Oregon Coast, January 2022

We spent several nights away from home! Crazy. Using a rental near Yachats with ocean views as our base, we headed out prepared for whatever the winter weather would throw at us. We brought our meals and snacks, and books and cards in case the weather kept us on the dry side of the picture window. As is often the case here in Oregon, we got all the weather, and managed to explore some interesting and unfamiliar parts of the coast in between rounds of ocean storm-watching. We stopped at Finley National Wildlife Refuge on the way there, and at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the way home. And we pulled over at turnouts, vista points, and roadside parks from Florence to Cape Meares, often following trails leading down to the ocean.

(Click on the image to visit the full gallery.)

Sandhill Cranes and Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, January 2022

Our first outing of the new year was to the Vancouver Lake Lowlands for a tour of the Sandhill Cranes wintering habitat, given by the Columbia Land Trust. Accompanied by the intrepid Rosa, we stayed with the cranes as long as we could in the cold wet weather, and then headed up to the Ridgefield WIldlife Refuge for a circuit around their auto-tour before the early winter sunset. Four days later Nancy and I returned first thing in the morning, to find the river socked in with fog. We sidetracked for a walk along Vancouver Lake, and then returned to the river to spend the rest of the cold sunny morning with the cranes.

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Papa’s Birthday

My grandfather, Martin Moses, was born on this day 132 years ago. He was the oldest of his generation in my family that I knew well growing up, my link to the 19th Century. As a toddler I called him “Papa” instead of the more appropriate German “Opa”, and the nickname stuck. I had hoped to be “Papa” when I became a grandfather, and in a similar fashion Rosa insisted on calling me “Pa”. But in every other way, he remains my model of what it is to be a grandfather.

He was born in a village, was conscripted into the German army for World War I, and after the war became an “entrepreneur” whose business ventures eventually brought him to Berlin. There he met my grandmother Rosel (Oma) and started a family. Just weeks before Kristallnacht they fled the Nazis and emigrated to Ventura, California. I was 40 years old before it sunk in that, when he was older than I was then, Papa started over in a new country, with few possessions and no English, and he and Oma managed to build the world of family and support I was born into.

He was a part of my life the whole time I was growing up, and I remember our times together often as I now play the role of grandfather. Here are some of the family photos I’ve collected from his life.

Papa and Oma on a walk in the woods. My guess is this is late 1925; they were married in June,
Uncle Jimmy was born in May 1926, and this looks like a maternity dress to me.
Papa with my Dad (L) and Uncle Jimmy, Germany, mid 1930s.
My arrival, September 1955.
Me and my brothers. I am now just shy of his age in this picture.
Papa would regularly host barbeques, which always felt like special occasions. Jerry and I
still use his seasonings and offer people “tasters” off the grill before serving.
This is from a local newspaper article about Passover. Early 60s.
Papa and Oma at their 50th wedding anniversary, 1975.

New camera!

This past November I got myself a new camera. Without geeking out too much on the selection process here, the short version is I wanted a flexible single lens camera that could reach birds from a distance as well as do a good job on landscape and travel shots, with a fast enough lens to capture birds in flight and in low-light shadowy forests. I ended up with a Sony RX10-iv. I have a lot yet to learn, but I am quite happy with it, and looking forward to continued experimentation.

Here are some of my first efforts, starting with a cool morning in our backyard.

Hadn’t seen much of the goldfinches since the sunflowers came down.
House Finch. Being able to focus and expose on the bird instead of the bush was one of my main goals with this camera.
Spotted Towhee, enjoying the ground cover seed I spread on the raised bed.

The next opportunity was a quick getaway to the nearest nature preserve, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, just 25 minutes down the road. Some of the trails are closed during the nesting season, and the migrating waterfowl all kept their distance this time, but as always there was plenty to see.

Our local watershed, the Tualatin River. The creeks in our neighborhood flow into the Tualatin, which flows south before dumping into the WIllamette to then flow north to the mighty Columbia.
Every nuthatch I’ve ever seen has been upside down. I wonder where they winter? 🙂
This heron was fishing about 30 feet up the creek from where I crossed, and I was pleased with how well the camera found him in the shadows …
… and with the reach of the zoom!

Next up was an outing with Rosa, my 10 year old photography buddy. We went to Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, a beautiful morning drive through the farmlands west of us. The day turned foggy and cold, with more bird hearings than sightings, but it was still lots of fun.

Cormorants checking out the view.
Pintail ducks

Finally, a very early and cold morning visit to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, part of Portland Parks and Rec. This is a favorite spot, always something interesting. On this day, many Great Blue Heron. With frozen fingers, large slow moving birds were the perfect target.

This heron resting in a tree, one leg at a time.
Wood ducks
A young coot, unlike the photographer.