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Outdoor Mom: September 2021

Outdoor Mom

September 2021

Changing Landscapes

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I struggle with change. I decided that’s why I don’t really enjoy the transition from summer to autumn.  I see the change in the light, the change in foliage, the change in blooms, the change in birds and other wildlife. Here where I live in Central Oregon, these changes come rapidly.

Sept 2021 squirrel frog finch journal (4)

  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…

We had a couple nights of freezing temperatures and overnight we lost a large number of plants to frost. Some of the plants have bounced back but I had to prune out quite a few of my more delicate flowers.

Sept 2021 squirrel frog finch journal (4)

With the decrease in bird activity, the squirrels have made a return to the feeders. In fact, the squirrels are pulling down the sunflowers and eating the seeds. Or, in the case of the golden mantle ground squirrel, they are climbing the stems and sitting on the flower heads to have a meal!

Sept 2021 squirrel frog finch journal (4)

 

Sept 2021 squirrel frog finch journal (6)

  • I added nature journal pages about…

I’ve been working on a late summer wildflower project. We don’t have many so it’s been a challenge to find flowers to include in my nature journal. Last week we took advantage of a very warm afternoon to take a long walk in Sunriver to look for flowers there. We found quite a bit of rabbitbrush and sulfur flower blooming in the dry landscape.

Sept 2021 squirrel frog finch journal (4)

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

The bird of the month is the American goldfinch. They are abundant both at the feeders and in the flowers of the garden as they eat seeds and leaves. They are often at the water bowls and the birdbath. I love how happy they make me!

Sept 2021 squirrel frog finch journal (4)

  • One last image…

Holy smoke! We saw the biggest bullfrog ever in our lawn last week. My husband was mowing the lawn and spotted him before he ran him over. We carried him safely off to another part of the yard. Afterwards, I was looking up bullfrogs in Oregon and realized that they are an invasive species that we are supposed to “harvest” to reduce their numbers. I could have never done anything to harm this magnificent creature.

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You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time, this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

 

 

 

 

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Outdoor Mom-August 2021 Prime Summertime Delights

Outdoor Mom

August 2021

Prime Summertime Delights

 

Please note you can purchase a membership right now for $35 using the code GREATDAY. Code expires on 9/10/2021.

Waking up to birdsong has become my favorite part of summer. It starts early! Mid-July it started around 4:30 AM and it has gradually become later and later, until those morning serenades have stopped. The departure of so many of the dawn singing birds has been replaced by a nip in the air and shorter days. How does that happen so fast?

tent summer 2021

You may wonder how I know that the birdsong starts so early. Well, we spent most summer nights sleeping in our backyard tent. The birds would be so loud that they would wake me up! I heard many a nighttime owl duet from the resident great horned owls. Then there were the frogs in the river meander behind our house that make a ruckus most nights. Finally, the last few weeks we’ve had the sound of yipping and howling coyotes. It’s hard to believe there’s so much going on outside, but it’s there if you happen to listen.

hairy woodpecker bird backyard july 2021 (3)Late Summer Changes

Most of the robins have flown on, the swallows are gone, the bluebirds are scarce, hardly a red-wing blackbird to be seen. The sounds now are of chickadees, finches, doves, and flickers. I’ve been reflecting on the coming and going of the birds as the seasons change. I looked back in my journal where I noted we saw our first robin and red-wing on March 1, 2021. I remember that day with great fondness, happy day indeed. The summer bird season went by entirely too fast.

summer coneflowers

As I write this entry, our garden is still in full bloom and I spend many days watering, weeding, and cutting flowers. I call it my garden therapy. I sometimes linger sitting on the garden bench just so I can watch the creatures who come to visit. There are hummingbirds in the flowers, bees buzzing around, and all kinds of birds who come to take a bath or drink from the bird baths. There are a few chipmunks who zip in and around the garden when they think no one is watching. If I’m lucky, there will be a butterfly, or a dragonfly come to check things out.

butterfly garden sign 2021

I make mental notes of what grew well in the garden and what I would like to do differently next year. I create new plans in my head for areas that need improvement and I also make a mental list of the things that failed.

