Yellowstone in spring is a time to… : LAPC

Yellowstone in spring is a time to

Shrug off that old winter coat and

  • Yellowstone in spring, Elk near West Thumb, Yellowstone June 2018
  • Bison near Norris Geyser Basin June 2015

Feel the warmth of the sun

  • Red fox near Calcite Spring June 2018
  • Mountain Bluebird near Morning Glory hot spring June 2015
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Favorite Pictures 2019: LAPC

It’s that time of year when you share some of your favorite pictures. As usual, I have a hard time narrowing it down. Please enjoy this selection of wild places, wildlife, history, and a pinch of art at the end.

A brilliant desert morning
A brilliant desert morning on my October birthday in Bend, Oregon
Magic in the wind, Nevada 29August2019
Magic in the wind in northern Nevada
Kiger Gorge, Oregon 28August2019
Kiger Gorge on Steens Mountain, Oregon
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Belted kingfisher drawing & photo: BOTD

Belted kingfisher in flight by Siobhan Sullivan October 2019

I drew this stylized picture of a belted kingfisher in flight several years ago. These interesting songbirds nest in horizontal burrows near shorelines. The tunnels range in length from 1 – 8 feet. Tunnels as long as 15 feet have been found.

This drawing is of a male bird. Belted kingfishers are one of the few songbirds where the female is more colorful. They have an additional orange-colored breast band.

While out walking my dog on the Deschutes River Trail this morning, I caught a glimpse of a male belted kingfisher perched on a tree limb. A lucky sighting! He was kind of far away but I had time to snap a quick shot before he flew.

Granny Shot It – Bird of the Day challenge BOTD

Unique Sights-High & Low: LAPC

The Lens-Artists photo challenge today is “unique.” I thought of several unique sights I’ve seen in Oregon that fit this category.

Unique sights "Super 8" Petroglyph, Harney County, OR 11April2019
“Super 8” Petroglyph

Our guide in Harney County referred to this ancient petroglyph as the Super 8. Do you see a resemblance to an old movie camera? Petroglyphs are carved into stone while pictographs are painted onto stone.

Hairy clematis flowers 4June2019
Hairy clematis flowers

I saw these hairy clematis flowers at the Hell’s Canyon Overlook earlier this month. This unusual flower has a lot of common names including lion’s beard, leather flower, vase flower, and sugar bowl. They look similar to prairie smoke flowers featured in a previous post.

Unique sights Great Basin Spadefoot Toad 4May2018
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

I can’t help but think of the words “unique sights” when I recall this toad I found in my high desert yard. I thought it was so interesting that I wrote a short story about it called The Toad Queen.

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Bald Eagle: Don’t Fence Me In

Bald eagle out for breakfast

Bald Eagle & fence 18January2019

I saw this bald eagle standing in the middle of a field this morning and couldn’t figure out why it was there. Then I noticed a couple magpies flying close by. Hmmm. Upon closer inspection, I saw a deer carcass several feet away. I guess everyone was there for a breakfast buffet.

2018 Favorite Photos: LAPC

It’s always hard to pick favorite photos at the end of the year. Here are several representing nature, history, and culture. Enjoy and have a great New Year!

Favorite Photos – Nature

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Making a Splash: LAPC

As you wade through the waters of your life you often end up making a splash. Sometimes you make a big loud splash and other times you need to make a quieter one. Maybe only a ripple. Here are photos of quieter splashes I have seen in Oregon.

Making a Splash, Common merganser pair on the Deschutes River 2April2017

Common merganser pair on the Deschutes River

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Yellowstone Hidden & Revealed: LAPC

In Yellowstone National Park, much of the wildlife is hidden from view. You have to look carefully to find the animals and sometimes they will reveal themselves to you.

Yellowstone Hidden & Revealed, Elk in the Lamar Valley 1June2018Elk in the Lamar Valley are hidden as they blend into the landscape traveling along a ridge top.

Yellowstone Hidden & Revealed Elk 1June2018However, when they cross a pond they are revealed. The splashing water draws your attention and their pale colored rumps make you take notice of them.

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Visiting Sunriver Nature Center

Learn about the natural world by visiting Sunriver Nature Center

Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory is a great place to learn more about the natural world. This small interpretive center is on the west side of Sunriver, Oregon. It’s in an area that includes pine forests, meadows, and the meandering Deschutes River. The “edges” between these habitats are good places to see wildlife.

You can observe local wildlife by walking the trails on your own or going out with a guide. The Sam Osgood Nature Trail winds around the property. In the spring and summer keep an eye out for trumpeter swans. Guided bird walks take place every Saturday morning in the spring, summer, and fall. I have been on several of the walks. You’ll see waterfowl in the pond, raptors flying overhead, and songbirds along the walk. Great gray owls have been spotted in the area occasionally. You never know what you might spot on one of these walks.

There are also programs for families and kids. There are Kids Nature Camps for kids 4-10 years of age at certain times of the year. Family programs might include offerings such as Family Birding, Aquatic Explorations, and Eco Bike Tours. During the school year, staff travel to nearby schools to give presentations.

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All-time Favorites: WPC

The theme for the very last Weekly Photo Challenge was All-time Favorites. I’m late getting these up because my computer was in the shop and I was traveling. So without further ado…

North American River Otter 24Sept2016

North American river otter

All-time Favorite Critters

I have a lot of photos of animals so it’s hard to choose favorites but here goes. Here’s a handful for you.

