Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Junior Raptor Road Trip

Yesterday I woke with a raging cold and led a day of Portland Audubon's Winter Break Camp called Junior Raptor Road Trip. My helper, Marianne, and I loaded twelve second and third-graders into a van and drove to Sauvie Island. My voice was too cracked to carry to the back of the van, so I was lucky to have Marianne along.

We stopped at the same birdwatching locations visited during the actual Raptor Road Trip event in February and we saw almost all of the birds expected. We spotted 32 species of birds with highlights including numerous bald eagles, a female merlin, northern harriers, thousands of snow geese, and a few sandhill cranes.

The day started out rainy, but we had a few sunbreaks between storms. A large one was looming towards the end of the day, so we returned to Audubon for some bird-drawing and games until the parents returned to pick up the campers. By the time I put away all of the camp supplies, I was completely wiped out. Today, I am moving pretty slowly and doing as little as possible to recover from the cold.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finishing the Tree

Tonight I completed the Creature Tree by placing a star on top.

A purple seastar, to be exact.

Happy Holidays to All!

Still a Winter Wonderland

The ground is still covered in snow here in western Oregon, and it is the snowiest December in 40 years.

We did not get much snow the last three years here, so Sarah and I have enjoyed playing with ice chunks and snowballs during our walks.

Today, ducks and geese had congregated in and around some open water at the park.
More snow is expected tomorrow, so we should get our second White Christmas in a row.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Solstice to All and to All Shorter Nights

Here are a few more additions to the creature tree:

A fledgling great-horned owl

A common garter snake

A mottled sculpin.

The owl and snake were requested by Sarah and the fish will be a gift.

And here are some photos from our longest night of the year:

An ice-covered spider silk

Icy grass

Sarah's snow angel

Tulip tree buds

"Downtown" Orenco Station

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Weather Update

As expected, we received over ten inches of snow last night, which was capped off by a layer of freezing rain. It feels like walking on a giant creme brulee outside, as we break through the crust into the soft snow below. Few people are driving and Sarah had to cancel the first day of Winter Break Camp at Portland Audubon.

Ice has coated the branches of the trees and shrubs.

Luckily for us, the trees are not large enough to drop large branches on our houses or vehicles.

Ice has even coated fallen leaves on the snow.

We peeled the leaf away to reveal a nice ice casting.

Mourning doves have been riding out the weather on our porch.

Scrub Jays occasionally drop in to fight the doves for feeder supremacy.

The snow has picked up again, so it looks like things will continue to be shut down around here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Winter Veggies and Snow

During previous Oregon winters, I missed the light, fluffy snow we used to get in Montana. This week, however, we have had plenty and ten inches or so are expected today in Hillsboro!

Today, I broke out my wool ice-fishing pants for a walk to the local grocery store.

The dot in the middle of the field is a killdeer trying to cope with the snow.

Yesterday, we drove to a small farm selling their surplus of winter squash and root vegetables. The last Portland Farmer's market had been canceled due to weather, so they had a lot of produce to move and we were glad to help. It is a beautiful assortment and I especially like the wild-looking parsnips.

I painted a watercolor of one last night, and it looks like a character from a Myazaki movie.

Today we are preparing for a Christmas party with Oregon family friends. We feared it would be cancelled due to weather, but for now it is still on.

I cut up one of our winter squashes and started to bake the halves for a squash-goat cheese appetizer spread. I have hardly been out of the apartment this week, so it will be nice to mix and mingle once again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Solstice Approaches

It's day six of our so-called "Arctic Blast" which has excited the local news stations and children who received a week off from school. The weather has, as usual, frustrated transplants who expect better snow clearing from the local government.

Now that the Solstice is approaching, I have been trying to relax a bit more, work a bit less, and enjoy making ornaments. Here are a few more:

A long-tailed weasel and red-faced warbler

A Pacific lamprey

A banded rock-rattlesnake

Now that the tree is nearly full, I need to start making gifts for friends and family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Fun

Our unusually arctic weather continues. Yesterday, I went with Sarah to Audubon and spotted some varied thrushes picking seed off of the sidewalk

I considered a walk down to Balch Creek, but feared a tumble down the slick, icy trail.

Today we walked around Dawson Creek Park and enjoyed the snow and great views of ducks.

Most of the ducks were mallards, but there were a few buffleheads, hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks, and wigeons mixed in.

The doug firs and oaks looked quite nice with their dusting of snow.

I hope it stays white for Christmas, but I would not bet on it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Tree Creatures

Here are some new ornaments and some old ones on the tree.

A Bewick's wren

A black-billed magpie

A brown creeper

A horned grebe

A long-nosed snake

The streets were covered with ice today, so Sarah and I did not drive anywhere .

The small wetland was frozen over, so the mallards had to find open water elsewhere.