Brian's Journal - Winter 2016

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Ruffed Grouse at Nealy Road feeders, February
Burrowing Owls along I-90, late March

1/04/2016   New Years Weekend  
My last bird of 2015 was a Barn Owl which Darchelle and I flushed as we are driving back to her folks' place from Sally's. 2015 was not just about birding. Darchelle and I got married, albeit privately. I ran 13 marathons, albeit slowly. We did a bunch of hiking and picked a bunch of morels. By the numbers though, birding predominated. On eBird, I finished the year in second place in Washington state with 331 species and and 33rd place in the country with 528 species. My 422 checklists are the most I've done in a single year to date. I counted and photographed birds in North Dakota and Texas and Arizona as well as Washington and New England. Some of those trips were long-held (and scarcely acknowledged) dreams and I'm grateful that I did them while I could still travel on my own, still use the camera (or at least a camera), still record my sightings in eBird.
I don't yet know what 2016 will be about but in case it is about birding, I'm going to get off to a running start. I may not be able to use binoculars but I can still carry the scope and I can still drive, even if I can't zip up my coat when I get there.
Sudbury Creek
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American tree sparrow
Barn owl
Blackbirds on Dodd Road
Tricolored blackbird
My first bird of 2016 was an American Kestrel which I spotted as I looked out our bedroom window down towards the sewage treatment plant. By the end of the weekend I had 50 species, including an American Tree Sparrow at Sudbury Road where our battery went dead again and we had to hang out for an extra hour so waiting for AAA, and a Tricolored Blackbird at Dodd Road where our battery fortunately did not go dead.
View from Lewis Peak Road
Frosted trees along Lewis Peak Road
Mule deer
On our last morning in Walla Walla we drove up into the Blues and got above the fog layer into the sunshine. Not many birds but it was a scenic drive.
1/06/2016   Tacoma  
Brandt's and Pelagic cormorants
Belted Kingfisher
Redheads and Lesser scaup
Drove down to Tacoma today try to catch the Slaty-backed Gull. No luck but I did get a few photos.
1/07/2016   Union Bay Natural Area  
Union Bay Natural Area
Hooded merganser with Bullhead
Hooded mergansers
Cooper's Hawk
Double-crested cormorant with Wood ducks
Wood ducks
It was a gray but calm day at the UBNA. In Yesler Swamp Hooded Mergansers were competing for a Bullhead while over at the Fill the Wood Ducks were looking really good.
1/08/2016   New Hampshire  
Since Darchelle didn't make it back for Christmas, she and I took the redeye back to Boston for a long weekend. As we were landing at Logan I spotted two Snowy Owls still hanging out between the runways. We drove north along the coast Stopping first at Salisbury Beach State Reservation then at Hampton Harbor and at Hampton Beach State Park. I verified a life bird, my first Razorbill, in photographs of a big line of White-winged Scoters in the channel. My hands were very cold but I managed to brace the camera on a stump to get the photos. A few miles to the north I was startled to find an adult Glaucous Gull on the public pier along with a Herring Gull. At first I thought the Herring was a Ring-billed because it was so much smaller than the other gull. I was pretty excited; it was the first adult Glaucous Gull I had ever seen. at Hampton Beach State Park, where we found A flock of horned larks foraging in the parking lot, I mentioned the Glaucous Gull to another birder who said, "Oh, that's Bill. He's been coming back to the same spot for nine years now."
Snowy owl at Logan Airport
Razorbill (center) with White-winged scoters
Glaucous Gull (aka Bill)
We enjoyed a nice quiet visit with Mom and John. They are spending the winter in Jackson instead of driving down to Florida. Sarah and Roger are in Sweden for the winter so they are feeling a bit more on their own then they would like but Eric helps out with shoveling and such.
Donna, Darchelle, Ali, Stacy
Ali and Darchelle in Ali's childhood home
Darchelle with mom and John
On the way home we stopped by Marblehead and met up with Stacy, Allison and Donna for a few hours.
