Pronghorn herd in the High Desert

Last fall, we saw a pronghorn herd on the drive to Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeast Oregon. This herd consisted of about 100 bucks and does.

You can see Hart Mountain peeking out in the distance. A storm was moving in. Here are pictures of the storm as it developed. Storm Clouds over Hart Mountain.

Pronghorn herd near Hart Mountain, Oregon 1November2017

Can you find a big buck watching over his harem in this picture? Both bucks and does can have horns, though the does’ are small or sometimes absent. Males have short black manes, a neck patch, and black markings across their forehead.

Weekly Photo Challenge – A Face in the Crowd

Canutts Gems and Rockshop – Lotsa rocks!

Cool rocks – inside and out

Do you ever drive by a place a million times and think to yourself, “I’ve got to stop there one day.”  This rockshop, south of Redmond, Oregon, was one of those places for me. We finally stopped last summer.  The shop has hundreds of carefully labeled rocks inside and out.

Canutts Gem and Rockshop display room 31August2017

Canutts Gem and Rockshop display room

There are a wide variety of rocks in Central Oregon and this shop displays some of the beauties collected over the past 42 years by the owner. Owners Mel and Jerry Lindbeck obviously have a love of rocks. Mel shapes some of the rocks into spheres, bookends, and display pieces.

Canutts Gem and Rockshop 31August2017

Canutts Gem and Rockshop

Lovely displays of rocks

We have been to plenty of rock shops over the years but this one displays them in lovely ways. The front room has a couple display cabinets, a table with small rocks, and windows lined with slices of semi-transparent agate.

Canutts Gem and Rockshop displays 31August2017

Canutts Gem and Rockshop displays

The back room is filled with neatly arranged specimens. In other rock stores we have visited, dust and dirt seem to be part of the collection. Not here. The polished spheres shine and sparkle, reflecting the light. The many amazing specimens invite you to take a closer look.

Oregon rocks

This is a good place to see some of the rock native to this area. Inside you can see thundereggs, petrified wood, jasper, agate, obsidian, and less common things such as Hampton green petrified wood. Outside you will see some of these same types of rock in boulder-size specimens. You will also see smaller specimens of some of the rocks in water-filled birdbaths that bring out their color. Rough rock is also on display outside in big piles.

Canutts Gem and Rockshop outside displays 31August2017

Canutts Gem and Rockshop outside displays

And more rocks…

Canutts Gem and Rockshop outside displays 31August2017

Canutts Gem and Rockshop outside displays

Though most of the rock is from Central Oregon in this shop, there are specimens from elsewhere as well. Pyrite, malachite (one of my favorites), lapis lazuli, copper, quartz, and fossils are all represented. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see the owner’s sense of humor about a special fossil in their collection.

So if you like rocks, think about stopping at this roadside attraction on Highway 97. To find out more about the shop, go to Canutts Gems and Rockshop.

 

 

Canutts Gem and Rockshop roadside sign 31August2017

Canutts Gem and Rockshop roadside sign

Please support our local businesses and buy rocks for yourself, friends, and family. Remember, a rock makes a special gift that lasts forever.

Tour of Bend

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Tour Guide. This will be easy!

Enjoy some pictures of beautiful sights in and around Bend, Oregon. Can you see why I love living here?

JanuarySunrise 6January2018

Sketching Raptors Workshop

Drawing from a different perspective

Great horned owl at High Desert Museum 20January2018

Great horned owl

On January 20, visitors entered Classroom A at the High Desert Museum to find the room filled with lifelike mounts of raptors. One mount depicted a California quail being chased by a sharp-shinned hawk. Another was of a great horned owl perched on a branch. A golden eagle mount, with outstretched wings, dwarfed the other birds on display. Artist Ian Factor welcomed participants in the workshop and everyone got to work sketching the birds. Curator of Art and Community Engagement Andries Fourie also attended and offered help when needed.

Siobhan's Drawing Kit 20January2018

My fancy drawing kit

Various art supplies were available for our use. Many attendees brought their own supplies neatly tucked into special cases. Others, like me, had the bare essentials, so we were grateful more were provided.

