Fall is well and truly here and winter is now approaching. The days are shortening, the weather vacillates from rainy and warm to cold and clear with fresh, frosty mornings. Banks of fog gather near the rivers and linger until mid-day, blanketing the world in white.
At summer’s end, I saw the last of the Brown Pelicans at the coast until next year. These birds will never fail to impress me, even though they were an extraordinarily common sight along the shore this past summer, much more noticeable than years’ past. They floated effortlessly over the water, back and forth, up and down the coast, and occasionally thrilled me by flying higher just above the rocky bluffs where I stood watching the waves, the birds, the wildlife.
Late August also brought out a flurry of flycatchers emerging and becoming much more active than and visible than they usually are. They so often elude me, high up in the trees, never staying still for long, but this lovely flycatcher gifted me with this lovely moment of stillness among the activity. I imagine the increase in activity must have been preparation time for them to migrate to warmer climates, or stopping over on the way, fueling up on as many insects as possible. I don’t know what kind of flycatcher this was, but I’m alright with that, given we had a quiet moment together, and the inherent difficult in identifying them.
Some birds fuel up for a long flight south and some birds are preoccupied with gathering up enough seeds and nuts to help them survive the winter. Red-breasted Nuthatches cache seeds and nuts in the trunks of trees for winter and join mixed flocks with other birds, though they are not shy about competing for food and will boldly compete with much bigger birds.
Fall rain brought desperately-needed water, though it is not enough to abate long-term droughts in the Pacific Northwest, it revived rivers and streams and the cascades the region is so well-known for. Wetlands and ponds that were bone dry over summer began to re-fill with water and new life.
In many places, fall means color but out here, it is harder to come by when conifer forests dominate so much of the landscape. There is still an abundance of color to be seen and the rarity of these spots may make them that much more precious to treasure their effervescent beauty. I managed to catch some beautiful shades of fall while at Mount Hood, where the trees seemed to be turning earlier than those on the warmer valley floor.