Some days, our kids show up and entice us down to the river for a kayak. We drag the boats down to the riverbank and slip into the shallow water as we make our way downstream. The river is low this time of year and it’s not unusual to see a few fish or crawdads as we float over.

cow calf july 2021 (1)

The grasses are still quite green from the thunderstorms we’ve had this month. This means the cows and calves are still living out back where we enjoy their antics as they spend their long summer days grazing and sitting under our trees out back. They often are right along the river’s edge as we make our way down river. We noted a brand new calf with spindly legs and soft brown eyes, we named him Hot Cocoa.

family table 2021
Our new family table, built with my husband’s own hands. We have welcomed many family members to this table over the summer and we will continue the tradition next year.

Now I find myself trying to muster up enthusiasm for the autumn and all the changes that come with it. Most people welcome the autumn, but it makes me feel unsettled. Perhaps it’s because I don’t like change and the replacing of my warm, summer sunshine-filled days with the unpredictability that comes with autumn in Central Oregon. We could have a warm day, a cold day, a snow day, or all the above all in one day.

sunflowers 2021

The falling leaves and withering flowers make me sad. The putting away of the lawn furniture and the potted plants and taking down the flower baskets….so melancholy.

I have in the past found it helpful to make an Autumn Bucket List of things I look forward to doing to make the season a little more positive in my eyes. So, I will do that this year in anticipation of trying to put some joy in my autumn. Maybe that will take my mind off the winter season which is cold and long here in La Pine. I can always hope anyway.

sunflower garden 2021

This summer is drawing to a close and I have saved up some memories to pull out on long winter days. This mom is grateful to have had a garden to enjoy this year and a place to spend my days close to the plants and animals who share my space. I also appreciate the ability to share it all with you dear readers.

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You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time, this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

20213seal

 

 

 

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Outdoor Mom July 2021 – Sweet Summertime

Outdoor Mom

July 2021 – Sweet Summertime

When our warm weather hits, time seems to just fly by fast and furious! It’s as if we know our summer days are precious and in a blink of an eye they’ll be gone. So, we try to pack as many adventures and memories as we can into the July hours.

tent in the garden 2021

I wake up early to bird song and I stay outside late watering the garden.

We keep the kayaks all ready to go and our hiking shoes right at the door.

field guides and binoculars

I spend quiet time writing in my nature journal, keeping track of wildflowers, birds, and trails hiked.

family camping 2021

Last year when we were all locked down and isolating, I dreamt of our summer days of freedom. This year it has made us appreciate every day we can freely move and travel and be with our kids.  We’ve gone on family camping trips, family floating days in the hot sun, family hiking and lots of picnicking. The summer is not over yet, and we have plans for more time spent outdoors together.

Sweet, sweet summer.

garden wildflower collage 2021

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…

The flowers have burst out in a riot of color. July is the time for enjoying the bounty of flowers we have that fill the garden. We experimented with reseeding our wildflower beds and expanding the sunflowers this year. In addition, we planted some new shrubs that have potential for berries long into the autumn. When a garden plan goes as expected, it brings such satisfaction. We have been blessed with an abundance of butterflies and hummingbirds this summer in part to our keeping their needs in mind as we picked new plants.

nasturtium 2021 renees
I have been trying to grow nasturtiums in my garden for many years. This year I planted Renee’s Garden seeds and they are thriving!

 

I’ll be writing soon about our Renee’s Garden seeds that are still growing and thriving.

nests eggs bird 2021

The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

Looking back over the past few months, the most inspiring and fulfilling experience has been the abundance of nests and baby birds that have occurred right in our yard. We had robins, flickers, tree swallows, bluebirds, finches, doves, and chickadees all born within our eyesight. I love watching the birds as they fledge and fly off.

The addition of new nesting boxes really did reap us such happy memories this season. It went by way too fast. It’s been bittersweet to watch the birds take to flight, finding their way towards their next destination.

tide pools brookings 2021

During our outdoor time, this month we went…

Tidepooling!!! This is one of my favorite outdoor activities. I was able to introduce my daughter-in-law to the joys of searching the shore for something living. She found a hermit crab and the smile she had told me that this girl is a kindred spirit.

oregon coast nature journal

I added nature journal pages about…

I sat on the beach several times during our coastal camping trip and sketched and wrote in my nature journal. These precious memories are now down on paper.

