Category Archives: Birding
In the Baker family, when one wants to check out an area with which we are not familiar, we say that we are “‘vestigating.” A gray Sunday seemed like the perfect time for such an outdoor ‘vestigation that offered possibilities for photographic endeavors. My new Sony DSC HX400v was calling my name, as I am still less than adept at its various controls and menus. My friend Hamid was game for a hike, and he knows more about photography than me. Winning!
Kellogg Lake is a major geographical feature in the Milwaukie area, yet few people see it unless they live in certain spots or ride the light rail train, which crosses the outlet from an elevated perspective. Elsewhere, it is hard to view the water. A modest trail network descends a hillside behind the Presbyterian Church. I’d heard of this but had no good information. So Hamid and I explored, trying first this route and then that. There is plenty of walking to be had for a small area, spur trails going out both sides of a small peninsula, where we checked out waterbirds, foliage, and views across the lake. We kept spooking an egret who was close to us on a few occasions. I was never fast enough on the shutter to catch it in flight, but I did find it from afar. Magnificent bird.
Rain started coming down in earnest after we hit the far end of the lake, and although we saw a heron and enjoyed the different vantage points, there was less to explore there, so we adjourned to the Beer Store Milwaukie, which is also a restaurant and bottle shop. I opted for Ninkasi’s seasonal ale, Sleigh’r. Hamid got a stout. It’s tough to go wrong with 15 rotating taps. We enjoyed lots of interesting conversation about art, music, friends, and the circuitous paths our lives had taken, topping off a very pleasant afternoon.
Today I had to get out of the house, and I was lucky enough to hike with Jackie Chan. We visited Elk Rock Island, as I had the other day, but the weather was very different. It was dry but gray and cool. I found a new spot to scramble on mossy rocks that’s out of the way. Jackie was pretty excited about a sandy spot among the rocks, but he was content sniffing everything in the woods, too, including some very cool small ferns. Unfortunately, his mere presence seemed to spook some crows as I was trying to get a better shot of a large group of them. Does any reader know why it’s called a murder of crows? Enjoy the photos.
As I have attempted to demonstrate in previous posts, the Columbia River Gorge is a pretty awesome place to play in the outdoors. Today I took a tour of the Washington side with my wife and our faithful pup. We began at the lower end of the Cape Horn area, where we walked through fern and moss draped trees to eyeball a beautiful cascade right below the rock and mortar protected outlook. Good start.
After meandering past further road views from the Cape Horn area, we stopped at the St. Cloud recreational site, a pleasant surprise set in an old orchard on the bank of the Columbia River. We walked through the orchard and down to the water for some close up views of the famous river. Such views!
As we left, Jackie trotted by a great old log that seemed to me to have a leonine face on its end. Soon, we drove by the famous Beacon Rock but didn’t dally long, then paused briefly at an historic marker pullout which referred to the Lewis and Clark expedition coming through the area. A landslide 500 years ago came down from the area near Table Mountain and dumped debris in the river here. The spot also offered a unique view of Cascade Locks, where Cheryl Strayed ended her PCT hike (shameless attempt for search hits), and I was disappointed to learn that Char Burger is no more.
Stevenson was next on the agenda. This is a cute small town on its way to being a real destination. It has good restaurants, a brewpub, some cute shops, and lots of waterfront. Retirement spot, anyone? Following Denise’s good instincts, we headed for the waterfront, and wandered by a restaurant and walked down a trail below a lodge. Nice place to visit. If only we had some spare cash for real estate investments…
When we left Stevenson I briefly contemplated a hike up Wind Mountain, but thought better of it. Too chilly. Go east, (not so) young man! Coyote Wall was calling me. So we headed to the area popular with mountain bikers and hikers alike. The start may have been the best part in more ways than one. The old road was easy walking, and within five minutes saw two bald eagles relaxing on a snag. It was the best view I’ve ever had of an eagle.
Once we ventured off the road onto a rocky muddy trail, the landscape changed a lot. The hills undulate, and there are cool rock formations. I was slightly surprised that the area was quite green, but it is January. The temperature plunged as cloud cover came in, and we decided to turn back, since we still had a long drive home. It was a great day of walking and sightseeing with the fam.
This morning the wife and I took a casual stroll along the riverbank with our pup. While I was gawking at an osprey way up in a tree, I didn’t see the Great Blue Heron standing in the mouth of the creek. We are lucky to have lots of both birds in our area. The heron, I learned, weighs less than ten pounds despite a massive frame. Apparently this is due to hollow bones, like all birds. And it if looks slow, don’t tell the fish. It strikes fast when it’s going for food. I was able to get fairly close before the bird spooked, doing a graceful flight out over the river, then a return swing up the creek drainage. Quite a treat for a Sunday morning stroll.