Tuesday, November 10, 2015

North Santiam Raptor Route... with camera

My raptor routes are more exciting... and taking longer... now that I have a new camera to play with. Today Johnny and I did our North Santiam route. It started out pretty exciting, with a distant Bald Eagle. But even before the eagle showed up, I decided to see what this camera would do with a Red-tail on a tree in the middle of a field where we often see a Red-tail. Here is the tree. It's the one way off in the distance that has a bare top bending to the right. Another hint: it is in the center of the photo.

I brought it a little closer. Now can you see the bent top tree?

On the left side of that bent tree sits a Red-tailed Hawk. It was visible only with my binoculars... and this camera.

Okay, now for the eagle. I caught a glint of white in the distance, put up my binocs, and saw the white head of an adult Bald Eagle. I did not have the good sense to bring it in little by little with camera shots, so here it is as seen from the car without the zoom.

Back home, I cropped that photo to zero in on the eagle tree, but that doesn't help much, does it? The eagle tree is left of the tall fir on the right in the photo below.

I cropped it still more. Now can you see the eagle on the top of the middle tree?

Here it is cropped again. Pretty fuzzy.

 And now back to the photos I took today... zoomed in. I couldn't hold the camera still, even propped against the window, so it is a little blurry.

Then I zoomed it all the way and couldn't even get the whole eagle in view!

I went back out a little... better, although it was looking the other way.

I did finally get it looking to the right but shook a bit so it is still blurry. I did not notice the wing feather askew until I saw these photos.

 On the same road where we saw the eagle, Fern Ridge Rd., Johnny's sharp eyes spotted a raptor on the dead top of a tree. That tree is just left of the barn in the foreground.

I zoomed in a bit. The raptor is close to the top of the visible part of this dead tree top.

Zoomed more, it begins to look like a Peregrine Falcon, with prey.

And here it is, with some unfortunate bird in its talons.

Closer and with the camera better braced.

And then eating the prey.

That was the last of the exciting raptor photos as we needed to arrive at our lunch spot at lunch time. We stopped along Fern Ridge Rd. when we knew we were about 20 minutes away from the Chinese Dragon restaurant in Mehama that is on our route... and called in our take-out lunch order. We took it to John Neal Park in Lyons and ate out on a picnic table with the sun warming our backs. It was a lovely day. I wandered around the ponds hoping to find the Red-shouldered Hawks we saw there two years ago, but no luck. I did find a female Northern Shoveler swimming through the reflections of colorful trees .

Here she is having a scratch.

 I love the wooded ponds at this park. They are beautiful all year but especially so in the fall.

On one pond, I found a group of Gadwalls. One male turned for a picture.

The trail eventually winds its way to the North Santiam River where a gravel bar in the middle of the river often has a Dipper foraging from a rock at its edge. And so it did today. The gravel bar is at the far side of the river in the center of this photo.

Here it is a little closer.

The Dipper was feeding off a round rock to the right (upstream) of the gravel bar.

I took this photo of the Dipper's rock while the Dipper was under water. It is the round rock in the middle right with sun glinting off it.

Here it is with Dipper. Each time the Dipper dove, it came up with something to eat.

 I was thrilled that my camera could capture the Dipper from so great a distance. But we were running late now with half the route yet to drive, so we left beautiful John Neal Park and I put the camera away. We stopped, as always, at the cemetery on our route where my parents are buried. It made me happy to see that Mom's hardy cyclamen and primrose were still alive, in spite of the hot dry summer. One more non-raptor stop to say hi to friends in Gates, then we headed back for the return part of our route through fields north of the North Santiam Highway until we arrived again at Salem, our starting point.

Our total raptors were about average for this route in November: 12 Red-tailed Hawks, 15 American Kestrels, 4 Northern Harriers, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Cooper's Hawk and 1 Peregrine Falcon. But I had above average fun taking photos of  far away birds.


  1. Great way to show off your new camera - it's obviously magic!

  2. Johnny says people will wonder how we see these birds in the first place. Think we should tell them we see a lot of tops of trees that are not birds before we find one that is? :-)