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You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time, this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

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Nature Goals 2021: 1st Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2021

1st Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

In the original 2021 nature goals entry, I talked a lot about the process of making goals and then refining goals as you saw the need. Here were the steps:

  • Be flexible.
  • Review your goals periodically.
  • Break larger goals into smaller steps.
  • Make a reasonable list.
  • Create achievable goals.

If you’d like to read the complete entry with all of the suggestions, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

One way that I review my goals and how I’m doing, is to reflect back at the end of each quarter to see how things are going. You can read the goals for the year in the entry linked above. I will give you a little update for each goal below.

garden prep april 2021
We have cleaned up the boxes and made sure the drip watering system is ready to go for seed sowing. Probably going to wait until May 1st to get seeds started.

Backyard Habitat development:  We just started working in the garden in the past few weeks. But, I have on paper a lot of ideas we want to implement this year. For the first quarter we made plans, ordered seeds, and spent time observing what was already working as far as supporting the local wildlife. This quarter will be the heavy lifting aspects of creating more wildlife friendly habitat. If this is something you are interested in doing for your family, you can read my entry: Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.

Painted Hills March 2021
Look for an entry in May that reveals our day trip to the Painted Hills.

Local Hikes: We found new places to hike even in the winter as part of this local hikes goal. There are several places along the Deschutes River that are accessible to hiking in the winter. We chose sunny days to explore Sawyer Park and Steelhead Falls. We drove out to the Painted Hills for a day hike with some of the kids. I’m saying this quarter went better than expected and I’m eager to do some spring hiking here in Central Oregon.

Make notes in field guides: I’m keeping up the habit of making notes in my field guides as we identify new species of birds, animals, and plants.

crossbills february 2021
Our unexpected visitors! We had a group of crossbills come through on a Feederwatch count day.

Project Feederwatch and Great Backyard Bird Count: The Feederwatch project is coming to a close here at the end of April. We’ve only missed a couple of weeks of counting and it has helped us be aware of the comings and goings of the birds at our feeders. The GBBC was another enjoyable experience as we took part in the worldwide bird count. I’ll be posting about the particulars soon!

Go camping: We didn’t make it out camping in the first quarter. But, we have several trips planned for the spring season and one for the summer.

succulents april 2021

Learn about succulents: I spent some time reading books about succulents over the quarter. Our library has quite a few to choose from since succulents are a big part of the landscaping here in Central Oregon. I went out yesterday and looked at the ones we have in our yard and they are all looking mighty healthy. I noticed new growth and spreading for many of them. I will continue to work on my knowledge as we get into our real growing season.

I did a pretty good job of keeping all my goals in mind this quarter. Now, I just need to keep it going.

Have you created nature study goals for your family?

Could you use some help in keeping nature study a regular part of your week?

You can join as an Ultimate Naturalist Library member and immediately have access to hundreds of nature study ideas and printables.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Click the graphic above to see the complete benefits of a membership. Join and make 2021 the best year of nature study ever for your family!

Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!

 

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Outdoor Mom: March 2021 – Spring is Coming!

Outdoor Mom

March 2021 – Spring is Coming!

My last update was back in January and since then we’ve had snow, and then snow, and then snow. We haven’t had any major snows as far as number of inches, but it will snow and then melt and then snow again. We have parts of our yard that are just now starting to thaw from all the freezing temperatures and the ice layer. I sort of feel the same way…just now starting to thaw from winter.

snowy yard march 2021

Now is the very unpredictable time of year when we can have just about any kind of weather all in the span of a week! I’m dreaming of warmer days where I can really get outside and work in the yard.

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…

flicker nesting box march 2021

We’ve kept busy with garden planning and building new nesting boxes before the migrant birds show up. We are putting up the last boxes this week. I had my husband build me two Northern flicker nesting boxes. I had no idea they would be so large!

As a side note, if you’re looking for printable bird nesting box patterns, I highly recommend going to the Nestwatch website and looking up the birds you are interested in attracting to your yard.

All About Birdhouses on Nestwatch.org

 

The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

killdder 3 25 2021 (8)

March has been a busy month of birdwatching! We’ve had so many early arriving birds to add to our list. The most exciting observation we’ve made is the nesting of killdeer in the back pasture. I use my binoculars to watch them work on the nest in the short grass. This is something new to us and I’m eager to see how things turn out for them.

