldeneyes.

At a pile of oyster shells, we found many, many Black Turnstones, along with a few gulls. The little black and white birds were hard to pick out from the shells. There are 8 of them in this view, believe it or not.

They are only slightly easier to see here with a gull for size comparison.

The next day proved to be a "repair the floor to keep the rodents out" day. That meant sorting junk that was in the way and made me realize how much junk we have. My end of the year resolution was to get rid of "stuff". Happily, the rodent-proofing seems to have worked. So far. The bratty chipmunk, though, can still get into the greenhouse somehow and sits at the door chattering at me to let him in. Cheeky fellow.

On Sunday the 28th we enjoyed talking with friends we see once a year at friend Monica's Borscht and Brew gathering. Then we toured friend Susan's straw-bale house construction. And bought organic chicken feed from her that she mostly raises herself using her team of Suffolk Punch horses (pictured in an earlier blog of non-bird highlights on our raptor run).

On very cold but sunny Tuesday, Dec. 30, we participated in my 3rd, Johnny's 2nd, Christmas Bird Count of the season. I had done the Lincoln County count in mid-month while Johnny was up at Traumhof helping son Kevin replace ballasts on many of the arena lights way at the top of their huge horse arena. It was a two man and very long ladder job. Of course, Johnny found other projects to help with as well that weekend. Then both of us did our Upper Nestucca CBC on Dec. 22. That story with photos is on my Birds Blog, along with the story and photos of the Lincoln county count.

The Dec. 30th Yamhill Valley count had lovely snow-covered mountain views in our Sheridan area sector. I took photos of scenery instead of birds. Scenery holds still better.

And then it was the last day of the month. December 31st dawned very cold but with a spectacular sunrise. The year was going out in a blaze of color.

A little later, the pink clouds turned white and the snow on the south hills became visible.

The birds I feed each morning came out in droves this cold last day of the year.

The Quail and sparrows were puffed up like little balls to keep warm on the frosty morning.

But the yellow winter-flowering shrub behind the house promises that spring will come again... in spite of the icicles adorning it now.

                                                         Happy New Year!

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