1/18/2016   Green Lake & Rosario  
Common redpolls and Pine siskins
Cooper's Hawk
Tundra swans
A flock of Common Redpolls has been hanging out in the birches around Green Lake, delighting local birders. A Cooper's Hawk was out birdwatching as well. We ran into Ed and Delia there and invited them to come north with us to Rosario for the afternoon but predictably they were busy.
Rosario Cove
Black oystercatcher
Sisters Mountain at sunset
As usual Rosario offered numerous dramatic seascapes which were difficult to compose into images. The placid waters below the headlands offered up a few new year birds including Black Oystercatchers and Harlequin Ducks, putting me just over 100 in Washington for the year so far.
1/24/2016   Walla Walla  
White-winged crossbills
Darchelle photographing Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
White-winged Crossbills have been reported in Ellensburg recently so we stopped by on our way to Walla Walla. We found them in spruce trees near the high school. Also reported recently were several rare gulls at Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River at the far north edge of Walla Walla County. On the way out there from McNary we spent a pleasant hour searching for Saw-whet Owls at Fishhook Park, ultimately finding one perched 3 feet off the ground in a dense low Juniper bush. The sun was getting low by the time we reached Lower Monumental Dam but we scoped the gulls hanging out on the concrete bulwark above the dam and managed to find the Lesser Black-backed Gull but not the Glaucous or Slaty-backed Gull. We couldn't find any Rosy Finches in the gravel pit nearby; maybe they had all gone to bed.
Palouse homestead at dusk
Palouse sunset
Palouse sunset
There is a dramatic simplicity to the landscapes of the Palouse Hills in northern Walla Walla County at sunset.
Sunday morning I drove over to the Whitman Mission National Historic Site and birded in the sunshine for an hour or so. With no snow and a temperature around 45F it hardly felt like winter. In the afternoon Darchelle and I made the long drive back up to Lower Monumental Dam and managed to get photos of the Lesser Black-backed Gull and the Rosy Finches but still did not find the other gulls.
Whitman Memorial Park fences
Cottonwood
Wild turkeys
Gray-crowned Rosy Finches
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Lesser black-backed gull
We drove home via the Gorge on Monday in order to search for a couple other rare birds. Along Old Hwy 8 at Biggers Road a couple of miles West of Lyle we found both Acorn and Lewis's woodpeckers, neither unexpected but both good to see. At Skamania Landing we caught an ever so brief glimpse of the previously reported Harris's Sparrow. We did not find the Tufted Duck among the hundreds of Scaup in the Columbia River off Marine Park. I actually thought I had seen one earlier from the car in one of the little lakes along the road west of Lyle but didn't stop, then spent the rest of the day regretting that decision.
Oak woodland along Falls Road
Lewis's woodpecker
Lewis's and Acorn woodpeckers
1/26/2016   My friend Jesus  
I have a friend named Jesus. Sometimes we play hide and seek. He hides and I seek. The problem is I never find him. He just keeps on hiding so we never get to play the part where I hide and he seeks me. It doesn't seem like he wants to be found. It has gotten to the point now where I can't tell if he is even playing.
Perhaps the problem is that he's really busy. He's a lot richer than I am and I'm sure he has a lot to do, managing all his assets. He told me to ask him for anything I want, and he would give it to me. "Ask and you will receive", he said. I used to ask him for more things then I do now. Over time I realized that if I asked for little things he'd sometimes do them for me, but if I asked for big things I never heard back from him. Some of the big things were even things he wanted, like that I would be a more loving person, or that I would love him more and be a better friend to him. I don't talk to him much anymore. I realized that often when I thought I was hearing back from him it was just me talking back to myself. That was okay I guess. I gave myself some pretty good answers sometimes.
Now that I'm not trying so hard to be his friend anymore I'm a lot happier. I love people more too. Still, sometimes I miss him. I wish there really was someone named Jesus who would be loving and kind and wise, a real friend, and who would heal me of ALS, and with whom we could live together in peace after I die.