 

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …

chipmunk close up march 2021

The emergence of the rodents from their winter homes has been fun to watch too. First, we saw the Belding’s ground squirrels poking their heads out from their holes. Now we have least chipmunks under the bird feeder just about every day. They are so tiny! We always have gray squirrels in our yard but right now we will regularly have 5-6 of them scurrying around to find food and playing chase up and down the tree trunks.

One last image…

steelhead falls march 2021
Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes River

 

We’ve been hiking quite a bit in the past month as the sun has warmed up and the days are longer. We found a couple new waterfalls not too far from us and now they’re on the list of regular places to hike and take out of town guests. The hikes are not too difficult or too far which is fun for a day trip and a picnic.

I am so looking forward to more hikes as the spring season progresses. I felt like we missed out on a lot of things last year with the pandemic and I’m eager to get back into the hiking, biking, and kayaking routine.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

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Nature Observer – December 2020

Nature Observer – December 2020

December has been a cold, wet, snowy month. We often have all types of weather in the span of 24 hours which is one of my favorite things about Central Oregon. We can have a snowstorm in the morning but by late afternoon the sun is shining, and I get to enjoy the sparkling snow and the blue sky.

I spend a lot of time watching birds at my feeders when the weather is storming outside. They zip in and out, sheltering only briefly under the roof overhang of the feeder. We watch the geese land in flocks down by the river and observe as they walk along poking here and there for something to eat. The sparrows will pop out from under the shrubs to get a bite to eat from seeds that have fallen from the feeder, then quickly dart back under the shelter before we can get a good look at them. Our gray squirrels leap around in the treetops where they search for cones still hanging on the tall pines. It seems as if there is always something going on out in the yard.

snow on bird feeder

It’s our December world.

I cannot help but think back on the past twelve months sitting here now in mid-December. What a wild ride of a year for our family! We’ve had our serious struggles along with everyone else: unemployment, cross country moves, dating during COVID, caring for elderly parents who are in and out of lockdown. On the other hand, there were high spots like the celebrating of joyful outdoor weddings of two of our children and a summer filled with staying close to home and getting creative with how we can socialize safely with our children.

canoe at hosmer lake

There has been kayaking, canoeing, floating, hiking, nights around the fire pit, bike rides, and lots of fishing.

fire pit

These are all things we normally do together, but we had to be thoughtful about the execution of these activities this year.

lava butte hiking

I needed to have some “normal” in my life and I found it while hiking a trail or paddling my kayak.

pre garden 2020

We started our big garden remodel back in May and little did we know that it really was the project that would keep us sane and bring us a place to sit in peace with the world seeming far, far away. We could sit and watch the birds and insects from our little bench placed under our newly planted crab apple tree. Swallows took up residence in the nesting box within a few feet of that bench. The nuthatches and finches came to drink at the bird bath.

garden flowers 2020

I’ve come to realize that there were more benefits to that garden than I could have ever imagined. It gave me a reason to go outside, it provided beautiful cut flowers to have in vases inside, and it was always a thrill to go out to the wildflower patch and spy a new variety of flower blooming.

flower bee garden

I look back on the photos of the progress we observed as we dug the dirt, built the boxes, planted the seeds, saw the seeds sprout, enjoyed the first flowers, and welcomed the bees and butterflies and birds. This project was a joy!

wedding garden

In the end, it’s the place that our middle son married his beautiful bride, right there under the tall sunflowers we planted from seeds. During the ceremony, a chickadee was sitting on a flower right over their heads and it was such a happy moment even in this crazy mixed up year of 2020.

barb in the garden

2020 gave us something wonderful after all. If it weren’t for the COVID shutdown, we wouldn’t have had such an extensive garden, we would have missed out on all the wildlife visitors coming to enjoy the garden, we probably wouldn’t have had a garden wedding, and I would not be looking forward to the promise of next summer’s flowers and bees and birds.

Maybe you had an experience like mine this year and stumbled into a project that kept your spirits up. Thank you to all of my faithful readers who have encouraged me this year with comments and email.

