Ah, Sunny February Days Make for Good Hikes with Nora
Yes, we have enjoyed the usual fog-bound days, especially early on, and the usual spats of gentle rain.
Bright days, however, with their crisp, chilling breezes stand out for me. The good light assists collecting sharp photos at Mill Creek and through the window overlooking the flocks of birds feeding near the front porch (See February 5 entry here).
My bird handbooks suggest the varied species as: finches (purple, house, gold and Cassin’s?) and possibly grosbeaks (pine) and crossbills (red, white-winged) as well as (possibly?) pine siskins, redpolls, black-capped chickadees, juncos and house sparrows.
Along with just plain sparrows.
I recorded images, using a tripod and a monopod along with some quick handheld efforts, through the window from the upstairs steps and posted two “porch-bird” galleries, about a month apart, at www.tripper.smugmug.com.
More recently, I made three trips to Hanford Reach: twice to hike with Nora, first a 5.86-mile trek along the South Trail up from Ringold and back to the gate; second a 6.31-mile trip upstream from the old White Bluffs town site to climb the dunes near the White Bluff cliffs and back.
During the first Hanford hike, I caught images of two curious coyotes and a gaggle of inspiring rock formations.
As Nora and I crossed a wide walnut-tree dotted green flat, we both tilted our ears toward a chorus of distant yips, apparently near the river. I scoped the area through the camera’s short zoom lens (a Sigma 18-250), and nothing moved.
I regretted not lugging along the Sigma 150-500.
Yet, minutes later, the smaller lens revealed two coyotes, one dark one light, on a small rise.
They stood like statues, staring toward us as I fixed the camera to the Sirui Monopod, leaned to brace it as solidly as possible, focused and pressed the release button.
Surprisingly, the camera-lens captured clear images despite the quarter-mile distance between us. I credit the Sirui Monopod for its steadiness.
Quickly, however, the coyotes slipped from sight into one of the omnipresent arroyos.
We continued upstream to the vicinity of rock (clay?) formations below the overlook near the old White Bluffs town-site.
As I climbed a steep knob and looked up, one of the coyotes gazed down from a 600-foot-high vantage point.
I took many photos as we continued to tour the hills and dales, and from a dozen viewpoints I could see one or both of the coyotes casually keeping track of our presence.
I also noted imagination-stirring images, below: Bulging eyes? Dick Tracy profile?
Finally, as we started back to the locked gate eight miles upstream from Ringold, both coyotes seemed calm enough as we drew closer and closer.
Eventually, however, we drew abreast of their towering observation post, and they slipped away.
Next day, Darlene, Nora and I drove to the White Bluffs town-site and the overlook. This time I carried the 150-500-mm lens.
Darlene spotted to deer half-a-mile away, near the river and I captured only vague images. She may have spotted a coyote, but it slipped away before I could get a view through the lens.
I checked the historic log cabin from the bustling White Bluffs period.
On the drive home, we stopped at a wildlife area on Hendricks Road to view the small waterfall a quarter-mile downstream.
Speaking of dramatic sunsets, a recent one seen from Mill Creek, near Rooks Park flamed fiercely in the sky.
We also saw the usual birds launching, of course.
February runoff provided an opportunity to use a tripod and to slow the camera's shutter speed for an exaggerated smooth-flowing appearance to the river and to freshets from the canyon wall.
Two things highlighted the February trip to Wallowa Lake: views of fog-and-cloud surrounded Wallowa Mountains and lunch at the Ember’s Brew Pub in Joseph.
And we still have a few days of February left.