1/31/2016   Fort Flagler  
Edmonds Kingston ferry
Double-crested and Brandts cormorants
Thayers Gull
I think I was looking for a Yellow-billed Loon. I drove out to Fort Flagler and Point Wilson on my own yesterday then Ed, Delia, Darchelle and I drove out there again today. Yesterday was a pleasant day, not too windy, temp in the low 50s; today was not quite as nice but still tolerable. No loon but we did see lots of both types of Murrelets off Point Wilson. Ed had a hard time distinguishing the Ancient Murrelets as they flew past the scope view but I think in the end he was satisfied that he had seen them.
Roosting dunlin
Black Brants
Black Brants taking off
2/01/2016   Alone  
A dream:
Daniel and I are walking and we stopped to rest in a small house. Looking out a window, I noticed that the we are moving and I realized that we are in the shell of a double wide mobile home on the back of a truck. This is a problem because the truck is taking us away from our place in the city and it will be a long way back. When the truck stops briefly we get out, Daniel first, and he goes down the hill to talk to the driver, who might be angry. I walk away to avoid a confrontation, and Daniel remains behind.
I am walking through a line of young trees between a tennis court and a small pond, partly frozen. Several kids are lying on their stomach on wet leaves on the tennis court, trying to slide on the leaves as if they were sleds. I walked past them a couple of them followed me and confronted me, threatening to towel - snap me with a Kleenex. They asked if that was ok with me and I agreed. It hurt slightly, or maybe I imagined that it did.
I continued walking along the road. The fly of my convertible pants was down so I could pee despite weak hands from ALS. Someone helped me to fold a pinkish sheet and wrap it around my waist to cover my fly. Continuing along the road I was alone and felt very sad. I was crying and felt self-conscious because the oncoming cars could see me.
I came to an open air market on the Mexican border and realized that I was on the wrong side of the city. Mexican women, having finished shopping on the American side of the border, were crossing the little stream back into Mexico. They were dressed in colorful clothing but had blond, brown and gray hair as well as black, just like American women, I thought.
In a corner of the market an elderly black man wants to read me a Bible verse and tell me about some crackpot interpretation, something to do with Habakuk. I look at the verse but don't stay to hear his theory about it.
This last part might have been from a different dream. I am along a stream in dry open forest when suddenly I hear a rustling about 50 feet away. It is a large greenish monitor lizard (like a Komodo dragon) and it approaches me to kill and eat me, but I wake up enough to imagine that its jaws are rubbery, too soft to bite me, and I can fend it off with my hands, or perhaps my feet since my arms and hands are weak from ALS.
2/02/2016   Nisqually, Tacoma  
Golden-crowned sparrows
Hooded Merganser
Daniel digiscoping
Daniel and I drove down to Nisqually today, he having graciously agreed to go birding with me. It's not his favorite thing to do but I appreciate his help with driving and zipping up my coat and carrying the scope some of the time. So as to not have him wait for me too much, I did not do a checklist but I did get some pretty good photos, in particular the one of the four Golden-crowned Sparrows lined up on a young alder sapling.
Black Scoter male
Black Scoter female
Black Scoters with Red-breasted Merganser
We stopped in Tacoma on the way home. He had an errand to run in Old Town and I wanted to try again for the Black Scoters still being reported along the waterfront. I got lucky this time. They were right off the pier at the Silver Cloud Inn, two males and two females. It was close to sunset so I had a hard time getting sharp photos with my shaky hands. I tried to brace the camera on the railing of the pier but but even with support my arms were generally too weak to aim the camera at the birds, and it didn't help that they were moving too.
A dream last night:
The kitten is poking around near a couple of plastic tubs partly filled with my stuff. Susan is nearby and I tell her that I will be pissed if the kitten urinates in one of my tubs. The kitten hops into a tub, squats down and urinates, then hops out again. I am angry and I announce that if the kitten does that again I will be pissed. The kitten climbs into the second tub and urinates again. Furious, I grabbed the kitten out of the tub and drop it on the floor by the tub. I tried to kick it with my hiking boot but instead accidentally step on it and roll it under my foot. It is long and limp, with short legs like a weasel. I am afraid that if Susan takes it to the vet they will know I have abused it, and I will be in trouble.
