It has been nearly a month since I last posted a blog entry. It’s been quite the month. Family emergency, busted computer, lots of travel… yeah, it’s been a month. Now that the computer is back up and running a brand new hard disk with Windows 7 reinstalled and all the hundreds of updates made and all software reloaded (whew!) it is time to show you some images that I’ve managed to get in the time while all the commotion was happening. Two subjects: birds and a little lady named Kendyl.
I spent a couple of days with my good friends Steve and Suzanne in Pasco at the end of April. Steve got me hooked up as a volunteer with the McNary National Wildlife Refuge and I am now allowed in government vehicles and behind closed gates. I tagged along with Steve and a nice fellow named Keith on one of their bi-weekly Burrowing owl monitoring trips. My goal was to see an owl (a life bird for me) and, hopefully, get a photo. We visited about 40 burrows scattered over many areas near the Hanford nuclear reservation and saw a total of 4 owls. Now, let me explain “saw” a bit. These are wary birds that are about 9-10 inches tall. They have long legs and short wings. They borrow gopher and ground hog tunnels to make into their nests. Steve and others at McNary have been installing artificial burrows as well. It’s really an unusual nesting behavior. As you approach an active burrow the owl will see you coming and, depending on their degree of comfort, hold a bit or flush quickly. We did not get closer than 20 meters from a burrow before the birds flushed. 3 of the 4 flew a great distance and landed at a new location well out of camera range. It happens so quickly that my feeble reflexes and camera skills could not begin to follow them in flight. The first owl, however, flushed and flew a short distance and posed for us as it did a “bob and weave” boxer kind of motion. Keith explained that it was likely a diversion behavior and the bird was trying to steer our attention to it and not to the nest. Anyway, I got off about 15 shots before the bird took off for good.
This is not the best photo of the owl but it is the best one that I have. I was excited to see the bird and to actually get a photo. I hope to go back soon to help with some banding of the birds and will try to get a sharp shot or two then. How about those eyes?!?!
We also saw several Long-billed curlew in the area. Now, I think of these as shore birds and seeing them in the desert of eastern Washington was a bit of a mind stretcher. These chicken-sized birds generally just walked away if we got too close. I did manage to get a couple of sharp shots.
After the trip to Pasco I traveled to Colorado a bit to be with my Mom. On return from that trip I repacked and Dianne and I headed for Bozeman for Kendyl’s 2nd birthday. It’s a truism that time moves faster than we think. I can’t believe that she is already two. I could go on and on about her being cute and smart and fun and exciting and amazing… but I won’t. She’s all that and we were thrilled to be with her, Chad and Devri and their friends in Bozeman as Kendyl rocked the party and received many gifts. A fun time for sure. Here are a couple of our favorite photos of this special girl.
I’ll close this post by saying that I can’t fully explain how theraputic it is to hold and hug a beautiful young girl at a time when such therapy is most valued and needed. She’ll never know how much holding her hand or getting a kiss helped me. Such is life. Onward.