The road leads ever on

Gate CreekHappy New Year. Needless to say, it has been an eventful start to the new year given what is going on in our country. I attempt to remind myself that this current situation is not the book of our country, it is not the net result of our experiment with democracy; but only a chapter. Still, I am deeply concerned on many levels.

That being said, we went on a longish hike in the snow to clear our minds and find a bit of real-world outside — the above photo was taken yesterday with my phone camera. It is looking west from Tribal Land near an old homestead site in a creek bottom. These are all deer tracks, and perhaps someone had been on skis here a couple weeks ago.

This lower photo was taken from on top of the cliffs overlooking the Flathead River, from yesterday’s hike as well. Glorious sunshine we enjoyed greatly; sunlight has been quite scarce this winter so far. We saw swans and various other waterfowl since the river is not iced.  I am grateful that places like this exist. Keep the faith; fight the good fight, my friends.

Snowy river

Eagles’ Dance

On Saturday Matt and I were walking the road at the Bison Range, which was more or less snowbound, unless you have snowshoes or cleats. Towards twilight we started seeing flocks of birds which I think were coots. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them and they just kept on coming from the east, headed west towards the river.

All of sudden two bald eagles came up out of nowhere and it seemed to us they were engaged in an amorous dance – a dance we flightless ones on the ground do not see very often.I can count on two fingers the number of times I have witnessed this. Even though the light was dim I managed to capture a couple decent shots. They flew right toward us, swooping overhead and then near to the ground. But in a matter of seconds they flew off, following the flocks of coots and geese ahead of them.

It was one of those magical moments that happen maybe only once in a lifetime when we humans are graced by creatures which are familiar, yet they disclose or offer a part of themselves which is mysterious and wonderful.eagle2eagle1

Mission Valley south view KAP

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This is a kite photo from a couple weeks ago taken just off the road at the Ninepipe bird refuge. The wind was blowing from the southwest so the big Delta was given all kinds of great updrafts. In the spring all these potholes are filled with water, of course, but we don’t want to disturb any nesting birds. Thus we are content to photograph in the fall. (Maybe this winter the ponds will fill at little too…) If we see lots of wildlife in the area then we don’t fly. We just watch through binoculars.

Last weekend we saw about 50 Bison and 2 lovely swans at a watering hole on our side of the Bison Range just off Highway 93. Sometimes we fly at a unused rest stop at the top of the hill but that afternoon we watched the Bison instead, for a long time.

Matthew and I are a team when it comes to the KAP. I usually launch and he waits until I give the kite enough altitude to attach the camera. As you can see, I didn’t have any trouble lifting the GoPro here. I do think we are going to have to get a larger spool with more line. 500 feet is fine for most flights but I don’t want to be nervous if I’m reaching the end of the line!

Waxwing in the apple tree

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We have a lot of waxwings around lately. They rest in the apple tree and scope out the juniper berries in front of our big, dining room window. I have to keep the blinds drawn so they don’t bang themselves against the glass. These enlarge a bit. Other birds rarely come this close to the house but they love the juniper berries.

When they are around I have to keep a vigil because the neighbor’s cats love to crouch down under the fronds and wait… I have a special broom for those darn cats. I must look funny to my neighbors chasing the cats while the waxwings fly back and forth across the yard. It’s a thankless job but somebody’s gotta’ do it. 🙂

waxwing

An eagle’s view

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This is a photo taken from Matt’s RC Slow Stick, electric plane of Flathead Lake on Memorial Day. You can see Cromwell Island and Wild Horse; even Bird Island is faintly visible. You can make the picture larger.

We had a few rain showers, but for the most part it was a beautiful day. The eagles and hawks made the most out of the thermals too.We saw two baldies, a golden and several large hawks gliding around up there.

A bird refuge extraordinaire’

Ninepipes-vista

This was taken from the levy across the valley, on the Charlo side of Ninepipes. The water from the dam above is now flowing so it looks way different than
when this was taken, three weeks ago. And we have had more rain. Still, there were birds all over the place. Now they are into full-on nesting. Those are all birds down there. I couldn’t count the number of species: from Curlews to black -throat stilts to Swans….and lots of gulls.

It’s time for the birds

Heron

Last Friday we went with friends to visit parts of Ninepipes Wildlife Refuge we’d never seen. Our friend works there so he took us on a back-roads tour. There were birds all over the place. Here are some of the shots
I grabbed. I know I need a bigger lens but this is what I had. Maybe when our youngest is finished with school, I can find one… 🙂 Above is a Great Blue Heron.

These geese parents were simply trying to keep everyone together. We saw one couple stealing babies left and right so these two were sticking very close to their goslings. (Who knows whether or not they hadn’t stolen babies too!)

Geese-parents
And the thrill of the day for me was seeing this Curlew. He was very busy in a field they were preparing for grain. Camouflage is such an amazing thing; it took a quick eye to spot it. I have more to come.

Curlew