NatureLog - My Nature & Nature Travel Blog
Animals Through My Traveling Lens
Are you paying attention to who has left and who is arriving in your yard? It may be subtle at first – the numbers diminish little by little. But soon, you’ll realize that you may not have seen a particular species in the backyard for some time. It’s funny – I often find myself a little sad when I don’t see my usual ‘friends’ in the backyard. Then I’ll stop, visualize them on a safe journey north or south, and return to a place of gratitude. Gratitude that:
1 - they spent the winter or summer in our backyard, and
2 - friends from last year – and maybe some new friends – will be arriving soon.
In fact, just the other day, I looked out just in time to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous copper of a Rufous Hummingbird enjoying the red salvia in the garden! It was a first for me and I was thrilled. These little surprises can bring joy into our lives when we make the space for it.
Another surprise encounter in the last week: a Nuttall’s Woodpecker visiting our mealworm suet. I hear and see Nuttalls regularly in our neighborhood while walking the dogs. But never in our backyard. Surprisingly, he clamored through a potato plant to watch the feeder and fight briefly with another bird for a spot at it. This time of year, birds are pairing up, hormones are racing, and little ones need to be fed, so it’s often now that we witness such odd behaviors.
Over the last two years, we also suddenly started having Orange-crowned Warbler visitors. I was delighted to catch a glimpse of one over our Cuphea, then saw it return, make its way through another cuphea plant and before I knew it, fought with the other birds over the mealworm suet. This year, it even dared to take on the hummingbirds, visiting the hummingbird feeder on our patio! I thought I was seeing things. Indeed, another one of this year’s surprises!
Of course, this is a larger metaphor for taking stock of all of the nice surprises and messages in our lives. What magical moment did you have today? How about one that sparked a new idea at some recent point in your life? Maybe you could sit down right now as you read this and think about your last 24 hours. Your last week. Your last month. Just start there – maybe it’s only 2 to 3 things that you recall. That’s ok. Build muscle memory to do this on a daily basis and before you know it, you’ve started your own gratitude journal. In your head or on paper, gratitude is a catalyst for so many good things in life.
"What magical moment did you have today?"
So go ahead. Take stock. Open yourself up to the magic. Maybe it’s that new butterfly who just arrived. Or a new boss who suddenly cares about you and your career. It can literally be anything - from any part of your life. Wherever and whenever, cherish it and build upon it……and let the magic begin!
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As I noted in the first Cannon Beach blog, I had traveled to this little coastal town to see the object of my affection: the puffins. Birdwatching in Cannon Beach had been a high priority for me.
Look up: Wow - Oh No!!!!
While admiring all of the birds nesting on the massive rock, I was (at least momentarily) happy to see a Bald Eagle fly over to the Rock as well….until I realized why. Yes, as you may have guessed, it was raiding the Rock for food. I’m not a "Nat Geo" or "Nature" channel kind of girl - I don’t opt for a front seat for harsh fights for survival. So you will appreciate that seeing an innocent chick being swept away from its parents as a meal for someone else isn’t high on my list of “must sees”. And then there were four more Bald Eagles who decided to do the same. What I was entertained to see were the brave seagulls trying to defend the colony against the raiders. Small seagull vs. big Bald Eagle with very long talons. As you can see, at one point the Eagle was literally rolled over to defend itself against one of the many seagulls giving chase. I was impressed at their bravery, even if for naught.
So if you plan to do some Birdwatching in Cannon Beach this time of year, just be aware of *all* of the possible birdwatching "opportunities" awaiting you.
Look out: Harlequin Ducks
Arriving at the Rock early in the morning had a great payoff. I was delighted to discover a group of gorgeous Harlequin ducks bobbing on the water’s surface. I’ve only seen them one other time – out on the islands in some pretty rough water near the San Juan Islands of WA. To see them here, and so close to shore, was thrilling. I sat and watched these gorgeous ducks for quite some time. I was so great grateful for such a special opportunity.
Look down: Tidepools
Not far from where I watched the Harlequins, I joined others to walk through the tidepools formed at low tide across the beach side of the Rock. As I do with all tidepools, I enjoyed watching the little life crawling and swimming amongst them. It’s another great way to get your kids close to nature – and a great way to appreciate just how tiny our world can be as you watch the smallest of fish swim, crabs crawl, and sea urchins survive in the tiny “pools” of water left behind.
Wastewater Treatment Pond – really? Yes!!!
Elsewhere in town, and not very well known, is a lovely birding area around the sewage treatment plant. You may laugh at the thought of birding here (no, it doesn’t have an odor) but it is rich with birdlife. Many years ago, some thoughtful town citizens had placards erected around the ponds, reflecting on the variety of wildlife and birds calling the area home. I was pleasantly surprised to see a rich variety of birds around the ponds – and met many friendly locals who stopped to chat and find out what birds I had discovered. I spent quite some time at the ponds watching the birds and chatting with the locals. It was another highlight of my trip. In addition to the Canada Geese and Mallards, there were several varieties of Swallows raising their young, as well as Cedar Waxwings, Robins, and a few other species. I did add a new bird to my life list here: the Northern Rough-winged Swallow. And a few rabbits added to the enjoyable mix of life in this area.
