It’s What I do

It’s been over a month since we returned from Colorado, and I am a little surprised at how far behind I am in posting entries.  I’d like to say that’s simply the result of being too busy, but, unfortunately, that’s not the reason.  I blame much of the delay on writer’s block; I have a feeling I want to convey, but, more and more often, I can’t translate that feeling into words.  It takes time to process pictures and adjust them to my satisfaction, but all too often I end up with pictures on the page for days before I can find the words to go with them.  

Lately, my priorities have begun to change.  As I near 80, my number one priority has become staying in shape.  So, given the choice between spending a day hiking in Mt. Rainier or The Olympics or working on a blog entry, the mountains will win out any day there’s sunshine and temperatures above 40 degrees. If we’re not hiking in the mountains and it’s a sunny day, I’ll often spend most of the day birding. 

Birding Theler Wetlands regularly isn’t as exciting as visiting Malheur, Bear River, or the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, but it feels like “home” and keeps me in touch with seasonal changes.  I like seeing the changes in vegetation and observing how different birds occupy the refuge at different times of the year. 

I know it’s Fall when shorebirds like this Western Sandpiper forage among the reeds along the creek.

It’s early Fall, though because the Western Tanager, 

American Goldfinch, 

and Osprey

haven’t left yet.

If we could count on everyday sunshine, I would probably be out birding every day without blogging at all. This is the Pacific Northwest, though, and you would be foolish to count on sunshine three-fourths of the year.  When there are only short breaks in the clouds, I try to take a walk, anything from a half-hour to an hour and a half.  On days when it’s impossible to get outside, I lift weights or practice Tai Chi. Exercise has replaced blogging as a required part of every day. 

Finally, let’s face it, I’ve been putting this blog out regularly (though less regularly than I used to, that’s for sure) for twenty years now and I find it difficult to maintain the enthusiasm I did at the beginning. I probably keep at it because it forces me to try to improve my photographs — and maintain my writing skills while allowing me to think that I still have a purpose in my life.

Picture from Bob in Australia

Bob tried to post this photo in the comments on the previous post; I tried to approve the comment and the picture still wouldn’t show up. In the process, I even managed to lose the original comment, but it is such a great picture that I wanted to post it anyhow.

It’s amazing how varied birds are in different regions. About the time you think you know all the Grebes, you discover there are different varieties in different countries.

The Golden Hour

After Zoe’s Sunday soccer game, we hustled out of the park because we wanted to try to get to Ogden early enough to eat dinner at our favorite Utah restaurant.  We did manage to get there early enough for dinner only to find that our favorite restaurant wasn’t open on Sundays; in fact, most restaurants didn’t seem to be open on Sunday in Ogden or Brigham City. That was disappointing, but I was still glad we had decided to stay in Brigham City because it meant that we could visit Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge early the next morning before heading out on the longest leg of our journey home.

After our discovery of the refuge several years ago, I seldom drive past without stopping, though we had to skip it on our trip to Colorado so that we could see Sydney’s afternoon soccer game.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to the refuge so early in the morning, at the “golden hour” right after sunrise.  I am generally not fond of nature shots that unnaturally pump up colors, but I was impressed enough with this view of a White Pelican that I pulled over and took a shot before we even got to the preserve.

Quite a contrast with this shot taken two hours later as we were heading for home.

The dramatic lighting even made me stop to get a shot of this Barn Swallow at the entrance of the tour, though I usually wouldn’t bother taking another shot of a Barn Swallow when I’m birding Theler Wetlands.

Sometimes the orange light almost served as a spotlight, as in this shot of a Yellowlegs.

The previous pictures were taken with the sun shining over my shoulder, but even the shots taken at an angle to the sun seemed more dramatic than usual, perhaps because the orange highlights called attention to the main subject.

I doubt that I am going to make it a habit to get out birding quite this early, but if you have to be on the road early it’s a nice bonus.  

Bookends

Fittingly, we ended our trip to Colorado by binge-watching three of Zoe’s soccer games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Of course, that’s because that’s how we planned our trip.  After Jen emailed me about the girls’ games, I adjusted our visit so that we could see as many games as possible.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get there early enough to see the last of Logan’s games.  

Zoe plays on an elite team, and she’s a year younger than most of the players, but she managed to hold her own in all three games.  She scored two goals in the three games.  I think the team lost two out of three games, but, truthfully, I find it nearly impossible to follow scoring when I’m focused on taking pictures of a particular player, especially when I’m really focused on how my granddaughter plays, not how the team as a whole plays.

These games seemed to be called a little tighter than Sydney’s games were, but it’s clear that soccer is not a non-contact sport.

At this level all of the girls are fast and aggressive.

My camera takes shots pretty quickly, but I didn’t manage to get a great sequence of any of Zoe’s goals; these three shots come close.  I’ll have to admit that I had never seen Zoe kicking a goal with her left foot before.

Apparently, the goalie didn’t see it any better than I did until it was in the back of the goal.

Zoe has always been naturally fast, but she has complemented that with toughness.

We headed out for home after seeing her final game on Sunday which ended around 10 AM.  Luckily, the game was played 60 miles north of Broomfield, and we were only driving to Brigham City on Sunday where we hoped to visit our favorite sushi restaurant and visit Bear River Wildlife Refuge the next morning before the last leg of our trip.