Saturday, July 23, 2011

Red-shafted Flicker comes a-callin'

Photos by D. Grant Haynes

During each of the three summers I have spent in Wilbur, Washington, I have been aware of a family of Red-shafted Flickers (Colaptes auratus) that nest somewhere near my abode. By midsummer, they come to my backyard with whatever offspring they've managed to rear and teach the young the art of finding and eating the ants that are plentiful here by late July.

This afternoon, as an afterthought after 6 p.m., I sat down with my camera, not expecting to see anything remarkable so late in the day. But three Red-shafted Flickers were soon close to me in the conifers. Two decided discretion to be the better part of valor and left. But a third came closer, perching on a nearby post long enough for me to get some exceptional photos.

The red "mustache", ornithologists call it, indicates a male flicker. And my impression is the bird is probably a young male. His body is not quite as plump and smoothly contoured as an adult male, the body of which can be 12-14 inches long. Also, and sadly, young birds are often more curious and less cautious about potential dangers than are their parents. I believe the above Red-shafted Flicker represents the only fledgling reared to near maturity by our flicker family this year. Normally, one would expect to see three, perhaps.

In any case, this dear and trusting bird allowed me to get 10-12 shots before departing to join his fellows at a safer distance.

Red-shafted Flickers, members of the woodpecker family, have a wingspan of from 16-20 inches. They stay in Eastern Washington throughout the winter. My hat is off to them for that feat alone! -- D. Grant Haynes

A lovely weekend in Long Beach

The city center in Long Beach, Washington

Sunshine and cool breezes prevail most summer days in Long Beach, Washington

Friday, July 22, 2011

Columbia Basin grasses as texture

Photo by D. Grant Haynes

Spring's green hues are giving way to golden ones in Wilbur as July enters its last week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July days long and pleasant

Photo by D. Grant Haynes (Click on image to enlarge.)

Wilbur's sunset came at 8:39 p.m. today, July 20, 2011. A month ago on the summer solstice--June 21--the sun lingered 12 minutes longer, setting at 8:51 p.m. But summer's days are still long and delightful, with many more hours of daylight than of darkness. We won't worry at this time about the winter solstice--December 21--when sunset will occur at 4 p.m. in Wilbur. One day at a time. -- DGH

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nubiru bearing down?

Photo by D. Grant Haynes

Okay. It's uncharacteristic of me. I never do anything wild and crazy. I am staid and boring. I know. But last night's photo of the July moon as it entered the first evening of the "waning gibbous" stage, was so much like several other moon images I have done recently that I decided to go into Photoshop on my old Macintosh and play some. I came up with this decidedly other worldly result. For those of you unfamiliar with the "Nubiru" reference, some who anticipate an apocalyptic or doomsday event in 2012 speculate that a tenth or "rogue" planet of the solar system will collide with or come very close to the earth in December 2012, causing a Christian Tim LaHaye-like Armageddon. Personally, I expect the sun to rise and the factories to growl into life to continue to pollute our little planet on January 1, 2013. I have heard too many "end of the world" scenarios in my time to believe another one now.

(Photoshop technique note: This image was created by utilizing a gradient tool set at 100 percent. Gradient colors were red (from upper left) to yellow (at lower right). After a diagonal application of the color gradient, a "water color" filter was applied. Adobe Photoshop is fun and unlimited in terms of special effects. Never let anyone tell you built-in photo manipulation tools from Microsoft Corporation will do as much. They are for amateurs. -- DGH)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tempestuosity of spring yields to quieter midsummer fruition

Photo by D. Grant Haynes

Plants, animals, and all wild things of the Earth are governed by the cyclical ebbing and flowing of the seasons. Midsummer in Eastern Washington is characterized by a sense of peace not known in the spring. The blackbirds have reared their broods and are beginning to flock together in the evening. Wheat and wild grasses are ripening, thus assuring continuity of their kinds for another year. Nature's children have remained faithful to their charges. They can relax and rest now, building up energy stores for the next chapter in their lives. Whatever Love's plan for them--migration to a warmer clime or survival in a long and cold winter--there will be no complaining nor striving. They accept their roles in the larger order and are at peace in all things. -- D. Grant Haynes

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

English Sparrows

Photo by D. Grant Haynes

I captured this fairly sharp image of an English Sparrow (Passer domesticus) pair (male on right) in my backyard today. English Sparrows (sometimes called House Sparrows) are natives of Eurasia, but were introduced in North America in 1858 when some pairs were released in Brooklyn, New York. They have more or less covered the Western Hemisphere since. Their cheery chirping was part of my childhood, as they nested in large numbers near my home. -- DGH

When I arrive in Long Beach...

Harbor seal pup

One of my early priorities while the summer persists will be to seek out and photograph or make a video of all beach and shoreline animals and birds I encounter. Wouldn't it be great to walk the 8-mile Discovery Trail from Long Beach to Ilwaco and find harbor seals or other wildlife along the way! Anybody want to join me for the trail or a portion of it? -- D. Grant Haynes

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Columbia River channel jetty as seen from Cape Disappointment

One more photo from my June 15-17 visit to Pacific County, Washington. This shot is from Cape Disappointment State Park near Long Beach. The jetty in the distance represents the Columbia River channel where that mighty waterway enters the Pacific Ocean on Washington's southwest coast. (Photo by D. Grant Haynes)

Always beautiful...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Was it a sign or portent?

A seagull of some variety circled the property and landed on the roof of my apartment this afternoon. I have seen them 20 or so miles north of here on Lake Roosevelt at the Grand Coulee Dam, but they do not come to Wilbur, Washington, often. At least, they haven't in my two years here. Maybe the gull came to lead me to the ocean. -- D. Grant Haynes