Roosevelt Elk? Maybe ….
Much to my dismay, I didn’t actually find any of the local Roosevelt Elk this visit. But with all of the summer visitors, I wasn’t sure that I would. To be fair, I didn’t spend any time at Ecola State Park, one of the likelier places to see them in the area. But I did start my day very early and drive around at dusk as well, just in case. Better luck next trip!
Bird-friendly locals and wildlife rescue-friendly shopping
I also wanted to point out the town locals, Erik and Hannah, host a regular Birding podcast series called “Hannah & Erik Go Birding”. I met Erik over at the ponds and enjoyed chatting with him for quite some time about the birds of the area. And one of my now favorite shops, The Good Life, is kind enough to give a portion of their profits to help local wildlife rescue. Those of you who read my blog know how important wildlife rescue is to me. I was elated to discover this shop’s efforts to support them and really appreciated the opportunity to seek the visiting public’s help in rescue.
All in all, a great birdwatching trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon - an area rich in birds and other wildlife. If you’re planning a trip and are interested in more insights, here are some great resources:
And please remember, if you discover an animal in need, please call the closest Wildlife rehabilitator.
I hope my collections, from Oregon and beyond, inspire you with nature’s beauty:
As a natural-born bird lover, I’m so very grateful to have a job that allows me to travel the world. When I do, I try to take extra days to explore the natural area nearby before returning home. Experiencing the native flora and fauna always proves rewarding. The UK is one of those places I so enjoy. On the last trip, I ventured south to Devon. This time, I’ve chosen to go north of London for a few days - but more on that later.
How do I choose where I go to explore? The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a big part of my planning process. Those who live in the UK are quite fortunate to have such a lovely organization. The RSPB has parks all over the UK for exploring birds and other wildlife. To me, their tag line, “Give Nature a Home”, couldn’t get any better. Check out their website and explore for yourself. Many of the parks have visitor centers with helpful volunteers who answer questions and share more about the local wildlife. Some even have little cafe’s for tea, coffee, sometimes even full meals. On one particularly dreadful cold and drab day, I stopped at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire to see those adorable Atlantic Puffins, beautiful Razorbills and many other birds along the north coast. I was quite happy to discover their lovely visitor center and café. I was able to have my (at the time) 79-year-old mother enjoy the warmth there as I fought the cold winds down the trail out to the ocean where I could spot my colorful little friends. She, on the other hand, was able to spot those same little colorful friends on the live feed on the big screen in the visitor center. We were both delighted that she could spend her time learning from the educational displays and enjoying tea in the warmth of the visitor center.
On this trip, I chose 3 RSPB sites in close proximity to one another. My key goal for this trip: see the gorgeous Common Kingfisher. Since this was winter, the chances were obviously diminished for seeing the Kingfishers, but I wasn’t daunted. I hired a car and planted myself in a convenient lodge between them. Several locals had told me there was a fair chance of spotting the Kingfishers at RSPB Rye Meads, just north of London. The winter had been mild and birds around the English countryside had shown signs of some early spring behaviors.
Lucky for me, and the animals, many RSPB sites provide birding blinds. Blinds of course allow you to witness the many glorious birds without ever disturbing them. Once I arrived at Rye Meads, I walked the trail to the bird blind closest to the location most likely to see them – and see them I did! Not only one, but two, were busily flying in and out of the sandbank nest cavity – likely trying to determine if it was suitable for their nesting. I was in heaven! I spent the morning enthralled by the Kingfishers, then exploring some of the many other spots. I also caught a glimpse of a handsome fox meandering through the park just beyond the Kingfisher activity. I was also able to see - and experience the unforgettable sound of - a Mute Swan at takeoff. I couldn't help but think, to other birds, this must be to them like the difference between a 787 and a turboprop to us!) Also along the way I discovered the Tufted Duck, Gadwalls, Greylag geese and more.
I stopped so many times just to take in the beauty of the green everywhere – it was a sight for sore eyes. I stopped to listen to the stream and recorded a video of the water rushing over rising foliage underneath. I spotted an unsuspecting male pheasant and got a quick glimpse at a few other birds including a little Treecreeper. But otherwise, neither people nor birds shared my quiet morning meander along the 2 mile trail. It was just perfect to focus on the beauty and other lovely sounds of nature that I may miss while focused on the singing birds. It reminded me to take time to admire the trees, the gorgeous colors of the season, and the simple but soothing sounds of a babbling brook.
Three RSPB parks, three different personalities and experiences, it’s all here for us birdwatcher travelers or locals. Many thanks to the RSPB for bringing it to us. I’m now a card-carrying member of the RSPB, and armed with my Member’s guide, I can look forward to the many new parks I will explore. And, whether you’re a foreigner like me or from the UK, I do hope that you get the chance to experience the UK’s beauty, wildlife and these lovely parks for yourself. I've featured some of this beauty in my photo products here and on my Zazzle storefront.
Please remember to support your local wildlife carer/rehabilitator and reach out to them for any wildlife in need of care. Happy Birding …
Pamela, Eyes4Nature's proprietor, enjoying life out in the field among the animals and the peacefulness of nature.