All in a day

It was a lovely day, so we visited a nearby state park, Patricks Point.
DSC_7300_aDSC_7297_aLow tide meant there were a bunch of tide pools calling our names. Ohhhh, it wasn’t the tide pools calling…
DSC_7287_aDSC_7277_aHarbor Seals catch some sun on the rocks while the tide’s out.

Picnic lunch on the Pacific shore…Robyn’s sister, Marion, is here for a few weeks!
DSC_7305_aThe tide pools are not real clear…which is good for all the plants and animals, but not so good for photographers! The underwater camera comes up to find not all the life forms are underwater…
DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPROIt was a good day.
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Old friends, dear friends

One benefit of our travels is that we run across friends from long ago.

My best buddy from early years in high school lives 200 miles from where we’re parked here on the North Coast…which is about 2500 miles closer than when I lived in a house in Dayton…which may explain why I haven’t seen him but once since 1968!

But it’s still too far for a day trip…

Ahhhh, but it’s only 7 miles out of the way on our Klamath Falls trip!

We arranged to stop by to see Steve Feigner and his lovely bride, Joyce…

They live near the California border in Oregon, in a house they built back in the 70s. By hand. From trees on their property.

“Log cabin” doesn’t begin to portray the gorgeous home they’ve built…open and airy, with many wood and stone surfaces that maintain the natural look and feel of the home in its woodsy setting.

The Little Yank creek runs beside the home.

Steve has retired from a career in the US Forest Service, and Joyce has maybe another year in her to teach special ed students (she had a good time with Ross & Ryan!).

They fed us some homemade soup from an old family recipe, we listened to Beatles music like it was the olden days, and we relaxed for a few with dear friends before we piled into the Lil Taxi and headed home.

Ahhhhhhh….
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What a sendoff

Our final morning in Klamath Falls dawned dry and sunny!

We had only a couple hours to scout the wildlife refuges for our main quarry…eagles…because we had a long drive home.

The Lower Klamath…and Tule Lake…National Wildlife Refuges provide miles of shallow lakes for wintering waterfowl. They’re even roughly connected by more miles of farmers’ fields that are flooded at this time of year. The whole area is criss-crossed by slightly raised ridges that provide a single lane of gravel road, which birders are permitted to use to pursue their avocation.
DSC_6649_aWe found it a little surprising that eagles would be found here, because there were no trees for them to use as perches for hunting.

Ahhhh, eagles, perhaps the last great make-do-with-what-you’ve-got predators…
DSC_6142_aThere also were numerous electric lines running through the area, with many, many telephone poles…

On our way to the refuges, we ran across more of those ubiquitous hawks around the un-flooded farmers’ fields.
DSC_6720_aDSC_6121_aDSC_6461_aWe finally ran across a distant eagle, and initially felt it was a juvenile bald eagle. However, back home on the computer screen, the enlarged image gave us some idea that it might be a juvenile golden eagle because of the shape of its wings and coloration…
DSC_6392_aIf only it had been closer…

You’ve already seen our thrill for the day…the two bald eagles engaged in a mid-air food fight!

Well…it wasn’t our only thrill.

As we were speeding down one of the gravel levees, trying to really get on the road and get home, we came upon this fabulous scene.
DSC_6777_aWe were able to approach this bald eagle in our car and shoot from the open window…which allowed us to be much closer than when they’re flying around…and the sun and the sky were just soooo right!

But wait, there’s more…

He (or she) finally took off…and flew up to a juvenile bald eagle!

From their interactions, it seemed less like a courting affair or territory dispute, and more like a parent-and-child exercise!
DSC_6891_aDSC_6892_aDSC_6893_aEventually, the young one flew away, and the old one flew over us…as a salute for our sendoff!
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The aftermath of a volcano

Crater Lake was formed when a volcano blew its top 7700 years ago.

