Thursday, February 26, 2009

2009 Calendars

Over the past several years I have enjoyed contributing to various calendars. It's always fun to walk in the store and see your own work on display, and a special feeling to know your work is appreciated enough to be invited into someone's home or office.

Well, this last year marked the first year of producing my very own wall calendars - Wild West & Reflections. Both of these calendars offer a collection of my images from all over the Western U.S. and Canada. What a fun project!

These calendars have been distributed widely in both retail and online stores such as, Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, sporting goods stores, etc.

Now that we are nearing March, most retailers are closing these out and deals are to be had! Unfortunately, availability is no longer guaranteed.

The good news is that we still have a few calendars left! You may view and purchase calendars at a reduced price of $7.00 plus S&H (Reg. price $12.99) by visiting our web site.

Supplies are limited to stock on hand, so once they are gone, they are gone. These calendars are wrapped, but I can peel away a small corner and sign them upon request - let me know!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Business Card

You know it has been a slow week when I write about my new business cards! Actually, I thought it would be a great opportunity to plug ADG Printing in Lynnwood, WA. They have been my business card and postcard source now for many years. Their quality and competitive pricing keeps me coming back!

This particular image was taken just last fall (yes, fall) on a backpacking trip to High Divide in Olympic National Park with my good friend David Crowe. It was a strange year in the Pacific Northwest. The flower show was quite late and lasted into the emergence of fall colors. I actually have a photograph of a single glacier lily (one of the first flowers to bloom in the high country) next to a red huckleberry plant!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

The Nisqually River Delta forms one of the largest remaining estuaries in Washington. While most estuaries have been filled, dredged or developed, Nisqually River's has been set aside for wildlife, receiving official protection in 1974 as the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

Here the freshwater of the Nisqually meets with the saltwater of the Puget Sound, supporting a web of sea life. In fact, the refuge hosts more than 200 bird species, from song birds to waterfowl to raptors. River otters, seals and sea lions are also common to see.

The refuge offers over 7 miles of trails to walk, including the 5.5 mile Brown Farm Dike Trail. This loop trail is a must!

I visited this refuge for the first time last weekend, having no idea what to expect. I had a strange emotional sense about it as it would offer completion for me; the final piece to the puzzle if you will. You see, I have hiked and backpacked along this river. In fact, I have stood on top of the 14,111' summit of its source on several occasions (even by the glacier of its name). Experiencing this river from its icy beginnings down to flower-filled alpine and sub-alpine meadows thru rich forests of old-growth and now to the end of its journey at the Nisqually Delta just seemed like one of life's special moments. To experience it in all its splendor is something I don't think a lot of people are privileged to do. That's unfortunate.

I would like to tell you how glorious the weather was on this day, with the warmth of the sun's rays being cast down upon me and reflected off the still waters nearby. Ah, but that wasn't to be. If you can imagine cloudy skies somewhere above the thickly entrenched fog and temperatures just above freezing, your imagination might paint a little more accurate picture for you!

The boardwalk leading out to the barns was quite iced up and dangerous to walk on. Each step was precarious. I exited first chance I got, retreating to solid ground and trusted footing. I visited the two eagles nested by the barn, then worked my way over to the Brown Farm Dike Trail. Now this was nice walking! It was also peaceful and offered more solitude than expected. It was along this section I watched a couple of Great Blue Herons across the water and laughed at a river otter who seemed to be trying to get my attention!

Just past the Nisqually Overlook, I ran into the fellow you see to the left. I have many more pictures of him. MANY more. He was only 30' above the trail and was oblivious to all walking under him. Ok, I saw three people walk under him...

I continued on to McAllister Creek where I met a group from the Audabon Society. They were quite tickled, having watched two Pine Grosbeaks shortly before my arrival. I was fortunate to see these beautiful birds as well; an uncommon visitor to these parts.