 

I’m looking forward to some winter fun and garden planning over the next few months.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

We’ll be starting the winter series of Outdoor Hour Challenges  January 8, 2021. There is still time to purchase a membership and follow along with us.

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Please use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist membership.

 

 

 

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Outdoor Mom – November 2020

My last Outdoor Mom post was way back at the end of August! I think my life hit the accelerator in September and is just now easing up as we enter the winter season here in Central Oregon. Our autumn was a little warmer and longer than normal and we took full advantage of it with hiking, kayaking, gardening, and birdwatching.

family kayak sept 2020

I kept telling the family that we needed to take advantage of the weather and get outside! We made some sweet Autumn 2020 memories.

Shevlin Park October 2020

During our outdoor time, we went

We’ve been on several new hikes since August, thanks to my new hiking guide that I bought featuring local trails. We found a beautiful park in Bend, Oregon (Shevlin Park) that goes along Tumalo Creek. The aspens were in the peak of their autumn color and we enjoyed the sound of them blowing in the breeze. We sat for awhile on a log near the creek and just took in the sounds and sights of a perfect autumn day.

We also hiked to the top of Bessie Butte on a day after a snow shower. Our son often hikes to the top of this particular butte to think and refresh himself after work. It makes my heart happy that he sees being outdoors in nature as a way to balance his busy life. We made it to the top of the butte where the wind was howling in our ears. It was cold but so incredibly beautiful!

beach collage october 2020

One morning I woke up and just had an itch to go to the beach and put my feet in the sand. My amazing husband loaded me up in the car and we took the 3 hour drive to the coast! We brought our picnic lunch and enjoyed it in the sunshine while sitting in the sand. We walked the shoreline for a long way and just took in the salt air as we did a little beachcombing. I feel so very blessed to live where I do and that I’m able to indulge my heart from time to time with a spontaneous trip to the seaside.

wedding in the garden sunflowers september 2020

The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

We had a crazy COVID influenced wedding in our flower garden in September. My son ended up marrying his best friend among my sunflowers in a simple, socially distanced wedding with a few family members and friends. One of my favorite moments of the day was when a chickadee landed on the sunflower right over their heads as they said their wedding vows. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of their life together.

 flower heads summer 2020

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…I am dreaming about…

We spent a few days pruning, weeding, and cutting things down in our garden spaces. One week of below freezing temperatures at night really hurried the process along. We saved seeds and cut flower heads and then tucked it all in for the winter.

bulbs 2020

As planned, we put over 120 bulbs in the ground for spring flowering. This is our first time planting bulbs in Central Oregon, so it’s a bit of an experiment to see how successful we are with bulbs making it through the winter. Hopefully we’ll see some crocus, grape hyacinth, and daffodils next spring. I’ll be thinking good thoughts all winter as I think of the bulbs all cozy under the ground awaiting the spring warmth and sunshine to wake them up.

mother daughter 2020

One last image…

It was a wonderful summer with my daughter living here with us. Spending time outdoors with her will be my fondest memories of the summer. She has since moved back to California and she’ll be getting married very soon. I hope she will come back next summer and spend time with me on the trails and on the river…probably with her sweetheart along as well. She’s starting a new adventure, but I know she loves it here as much as I do!

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You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

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Outdoor Mom – August 2020

This has been a month for insect watching! It’s been a long time since I picked a “focus” nature topic for the month and it’s reminded me of the value of being alert to seeing things I might otherwise miss.

dragonfly lake hosmer kayak float july 2020

Dragon flies were the star for several of our outings on the water.  I have a fun memory of floating on the river with blue dragonflies landing on my arms and hat. Then there were the larger black and white dragonflies that look like small hummingbirds. They were spotted high up on tops of reeds and sticks, hanging out over the water where they sat waiting for a meal.

 wildflower garden august 2020

The wildflower garden has been abuzz with all kinds of insects. It makes me happy to sit nearby and listen and watch as they hop on, hover over, and dip into the colorful flowers.

We decided the meadow out behind the house should be called “grasshopper acres” this month because of the abundance of hopping and leaping that happens as you walk through the grasses. They are everywhere.

insect nature journal page august 2020

I’m keeping myself accountable this month with an insect page in my nature journal. It’s nothing fancy but it will remind me of a few of the insects I encountered during this month of looking for insects.

partial list august birds 2020

Our bird list this month has some surprise entries. The most inspiring addition was the Common Nighthawk. I wish I could post a video of the flying acrobatics of this amazing flyer! We noted the pointy wings, the white patches under the wings, and watched it on several late afternoons and evenings over the river.

