Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15, 2013

Spring-like January/February days in the Northwest?

Today the official Walla Walla temperature hit the high 40s. When  I drove past the Gesa Credit Union time-and-temp sign at 1:05 p.m. it flashed 47 degrees in bold numbers.
I rolled down the window and turned on the fan that blew outside air into the sun-warmed cab. Even Darlene, who likes go be toasty warm, didn’t complain.
So, we had a warm, sunny day for mid-February. And we’ve had mostly warm weather for three weeks or so.
On two consecutive sunny days in late January, for example, Nora and I looked for lizards at Wallula Junction. I didn’t really expect to see any, but I seldom pass up a hike there with Nora. She loves to go, period. Anyway, it’s where we have seen hawks, owls, eagles, wild turkeys pheasants, quail, song birds otters, deer and voles.
Not to mention a mesmerizing array of lumbering beetles, during spring, summer and fall. And lizards, during spring, summer and fall.
Anyway, looking for lizards or anything else provides an excuse.  Not that we need one. We really shouldn’t need one, right?.
So, on a Monday we hiked upstream on the north side of the Walla Walla River to a 30-yard stretch of small, five-to-10-foot-high, sandy cliffs smattered with hidey-holes.
And, sure enough, lizards lay in many of the openings to soak up the warm afternoon sun. I took a ton of pictures, but without a macro lens (
So, despite a heavy fog the  next day, before noon I took Nora, a monopod and a macro lens back to the cliffs. I hesitated because of the fog, but I suspected that it could disappear near the mouth of the Walla Walla River, where it joins the Columbia River.
Actually, the fog faded away as we topped Nine Mile Hill, nine miles from the junction. And, if anything, more lizards lay on the  cliffs.
I used the monopod close to the ground with the Nikon 105 macro lens and a 1.4 tele-extender. The close-up images revealed surprising colors on the (normally bland-brown) lizards and in the (normally bland-brown) grains of sand (
Anyway, that occurred in January.
On this bright February day, we stopped for coffee at Starbucks. I got a chocolate-chunk cookie. Darlene got a banana-walnut bread. We each shared non-chocolate tidbits with Nora, who doesn’t drink coffee.
We drove along rural westerly roads looking for raptors, pheasant, coyotes, etc. I took a photo of a great blue heron standing in a pasture. One image had a fool-the-eye effect of the heron’s wing as it took flight.
Then I walked Nora to the pond at Whitman Mission and took photos of one turtle and two coots.
We had another typical day.

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