Drawing from reference materials

A variety of reference materials were displayed. There was a collection of bird wings, talons, and skulls. An articulated bird skeleton stood on a tabletop. We learned the basic form of our subjects by looking at mounts prepared by American Kestrel study by Siobhan Sullivan © 2018taxidermists. Though not available at this workshop, study skins, or museum mounts, are often utilized for research and artistic purposes. Photographs can help when you’re doing wildlife art and participants were snapping a lot of pictures. Reference materials are helpful in getting the details right and in understanding the underlying anatomy.

This workshop, like most hosted by the Museum, was open to people of all skill levels. Some attending the event were beginners, while others were more advanced. The artists drew the birds with a variety of media.  Several sketched in black-and-white with pencils, graphite, or charcoal; other participants added color with pastels and colored pencils.

Drawing from life

Red-tailed hawk by Siobhan Sullivan 2018 ©Drawing from life can be much more challenging. When sketching in a natural setting, you have to work fast to capture the essence of the bird. In this workshop, we sketched a live red-tailed hawk and great horned owl from the Museum’s collection. The hawk was quiet and basically stayed in one position. The owl was vocal and active the whole time. It can frustrate you when your subject doesn’t cooperate, but you have to learn to be flexible.

Participants were told to draw large shapes first then “carve down” to the details. After getting the basics down, Ian Factor advised us to capture the character of the birds. Character in this case is related to their adaptations for a predatory lifestyle and their individual personality. Wildlife Specialist Laura McWhorter provided many interesting life history facts on both of the live bird models provided for this workshop.

Participants drawing great horned owl at High Desert Museum 20January2018

Participants drawing great horned owl

Ian pointed out things each participant did well and areas that might need improvements. He was especially helpful to those new to drawing. Participants were enthusiastic about this workshop. In fact, one even asked if we could have this class every weekend.

Red-tailed hawk at High Desert Museum 20January2018

Red-tailed hawk

Do you have any ideas for art workshops at the Museum? If so, please send them to Andries Fourie at afourie@highdesertmuseum.org.

Reprinted from the February 2018 issue of High Desert Voices, a newsletter by and for volunteers working at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. To see issues of the newsletter, click here.

 

Three Creek Lake – Kayak trip

Kayaking at Three Creek Lake

This high elevation lake, 17 miles south of Sisters, Oregon, is a popular spot with visitors. Tam McArthur Rim towers over the south and west sides of the lake, making beautiful reflections at any time of the year.  As you paddle around the lake (no motorboats are allowed), you will hear creeks babbling over the rocks as they enter the lake. The water level of this natural lake is controlled by a small dam at the outlet.

Three Creek Lake near Sisters, Oregon 24September2017

We went kayaking at the lake on a cool September morning after the Labor Day crowds left. We had the lake all to ourselves. The small general store was boarded up and closed for the season. A few inches of snow were on the ground.

ThreeCreekLake3 24September2017

ThreeCreekLake4 24September2017

Ground squirrels, chipmunks, and a scattering of birds were seen along the shores. When I brought my kayak back to the car, I almost had a couple unexpected house guests. Two ground squirrels had climbed into my kayak. I circled them in the picture above to show them running away. They are certainly entertaining!

ThreeCreekLake2 24September2017A couple deer watched us from the distant shore.

ThreeCreekLake5 24September2017These two mallards had the lake to themselves.

In summer months, you’ll see and hear osprey working the lake. You’ll hear the distinctive call of nuthatches and see Clark’s nutcrackers in the trees. This lake has a narrow border of sedges and the plants don’t offer as much cover as other lakes nearby.

ThreeCreekLake6 24September2017About Three Creek Lake

ThreeCreekLake8 24September2017This 28-acre lake has a depth of 11-28 feet. It is at an elevation of 6,550 feet and water temperatures stay cool throughout the year. Eastern brook trout and rainbow trout inhabit this lake. The rainbow trout are stocked in the lake but the brook trout are self-sustaining. Though you can fish from shore, most people fish from boats. Trolling with a flat fish lure from a kayak landed us a nice pan-size rainbow trout. Most fish here average around ten inches. For more on fishing, click here.

There’s a primitive boat launching area with limited parking at Three Creek Lake. A Northwest Forest Pass is required here. You can rent a boat from the Three Creek Lake Store but the store is only open from July to Labor Day in September.

