Friday, October 4, 2019

Birding Close to Home

Wallace Marine Park

Most of my blog posts are about travel experiences and birding.  This may give the impression to readers that the best birding involves traveling to better birding locations.  Not true.  We bird almost everyday, and usually close by, and we continue to be thrilled with the birds we find.  Today is a good example.  We hadn't made a selection of where to bird until we were almost out the door, and at that moment we settled on nearby Wallace Marine Park, only about two miles from home. I was hoping for some water fowl, and the old gravel quarry in the park is always worth checking out. For the complete bird list click here.

Jeanette checking for birds

 Pied-bill Grebe

juvenile Great Blue Heron  

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bird Crazy

A Western Gull photo-bombed an otherwise perfect photo of a Brown Pelican at the North Bend Boardwalk in the above photo taken on Friday. Since leaving on Wednesday for a trip to Coos Bay we have stopped and counted birds in five different counties. In Polk County we stopped in the morning at Riverview Park in Independence.  We finished the day in Benton County where we birded at Adair Wildlife Area.  In Lane County the next morning, with friend Glenn Reubon, we counted 35 birds at Perkins Peninsula Park on Fern Ridge Lake. In the afternoon we made a stop in Douglas County at Reedsport, and I made a brief count on the levy. Our last stop of the day on Thursday was at Tugman State Park in Coos County where we made a list in the evening.  On Friday we made a daily record (for us) of observations lists at six different locations. Starting first thing in the morning at Tugman State Park, then David Dewett Memorial, Ferry Road Park, North Bend Boardwalk, Empire Lakes, and Pony Slough. Is this making your head spin? Your eyes roll back?  Well, it's all fun for us.  It is also filled in with lots of down time to relax, take naps, and a great variety of meals to eat.  

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pleasures and Conviences of Van Life

What we love about our Roadtrek Zion van is that it enables us to lead such a spontaneous life style.  Yesterday was a perfect example of how how our days can so easily be filled with comfort and adventure.  We left home knowing we had three days to get to Coos Bay to meet up with friends Kerry & Debbie Kliever.  Our first stop was in Independence at the Riverview Park to walk Buster and look for birds.  The river level was up and the birds were amazingly scarce, but we did enjoy watching this busy Spotted Sandpiper. Nothing so unusual, just a nice walk in the sunshine. But then the day took a couple of interesting turns.

Jeanette was next to  drive, and on the way to grab a burger some place, she swung by the Independence Cinema to see if they would be showing the new Downton Abbey movie.  They were, and as we were circling the parking lot, I noticed The Pink House restaurant was open.  Hey, let's have lunch there and then check out the movie times.  We snagged a table in the sun on the front porch and enjoyed a wonderful sandwich.  Walking back pass the Cinema we found out there was an afternoon matinee showing of the Downton Abbey in an hour and a half.  So, we drove to a shady spot we know of behind the Civic Center and rested and I worked on photos.  Then back to the Cinema to watch Downton Abbey.

 Journeying on south on Highway 99, Jeanette had hopes of watching the four o'clock news on PBS, so we made a stop at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife office at Adair Village and parked in the parking lot to watch the news, which led to dinner,  and then a bird walk down to the pond. We love birding here and recalling the times we volunteered here a number of years ago. Bird life was busy as the sun went down for the day. You can see our complete bird list and photos here.

This morning we will be venturing on, meeting up with our friend Glenn to bird at Perkins Peninsula at Fern Ridge Reservoir.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

From Birds to Brunch

This summer the Riverview Park in Independence has become our favorite birding destination.  We have enjoyed watching an active Osprey nest, and a good variety of herons, sandpipers, and ducks on the river. The continuing development of the Willamette River waterfront, with the addition of the The Independence Hotel, has brought a wonderfully landscaped cement walkway connecting the Riverview Park and the hotel to the Independence Civic Center. We now actually walk the path in reverse order, having discovered the delightful shaded parking lot in the back of the Civic Center, which is a perfect place to park the van. Yesterday was our third short birding trip since getting out of the hospital, and as we approached the hotel location, I was starting to tire, and I mentioned to Jeanette that I could use a cup of coffee.  We considered our options, we could go back to the van and make coffee, go find a coffee shop, or we both realized suddenly that it looked like the restaurant in the new hotel might be open.  Jeanette, never afraid to ask, marched right up to the restaurant and inquired about coffee.  The next thing I know I'm sitting in the outdoor patio, with a great view of the river, enjoying a complimentary cup of great coffee. Questions about food, led to perusing the menu, and to our ording a late breakfast. The service and the food where possibly the best ever, thank you Vidal. The story in a nutshell is; we came in search of a simple cup of coffee, and discovered a full service restaurant. But beyond that, we now have the perfect location for both birding and eating, all in one location! See eBird observation list here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Park Prescription

Brush College Park

It has been well documented that time spent in the great outdoors is not only good for your emotional well being, but also good for your actual physical health. We recently watched a TV show where a pediatric physician has decided to take this to heart and makes an actual prescription up for her patients to spend time outdoors.  She calls it a Park Prescription. It may be as simple as sitting on a park bench 10 minutes a day listening to the sounds of nature, the chirp of birds, the chatter of a squirrel, and the sound of the wind in the trees,  or it might include going for an hours walk in the park three times a week; but the point is to require the patient to spend time outdoors. Her goal is to match every prescription for medicine with a prescription for time in the park.  To this end she writes up a specific prescription for time to be spent in the park.

