Friday, February 18, 2011

Waking Up from a Winter Coma

I love this time of year in the Northwest, when spring's batteries are new and winter is decomposing. After two months of driving to and from work in the dark, it is like waking up after being comatose. And this morning made it all worthwhile.

Each commute brings exciting adventure. Flying past the meadow of sheep, I glance over to see if there are any babies yet. Then on past the horse pasture, where more babies could frolic soon. Then comes the field of cattle, but no babies yet. Then the homeward stretch where deer, bear, raccoons and bobcats scuttle across the road and coyotes roam among the hundred foot Douglas firs. Around each corner could be another breathtaking view of fabulous wildlife.

This morning, coming down out of the hills, just before reaching the flatlands, two birds huddled in a tall tree near a farmhouse set back from the road. As I flew past, the white heads flashed in the dawning light. I slammed on the brakes, hung a U-turn, crept back up the road and pulled into the long, private driveway as far as the closed gates. I bent over, fished my camera up from the floorboards, bit down on my lower lip while I wrestled it out of its case and eased the door open. My arm sneaked out and aimed the camera at the tree and just when I had a great shot, and pushed down on the button, a soft whirring sounded as the camera closed itself up and went dark.

Dang it. They were watching me.

With shaking hands and shallow breaths I snatched up the little case, and yanked out the extra batteries, fought to get the little door to open in a panic. I dumped out the old ones and jammed in the new and glanced up. They were still there. Slowly I eased my arm out again and aimed the camera, careful not to disturb them, and pushed the button down.

Photograph by Melanie Sherman "Bald Eagles"

Twice this week, at lunch time, I've seen bald eagles, but this was my first spotting in the morning and certainly the closest I've ever been. Yesterday afternoon I saw a crane in the field these birds are overlooking. I can barely wait to discover something new tomorrow.

And, yes, I know I should be watching the road.


  1. Oh, lucky you, to have extra batteries! I don't think I've ever managed that, so I get to talk about the picture "that got away".

    That's a lovely shot. Thanks for sharing. :) I am so nostalgic for spring right now. Thank goodness Daylight Savings Time is less than a month away!

  2. Nicely done! We saw eagles on the Lewis Sunday, but we weren't close enough to shoot them.

  3. Donna,

    I'm so sorry you've been without batteries. Don't you just hate that? Just when you REALLY have a great shot, too.

  4. Nina,

    You mustn't shoot the poor birds. That's a federal offense, you know, what with it being the national bird.

    Were you in your kayak or canoe on the Lewis river and did you see Great Blue Herons? I love those birds.

  5. I always love catching a glimpse of eagles and Blue Herons are one of my favorites as well. Storks are also pretty cool looking birds. I also enjoy this time of year and SO look forward to summer!

  6. Katie,

    Have you been to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge? This would be a fabulous time to go. It will be disappointing for me this year without the freedom of a convertible, but I'm hoping to make it next week.

    I may have seen a stork yesterday at exit 289 on I-5.

  7. I haven't been to Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, but it's on my list of "to do". Storks are pretty cool. We were in The Netherlands last summer and got to sit there and watch some on a hike around a river/lake. There are some pretty neat looking birds over there!

  8. I'd love to see them. I wish I knew what that white bird was near I-5. I only caught a glimpse.

  9. I have learned (the hard way) to carry extra batteries. Nice shots from a little camera.

  10. Vicki,

    I'll bet you've got a story there, filled with heartbreak and redemption.

  11. I popped over from the next post. Both pictures are fabulous. Aren't you lucky to have the opportunity to take pictures of such interesting wildlife?!

  12. Monica,

    It is teaming with wildlife around here. Sometimes it isn't so good.

  13. I'd love to see the field with baby calves, when it is time. I like the second shot... Very sharp with the branches against the grey sky.

  14. Wow!!! Awesome second shot. How generous of the bird to sit for you a second time. You've got some zoom on that new camera! Can't wait to see what you get from your next trip to Ridgefield.

  15. Margaret

    I'd love to try to get a photo. My commute is so thrilling in the spring.


    I know. I SO want to go to Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge with this camera. It would be an awesome test of the camera's ability to function despite my ineptitude.


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