ThreeCreekLake7 24September2017

There are three campgrounds and a hiking trailhead at the lake. Three Creek Lake Campground has 11 campsites, and it’s on the southeast side of the lake. Driftwood Campground is on the northern side of the lake and it has 18 sites. Three Creek Meadow Campground & Horsecamp is just north of the lake. That campground has nine sites for those with horses and 11 where horses are not allowed. The trailhead for the Tam McArthur Rim trail is near where the road T’s at the lake.

Common Nighthawk

Silent Sleeper

You may have heard this bird flying overhead making a “peent” call. The common nighthawk is most active in the hours around sunrise and sunset. Due to their cryptic coloration and silent behavior during the day when they roost, they can be difficult to spot.

Common Nighthawk at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Common Nighthawk at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Weekly Photo Challenge – Silence

Bridge Art – The Other Side

I have posted a couple pictures of  bridge art on one side of this bridge in Bend, Oregon. Now it’s time to show the other side. The colorful artwork brightens up these cool cloudy winter days.

Bridge of Art in Bend, Oregon 14July2017

Links showing the other side

Here’s a link to a photo of the artist, Sandy Klein, working on the paintings on the bridge – Bridge of Art.

Here’s a link that shows the completed artwork on the other side – Bridge of Art Update.

Friday Flowers

Favorite Pictures 2017

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Favorite. I could not select just one picture so here are a few of my favorites from the past year. Enjoy!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 6May2017

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah in May 2017

This one is from my most liked post of the year – Utah National Parks: Trees & Rocks. There are lots of photogenic landscapes in Utah and this post contains a photo from each of the five national parks.

Pete French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon 13Sept2017

Pete French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon in September 2017 (infrared)

Here is a picture of the Pete French Round Barn. This picture is in infrared and it shows off the beautiful structure of this barn. To learn more about this barn that was built in the 1880’s and to see more photos, see my post – Pete French Round Barn.

Glowing sunrise over the High Desert of Central Oregon near Bend. 18Oct2017

Glowing sunrise over the High Desert of Central Oregon near Bend in October 2017

We see plenty of stunning sunrises and sunsets in Bend, Oregon but this one in October was especially beautiful. It was taken from my yard.

Rorschach reflections on Three Creek Lake in Oregon 24Sept2017

Rorschach reflections on Three Creek Lake in Oregon in September 2017

I often notice interesting shapes and forms when out taking pictures. Here is a shot that I called Rorschach Reflections. It was taken at Three Creeks Lake near Sisters, Oregon while I was out kayaking.

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

The eclipse as viewed from Prineville, Oregon in August 2017

The eclipse! I drove 30 minutes away and got a perfect view of the eclipse. This was my best shot. For more on that day, see – Solar Eclipse Success.

New growth on a pine tree 23June2017

New growth on a pine tree in Bend, Oregon in June 2017

Here is a simple shot of a pine tree’s new growth last summer.

Desert primrose in landscape 29May2017

Desert primrose in landscape, Bend, Oregon in May 2017

Here’s a desert primrose blooming in my garden. I’m trying to do water wise gardening. See my post Water wise gardening: Growing more with less.

Here are a few wildlife shots. A tiger swallowtail on a brilliant flower, a herd of pronghorn beneath a “rainbow” of foliage, and a small-but-mighty western kingbird.

Newspaper Rock 2, UT 4May2017

Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock in Utah in May 2017

I will leave you with this shot of Newspaper Rock in Utah. Maybe this was the first place to blog? For more on that site, see Newspaper Rock – Ancient Messages in Stone.

 

Mule Deer Field Trip near Bend, Oregon

At this time of year, mule deer are migrating and breeding in Central Oregon. Your best chances of seeing this nighttime-feeding deer are in the early hours of the morning or in the late evening. On a chilly November morning, High Desert Museum Curator of Wildlife, Jon Nelson, led a group of people eager to learn more about mule deer.

Mule Deer 10June2016

Mule Deer in the West

The mule deer is uniquely adapted to the environment of the American West. In the spring and summer they browse on plants in mountainous areas. As winter approaches, mule deer pack on the calories and move to lower elevations. Deer in the Cascades migrate eastwards and have to navigate their way past Highway 97. Underpasses help large numbers of deer make that journey. As the deer continue eastwards, hundreds can be seen in the area between Silver Lake and Fort Rock during fall and winter months.