I think this is another dream expressing my anger about ALS. The kitten, innocent yet also oblivious to external influence, seems to represent my body with its withering muscles, making a mess of the things in my life. Just as in the dream the urine does not actually damage anything, my increasing disability has yet to take away anything of true importance in my life, though it threatens imminently to do so. In the dream acting on my anger causes actual harm to the kitten. Acting on my anger in real life has the potential to call me actual harm as well.
Who is the authority with whom I could get in trouble for that? God? It is Susan in the dream who might draw the attention of the authorities to my case. In reality her recourse in our case is likely to God since the law failed her in its fairness. Perhaps the dream indicates that I still fear God even as I generally doubt His Existence.
2/05/2016   Black-headed Gull  
Black-headed Gull
A rare Black-headed Gull was found in the fields outside of Monroe last week. Darchelle and I drove out to look for it and succeeded thanks to other birders. We followed the rule of twitching that when seeking a rarity, look first for the birders rather than for the bird. Other people apparently had great views but while we were there the bird kept its distance. Andy and Ellen showed up and saw it too, then we drove together over to the parking lot at the south end of Crescent Lake. While we looking for a Swamp Sparrow maybe a quarter-mile from the parking lot, someone broke into Andy and Ellen's car and stole a scope and tripod. We believe we saw the culprit in the parking area shortly before the break-in but we aren't sure. A man in his 30s, he was hanging out over by the edge of the water but did not appear to be involved in any of the usual activities - dog-walking, fishing or birding - that usually attract people to the spot. Darchelle had an uncomfortable feeling about him but did not take it seriously.
2/08/2016   Slaty-backed Gull  
Red-tailed Hawk
Slaty-backed Gull
Today we tried again for another rare gull - the Slaty-backed Gull down in Tacoma. We spent three hours scrutinizing gulls at Gog-Le-Hi-Te and in the river and though we thought we might have seen it a couple of times we weren't sure. I had given up and we were driving back across the Lincoln Avenue bridge when we spotted a small group of gulls in the river just upstream. Darchelle wanted to stop; I didn't but she was driving. When we climbed over the dike for a closer view I immediately recognized our target. Once again, Darchelle's persistence pays off.
2/15/2016   Okanogan Trip  
We managed to persuade Ed and Delia to venture across the pass in winter to join us on a four day trip to the Okanogan with Andy and Ellen and Eric Heisey. Over the four days we recorded 30 checklists and saw or heard 77 species. We missed a few targets, the Great Gray Owl being the most notable of them. We met in Ellensburg on Friday morning and drove north through the Grand Coulee to the Waterville Plateau, where the snow and fog began. The ground was snow-covered for the rest of the trip but fortunately the fog cleared once we dropped down into Bridgeport. Our last stop of the day was at the state park where we located five Saw-whet Owls, each in its own Spruce tree, and one Barn Owl.
Dry Falls overlook
Fog on Waterville Plateau
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Saturday was a big day in the Okanogan - lots of birds and lots of birders. I was really pleased to get some good photos, particularly of the Ruffed Grouse at the Nealy road feeders and of two of the five Northern Pygmy Owls we saw during the day.
Havillah snowpark road
Along Hungry Hollow road
Along Hungry Hollow road
Birders watching Nealy road feeders
Ruffed Grouse
Ruffed Grouse
Along Mary Ann Creek Road we found Pine Grosbeaks but not White-winged Crossbills.
Bald Eagle
Photographing Pine Grosbeaks
Pine Grosbeaks
Northern Pygmy Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
Snow on pine branches
Sunday we returned to the Havillah area early in the morning and spent much of the day searching unsuccessfully for a Great Gray Owl before following Nine Mile Road from Molson out to Orville and thus Similkameen River up to Palmer Lake. We were right along the Canadian border but much of the area had burned and we didn't find much in the way of birds.
