Over the last week or so, we've been seeing flocks of Lesser Goldfinch at the feeder and in the blackberry bushes.
I don't really think there's anything "lesser" about these little charmers. (They're a little smaller than the American goldfinch.)
We're also seeing towhees on the ground under the feeders and near the bushes.
When this bird frequented our Springfield yard, I learned it's name as "rufous sided towhee" or "Oregon towhee." I think now the correct name is "spotted towhee." Whatever you want to call him, he's great fun to watch.
** LINKED TO: WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY with thanks to Stuart for hosting.
FOR OUR WORLD TUESDAY.
This is Fern Ridge Lake rushing out of the spillway of the dam into the Long Tom River. As the Lake is drained, fish swim into that river (right through the spillway). Water birds that don't migrate will move to Kirk Pond or other watery areas that don't disappear for the winter.
The information below is taken directly from signs at the top of the earthen section of the dam. I took pictures of the dam (and the signs) when I walked the earthen section of the dam last week.
"Started in 1940, the Fern Ridge project employed the best builders and methods of the time period. A large crew used both hand tools and heavy machinery to complete the project in less than two years.
Workers removed trees from the lakebed and hauled tons of earth and rocks to the dam site. The concrete spillway, which stands 43 feet tall, is the operational section of the dam. Outlets and steel gates regulate the amount of water released from the reservoir.
The earthen section of the dam extends 6,330 feet (1.2 miles) along its crest. Clay for the dam's core was taken from the area below the dam that is now Kirk Pond."
"In the past frequent flooding caused heavy damage to home and crops along the Willamette River and its tributaries. Fern Ridge was the first of 13 dams built by the Corps of Engineers to protect the people and land of the Willamette Valley."
"The Corps chose the Fern Ridge site to control storm water from the upper watershed of the Long Tom River, a 275 square mile area. To further reduce flooding, the Corps straightened and channelized the Long Tom River downstream of the dam. Instead of meandering for 60 miles, the Long Tom's water now flows directly to the Willamette River, only 23.6 miles beyond the dam."
As I post this on Sunday afternoon, I'm sending best wishes that everybody on the East Coast stays safe from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. (I'm thinking of all of you.)
Finally a little Autumn color around the neighborhood for MOSAIC MONDAY
And also from a walk around the block these timely decorations for the week. HAPPY HALLOWEEN.
(Apologies for the middle picture. What can I say? Gotta' appreciate somebody's weird sense of humor. And the creative use of pumpkin guts.)
For: SKYWATCH FRIDAY
One morning last week we woke up to this:
But the next day and the next day and the next day to this:
Then it rained!
And just when we began to think we wouldn't see the sun again until we flew south.... the cycle started all over again.
Rain yesterday, sunshine today, rain again tomorrow.... it must be
Autumn at Fern Ridge Lake.
Thank you to the hosts of SWF.!
Thanks to Lesley for hosting SIGNS SIGNS. Click the links for more fun with words and pictures.
Of course this place was right up our alley -- we enjoy a classy restaurant.
Note: This cafe/winebar/coffee shop was actually a good place for lunch. It's new in Springfield (where we used to live) and it's always nice to see improvements to any downtown area.
The receding water level at Fern Ridge Lake offers great feeding opportunities for the wading birds.
Great blue herons and egrets are here all summer .....
But these guys only show up around this time of the year. It must be a short stopover on their migration:
Good birding here this time of year.
And great virtual birding every week at WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY
Thanks to Stuart.
Our latest picture downloads make it seem as if we haven't done much in OUR WORLD but sit and look out the window......
And that's almost sort-of true on the days we stay home, because it's been cool and gray much of this month. We do walk around the park and we visit with friends and family on this side of town (but I never remember to take pictures of people). Believe it or not, once in a while when we're home we even clean or cook or do maintenance, but none of that makes a good picture. And in this weather, it's fun to just curl up and hibernate for a change. The RV fireplace feels good on damp mornings.
Some of it is dumb stuff (appointments), lots of it is fun (friends, movies, eating at some old favorite and new restaurants... it's a great foodie place here). The RV Park where we stay is about 20 miles west of "the cities" so there's quite a bit of driving time.