Then there was the exciting visit of five Great Egrets. We observed them flying down at the river with their long thin necks, stick-like legs, and long yellow beaks. This is the first time we’ve seen a group of egrets here in our Oregon neighborhood.

But, the most compelling visitor we had this month is the Cooper’s hawk. He’s been hunting at my bird feeder. Twice I watched him dive at the feeder as the little birds flew off in every direction. Afterwards, both times, he sat in the tree over the feeder, unsuccessful in capturing anyone. I was able to get a good look at him as he actually posed for a few photos. A rather large and handsome hawk, he sat and patiently waited for a long time before flying off.

window decal review 2020
It’s hard to capture them in a photo.

 

On another bird related note, I installed some window decals that are designed to alert birds and prevent bird strikes. Our living room has a HUGE picture window and it has been the scene of many bird strikes and deaths in the past. I purchased the Window Alert window decals in the hope of reducing the number of birds who run smack into our window glass. They were easy to adhere to the exterior of the window. I was worried that they would annoy me as I look out the window but I’m happy to say that I don’t even really notice them anymore.

Do they work? I can’t say they have eliminated ALL of the bird strikes from happening, but I have noted that the very few that still hit the window must see the decals and slow down enough that it isn’t a fatal collision. We haven’t had a single bird death since putting the Window Alert decals up.

I call that pretty successful. I purchased them at our local Wild Birds Unlimited store for $6.95. The package says to replace the decals every four months since the UV coating will eventually fade and not be as effective. I guess I’ll get another set next spring.

Here are a few more fun things we did outdoors this month.

fishing crooked river august 2020

We made a day trip to the Crooked River to have a picnic and go fishing.

Koosah falls oregon august 2020

We took a new hike at Sahalie and Koosah Falls. What a magnificent place to take a 3-mile hike alongside the McKenzie River. I think this is my top pick for a day hike here in Oregon.

lavender farm hood river july 2020

My daughter and I had an awesome time cutting lavender at the Hood River Lavender Farm. What great memories we made that day! It was a hot day and the scent of lavender was thick in the air. We tasted lavender lemonade for the first time and loved its refreshing flavor.

 

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Are you following me on Instagram? I post regularly about my garden, the Central Oregon habitat, and our adventures. If you add the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge to your Instagram posts, I’ll come visit your images!

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

All members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to the 2020-2021 nature plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Look for it in your library.

 

 

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Outdoor Mom – April 2020

In some ways, as this stay-at-home order continues, I’m finding it easier to allow myself to just go take a walk outside in the yard, pedal the bike down the street and back, and wander around as I bird watch behind our house near the river. There IS TIME now to be outdoors and to still follow the orders to just be out to exercise.

My children are all doing pretty much the same with their own desired means of exercise, whether it’s training for their first 5K race, taking off on a forestry road on their dirt bike, or hiking up a butte every day. I’m encouraging them to be out in the sunshine for their mental and physical health.

During our outdoor time this month we went
Renewing our enthusiasm for our own backyard is even easier since the weather has cooperated with warm temperatures and an abundance of sunshine! We’ve been digging in the dirt clearing away the winter’s debris and nipping those spring weeds before they get too robust. These are things we want to do, but don’t normally have time to do. No excuses now as we stay at home.

yarrow spring 2020

The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

We made and hung a few more nesting boxes in our yard for the birds to discover and use this nesting season. Guess what? It was almost immediately upon hanging the boxes that we had birds in and out of each and every one. Talk about good timing! Chickadees, nuthatches, bluebirds and swallows all came to take a look.

chickadee nest box bird oregon april 2020

That’s right! The swallows are back which makes me so happy. But not only the swallows; the hummingbirds have also made an appearance. We spotted them at the feeder early one morning and now they are gone again. I’m not sure if they are moving on or if I’m just missing the tiny little calliope hummingbirds.

duck pond oregon april 2020

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…

There are new ducks in our pond and we’ve had a heck of a time figuring out their identification. We caught several on our critter cam and it looks like they may be a wood duck. Several evenings we have gone out to chase these ducks down and try to sneak up on them to get a photo or even just a really good look with the binoculars. My husband says he feels like he is on a scavenger hunt with me as we hide behind the willows and sneak along the river’s edge and through the cattails that line the pond.