Rough-legged Hawk
Townsend's Solitaire
Watching ducks on the Simalkameen River
Monday morning we drove the Cameron Lake Road and at the Tree Sparrow ranch we found no Tree Sparrows but had great views of a juvenile Goshawk pursuing a Collared Dove for what seemed like five minutes before finally giving up the chase. I didn't get any photos of that but I did manage to get Snow buntings along Timentwa Road.
House and boulders
Horned Lark
Snow Bunting
We devoted Monday afternoon to a search for a Snowy Owl on the Waterville Plateau. We eventually succeeded in spotting a white bump on a distant ridge. I was pleased because it was right where I had theorized it would be. Darchelle was delighted because she had never seen one before.
Ravens on boulder
Snowy Owl
Saying goodbye and plotting route home
2/19/2016   The Dictator  
I have been very angry all week since coming home from the birding trip Monday evening when I realized both how much I enjoyed participating in a community of expert birders and how my increasing disability is going to exclude me from that community. That has been a recurring theme in my recent experience as I have been breaking out of the prison of fear which has constrained me all my life. Just as I move to engage with life, I am thwarted by my increasing disability. I am pursuing my passion for birding but can no longer use binoculars. I have found the love of my life and am dying. Now I find community and it too will be taken away.
I know it is unreasonable, but I feel that it is my hands which are at fault. My hands are failing. They're shutting down and as they stop functioning they rob me of the things that I love. They are also robbing me of my independence. I am losing the ability to drive myself, to dress myself, to feed myself, to bathe myself, to pump gas or shop for groceries.
On Wednesday, I was so angry I slammed my right hand against the wall several times. It felt good to punish the hand that offended me. I held onto that hard anger inside me because if I let it go I would sink into grief and despair.
On Thursday I determined to drive down to Enumclaw after my therapy appointment. I wanted to go bird watching, to look for a rare Gyrfalcon which has been seen there from time to time. Never mind that I can barely turn the key in the ignition and barely crank the steering wheel to park the car. I would force myself to do it anyway. In therapy we talked about my anger and I did not know what to do with it. I was agitated, anxious and also excited about driving myself to go bird watching.
My outing was a success. Though I did not find the Gyrfalcon, I saw 30 or so other species including several of new birds for the year and got a few photos to remember the occasion. I particularly enjoyed being out alone. Driving was not a problem; perhaps my anger gave me a little extra strength.

Last night I remembered a dream:
The ruler, maybe dictator, of a small country is waiting in the foyer with two of his officials for an audience with a more powerful ruler. Both the dictator and his officials are burly men with black hair and mustaches; they remind me of Bruto in the Popeye cartoon. As I watch from a nearby cubicle, the dictator twists the arm of each of his officials, first one then the other. They writhe and cry out in pain but cannot fight back because the dictator is their boss. I feel indignant because the dictator is unjust, then I worry that he will since my judgement of him and will come after me.
He does come after me. To defend myself I slash at his face with a rusty spade with a broken handle. He fends off my first blow but with my second blow I strike him in the face. I wake up wondering if he would keep on attacking me.
I think the dream was a restatement of what we discussed in therapy, that my hands are not the problem. ALS is the problem but I can't reach it. I can't locate it, I can't negotiate with it, I can't affect it in any way. Nevertheless, to punish my hands is not right. The dictator represents my anger, or my executive function overtaken by anger. I object to the unfairness of punishing my hands, then as it has so often throughout my life, my anger turns against myself. But now, armed with self-love, I resist that impulse to anger. The rusty spade recalls gardening and rockhounding, the two activities in which I found joy and satisfaction in myself untainted by the self-condemnation and sense of inadequacy which informed my roles in work, family and church. With love I fend off the anger, and accept the grief that so often seems to lurk in the wings of love.

One more thing. My ex-wife recently accused me of being lucky all my life, in that I had never been exposed to the pain and loss that had been her lot since childhood. Lucky perhaps, but I do concede that I, a wealthy white male, have enjoyed the privilege accorded to that class in our society and that moreover, there are worse fates than to die of ALS in the comforts afforded by money and love. Those are not my fates though, and in sharing my pain it is not my intention to diminish yours. If your lot is worse than mine I am sorry, and if not, that is good.
