My Wednesday began just after 2 A.M. when I stuck one more piece of firewood into wood stove and turned to go to bed. A brilliant green light out the dining room window caught my attention and I walked out onto the front deck to verify my suspicion.
Up in the sky was the most astonishing display of aurora borealis I've ever seen in this valley. At a nippy 8 above, I lingered long after my fingers were too cold to operate my point and shoot camera.
I put on a jacket and spent the next hour outside, shooting photos. My little point and shoot Coolpix did a fair job, but I could have better photos if I knew how to use my DSLR Nikon on a long exposure. After a while, the lights faded and I went in to bed.
Because I didn't get to sleep until almost 6 o'clock, I didn't get up until 1 P.M. When I sat down next to the front window with a cup of tea, the bird feeder was bombarded by pine grosbeaks. I hadn't seen them since summer, so I got the good camera and the good lens and clicked away.
|Female pine grosbeak|
|Male pine grosbeak|
|Male and female|
|Male and female grosbeaks|
Pretty soon the red breasted nuthatches and black capped chickadees arrived.
|Red breasted muthatch|
|Sorry, little chickadee. I know you're all dressed up for dinner, but the peanuts are too big for you.|
I gathered up the camera equipment and drove to Tern Lake to see what was going on there.
A few nights of single digit temps and the lake was frozen.
|This fellow checked the thickness of the ice and found it was 4 inches. Plenty.|
|The Tern Lake birch.|
I thought I'd go over to Cooper Landing to see if there were any trumpeter swans to photograph, but just for fun, I pulled into a picnic area at the lake and went looking for the American dippers that live in the outfall creek there.
|The bridge over Dave's Creek at the outfall of Tern Lake.|
There were still many spawned out salmon in the creek. Icky looking salmon. Their life cycles end after spawning.
|Those white lines are the backs of dying salmon.|
Still looking for the dippers, I went up onto the bridge to look downstream. Just then a large bald eagle landed in a tree beside me.
This was turning into a great birding day. After a few shots, the eagle flew off and the American dipper appeared.
|There are salmon in the foreground.|
Dippers, once called water ouzels, are fascinating birds. They literally swim and walk under water, searching for small fish, invertebrates, and eggs from fish. They have very strong feet that enable them to grasp rocks and fight water currents.
I took one more photo of this ice pattern and headed to Cooper Landing.
Back at the highway, I drove about 300 feet, looked to my left and....
(to be continued)