Brown Beauty in the Green

A red-legged frog is visible through dense greenery along the Horsetail Falls Trail in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon on September 11, 2011. Originals: _MG_4409.cr2 and _MG_4418.cr2

One of the areas I knew I would miss most when leaving Oregon was the Columbia River Gorge, a lush area of forest and waterfalls just half an hour’s drive from our urban Portland neighborhood. I usually went to Ridgefield when I wanted wildlife and the Gorge when I wanted trees and streams, but sometimes the Gorge had its own animals to share. This little beauty hidden below the dense undergrowth along the Horsetail Falls Trail is (I think) a red-legged frog, taken in the fall of 2011. Easily one of my favorite trails anywhere, I didn’t get to go late in our time in Oregon as it closed after devastating fires, but if I ever make it back it will be high on my list of places to visit.

An ant is starting to walk onto the frog in the picture below.

A red-legged frog on the forest floor along the Horsetail Falls Trail in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon on September 11, 2011. Original: _MG_4360.cr2

Shoo Fly

A harbor seal raises a flipper to shoo away the files swarming on its face at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon on October 8, 2017. Original: _L1A0429.cr2

While I don’t have a phobia about insects and in fact enjoy photographing them, I don’t like the feel of them walking on my skin. I’ve tried to work on it over the years, especially when it’s an insect that won’t harm me, such as this visit to the Oregon coast when flies swarmed around but didn’t bite. I felt for this harbor seal who was getting hounded much worse, they even walked across its eyeballs. It raised a flipper to shoo them off but they didn’t stay away long.

A harbor seal shoos files away with a flipper at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon on October 8, 2017. Original: _L1A0434.cr2

A harbor seal rests after shooing away files at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon on October 8, 2017. Original: _L1A0448.cr2

The Entertainers

A squirrel peaks out from the neighbor's bushes in Portland, Oregon on June 17, 2007. Original: _MG_0704.cr2

A squirrel peaks out from the neighbor’s bushes in the spring of 2007. Although Oregon has native tree squirrels in our urban Portland neighborhood you’d only find species introduced long ago, like eastern grays and eastern foxes. Our dog Ellie never paid them much heed but they were endlessly entertaining to all six cats over the years, with Emma and Trixie probably their biggest fans.

Little Pink Houses

An adult fork-tailed bush katydid eats inside a pink rose blossom in our yard in Portland, Oregon on September 12, 2009. Original: _MG_6338.cr2

As summer turned to fall in September 2009, an adult fork-tailed bush katydid dined on one of our rose blossoms. Once I discovered they were eating the rose petals I stopped pruning the flowers after they lost their aesthetic appeal and only cut them once the petals fell off. Which worked out well for both the katydids and myself, as they loved the roses and I loved watching them.

Of Seals

A harbor seal closes its eyes with its feet and tail sticking out of the water in the shallow surf near Cobble Beach at Yaquina Head Outsdanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

The past couple of years I’ve been watching some old movies I haven’t seen before, using Turner Classic Movies to catch up on some old gems. Last night I TiVo’ed Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”, which has been on my watch list for some time. I haven’t watched it yet and since I try to not find out anything about a movie before I watch it, even the basics of the plot, I don’t know if the movie is about harbor seals, elephant seals, or leopard seals. With seven seals, maybe all of them! Can’t wait to find out!

Legs Up, Hands On Hearts!

A wave begins to break over the body of the first harbor seal in a group at Cobble Beach in Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

The rising tide brings waves that overwhelm the sleeping locations of the harbor seals, eventually sending them into the water. The bigger seals often held the ground that let them sleep the longest while the younger seals took the first brunt of the wave action. As each wave swept past, they’d raise their legs in unison, allowing the water to sweep over their bodies instead of knocking them into the sea, though in the end the water always wins.

I could spend hours watching the seals, relaxing on land or swimming in the sea, someday I’d love to spend more time in the area. A couple of years ago when it was time to choose between two job offers, the job in California would have put me relatively close to the coast with not just harbor seals but other mammals I haven’t seen before. If the cost of living had been swapped between the two locations perhaps we’d have gone on a different adventure, but thankfully the Sonoran Desert had its own wonders in store.

Harbor seals lift their legs as a wave breaks over them at Cobble Beach in Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

A group of harbor seals lie with their legs raised after a wave swept past at Cobble Beach in Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

At Home

A male harlequin duck swims in the crashing surf at Yaquina Head on the Oregon coast, taken at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

A male harlequin duck swims in the crashing surf at Yaquina Head on the Oregon coast, he was not caught unaware in this chaotic environment as this is where he likes to live. It was a delight to watch the ducks thrive in the surging seas alongside the harbor seals, two species so completely different and yet living side-by-side peacefully.