And again, being in town presents few photo ops!
So here's another look out of the picture window on a prettier morning.
It's still a great view to wake up to.
Thank you to the hosts of OUR WORLD.
This bouquet of food is from the Eugene Farmer's Market (decorative kale and herb door hanger) and from our next door neighbor's garden (yellow and red pepper plants and artichoke blossom). Enjoy!
Thank you to the hosts of each of these fun memes.
Linked to Skywatch Friday.
We don't have to go anywhere at all this month to see new scenery. The sky and the water level change every day and we never know what we'll see first thing every morning.
Might be sun, might be fog ... or mist ... or gray clouds ... or rain.
Later in the Fall, almost every morning will bring some version of this view:
But the sun still makes a valiant show on some mornings:
And especially on those days, we're glad we haven't yet flown south.
Thank you to Sylvia and Sandy at SKYWATCH FRIDAY. Go, click the links, enjoy skies from all over the world.
Another Flashback post -- to a trip through "flyover country" -- only we were driving. This was an unplanned stop on our 2004 Fall roadtrip. Linking to Lesley's SIGNS SIGNS.
We were just driving down the Highway.... we definitely didn't go to Cawker Kansas on purpose to see the world's largest ball of twine. But when we saw this sign of course we had to stop.
Cawker was a very small, very old town and at least on that particular weekday morning almost deserted. We didn't have any trouble parking our big rig on Main Street (which is the highway through the town).
The town still holds a twine festival every summer (anounced on the building sign above) when more string is added to the ball.
Here is one place to go for further information about this odd roadside attraction.
Last weekend brought the first measurable rain in over 80 days -- that's a long dry spell for this part of Oregon. So Autumn is -- finally -- on the way.
We are only seeing the tiniest hints of red.
Around where we are, it never really did look too dry . But you only needed to be a very little distance from the Lake to see the effects of the mini-drought.
So everybody is happy for the needed rain .... and as always we will try to remember that when we get tired of the gray skies that go along with the moisture.
This country-style traffic jam along Jeans Road is linked to WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY.
We see the occasional wild turkey or two all summer long around here.
But one day last week we had to wait for a whole flock of immatures to cross the road in front of us.
These two were sticking a little closer to the fence line.
You'd think that this time of year turkeys would want to make themselves scarce, but ours don't seem to be at all worried about the approaching Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanks to Stuart for hosting Wild Bird Wednesday. Great virtual birding can be had by clicking on the links.
What a way to start the morning!
These pictures were taken last week about three minutes apart. The first two are through the picture window.
The last was taken from the yard (as soon as I could get my shoes on and get out there):
Today the morning sky told a different -- and grayer -- story. But I'm holding on to these October memories for as long as I can!
Go -- click -- enjoy
This flashback to a roadtrip from the past (2005 maybe?) is for Lesley's SIGNS SIGNS.
On one of our Fall roadtrips we stopped in Fremont Idaho for lunch. The air smelled just like newly harvested potatoes. (An earthy scent -- but there are definitely worse ways for a town to smell.)
But until that October road trip through the heart of potato farming country, we hadn't realized that the harvest was still such a big deal that school closed so kids could help with it. (Google picture.)
I checked the school district's website today and it showed that the school still takes a "spud break" around this time of year -- although it was called "Harvest Break" on the schedule.
For WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY (thank you Stuart).
(People were missed, but never -- with this one exception -- things.)
Of course among the many benefits of our decade or so of traveling was the chance to see all kinds of birds we never could have seen in our old backyard, so it was worth giving up the feeders.
But now we aren't on the road quite as much as we used to be.
And so this summer, we retrieved two of our old favorite feeders from our 'storage facility' (at Cyndi and Jeff's barn). Bill hung them right outside our RV's picture window. The first visitors were this pair of grosbeaks:
I was so excited. But then the next visitors were a huge flock of migrating starlings.
Kind of pretty sitting in the greenery, but not so great attacking the feeders. The greedy things pulled the perches out of the holes so that they could get at the sunflower seeds faster. I was so mad. We decided to give the feeders another chance, hoping the unwanted visitors would move on. The "attractive" application of duct tape worked to keep the perches in place....
