Birding Field Trip

It was a cold and foggy morning…

Actually, it really was cold and foggy, but we went to the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge anyway.  The weather forecast indicated that the fog would lift by mid morning or so.  It was wrong.  We enjoyed the hike along the mile trail even though it was so foggy that the geese kept taking off and disappearing before we could get the camera focused on them.  We saw quite a few birds and got some exercise.

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This is how foggy it was when we got there around 9:45.  We visited the Wildlife Center, which opens at 10 am, a few days ago when it was too rainy to hike, so we started right out on the nature trail.

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Bo was only interested in hiking, not in looking for birds, so he set a fast pace.  I told him to stay within view, which with the fog, wasn’t very far ahead.  I gave them an assignment to photograph at least three kinds of birds so he did do some bird watching, but not much.

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There were water drops on all the branches.  We stopped several times to take pictures of them.  I should bring my film camera and my macro lens next time so I can get even closer!

The first birds we saw were geese.  They kept taking off from the marsh and flying around in formation, startled by various things.  We saw them from a distance and lost them in the fog before we could get any good pictures.

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Next we saw a dozen or so of these.  I think they’re sparrows.  (Bird identification is not one of my talents, but I’m learning.)  They were on the ground when we came around a corner and startled them.  The gravel trail made it a little hard to sneak up on anything.  We got a few shots from a distance before the noise we made startled them into the brambles.  Jonathan and I stood quietly by until they started to come back so we could get a few more shots.

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As you can see, we were dressed for the weather.  It was about 34 degrees when we got there, and I don’t think it warmed up much.

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This is part of the view from the wetlands observation deck at the end of the trail.  We saw lots of ducks, mostly Mallards and Northern Pintails.  I definitely need a longer zoom lens so I can closer pictures.  The kids put their cameras away and got out the binoculars when we got to the viewpoint, so they got a good look at the different birds.

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The winter trees were very interesting to photograph as well.

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These are more ducks from the wetlands viewpoint.

We saw several other kinds of birds on the way back, but they were too far away and moved around too fast to get any good pictures.  I think we saw a few Brown Creepers and some Black-capped Chickadees, but I didn’t get a good enough look to be sure.

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The fog lifted a little before we left around 11:45, but it was still cold and overcast.  We met a couple of volunteers when we got back who asked if we had seen the screech owl.  They told us where it usually hangs out, so we’ll look for it next time we visit.

We’ll definitely be going back another day (when the weather is better, of course!) and hopefully a few more times in the spring and summer to see different kinds of birds.  Overall, it was a fun field trip, even if it was cold and misty all morning.

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Welcome to 2012!

I must admit, I’ve had something of a struggle these last few weeks.  The run up to 2012, with everyone recapping the big (and not so big) events of 2011 has been a nearly constant reminder to me that I’m not where I wanted to be now, and that I failed to achieve most of the things I hoped to in 2011.  I suppose a lot of people feel this way at the start of a new year.  They wonder if they were just marking time for the past year, or worse, wasting it.

In an attempt to counteract this frustration, I’ve been trying to identify the successes I had last year, to express gratitude for what did go well, and to remember the happy times we had.  So here are some things I’m grateful for (in no particular order).

I’m grateful for God, and that I’ve been raised to know him as a loving Father-Mother who always cares for us, in the good times, and the bad.

I’m grateful that we have had a roof over our heads and food on the table (thanks Mom!) through all this searching for home and employment.

While not having the income a job would provide has been difficult, I’m grateful for the extra time we’ve had as a family.  Esbon has been a wonderful help with school, and taken on most of the housework.  We’ve been able to take days or weekends off to go to the beach or visit friends – mini vacations we wouldn’t have been able to take if Esbon had had a full time job.

I’m grateful for being able to pay our bills each month with the modest income we do have.  Like the Children of Israel and the manna in the wilderness, we always have just enough to meet our obligations.

I’m grateful for our new phones.  We shopped for new phones for months, waiting for the right time, and the right upgrade offer.  When Esbon’s phone died, we decided we would have to take the plunge, even though it meant saying goodbye to the awesome, inexpensive plan we’d had for years.  We got our first smart phones, and even got phones for the boys, and we’re loving them.

I’m grateful that I got to go to my cousin’s wedding in June in New Orleans.  It was a hot, muggy weekend, and Esbon and the boys couldn’t come with me, but I still had a lot of fun.  The wedding was beautiful, and catching up with the rest of the family was priceless.  It was the first time in years I had seen some of them (especially my cousin who currently resides in New Zealand) and the first time I met most of their kids.

There are many other things I’m grateful for, but those are the biggies. I have faith that 2012 will hold many more blessings for us, like a home of our own, the chance to visit Esbon’s sisters in Colorado and Louisiana, continuing success in our homeschool, and maybe even selling my first book.

Yes, 2012 looks promising.  I wish you and yours a blessed new year and success in all your endeavors.

Happy New Year!

a44cba578e604b8 Welcome to 2012!

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