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Where the deer and the antelope played

Celebrating a life

After living a life full of leaps and bounds, she settled down in her favorite aspen grove. The bunchgrass waved goodbye. The rabbitbrush shaded her in her final moments. The rosebush provided fruit in celebration of her life. And finally, the aspen covered her in leaves of gold.

Where the deer and the antelope played 2November2017Weekly Photo Challenge – Story

Three Bucks Landscaping Service

Do you need a little help with your garden? These three mule deer bucks showed up to help in our backyard. We often see deer here but it was unusual to see three bucks together. They just did a little pruning here and there and then left.  Thanks guys!

Three mule deer pruning the landscape 17July2017

Weekly Photography Challenge – Unusual

 

Hidden Fawn

Hidden fawn near Camp Sherman, Oregon 25June2016

While out hiking last June near Camp Sherman, Oregon, we were surprised to find a hidden fawn in a grassy field. Its mother was close by so we took a few pictures and continued on our way.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Surprise

Hosmer Lake – A Kayaker’s Dream

The view from a kayak on Hosmer Lake, Oregon 10Aug2016
The view from a kayak on Hosmer Lake, Oregon

Have you ever finally made it to a place that people had told you you HAD to go to? For me that place was Hosmer Lake. Why didn’t I go here sooner?!

We went early on a mid-weekday morning. I had heard about the crowds sometimes here on weekends. It can get very crowded – especially in the summer.

Bald eagle at Hosmer Lake 10Aug2016
Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus

There is a concrete boat ramp leading into a bulrush-lined meandering lake. After boarding our kayaks, we were soon greeted by a bald eagle perched in a nearby tree. It was almost as if it had been planted there for a photo opportunity. We paddled on and took a channel to the left.

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Bend Whitewater Park

About the Bend Whitewater Park

Did you know that you can surf on the Deschutes River? Yes, thanks to the creation of the Bend Whitewater Park you too can hang ten on the river that flows through Bend, Oregon. Maybe you would rather float down in an inner tube – you can do that too. Maybe you want to get a glimpse of some wildlife – that’s also an option. The river was split into three channels: the Habitat Channel for wildlife; the Whitewater Channel for kayaks, surfboards, and stand up paddleboards; and the Passageway Channel for inner tubes and small rafts.

Innertubers at Bend Whitewater Park, Oregon
Passageway Channel.

A 100-year old dam was recently removed from the river near the Colorado Avenue Bridge and an “amusement park” was put in by Bend Parks and Recreation. At a cost of nearly $10 million dollars, some questioned its value. Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, one of the local groups in support of this park, contributed over $1 million towards the project. The voter-approved  bond said that water recreationists would have “safe passage” once the project was completed. That’s a good idea since people were injured or lost their lives because of the dam.

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Embrace them

Fox kit, Yellowstone National Park

Fox kit at Yellowstone National Park

A gust of wind
Can take them away
Embrace them and guide them
With gentle breezes

Look closer to find the unexpected

Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR, Oregon 9April2016
Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR, Oregon

Looks like an old homestead, right?

Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR 4-2016

Look closer.

Look closer Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR 4-2016

Go on…zoom in.

Look closer Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR 4-2016

If we learn to focus in on things and look closer, we sometimes find the unexpected.

In this case, it’s a double-crested cormorant and great blue heron rookery. These birds look and act so differently yet they manage to get along.

This rookery is located at the Sod House Ranch at Malheur NWR. It was built by cattle-baron Peter French in the late 1800’s. The ranch was the headquarters of the French-Glenn Livestock Company that at one time covered 140,000 acres.

Pins and Needles: All about the North American porcupine

Porcupine2 HartMt May1982
Quills of North American porcupine

Have you been pining away wishing you knew more about porcupines? Well today is your lucky day! Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the North American porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum, but were afraid to ask.

Range:

The North American porcupine ranges throughout most of Canada and the western United States south to Mexico. They also live in the northern Great Lakes and northeastern United States regions.

Identification & unique characteristics:

North American porcupines are a large rodent with black to brownish-yellow fur and distinct quills that cover most of their bodies. They range in weight from 11 to 30 pounds and measure 24 to 36 inches in length. Porcupines are excellent climbers with short strong legs, long claws, and hairless soles on their feet. They have a small head and rounded ears.

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Easter cottontail

Mountain cottontail

Mountain cottontail, Sylvilagus nuttallii

In the sagebrush sea
Where bunchgrass waves in the wind
Alone he grazes
Nose twitching, large eyes gazing
Cottontail punctuating

Successful Invaders: Flora and Fauna that won

Successful invaders Old western juniper tree at dusk
Old western juniper tree at dusk

What are successful invaders?

There are certain members of the plant and animal world that I call successful invaders. Some are admired; others are reviled. A few are both liked and despised at the same time.

Western juniper

Where I live, the Western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis, fits into that last category. It is a native species but due to fire suppression and habitat destruction, it has spread like -excuse the reference- wildfire. Juniper has taken advantage of the situation and has significantly expanded its range. I have heard a lot about how much water it can suck out of the landscape – supposedly 30 gallons a day.  Its root system taps downwards and outwards to effectively use the available water. Many people don’t like them for that reason and because at times they have a not-so-pleasant scent.  I’ll always remember listening to a person that lives in the wealthy part of town saying that she eliminated all 18 junipers on her property as soon as she moved in. Eighteen trees.

However, juniper also has its good side. As it ages it epitomizes the image many people associate with the Wild West. I love to photograph them. The form of the tree generally changes from a pyramid-like shape to a twisted, sprawling irregular one. It can be covered by purplish berries (that are really cones) and these are used in gin production. Wildlife loves it for cover, nesting, and food. Its wood is bi-colored and long lasting.

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