The starlings still visit occasionally, though not in such great numbers as the first time. In between their visits, we've had waves of redwing blackbirds and a few goldfinch and chickadees -- and sparrows and a flicker picking up what's lost underneath the feeders.
At our house in Springfield, we used to see all kinds of different species of birds at one time on the feeders and at the bird baths.
Here at the Lake, they seem to visit just one kind at a time.
It might be because there is a greater variety of natural food sources -- and certainly there is more water.
So although there hasn't been as much activity as we'd hoped, it has been fun to see what each day brings to our observation window!
It's still warm and sunny here at the Lake. And that makes it hard to get into an Autumn kind of mood.
So here are some more summer blooms from the begonia garden posted earlier here.
On the Pine Tavern's patio, willow trees provide the shade these flowers need out in the high desert sun. But it is the tree below (inside the dining room ) that explains this landmark restaurant's name.
FOR: SHADOW SHOT SUNDAY with thanks to the hosting team.
These are some of the stilt-walkers in the sculpture called "A Fine Balance." The multi-piece installation is part of the commons area on the campus of the largest medical center and hospital in Springfield-Eugene. ("We" were there for a medical test.)
The artist's explanatory plaque said that it was meant to point out the importance of maintaining balance in one's life, especially during illness. I was underwhelmed by the theme -- it just reminded me that balancing used to be easier when we were younger.
But the high-walkers did cast interesting shadows.
(Click the links here to see more shadowy pictures.)
Last weekend's Harvest Moon was spectacular.
The warm nights were perfect for moon-gazing. I wanted to stay outside and play all night long.
But I am a little past the age for that. So instead I played with pictures. (Me, Picasa and the moonlight. ) Really, these moon shots aren't much altered -- all I did was crop and add different frame treatments.
* It was lovely to think about how SKYWATCH FRIDAY participants from all over the world were outside admiring the same moon last weekend! Thank you to the hosts for providing this sharing opportunity.
It is still so warm that it doesn't feel much like Fall. There hasn't been any rain for days and the wetlands around Fern Ridge Lake are already starting to fill in.
By November, the whole Lake will look like a meadow, because starting today, the Corps of Engineers begins the annual draw-down. The Lake (really a large reservoir) is used for recreation in the summer, but serves as flood control in the rainy season.
A couple of weeks ago, County Health officials issued a toxic algae alert for the Lake. They advised people to avoid contact with the water.
The alert said the algae is an occasional natural hot weather occurence that subsides as the weather cools. It can cause skin distress and, if inhaled, respiratory difficulties.
This picture was taken (from a distance) at the RV Park boat dock.
It's been years since swimming in a mud-bottom Lake had much appeal for me, and except for the weird algae formation down by the boat docks, the Lake in front of our RV and the wetlands where we walk still looked as natural and lovely as ever. So the toxic alert didn't really affect us. But it does cause a little anxiety. It just seems so much warmer than it ought to be for this time of year.
Apparently the growth didn't bother our water birds.
Although daytime temperatures have reached the 80s every day since the warning was issued, the bloom appears to be gone. We haven't heard that the alert has been lifted, but maybe the Health Department just hasn't bothered because it's so close to the time when the Lake will "disappear" for the year. (It's almost as if they pull a plug and the water slowly drains away.)
The woods in OUR WORLD are lovely ... but not too dark and not too deep.
There are four or five turnouts along Jeans Road where it's possible to walk into the natural area between the road and Fern Ridge Lake. (That road is the default daily walk when we're staying here, with whatever side trips time and energy allow.)
There's something sort of magical about a path that takes you from a paved road into a woodsy area so easily and quickly.
Before there was a Fern Ridge Lake (reservoir) with its surrounding wetlands, there were people who lived and farmed here. There are still apples on some of the old trees -- a reminder of what used to be. (Now the wetlands are public property, maintained by the Corps of Engineers and Lane County.)
Away from the road and houses and people, it's easy to pretend that you are out hiking in the wilds. When really you can even start out in late afternoon and still be home in plenty of time for dinner.
For OUR WORLD Tuesday. Thanks to Sylvia and Sandy for hosting.