The end of the year is often so gray, dark and rainy. Sometimes we have floods, incessant rain and sogginess. Just now it is stormy. Heavy rain interspersed with calm breaks. According to the weather station, we had over one inch of rain in the last 24 hrs.

Today we took a chance and headed out for a hike after midday, despite rain showers – heavy at times, as they say. We got lucky. We arrived at the Luckiamute Landing Natural Area mid afternoon. Under a stormy sky, with surprising sunbreaks and little to no rain, we strolled around the trail looking for birds and noting high water in the Luckiamute and Willamette rivers. If we had ventured further toward the camping area for paddlers, we might have seen the Santiam river estuary on the east shore of the Willamette.

We saw no new or unknown birds, and not too many of our old friends, but it was pleasant to have all these acres to ourselves on a day when many are crowded together at the mall. In the spring and summer, this gallery forest of cottonwoods, Oregon ash, and alder will be fragrant and full of birdsong.

Birds we saw:

Flocks of Robins, Juncos, one immature bald eagle, one osprey, a few black-capped chickadees, a red-shafted flicker, geese overhead, and a group of small geese in a field from the car (no time to i.d.), small raptor on elelctric wires.

It was breezy, and we heard there was a high wind warning for the Willamette Valley (50 mph) and the coast (70+mph). In our sheltered valley, we often do not get the big wind, although sometimes it swirls around oddly and breaks trees. Keeping an eye on the weather station, the wind here has not been over 26 mph – those gusts have caused our dougfirs to rain cones and twigs on the roof. It sounds like the trees are hurling things at us as they do in the Lord of the Rings (or did those trees just grab people?). Anyhow, as I began to write this post, the lights went out, came back on, went out again. So I’m guessing the wind is high out on the flats. We have electricity for the moment anyway. We’ll see what the morning brings.

Since I missed last week, I’ll post the results of my planned lichen-gathering expedition tomorrow – windstorms are great for bringing down the lichens! Why collect them? Stay tuned…

Winter twigs and lichens color the winter landscape - surprisingly vivid

Winter twigs and lichens color the winter landscape – surprisingly vivid


Willamette in view

Willamette in view

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