Monday, August 31, 2015

Weather System Moves In

Rain is always welcome (and snow later on) and never has it been more appreciated around here as yesterday when a big front and winds pushed the smoke elsewhere. Top is a photo Saturday looking north which seemed to be the worst direction, and an eagle in the smoke. Then early Sunday the first showers, to be repeated and a hasty retreat last night just missing a downpour. Beauty skies today! We'll see how long this lasts.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Even Worse

I think the smoke was thicker than ever, but we still went down to the beach just for fun - plus the dogs are always jonesin' to go. That's 4 pm at my turn on East Side Highway in the beautiful Bitterroot Mountains, unbelievable. Then the ravens and magpies were goofing off in the treetops, joined by an eagle. The raven crept closer and closer, two feet away and the eagle said, "Scram and leave me alone." That favorite snag is the happening spot even in the dark. Working on a photo project today…indoors!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Smoke On the Water

This is the scene most every evening from 5:30 until dark - Peanut, Mookie and camera on the bank opposite the nest tree (right above the dogs) and favorite snag (left with ravens.) As you can tell, the smoke is so bad it's hardly worth it, until a Peregrine shows up and lands by two ravens! The big guy bluff charged the falcon and off he flew. The ravens and magpies are constantly sizing up whoever lands in those trees, curious corvids. A few nights ago a kestrel was dive bombing a Peregrine, four kestrels on the beach last night but in the dark. Still, fun to watch behavior even if I can't get a snapshot.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wednesday Night

Heading down to the beach with the camera and dogs is a nightly ritual and a highlight of my day, but sometimes I wonder what I'm doing down there. It was so dark with smoke and clouds last evening that I tried some experimental camera settings(very high d-lighting for Nikon folks.) First a magpie was bugging the eagle, then ravens flew in, joined by this young Peregrine. Then he posed for me, and this will make a nice card. What a handsome devil.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Other "Birds" on the Beach

A Common Nighthawk, Lewis's Woodpecker checking out a kestrel at the top of the nest tree, and a bat! Photos in the last week, and only the second time I have seen a bat down there, ever.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Great Smokey Mountains

I missed Sunday night on the beach, but last night was almost too smokey to see. It even got worse  and I watched the distant hills to the north disappear in a haze. The birds don't care and last night a few Ospreys, a Bald Eagle getting swooped upon, but something I've never seen down there - a Peregrine battle. They are either ticked off siblings or two fledged birds from different nests. Both appeared to be  females and battled in the air as well, screaming bloody murder. I don't think it was over food as the perched bird appeared to have a crop, just eaten. And not territory so maybe just practicing their anger management skills.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Flathead Lake Rendezvous

We were the surprise just before dinner at a gathering of 60 Montana History Foundation board members, sponsors and their families. A very generous Member-At-Large Penelope Wilson was stepping down and this was a party in her honor. CEO and President of MHF Charlene Porsild paid a visit to Penny's Pennsylvania home and discovered that she had a great passion for owls with a huge collection of anything-owl. So why not surprise her with the real thing? I had Owen, iPod and Jillian out one at a time and here's Penny meeting the tiniest, what an expression on her face, a sweet lady. I had Sibley in the Subaru in the background there, and finished with an animated description of a Peregrine hunt, the grand finale. The Montana History Foundation "seeks to preserve the legacy of Montana's past" an outstanding non-profit group and check them out!

Saturday, August 22, 2015


A bunch of Ospreys, two Peregrines, three kestrels, ravens and a Lewis's Woodpecker, throw in a flock of magpies and a Bald Eagle, all interacting. MAN what a Saturday Night Live.

Friday, August 21, 2015

After Dark

Barely got this one and sorry for the poor quality, but that Osprey is ticked off.
Great news-I have a new book with Mountain Press Publishing, out in the early spring!


