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What I Did On My Winter Vacation

Went to Foolscap in Redmond, which was an awesome little con, delighted to meet fans and friends and new friends and hopefully new fans. It was great! They're doing a lot of good stuff and I hope they keep on doing it. (Preferred pronoun ribbons. Simple, straightforward, everybody had them. Awesome.)

And then I went birdwatching.

In Eastern Washington.

In winter.

With Tina.

Sometimes it looked like this:


Mostly it looked like this.


There was a lot of careening around on icy roads, fishtailing in snow, looking for birds. But we found them! Ten lifers for me--Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Rough-Legged Hawk, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Clark's Nutcracker, Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch, Northern Pygmy Owl (so tiny! so grumpy!) Pine Grosbeak, Townsend's Solitaire, and a truly spectacular Long-Eared Owl.

This owl has been hanging around Seattle and is surrounded by bird paparazzi because he seriously does not seem to care that there are humans twelve feet away clicking shutters frantically. This owl slept the way I sleep--deeply and apocalyptically. He was magnificent.

The whole theme of the trip seemed to be "Very few birds, but amazing looks at the ones we saw." We got the Pygmy Owl on a wire directly over the road, the Sharp-Tailed Grouse roosting in a tree by the road like an oversized mourning dove(!!) and Horned Larks landing on the road in front of the car to pick salt off it. It was pretty wild.


Everybody out of the way! California Quail coming through!


Hi, I was told the auditions for the Bev Doolittle paintings were being held here?


Also I have a new camera and was trying it out a lot. This is not a bird. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Wow, that quail appears to be on a mission.

In my admittedly limited experience, they usually are [g].

Last week, I saw some manner of red-breasted woodpecker in Los Angeles (South Pasadena, to be more specific). I'd never seen one around here before, and I thought of you :)

Oh my gosh, that horse really DOES look like something out of a Bev Doolittle painting!

Lord, that woman could paint. -_-

I've tried once or twice to do something like that--can't even begin to do it. You gotta have a special kind of brain, I think.

Eeeeeee you know about Bev Doolittle! =D

... Okay, I get excited over the strangest things. (He said, in response to basically "check out that owl!")

Awah, no pictures of Tiny Grumpy Owl? I love Pygmy Owls, they're so Hermia. Little and fierce.

Alas, we saw him in the pre-dawn, so there was no chance of photos that would be anything but a blur.

Those last two are Retractable-Winged Russet Gosshawks. Some people are fooled into thinking they are not birds because they have four legs instead of the usual two.

Given the weirdness of her world, I briefly wondered whether this would involve a call to the American Birding Association to ask about whether pegasi are considered avians.

Because finding a cyptozooic would seem worthy of noting as a special caliber of lifer.

Isn't "Primitive Road, No Warning Signs" a summary of your entire oeuvre?

Great photos---you got the quail in characteristic hysteria mode! I love that last pic of the horse who's all "Can you not. Just, don't. No." Good trip!

Edited at 2015-02-07 03:55 am (UTC)

I can see you have a new camera from the quality of the pix , details pls for us camera geeks 😊

Totally not a bird. And for no good reason I have "You can call me flower if you want to, I don't mind" from Bambi in my head. So clearly, that is Flower in the photo.

Yay birds! I visited the US (Florida) for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and one of the places I went to was Merritt Island. I didn't go there for the birding (me and the fam were looking for the Kennedy Space Center, but we took the wrong bridge from Titusville), but there were SO. MANY. BIRDS. Vultures and herons and ducks and a bald eagle and big pink things that were either flamingos or spoonbills and I really wish I owned an American bird book and a pair of binoculars. I gotta go back there some day...

Wonderful pictures! I particularly like the quail and the chestnut horse. :)

For Western Washington, and not too far outside Seattle, Vashon Island has some great birds. My sister ended up sheltering a stunned saw-whet owl for a day till it got its bearings back. Perfectly friendly too, perched on her shoulder. It has a lot of woods and at least 2 wildlife refuges, one of which is a large pond.

Wish we'd realized you were in the area, Luchog & I would have dragged you out to eat or something.

I am reminded of the Asterix comic where one of the Roman Soldiers acquired an owl (while he was disguised as a tree, but it stuck with him even when he ditched the costume).

Such a lovely picture of the owl. And the California quail too (it was introduced to New Zealand in 1862 (I looked it up) where is now naturalised & fairly widely dispersed).

I'm fairly certain we spotted one of those while tramping up Cannon Point in Upper Hutt a few weeks back - we weren't certain at the time, but I will show $wife the photo here for confirmation.


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