birding at catherine creek

Mar 14, 2021 | Birding, Columbia Gorge, My Adventure Stories, Washington

I firmly believe that an outing does not need to be dangerous, risky or punishing in its physical aspect to fill one’s self with the benefits of adventure. Exploring a new trail, discovering a new to you species, practicing a skill you’re passionate about – these are all fantastic ways to add more life to your days and most definitely deserve consideration in the world of adventure.

For me, bird watching has become an unlikely source of joy in the past year. When quarantine started, I turned to watching and photographing the birds in my backyard. Figuring out what I was seeing was a great challenge, and then the thrill when a new bird would show up – it helped bridge a gap in my life that I couldn’t fill in the woods as I was used to doing. Learning how to shoot birds was another project to tackle, and it has been helping me develop focusing skill with my camera.

This past week, I created my own little adventure and picked out a new location to explore – Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall on the eastern side of the Columbia River Gorge. I mapped out a shorter route, recognizing that stopping to shoot would slow me down, and the heavier backpack (nearly 20 pounds with camera gear and water for an unseasonably warm day) would put more strain on my somewhat injured foot. Still, with new trails and unknown wildlife to explore, there was more than enough newness to give me just a little nudge past my comfort zone. Not every adventure has to be a leap into the unknown.

Fritillaria pudica (Yellow bells), an early spring perennial. Yes, I’m also a sucker for wildflowers.


Acorn woodpecker. Apparently they burrow their acorns into tree stumps. Had I known this when I was out there, I would have been trying to find their stash!

Meadowlarks were singing joyously all morning.

A Western bluebird. Another shy one that is hard to sneak up on.

I was intrigued by the mountain bikers riding Coyote Wall.

As we begin to reemerge after a year of Covid, I know that birding will continue to be a part of my adventure basket. Gearing up for a day in the field has its own concerns – picking the right backpack, loading up with the proper gear, making sure that I have all of the tools for hiking as well as photography. Even small challenges make for good days.

Birding Resources

To get started in birding, you’ll need a good bird guide and a way to see the birds from a distance. Because I like to take photos, I use a Nikon 200-500mm zoom lens on a Nikon d500 instead of binoculars, which is super helpful for me since I don’t know my birds very well yet. I usually figure out what I have seen after I get home and start processing. 

Learn more about adventure options at Catherine Creek & Coyote Wall

About The Author

About The Author

Teri Smith is starting her third act as a photographer, writer and adventure seeker in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more here.