It reminds me of our journey to identify the snipe in just the same way.

purple dead nettle outdoor hour challenge nature study

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…I am dreaming about…

We now have a big plan to create a new side garden that will include large flower beds, a crab apple tree and some benches. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest collecting images to inspire my future garden. I’m learning that there are many flowers that will grow here in abundance if we give them the right start and support them with lots of water during our dry summer months. At our house in California, I had the ability to create several themed gardens over the years. The one that gave me the most pleasure and ended up extending throughout our yard was the butterfly, bee, and bird garden. I think I can create a Central Oregon version of this garden with a little hard work

kayak oregon april  2020

One last image…

We were able to drag the kayaks down to the river behind our house and take a short paddle while social distancing with two of our sons. It felt “normal”….at least for an hour or so. I’m dreaming of the time to come when we’re able to freely move about and enjoy the spring season. In the meantime, we will keep our balance with a little outdoor time within the rules of this unique and life-changing time we live in right now.

 

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Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

High Desert Ebook cover graphic

If you don’t have a membership yet, you can click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 25 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Bitterbrush
  • Sagebrush
  • Greater sage-grouse
  • Succulents
  • Mountain Lion
  • Coyote
  • Pocket Gopher
  • Bristlecone Pine
  • Elk
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Juniper
  • Snowberry
  • Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel
  • River Otter

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020

Use the discount code INITTOGETHER to receive $10 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership!

 

 

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Outdoor Mom – March 2020 Crossbills and Bluebirds!

Outdoor Mom – March 2020

Nature study and making daily nature observations is a fantastic way to take a break from the craziness of the COVID-19 situation. As long as you keep your social distancing, it’s recommended that we get outside and take a walk. I’m all in favor of that advice and hope that my outdoor experiences this month inspire you to get out and take that walk!

During our outdoor time this month we went
We’ve taken several walks to our river to look at the river’s level, the condition of the banks with their muddy edges and animal tracks, and to listen to the spring birds that have returned to our neighborhood and make their nests in the river willows.

red crossbill bird march 2020  (9)

So far, the red-winged blackbirds, the robins, and the red crossbills have been the most numerous to return. Yes, I said crossbills! This is very early for them to make a stop at our birdfeeders. So early, that when I reported their numbers on my Project Feederwatch report last week, they wanted to know if I had a photo. Of course I had a photo!

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The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

The green grass is peeking through the remaining brown winter grasses. I can’t tell you how hopeful that made us that we’ll soon see the return of the longer spring days. Even now as I write this entry, and the greenness is covered up with five inches of fresh snow, my mind’s eye can see it under there just waiting for the warm sun’s rays to wake it up again.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…

We observed that one of the ground squirrel holes in our backyard shows signs of activity. It seems a bit early for their appearance but we are wondering if it’s like with ground hogs. Do the ground squirrels take a peek outside once in awhile to determine if it’s time to come out of hibernation? My guess is they went back to sleep!

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In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…

I was so anxious for some spring color that I went to Home Depot and purchased a few colorful indoor plants to enjoy until we can plant our seeds. I brought home a “spring cactus” which is really a rhipsalidopsis. Two African violets also found a home in my kitchen window. What a difference it makes having just a bit of happiness in the form of a pretty flower within view most of my day!

western bluebirds nesting box march  2020 (6)

I am dreaming about…

The bluebirds have been checking out the nesting boxes in our yard, going in and out, sitting near the entrances on sunny afternoons. It reminds me of the summer days of bluebird babies poking their heads out of the box to have their mothers bring them a meal. Such a comforting image that I look forward to seeing again soon.

I am reading…

While it’s strictly not a nature related book, I thought I would share a title that gave me a little winter escape to a place I would like to visit in real life, Avonlea and Prince Edward Island. The book is titled, Marilla of Green Gables, and is the prequel to Anne of Green Gables, telling the story of Marilla Cuthbert.

 

 

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Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…