Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Photographing Birds West of Walla Walla

Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I turned one of our somewhat regular trips westward from Walla Walla into a full-fledged (ah, a pun!) and surprisingly successful bird-photography excursion.
Well, lets say IT turned out to be a more successful excursion than we expected.
We left home at about 10:32 a.m.
I detoured to Bennington Lake to check on the great horned owl that nested in the cliff near the new toilet. The owl appeared calm and healthy.
I worried about it because Naeem, a fellow wildlife photographer who visited Walla Walla from Dubai (Yes, that Dubai),  that I met near the cliff  the day before had seen two kids shooting some kind of BB gun into the bank.
He worried that they could harm the owl.
So, I checked and found the owl to be in good shape. I had determined to email Naeem later (that evening, which I did) to ease his mind.
After visiting the nesting owl, we stopped for coffee and snacks at Starbucks and headed west.
On the way, we saw four great blue herons in a pasture along the road to the Whitman Mission. We stopped at the mission so I could walk Nora to the pond and look for turtles and water birds.
We continued west on the rural roads that parallel Highway 12. Near the junction with Lowden-Gardena  Road (as I recall?), a kestrel with a mouse for lunch sat on a post above a detailed no trespassing/no hunting sign. It made a nice ironic image.
We dawdled along, but we didn’t see anything else to gawk at until we saw a bunch of American white pelicans on a log behind Ice Harbor Dam. Needless to say I took a bunch of photos, again, of pelicans.
By then lunch time had long passed, but we continued along the Snake River to Charbonneau Park. We saw pelicans along the way, several glided gracefully inches above the water.
Then we saw a mature bald eagle on an electrical pole before reaching the park. Nora and I strolled the 100 yards or so, until we stood directly beneath the big bird. I took a ton of photos, and it finally flew away.
At the park, we saw another (or the same) eagle in a tall, bare cottonwood tree. I strolled around beneath the tree for a clear view while the raptor watched Nora. This one didn't fly. So, I took another bunch of photos.
We stopped a Hood Park for Nora to take a another break before we headed toward the Red Robin for a late lunch (or an early dinner).
We arrived back in Walla Walla after dark.

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