In Central Oregon, deer feed mainly on bitterbrush, Idaho fescue grass, and sagebrush. They are not as dependent on the availability of water since they get much of what they need from their diet. On the field trip, Sand Spring was one of the few water sources we saw. It’s fenced to keep cattle out but the deer, as you probably know, can easily clear most fences if they want to get a drink.

Mule Deer buck 8August2017

Should you feed deer in your yard? No. If deer eat food provided by humans, it can have devastating effects. Their gut has evolved to process certain foods. If they eat other foods, it can kill the good bacteria in their stomachs. This can cause illness or even death. Certain diseases are spread to other deer via their saliva so you may not want to give them salt licks either.

Mule deer can often be found in ecotones, edge habitats between two plant communities. They can also find their preferred food plants in areas that are becoming re-established, including those affected by fires and clear-cutting. Deer seek out certain areas using behavioral thermal regulation. For example, they bed down on south and east facing slopes where it tends to be warmer.

Mule Deer carcass 10April2017 Mule deer are adapted to living in areas with high snowfall. However, depths deeper than 20” for extended periods of time, like we had last winter, can cause many deer to die. Scavengers benefit by feeding on winter-kill deer. On this trip, we found a dead buck and bald eagles and ravens were congregating nearby to feed on it. It appeared that coyotes had been there as well.

 

Factors Affecting Mule Deer Population Levels

When you see numerous mule deer around Central Oregon you may assume they are doing well. That, unfortunately, is not the case. The number of mule deer in Oregon is steeply declining. In the 1960’s, there were more than 300,000 mule deer in the state; now the number is estimated to be around 200,000. On this trip, we drove south on the China Hat Road, east of the Museum. Several years ago it would have been common to see lots of deer in this area. We didn’t see many deer until we were many miles away from Bend.

DeerHabitat 18Nov2017.jpg

There are several factors contributing to declining numbers. Fences affect deer populations by excluding them from some areas and also entangling them, which can lead to injury or death. Other factors include disturbance due to more people living in and visiting the area. Activities such as OHVing, mountain biking, and hiking with off-leash dogs, disturb deer. The many roads of Deschutes National Forest (more than any other National Forest in the U.S.) help in firefighting but also bring more people into the backcountry.

Poaching is a big problem in Oregon. More deer are taken illegally than legally. Due to budget constraints, the few officers responsible for enforcing the laws must cover huge geographic areas. On January 1, 2017, fines for poaching increased. The fine for poaching a deer with four or more points on at least one antler is now $7,500. While that is a lot, some people are still willing to break the law to bag a deer.

Mule deer 18November2017

The mule deer’s iconic antlers can affect their population levels. Some hunters prefer bucks with large antlers but another type of hunter is out looking for antlers. Shed hunters look for antlers that have been shed where deer tend to congregate in the late winter and early spring. This activity disturbs the deer at a crucial time of year. Selling the antlers, priced by the pound, is a lucrative business. Some states regulate how long shed hunters are allowed to collect antlers so that deer are not disturbed in the spring, when fawns are born.

Deer are managed through hunting throughout the U.S. Here in Oregon, seasons run from September through early December. Different types of firearms and restrictions are allowed at different times of the season. Hunters report their success and this information is used to set future seasons and manage the population.

A Bit About Mule Deer Life History

Fawn at Spring Creek near Camp Sherman, OR 25June2016 SiobhanSullivanPredators also affect deer populations. Cougars are the primary predator of deer in this region. Black bears and coyotes sometimes prey on fawns. Wolves have moved into the state over the last few years and they too prey on deer. One of the ways mule deer ensure more of their young survive is through a behavior known as swamping. All of the does become pregnant at about the same time. There are so many young fawns at once that predators can’t possibly get them all.