2/29/2016   Walla Walla  
Darchelle and Alicia on Durr road
Western Bluebird
Cedar Waxwing
Alicia has been staying with us for a while but now she is going to visit her parents for a week or two so we drove her over to Walla Walla with, of course, birding stops along the way. In the sagebrush along Durr road we found both bluebirds and I unexpectedly picked up a Chuckar for the year as well, chucking out in the Sage. In Yakima we found only Cedar Waxwings where the Mockingbird was supposed to be.
Hiking in Umptanum canyon
Red-tails along Byrnes Road
Wallula Poop Piles
On the way home we stopped in the Yakima River Canyon and heard three owl species - Screech, Great horned and Saw-whet.
3/05/2016   Westport  
Nisqually NWR
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Dunlin with Marbled Godwit
Sea lions
Barrows Goldeneyes with Common Goldeneye
3/07/2016   Agency  
A dream:
I am having a picnic, sitting on a blanket next to the red Subaru with Susan, though to me she feels like Darchelle. She is leaning back into my lap and her shirt is open. I am beginning to think about having sex when through the windows of the car I see a man coming up the hill about 100 feet away. I worry that he is coming to tell us that we should not be here. He comes around from behind the car and steps on the blanket directly in front of Darchelle, between her legs. He is a big man and his intent feels aggressive and sexual. I stand up to defend her and force the man and his partner to back off about ten feet even though both men are much taller than I am. The man is solidly built with a square face and affable manner. He is perhaps in his forties and he is wearing casual business attire, maybe a light blue shirt. His partner is slender, similarly dressed, and attentive but quiet. The big man, no longer aggressive in any way, introduces me to a family - husband, wife and two children - who shyly offer me two large plastic bags containing tools to help me cope with ALS, things like clamps, tongs and tweezers. I am so moved by the family's kindness, and the kindness of the big man in finding them and introducing them to me, that I start to cry and wake up.
3/09/2016   Ridgefield  
My arms and hands are tired today. I considered trying to do some painting but it feels like too much effort so I'll try journaling instead. I can do that by dictating into my phone.
Alicia needed a ride to Portland yesterday. She could have taken the train but since I wanted to do some birding in the Vancouver area, I gave her a ride down. Actually she drove. We stopped first in Longview where I relocated the northern mockingbird that Laurel and I found last November. Year bird number 177 and a difficult one to get, it alone made the trip worthwhile. It was in a modest neighborhood a few blocks west of the south end of Lake Sacajawea, not more than 100 feet from where I first saw it.
After searching without success for a recently reported Glaucous Gull in Kalama and Rusty Blackbird in Woodland, I dropped Alicia off at a Starbucks in Vancouver. I should have had Alicia back in to park because turning around in the parking lot was one of the hardest things I did all day.
Ridgefield slough
I drove the Loop Road at Ridgefield NWR late in the afternoon under a dark gray sky. The rain fortunately let up a little soon after I started. I thought I had the place to myself when I stopped in the middle of the road and got out to pee, only to have a white pickup truck pull up behind me. Fortunately not official, and they on their way out anyway. The birding was pretty good considering the conditions though without binoculars I couldn't identify the more distant ducks. That may have cost me Cinnamon Teal but I did pick up a Wilson's Snipe and a White-breasted Nuthatch for my year list. That nuthatch is often a difficult bird for me to find.
