Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 18, 2013

Recalling May Visits to Ladd Marsh and the South Fork Walla Walla River

This takes a look back to a May 7, 2013 family drive over the mountain to the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area between La Grande and Union, Oregon. Then on a bright day about a week later, Nora and I hiked up the South Fork Walla Walla River. The amply wooded trail and the proximity to the stream provide some respite from the sunshine and heat for Nora.

Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I visited Ladd Marsh on a warm spring day. At least two of us expected the ponds and roadside ditches to have plenty of water to attract migrating water birds.
We drove along the usual roads without seeing a single duck or stilt.
Near the hot springs RV parking area, however, two adult osprey sat on a nest. I stopped at the RV office and received permission to drive close to the nest for photos. I promised to email one for the access, and a woman gave me a card with a web site's URL (which turned out not to have an email).
Anyway, I stopped the truck withing a few yards of the 20-foot tall poll and snapped sharp photos of the two birds.

Along the road again, we watched swallows swirl and dive near several nests. I tried unsuccessfully to nail the swift birds in flight, but I did get nice shots of some at rest on the poop-spotted nest boxes.

We stopped at a Subway sandwich shop in Island City on the way home, and on the way home I shot wild turkeys after we passed through Summerville.
On that foray along the South Fork, I primarily looked for small things: butterflies, bees and flowers for the macro gear, including a new Nikon P520 with a flexible LCD window and 18 mega pixels. Dozens of the miniature mountain blue butterflies sipped sweet nectar at wet spots on the trail and fluttered around my boots and Nora's nose as we approached. An occasional big fly, morning cloak and swallowtail also zipped along our path.

And, as usual in May, a varied bouquet of sweet-smelling wildflowers bloomed along the trail side.
We stepped aside for the familiar trail-bike riders to pass.
We made a short walk of it, perhaps two miles one way.
We turned back at the spot near the water where we could see the opening to a cave on the other side.
Once again I promised myself, and Nora, that one day when the river's flow decreased enough, we would wade across and climb up that steep hillside to peep into that cave. Who knows, it could be an entrance to  long-lost mine with gold nuggets strewn across the floor.

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