Four Ospreys at once, and these two adults perching together briefly. Then one of the eagle chicks flew to her nest tree, begging and begging. When her her father appeared she joined him, and he decided to split rather than listen to her cries. It is so dark in the evenings with the smoke that I'm lucky to get these shots.
ps: I just posted this link on my Facebook page and we'll see how many people take a peek!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Yesterday started and finished with falcons. Sonora the Aplomado was in the house like always for a few hours, hanging out on the bookcase. Then Jay Sumner and I spent the afternoon watching fledgling Peregrines chasing each other and their parents up the Blackfoot. The adult male even caught a Hairy Woodpecker right in front of us and plucked and ate the whole thing, not sharing with his offspring.  Here are four young Common Mergansers piled together on a rock (non-falcons.). Then when I got home two Ravens were playing in a snag and were joined by this Peregrine. The smoke made the atmosphere awfully red, and dark!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Peregrine and Raven


After a conference call board meeting with Coastal Raptors of Washington I ran down to the beach and photographed this Osprey and two male Peregrines arguing with a magpie. Nothing but fun.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Combination

Male Bald Eagle and Common Nighthawks - 30 of these aerial experts over the river at one, back and forth. 

Our Slough

This young Great Blue Heron is almost always standing in the slough in the back yard, and last night was joined by some White-tailed Deer. Glad I started walking back home before the sun went behind the mountains.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunday Evening

This Peregrine flew in right when I arrived on the beach and chased a few shorebirds then disappeared. Immediately another smaller falcon landed further away in the nest tree with a bird - a Merlin and waxwing which she plucked and devoured until she was interrupted by a magpie. I wondered what a Merlin was doing in the Bitterroot this time of year as they don't breed here. Maybe she's the first migrant of the season. Then the Bald Eagle right on cue landed in the favorite snag. She was standing out in the open for a minute then thought better of it and hid behind these limbs, when an Osprey making the rounds took a swipe. Finally, the Peregrine returned, the sun went down and I was rewarded with a memorable Sunday.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tonight's Peregrine

Even More

The big baby was getting attacked by an Osprey just before dark. By the way, on Thursday I saw an amazing bit of Osprey behavior, a single bird flying a quarter mile away about 800 feet up. Even at that distance I noticed the bird doing steep stoops and pulling up, then going upside down and fluttering like a leaf. I was on the phone and quickly apologized, hung up and grabbed the camera. Hand holding the 500 mm I barely cranked off some shots and when enlarged I saw it was a juvenile bird (light edges on the covert feathers.) It reminded me of a stunt plane in an air show, but it would be trailing smoke. This was repeated over and over until he was out of sight and must have been having fun in the sun, just out of the nest.  That's what I would do. Hope I see that again when I'm in photo mode on the beach.

More Action

Last night was slow for a while then everything from Osprey attacks to a Moose charging across the river. We'll start with a magpie bugging the female. Then one of the big babies was begging for some food and she basically said I'm outa here.

Moose On the Beach

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Favorite Snag

Last night the Osprey perched in his favorite place then after the sun went down he was run off by the three Bald Eagle fledglings, begging and begging. The smoke has moved in and I can't see the mountains this morning. It smells like a camp fire outside. However, the real problem lately has been yellowjackets swarming the hawk buildings, a plague for poor Margo the Sharp-shinned Hawk for some reason. Two yellowjacket  traps are baited with meat and we've caught hundreds of them. I have to feed Margo twice a day, first thing and just at dark and retrieve what she doesn't eat. I left a three little mice in a bowl by Sonora's door and they were completely eaten by "bees" in two hours, just parts of the skeletons left! That's scary.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Osprey Stuff


We had 60-70 mph winds around here Monday night and just now got the internet connection back. My Mom in Missoula had a huge spruce tree crash on her house, but it just hit just the overhang of the roof thank goodness. Our birds were fine and the eagles stuck it out on their perches, leaning into the wind and hanging on. Back to the beach last night and two Ospreys, both adult eagles, then attack mode by the Osprey. That brown shape on the lower right is the wing of the male eagle, similarly screaming his head off! The light was really eerie with clouds and smoke, casting a red hue on our friends.