Having not seen Pat and Shirley for almost 2 years, I stopped by on my way home. Pat has gained a fair amount of weight and his face has become much more round, which I found disturbing. We talked mostly about our health problems for an hour or so in their living room. He has chronic severe chest congestion due to excess mucus production in his sinuses. His doctors cannot stop the mucous so they are managing the congestion to some extent with prednisone, but Pat still finds himself often unable to get enough air. Meanwhile the prednisone weakens his immune system leading to severe sinus infections so he is also on immunoglobulin therapy. He is getting his money's worth out of his health insurance but finding it difficult to get much done in a day. That sounded familiar. They asked how I was doing and I told them about my weak hands and arms, my difficulty driving and such. I told them I can't do anything with rocks anymore, then Pat and I spent the last hour of my visit looking at the rock sanding and polishing machines he is building and reminiscing about agate hunting locations. Apparently many of them are now off-limits to collectors. He seemed reluctant to say goodbye so I lingered outside talking with him until my hands and arms were so chilled I could not turn the key in the car. He had to do it for me.
3/12/2016   Edmonds  
American Robin
Barberry and Red-flowered current
Anna's Hummingbird
3/16/2016   Westport  
Glaucous x Herring Gull with Herring Gulls
Sanderlings
Least sandpipers
Black Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper and Black Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper
3/18/2016   Walla Walla  
Burrowing Owl
Sandhill Cranes
American White Pelicans
Long-billed Curlew
Ferruginous Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
3/22/2016   Vantage  
Sagebrush along Old Vantage Hwy
Moumtaim Bluebird
Sagebrush Sparrow
Mountain Ball Cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii)
Sagebrush Violet
Sagebrush buttercup
Frenchman's Coulee
Frenchman's Coulee
Daniel overlooking Frenchman's Coulee
3/25/2016   New Hampshire  
Sarah and Roger are for Bernie
The Sugar House
Daniel feeding the fire
Darchelle and Sarah in the sugar house
Doublehead
Siskins and Redpolls
3/30/2016   Othello  
Railroad Ponds
Pygmy Nuthatch
Mountain Chickadee
Pine Siskin
Blair photographing Ospreys
Osprey nest with incoming great blue heron
Stuart range from Durr road
Vesper Sparrow
Brewers Sparrow
Sandhill Cranes at County Line Ponds
Long-billed Curlew
Yellow-headed Blackbirds
Burrowing Owls
Burrowing Owls
Rock Wren
3/31/2016   Interlaken Park and a baptism dream  
A dream with John:
John M was baptizing people so I asked if I could get re-baptized. I felt that I was ready this time and that it would be very meaningful. I took off my clothes except my shorts and leaving them in the outer room stepped into the waiting area where I was surprised to find other men and boys waiting to be baptized, all sitting on benches and wearing just white shorts with no shirts. I took my place in the middle of the line. I had a dim recollection of myself standing with Susan and David and Daniel, perhaps part of another dream. When it was my turn I stepped down into the baptistry with John and to my surprise the water was cool not warm. I made a joke about the cold water and felt that John disapproved of my levity though he did not say anything. I didn't actually experience going under the water in the dream; I thought through it instead. After I got out of the water, I was disappointed that I did not feel anything special but I reassured myself that what had just happened was nonetheless significant. The waiting room was now empty. The dream ended with John introducing me to two women, both also just baptized, with whom we would meet regularly as if for a new member class.
Interlaken Park
Barred Owl
I've been looking for Barred Owls because they been reported in several places around town and I haven't seen one yet this year. I've tried a couple times at Carkeek Park and once at Seward Park and once or twice at Interlaken Park. This evening while Darchelle was at work Alicia drove me back over Interlaken Park. We arrived about a half hour before sunset and immediately I heard a Townsend's Warbler singing in the top of a cedar tree at the edge of the park. Another year bird. We hiked the trails which traverse the forested hillsides of the park and ended up back down on the road about a quarter mile up from the east entrance. There Alicia found the owl for me at dusk, sitting on a maple branch silhouetted against the pale sky. A man with his two grade-school daughters bicycled up to us so I pointed out the owl to them. The girls were excited. One of them was currently studying owls in school and even knew the "who cooks for you" call. They showed me a large dark cavity in a big cottonwood at the bend in the road and speculated that perhaps the owl lived there. I think they might have been right, particularly since a few minutes after they left another owl flew over us, followed shortly by the first owl. Neither of them called.

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