Signpost rubbed away by deer antlers 18November2017In the fall, breeding season starts for mule deer. The hormone levels in the bucks skyrockets. Their antlers grow at the amazing rate of up to an inch per day. The bucks shed the velvet on their antlers by rubbing on trees – or unlucky signposts. Big antlers attract mates and deter other males. The slim necks mule deer have in summer, become muscular and massive. Their eyes turn red and they sometimes drool. The rutting bucks are  ready to fight any male that gets too close to their harem of does. Harems can contain 15-20 does. The does choose which bucks they want to breed with. Fawns are born in late May through June after a 212 day gestation. Once they are more than a year old, does often have twins.

Diseases That Affect Mule Deer

Mule deer have a lifespan of about ten years in the wild but their life may be shortened by disease. Two diseases affecting deer were mentioned on this field trip. Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD) is passed  through direct contact, bodily fluids, and airborne routes. Symptoms may include a blue-colored tongue, mouth ulcers, severe weight loss, and weakness. AHD affects mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and pronghorn and is often fatal. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease with symptoms similar to mad cow disease. It occurs in deer, elk, moose, and reindeer and is always fatal.

You may have heard a story in the news recently about a local person cited for possessing a deer bagged in Montana. Oregon is CWD free and does not allow certain parts of deer and elk to be imported into the state from Montana, 24 other states, and one Canadian province that have the disease . Once it was determined that this particular deer had CWD, the deer meat was confiscated and every place it had been stored or disposed of had to be decontaminated. This highly contagious disease could be a serious problem here in the future.

Mule deer in garden 9August2017

So the next time you are concerned about mule deer eating your landscaping, keep in mind that their numbers are declining. Do what you can to keep them away from your most treasured plants and appreciate them for their beauty and grace.

Reprinted from High Desert Voices December 2017 newsletter. To see more issues, go here.

 

Juniper of Dreams

“Its trunk had twisted and turned over the years as the roots sought water far below. The tree was more than a thousand years old. Crinkled yellow-green lichens adorned dark bare branches reaching skyward. Clumps of scaly foliage and tiny silver-blue cones clung to a scattering of branches.” – Description of Enebros de Sueños, the Juniper of Dreams, in a magical realism story I’m working on.

Western tree in Bend, Oregon 19November2017

I have lots of western juniper trees on my property but this particular one serves as my muse. I have included it in many photos – see Juniper Muse – but now it is also a mysterious character in a children’s book I’m working on. The tree is old and twisted with age, yet it persists.

The Daily Post – Particular

Watch out Space Station!

Yesterday I went out early in the morning to see if I could spot the International Space Station going by. I saw it and snapped a quick photo without composing it. I was using the SkyView Free app on my phone. This is the picture I got through the app!

Orion constellation about to smash the International Space Station 16November2017

Orion the Hunter is about to smash the International Space Station. Uh oh.

To find the International Space Station where you live, go to this NASA site – Spot the Station. Type in your location, click the pin on the map, and then click “View sighting opportunities.” It tells you when it will be going by, where to look in the sky, and how long it will be visible. Seeing the station zoom by is an impressive sight.

Crane Creek Ranch Sculpture

I saw this metal sculpture of a stagecoach on a recent trip and wanted to experiment with how to present it. I chose to use a digital version of the autochrome process.

Stagecoach sculpture at Crane Creek Ranch near Lakeview, Oregon Autochrome 1November2017

When this process was first presented at the Paris Photo Club by the Lumiére brothers in 1907, it was a turning point in color photography. Other methods existed but this process used a novel ingredient – potato starch. Glass plates were covered with grains of potato starch dyed red, green, and blue. Carbon black and a thin emulsion layer were added and the plate was flipped and exposed to light. The image could be developed into a transparency.  To see some of the dreamlike photos created with this process, click here.

The sculpture is on Highway 140, northeast of Lakeview, Oregon. The artwork is near a locked gate with “Crane Creek Ranch” over the entrance.

Here’s what my original image looked like:

Stagecoach sculpture at Crane Creek Ranch near Lakeview, Oregon 1November2017

Weekly Photo Challenge – Experimental

Storm over Hart Mountain

Last week  when I visited Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, a threatening looking storm was moving in. Dark clouds temporarily blotted out the big blue sky. We didn’t stay long on this primitive dirt road near refuge headquarters. When the roads there get wet, they can turn into a muddy gumbo that makes it hard to drive.  We made it out fine, flushing some sage grouse on the way. Spectacular sights!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Temporary