I totally buy into this life style.  Today we went to Brush College Park, about a mile from home, and took our first bird walk since getting out of the hospital a week ago.  We called it our "Park Prescription".  We walked for  41 minutes, covered 3/4 of a mile, and counted 10 different species of birds.  We plan on taking our Park Prescription on a daily basis.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Summer Camping on the Coast

With the heat of summer, the Oregon Coast is always our default get-away.  On this trip we got in a lot of nice birding and spending time with two different sets of friends.  We left home on Saturday morning Aug 17th, making stops to bird at Balston County Park and Fort Yamhill, on our way to meet with Kerry and Debbie Kliever who were staying at Devils Lake RV Park.  We got in a little afternoon trip to Fogarty Creek State Park, some snacks, and a taco dinner with them before we ended the day at our over-night parking spot at Chinook Winds Casino parking lot.

Jeanette and Debbie - snack time

Chinook Winds Casino Parking

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Chinook Winds

Sunday morning we had breakfast with Kerry and Debbie at  Pig 'N Pancake in Lincoln City before heading down the coast to Newport, making a birding stop at Sally's Bend on Yaquina Bay. There we turned in this bird list with the highlighed photo of this Great Egret.

From Sally's Bend we difted on to South Beach State Park, stopping at South Beach Fish Market for crab and shrimp salads to go, in honor of Jeanette's Birthday. At South Beach State Park we parked in the Day Use Area to eat our salads and to use up some time before our reserved camping site became available. It was a hot day so we were delighted to find that our site had some great shade which we enjoyed. However after the third day in the shade our solar was not keeping up and I relented and plugged into the electrical service. You see, I pride myself in never having to plug in.

Our site

Our trip was originally planned to bicycle and bird with friends Gary and Judy Dinsmore.  On Monday moring we set off on our bikes to count birds, stopping first at the South Jetty. See our bird list here. Next we cycled on through the marina area before returning back to camp to rescue Buster.  The afternoon was spent working on photos and resting before getting on our bikes and riding back to the Rogue Brewery for dinner.

Rogue Brewery

Tuesday morning we set off on another bike ride, this time to the Mark Hatfield Science Center Estuary Trail to bird. The tide was way out, but still we managed a list. See our list here.

Gary & Judy ride recumbent tricycles, so we make quite a parade when cycling along the trails.

Wednesday morning began with the threat of rain, so after a short Buster walk we drove directly home.  Buster did well with his anti-anxiety medicine and slept on the couch most of the way.  Our van is now a year old to us, having traded for it on Jeanette's birthday one year ago. It's taken lot's of adjustment to the smaller space, but we love the complete idependence with the solar and lithium systems. This was our longest outing to date, with five days and four nights. Some where during our time with Gary and Judy we came up with a plan for our next adventure.  They will be volunteering at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend next month, so we will be taking a trip mid-month to visit them.

Biking Bird Guide & Blogger
photo by Judy Dinsmore through tricycle rearview mirror  

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Birding by Bicycle

In this photo I've stopped my bike on the Historic Union Street Railroad Bridge over the Willamette River in Salem, which is now a pedestrian/bicycle route. I've paused in the approximate middle of the Willamette River which is the boundary between Polk County on my right, and Marion County on my left.  I'm about to enter Marion County to make an eBird Observation List for the Salem Riverfront Park. My I-Phone is mounted on the handle bars and I'm ready to hit the green circle to start my observation list.

For a complete year now I have been putting up with the pain of planter fasciitis.  I've been using custom orthotics, special shoes, and massage, all to no avail. Staying off my feet could possible allow it to heal, but that is not going to happen.  So here is the second day on a new plan, do my birding from my bicycle rather than walking.  I'm pretty pumped from what I have experienced so far.  I throw my bike in the back of our van and drive to Wallace Marine Park where I unload the bike and take the bike path across the river and into Salem Riverfront Park, pausing at the sight or sound of a bird to locate it and if possible, get a photo.

This first photo is of a juvenile Peregrine Falcon who just lost it's attempt to catch a Belted Kingfisher.  I have been watching this juvenile and another for several weeks as they have been reluctant to leave their comfortable nesting area under the Marion Street Bridge.  This is the first day I have seen one of them on their own attempting to hunt down their own prey.

This second photo is of a juvenile Green Heron, photographed close to the Peter Courtney Bridge.  It's a great time of year to enjoy juveniles, they act, well like juveniles.  They have not yet learned the perils and dangers of life.  An adult bird would not take the chance to be standing out in the open for such a long period of time to be so easy to photograph. 

Click here to see the complete list of birds.