And the Klamath Falls region is a large flat area that resulted from the blast and lava flow.
DSC_6070_aThere is a national monument containing some massive lava beds that protrude from the ground, and have an exposed side that looks like it was cut with a knife.
DSC_6131_aTurn around from these lava beds, and you see Mt Shasta about 75 miles to the southwest.
DSC_6140_aThe landscape is surprisingly barren. Not surprising…because it’s mostly based on lava beds, but surprising that farmers succeed in raising extensive crops in fields mile after mile.

The occasional ridge raises an interesting profile.
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Crater Lake

HA, who wants to drive around in the rain looking for birds when you’re only 50 miles from Crater Lake?

Not us!

We spent our second day at Klamath Falls touring up into the mountains to Crater Lake.
DSC_5908_aDSC_5873_aAt one point, we stopped and took a picture in each direction…for the high drama of our surroundings!
DSC_5918_aDSC_5927_aDSC_5930_aDSC_5922_aWe knew there was a risk of roads being closed this time of year due to snowfall, but had called and verified one road was clear up to the lodge.
DSC_5944_aHA, we learned after we got there that this place gets an average of 44 feet of snow each year, and is one of the snowiest inhabited spots in America! In fact, the road was NOT open all the way to the lodge…yet…they were still clearing the last section and its parking lots when we arrived at the mid-mountain lodge.

We waited, because the final drive would put us at an overlook for the lake…

Yeeaahh, well, the place doesn’t get 44 feet of snow all at once…it gets a bunch, ohhh, every afternoon and evening…

Like while we were waiting…it started to snow, and by the time they opened the road, we arrived at the top to a raging blizzard! It was so bad I wouldn’t take the camera out into it…and we couldn’t see the lake only a hundred feet away…

Headed back down in a hurry…while we still could!
DSC_6034_aBefore the storm moved in, we had gotten this shot of the peak…it was our consolation prize!
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Klamath Falls

We got ahead of ourselves with that last post…but who could wait for the start of the story when eagles were jousting?

Here’s the start of the story.
DSC_5476_aWe left our campground in Arcata, CA in heavy fog, and headed up the coast 75 miles, then turned inland on an angle to Oregon.

We were headed to Klamath Falls for a weekend Winter Wings Festival…one of the longest-running bird festivals in the nation.

It was a big deal for us, because we were running in the Lil Taxi, and would stay in a hotel for 3 nights…we’ve not stayed anywhere but the Big Taxi for the past three years!

We also took along Robyn’s dad, so the Lil Taxi was gonna earn its keep with all the people and provisions…

The weather forecast was for two days of rain and the final day with sun.

Accurate forecast.

All these photos were taken in the rain, so some birds look to have spots on them…which are rain drops falling between the camera and the bird! The final fearsome warrior looks bedraggled and soggy…

The festival is held each year during the main wintering period for masses of waterfowl and their predators. There are two major National Wildlife Refuges south of the city that provide gravel drives through the midst of large shallow lakes and marshes where the waterfowl are found. Eagles migrate down to a third very large wooded Refuge that is surrounded by private property…and not accessible by the public…but they fly out each day to the other two areas to hunt!

Hawks are found on every signpost, sprinkler head, and telephone pole in the area, because vast agricultural fields surround the refuges…which contain many, many rodents.

The terrain is therefore much different than we’ve been used to here on the California North Coast with its redwoods.

But enough talk, here are the photos from our first day of rain. Click on any photo for a substantially more detailed view…
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Food fight

We ran up to Klamath Falls for a couple days, and ran into two days of rain, a blizzard at Crater Lake, and…

One. Morning. Of. Sunshine.

That final morning brought us the highlight of the trip: a front-row-seats-view of an eagle food fight!

The one eagle was carrying in his talons the remains of a kill, and suddenly another eagle began to chase and joust with him for possession! This was not playful… (click on any photo for greater detail.)
DSC_6217_aDSC_6241_aDSC_6248_aDSC_6255_aDSC_6259_aDSC_6275_aDSC_6286_aDSC_6292_aDSC_6309_aAs they skirmished in ever-widening circles, we could still hear them screaming in the distance!
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