Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Birding With Glenn

Jeanette & Glenn on Lagoon Boardwalk
A week with temperature forecast to 90 degrees in Salem caused us to block out our schedule and head to the coast.  Our friend Glenn was camped at Waxmyrtle Campground, so it was a no-brainer to start there.  Waxmyrtle is a Siuslaw National Forest Campground located on the Siltcoos River south of Florence.  We first met Glenn three years ago this month while we were volunteering in the Snowy Plover program and both camped at Waxmytle.  He, in turned, started volunteering here.  This past winter he stopped volunteering and started traveling, and we have literally spent the last six months catching up with him and birding.  In Arizona we met up at Davis Camp in Bullhead City in December, then Lake Havasu State Park, then Cattail Cove State Park, then Oxbow Campground. He spent the rest of the winter in Texas where we did not go, but when he got back to Oregon we spent a week birding in the Salem area, and later joined him camping and birding at Indian Ford Campground near Sisters.  We arrived here at Waxmytle Campground yesterday afternoon, and of course soon after getting set up we went birding.  The above photo was taken at Lagoon Campground, just accross the road from Waxmytle.  It's great to spend time together birding again.
Evening view of Siltcoos Estuary

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Parked in the Shadows of History

I took this photo yesterday morning at our overnight parking spot in the Ray Benson Sno-Park on the Santiam Pass.  As you can see we are parked in the shade, but we were also over-shadowed by Hayrick Butte and Hoodoo Butte the two volcanic formations in the background. I am always amused when I see these two buttes together and remember that I once read that they probably had their names switched by some hapless cartographer. I was also reflecting on the person of Ray Benson, he never let the inconvenience of a artificial leg stop him from a successful business career in Salem, or keep him from enjoying the outdoor adventures of snowmobiling.  This large Sno-Park is a wonderful tribute his influence to winter recreation.  In the Santiam Pass Area, the Oregon Department of Transportation has 9 Sno-Parks set aside for winter recreation (link). In past years I have enjoyed x/c skiing out of most all of them.  But now, I find them quite handy for another use, overnight parking with an RV. Void of snow and ice, they set idle from now until winter, large level parking lots, great for an overnight parking spot. So, here is a tip for fellow RVers, consider a Sno-Park on your next trip through the Cascades.  You can't beat them for convince or cost. On this six-day trip, we spent four nights in campgrounds, our night here was by far the quietest.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Birding on the Metolius

Jeanette, Buster, and myself are spending a few days in Central Oregon to bird with our friend Glenn Pannier.  We are camped at Indian Ford Campground, primarily because there is cell service. On Friday morning we drove over to the Metolius River for some birding.  We parked at Camp Sherman and walked down the West side of the river, crossing at the Allingham Bridge and hiking back up the East side to reward ourselves with a sandwich at the Camp Sherman Store. You can see our bird list by clicking here.  In my mind the Metolius River area boarders on the sacred, I have visited it trails and campgrounds for almost 50 years now.  I've hiked, backpacked, photographed wild flowers and birds, cast flies for trout, slept in tents, and RVs, and have always felt I was someplace very special.  It still felt like that on Friday as we walked along the river. Besides the unbelievable scenery, I was filled with so many wonderful memories of past experiences. I am hard pressed to think of any area more special, more of my days need to be spent here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Baby Bluebird is Growing

This is the photo I took this morning, Sunday at 7:31AM, shortly after we got home from our trip to the coast.  As you can see compared to the previous photo taken on Thursday the baby has grown considerably, and the wide bill is very prominent.  According to one source that I read, the eyes will open on the forth to seventh day. We still have four eggs unhatched, who knows what happened to the sixth egg.  Because it has been at least three days since this baby was hatched, I'm beginning to think the remaining eggs may not be viable. Violet-green Swallows continue to circle and threaten to enter the nest box, so my parental anxiety is still at a high level.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

First Bluebird Chick!

Success, we have our first baby Western Bluebird!  This photo was taken this morning at 8:04AM. I've been keeping close tabs on this nesting box in our front yard this week in anticipation of some hatching.  My worry has been the continuing daily circling of Violet-green Swallows that appear to be threatening to enter the Bluebird nesting box.  The Violet-greens had a nesting box of their own also in the front yard.  But after doing a nest box survey over two weeks ago I discovered that they had not even started with any nesting material, where as the Western Bluebirds had not only built a nest, but had eggs.  So in an effort to to get rid of all the Swallow protest, I moved their nesting box to the back yard.  Yet, they continue to swoop and cry and create all kinds of havoc.  We are off to the coast for a few days, so I won't be able to check the box until we get back.  I'm hoping the other eggs will hatch successfully and the Swallows will be kept at bay.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bluebird Update

We continue to worry daily about our nesting pair of Western Bluebirds.  The Violet-green Swallows are still hanging around and creating lots of congestion in the front yard, even after I moved the box to the backyard, and the female Bluebird seems to spend way more time than we think she should away from the nest.  I checked the nest yesterday while they were away and they still have 6 eggs.  This is what I observed this morning, the female left and she and the male spent time at the suet feeder, then they flew off.  After a while the male came back, looked in the box, and then went in the box.  He then came out, and quick as a wink she was in the box.  It takes 2 weeks for incubation, and that dead line will be coming up this next Monday.  So for now---we still have our fingers crossed.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Western Bluebird Eggs!

Jeanette asked me this afternoon if I had seen the bluebirds today.  They seem to come and go, and we are not really sure if anything is going on with the nest or not. "No", I replied, "I don't think I have". I went to my den window to double check myself, and after looking around the front yard and staring at the blue bird nesting box for awhile I thought I might see a head inside of the entrance.  I got my binoculars and watched as the female squeezed out the opening and flew off to a street lamp post. As I continued to watch she flew back to our front porch gutter, and then flew off to the west in the direction of a green-way. I decided this was the time to find out if anything was going on with the nesting box. I got Jeanette, gave her my cell phone, and we made a quick inspection of the box.  To our complete surprise and astonishment we discovered these six eggs!  Western Bluebirds lay eggs at the pace of one a day, so this has been going on for at least six days.  Incubation takes two weeks, so we will try to wait patiently and keep our fingers crossed that they hatch successfully. By the way, we did a complete inventory of the rest of our nesting boxes, two that have had swallow activity were completely bare, the third had a House Sparrow start up nest, which got emptied.