I wrapped up my visit with a venture to the visitor center to chat with some of the staff and pick up a new sweatshirt - hey, it was cold out!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Birds at Coulon Beach

Coulon Beach and the mouth of the Cedar River are fun places to view many bird species. But one must also widen the choice to include one of the major King County trails in the area:

The Cedar River Trail extends 17.3 miles from the City of Renton through Maple Valley and to the border of the Cedar River watershed. It passes through excellent bird and wildlife habitat. Eagles, hawks, herons, mallards, deer, elk, coyotes - you name it! It's a pleasant walk or bicycle ride. My hope is that someday soon the efforts to connect the Soos Creek Trail (of which I live near) to the Cedar River Trail will reach fruition, giving the recreationist even more options.

The Cedar River enters Lake Washington near Coulon Beach, which offers even more opportunities for birding. Herons can be spotted in large numbers here (55 on Jan 31, 2009), as can Mallards and various types of ducks and geese. The best viewing point is near the bridge accessing the Nature Island bird sanctuary. The island has benches for sitting and relaxing while absorbing the views, as well as two separate observation points.

Please respect the wildlife and the enjoyment of others by staying on the established viewing path.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kent Ponds

The Green River Natural Resource Area, or Kent Ponds, is a 304 acre multi-use refuge in Kent, Washington. It's a former sewage lagoon system that has been successfully converted into a stormwater detention and enhanced wetland facility. It can be approached from 64th Ave near the Kent Animal Shelter, or better yet, from Russell Road along the Green River near Van Doren's Landing Park.

The Kent Ponds are home to a diverse wildlife habitat, including Bald Eagle, Perrigrines, Kestrels, hawks, herons, ducks and shorebirds. Coyotes sometimes make an appearance too. Three separate towers allow for viewing across the entire area. Each tower is approached via a separate trail.

Early mornings are an excellent time to visit. Last weekend herons seemed to be the main attraction, with 4-5 witnessed on the fence near the paved trail and wandering around in the tall grass near the middle tower. Happy birding!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Oak Creek Wildlife Area

The Oak Creek Wildlife Area is located just outside of Naches, Washington near (and at) the junction with SR 410 and SR 12. For California Bighorn Sheep and Rocky Mountain Elk, this is one of the best wildlife viewing points in our state. Add in the many Bald Eagles and other visitors to the area, and it is an experience that can't be missed!

I have visited the Oak Creek Wildlife Area many times now, and each visit has been a different experience. Be it snow vs. sunshine, the turnout of the different herds, or the number of eagles feeding on the carcases of deceased animals.

The best way to visit the area from the Seattle area is to drive I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to Wenatchee, turn south on I-82 and follow it to Yakima, then follow the signs for SR 410 to Naches.

I recommend beginning your day by visiting the big horn sheep (they are first to get fed). At the intersection of SR 410 and SR 12, turn right and follow the narrow road about a 1/2 mile to a well signed parking lot on the left. If you get there early, it is fun to watch the big horn sheep make their way down the hillsides from far above! Take your time here and enjoy watching the sheep interact with one another - especially if rams are present.

Next it's time to visit the elk back at the junction. As you approach the junction, look up. You will likely see the hillside dotted with elk waiting for the feed truck to arrive. Park on the southeast side of the junction, carefully cross the road and walk up the short embankment to the fence. The herd will be waiting for you! This herd numbered about 500 just a couple of weeks ago, and proved much more skittish than the herd at park headquarters.

Drive another 1/2 mile up SR 12 and you will arrive at park headquarters. This is where the big herd can be viewed, and many of the elk will likely already be lounging in the field near the parking lot. This herd numbered over 800 just a couple of weeks ago.

First stop should be the visitor center, to both warm up and sign up for one of the free truck tours offered. The staff here are very friendly and knowledgeable, with many stories to share. Please be sure and leave a donation to help support their efforts. Restrooms can be found on the opposite side of the building.

The truck tours take you out into the middle of the herd where they park, allowing guests time to photograph and observe the elk at much closer range. The trucks are associated with food and are accepted by the elk. People however, are not. During one tour a little girl dropped her hat on the ground. The guide waited until she felt most people were done, then asked permission from them to retrieve the hat. We soon learned why. As soon as she set foot on the ground, the elk panicked and ran away!

For more images, visit my Oak Creek, Elk, and Big Horn Sheep galleries.