Still Winter In The High Country

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Every so often I HAVE to get up into the high country to see the grandeur of mountains, lakes, streams and forests, it lifts me up.   So, I headed up to the Mount Baker National Forest with plans to visit Artist Point and photograph Mount Baker.  Upon arriving a the Mount Baker Ski Area there was still three to four feet of snow of hard packed snow and the road was closed to Artist Point.  The skiers were having a great time!   I parked at the main lodge to have lunch and enjoy the view of the surrounding peaks.   One peak, Mount Shuksan stood out as it had this blue snow build up barely clinging onto the mountain.

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Here is closer look at the blue snow, notice the crack at the top of the build up, this whole thing will probably break off and avalanche down the canyon as the weather warms up.

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Making my way to the other end of the ski resort the road is gated shut and turns into a popular snow shoeing trail that leads up about half a mile to Heather Meadows and three miles to Artist Point.  I put on my heavy boots and high gaiters and headed up the road,  I did sink into he snow a few times, but it was not too bad.  As a approached Heather Meadows I looked back from where I came and found the stunning East Pleiades Peaks off in the distance.

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Spring Is Coming

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The plants around the house are coming to life after a snowy winter.  This Japanese Meadowsweet (Spiraea japonica) has just been touched by a light spring rain.

Surrounded By Snow Geese

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I was busy working in my home office recently when I received a text message from a friend,  “All the Snow Geese are out.  Grab your camera”.   Boy, was she right.

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In the nearby Skagit River Valley, huge flocks of Snow Geese(Anser caerulescens) come through this area stop over for warmer weather before continuing south to California and beyond.

With thousands of Snow Geese in this field, the only thing more incredible than seeing them was listening to them.  Everyone was talking.

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And then, for some unknown reason, the entire flock decided to leave this field for the next one over.

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And they literally filled the sky.

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Circled around me.

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Flew in front of the setting sun.

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And joined their friends in the next field over so they could look at Mount Rainier off in the distance, over one hundred and fifty miles away.

It’s Been A While

My apologies to all of you that I haven’t posted in many months, but with a new work schedule I’m now able to get out with my camera much more.

Earlier this month my wonderful wife and I celebrated our thirty fifth wedding anniversary with a relaxing weekend away at the Semiahmoo(SEM-e-AH-moo) Resort in northwest Washington.  One of the highlights of our getaway was a bird watching outing around the grounds of the resort and nearby marina.  We were treated to numerous ducks, loons, cormorants, plovers, a surf scoter and …

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A Belted Kingfisher(Megaceryle alcyon) searching for fish.

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Next to the Resort is an old water tower used by the old salmon cannery next door.  What does this have to do with birds you ask?   Check out the gantry on lower left of the photo and perched there is …

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A Perregrine Falcon(Falco peregrinus), the fastest bird on the planet.  These raptors have been clocked at over two hundred miles per hour during a dive.  During our walk we saw this one attack a much bigger Bald Eagle when the eagle encroached on it’s territory.

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When our bird tour wrapped up, I explored around the remnants of the cannery building.

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Wet weather has taken is toll on this building.

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But it makes for some great abstract shapes and colors.

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And finally, an old boat slowly falling apart.  I love the patterns of the wooden planks making up the bow.

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Closeup of the bow.

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And even closer on the bow planks.

Springtime at Joshua Tree National Park

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Yeah, I know it’s summer now, but I wanted to share what good winter moisture will do for one of my favorite parks, Joshua Tree National Park.  The desert comes alive with flowers and wildlife in the spring time.

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The Ocotillo (Fouquieria Splendens)  bloom with small crimson flowers at the tips of the branches.   Because of their sturdy nature, the stems/branches of Ocotillo have been used as fence posts and walking sticks.

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While exploring the southern portion of the park I came a number of gorgeous yellow bottle brush like plants, Desert Princes’ Plume (Stanleya Pinnata).  Just after capturing the image above, I heard what sounded like a hummingbird getting closer and closer.

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It turned out to be a White-lined sphinx or Hummingbird moth (Hyles lineata) gathering nectar from the Desert Princes’ Plume.

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Walking around some more I found these tiny, about a half inch across,  Wild Heliotrope (Phacelia Distans) flowers.

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A bit later in the day I was up in the Queen Valley area and found the bright magenta flowers of the Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii).

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And for the highlight of the day!  I’ve been coming to Joshua Tree National Park multiple times a year since I was a kid back in the 1960’s and I knew there were Big Horn Sheep that lived in the park, but I have never seen any.   I was driving one of the dirt roads in the Queen Valley when I came upon a herd of twenty to thirty Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) crossing the road about a hundred yards ahead.  Noticing they were moving towards me, I backed up a bit, parked and grabbed the long lens and spent the next half hour photographing them as they slowly moved up into the mountains. Wow!

Ship Harbor Bird Watching

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Just a short walk from my home in Anacortes, Washington is the Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve, home to eagles, osprey, owls, seagulls, numerous ducks, robins, crows, sparrows, swifts, rabbits, deer, mice and many other critters.

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As I approached the preserve, a young bald eagle(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was standing at the waters edge looking for a meal.

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A few moments later it took flight and take refuge in nearly pine tree.

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Continuing farther into the preserve there are remnants of the old canning factories that once dominated this area.  Hundreds of  wooden pilings supported railroad tracks and a pier where the canning buildings once stood.  With the tide out, a dozen to so Great Blue Herons(Ardea herodias) were catching small fish in the shallow mud flats.

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