Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Fruitful Summer

Prune plums and apples and blackberries and pears and grapes... our cups runneth over, also our freezer. Johnny has done most of the freezing of fruit and giving it away to neighbors. I am tired of canning and quit after the pears and cucumber pickles. Then I mowed dry grass fields and attempted to keep the garden watered and veggies picked, the beans and broccoli and I-forget-what-else frozen.

Johnny continues to make delicious Mountain Pies with our prune plums. Here is his gluten-free recipe...

                         Johnny Fink's Plum Delicious Mountain Pie

1 1/2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 big eggs
1/2 cup milk

Mix and pour into 9" round pan

pit 8 prune plums and cut into small pieces, spread on top of batter

Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of prunes

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes

The prunes magically spread their flavor throughout the batter as the pie bakes.

Johnny also makes a fruit salad as soon as we have finished off the last one he made. This is, indeed, a fruitful time of year on the farm. While he has been busy baking mountain pies and making fruit salads, among doing other things, I escaped to attend the Shorebird Festival in southern Oregon this past weekend, leaving him to milk goats and do the rest of my farm chores. I carpooled down the coast with friends Dawn and Eugenia.

We stopped first at the Nature Trail at Salishan where a bird from the eastern half of the U.S. had been seen off and on for several days. This was only the 4th time ever a Yellow-throated Vireo had been seen in Oregon. Dawn had tried her luck six times to find it and struck out every time. But this day started out with a good sign... a juvenile Green Heron flew into a tree by Johnny's shop just as I was loading the car to go. It didn't stay long for a good photo but, trust me, that's what this brown blob in the tree is: I know because I watched it fly out of the tree... too fast for me to aim my camera.

The good omen of the Green Heron proved true. After eating our lunch beside the trail, we walked back and forth with several other searching birders and, finally, Dawn spotted it. The Yellow-throated Vireo did not stick around long enough for a photo, but Dawn and I saw it very clearly with it's white belly and yellow throat. It was perched on a limb eating a bug. The flock of warblers and chickadees it was with all flew and so did the visiting vireo. But it was an exciting start to our birding adventure.

Walking back to the car, we saw a Red-necked Phalarope feeding close to shore... our first shorebird of the Shorebird Festival weekend.

That evening, after registering and moving into our dorm rooms (Dawn moved into a hotel with her husband who had driven down from Salem after work to meet her), we attended a lecture on Black Oystercatchers given by USGS biologist Elise Elliot-Smith, who initiated the volunteer monitoring in 2005 that I, and many others, have been doing ever since. Her talk was followed by an update by the current head of the Black Oystercatcher project and all other Portland Audubon Society volunteer projects, Joe Liebezeit.

It was a great start to the weekend. Unfortunately, Dawn woke up the next morning ill, so drove home with her husband who had met her there. But at least she, another avid BLOY monitor, had heard and seen the Black Oystercatcher presentation. And... drum roll... she had finally seen the elusive Yellow-throated Vireo!

Most of my bird photos from the weekend Shorebird Festival are on my Birds blog here:  http://lindafink-birdnotes.blogspot.com/2016/09/shorebird-festival-charleston-oregon.html

However, there was more to see than shorebirds on our field trips in the Charleston, Coos Bay and Bandon areas. I loved Simpson Reef with its spectacular Harlequin Ducks...

... and a few bazillion Sea Lions...

 After the field trips ended, I wandered down to the bay edge and took more photos of birds and other sights. I was intrigued by this tug boat towing a huge barge. I wonder what the barge was carrying?

The tuna and salmon were running well, we were told, and there were lots of fisherfolk out fishing. The marina was full of boats.

Eugenia and I stayed overnight Sunday and left Monday morning. We had "discovered" a little shop a short distance from the OIMB campus that opened at 6 a.m.  Eugenia could get her morning coffee and I hot chocolate. Next to that store was a pub, Miller's at the Cove Sports Bar and Grill, where we ate Sunday night. We are both gluten free and this little pub had a gluten-free menu! And delicious gluten-free clam chowder! If either of us gets to Charleston again, this place is where we will eat suppers. The food was great and so was the service.

We drove home, stopping here and there for rest breaks and short hikes. This lovely Lake Marie had a Wrentit singing most insistently while many other birds chimed in. We watched a Downy Woodpecker flitting about quite un-woodpecker like.

When we reached the farm, Eugenia stayed a bit before driving home. We watched the birds in front of the barn here... hordes of California Quail, quite a few young White-crowned Sparrows, a flock of Cedar Waxwings eating chokecherries, Mourning Doves, a Red-breasted Sapsucker, a Western Wood Pewee flycatching from a dead tree. A Common Yellowthroat talked from the cattails by the pond but refused to come into view.

It was a good trip, but like all trips, it's nice to have it over and to be home. Now to unpack... and have a piece of Johnny's Plum Delicious Mountain Pie.

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