Monday, November 25, 2019

Dallas Retirement Village

This past week we took the big step forward in the next phase of our life, committing to a unit in the Dallas Retirement Village. A year and a half ago, we started exploring the possibility of moving to the Dallas Retirement Village.  We liked what we found, particularly in The Lodge Residences, and went on a waiting list for a unit in a new wing to be constructed.  That time frame continued to be moved out, with a construction completion of April of 2021, but we have continued to wait patiently. Then, to our complete surprise,  this past week we were notified that a unit on the second floor of the present wing in The Lodge had become available. After meeting with Tawnya the Sales and Marketing Director, and touring the unit we signed up and are now in the process of acquiring unit 2204.

Our unit is on the middle floor

Yesterday we went to spend some additional time at Dallas Retirement Village to refresh our memory of The Lodge Residences layout, our floor plan, and the campus. After roaming the hallways,  checking out entrances, stairways, elevators and  services, and imagining placement of furniture in our unit, we had a picnic lunch at the  Pavilion. Of course we can't help noticing birds, and so right away I started making a list and taking photos. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet

black-eyed male Bushtit

yellow-eyed female Bushtit

After lunch Jeanette did some Thanksgiving shopping at the new Grocery Outlet, which is conveniently located just next door.  Buster and I did a little more walking though the campus.  I discovered this bird house, which was amazing in light of the fact that during our many visits this is the first bird house I have seen.  I found it quite encouraging to think that we will be meeting like minded people living here. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Magic of Digital Photography

While birding at Brush College City Park in West Salem yesterday we came upon a Pacific Wren.  We heard it first, and both Jeanette and I broke into smiles.  Years ago in our hiking days these little birds were called Winter Wrens, and were indeed one of our favorite brids along a winter trail.  I particullay remember them along the trail to Shellburg Falls.  Almost always they were heard before being seen.  They are busy little critters, and sometimes hard to photograph as they pop around just out of sight in the thick brush and ferns  I knew I might not get lucky enough to get a close-up photo, so I snapped a photo in the area where it was last seen. And here is where the magic of digital photograph comes into play.  The top and bottom photos are the same photo.  The difference is the bottom is a cropped version, and in it we can find our little Pacific Wren patiently hiding. Only a half dozen sightings have been reported to eBird here in this park, and this is the first photo.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Sunshine and Rare Birds

This is the view from the upper parking lot of Marys Peak out acrossed the fog filled Willamette Valley to the Three Sisters in the distance. Marys Peak at just over 4,000 feet elevation is the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range. This was our destination yesterday for a couple of reasons, other birders had reported sightings of Snow Buntings, and we were also anxious to escape the cold fog that was continuing, daily to choke out the sun.  The drive alone was an amazing experience.  We drove in thick fog with drizzling rain from Salem to Corvallis and Philomath. Turning off Hwy 34 on the Marys Peak Road the tempurature was 39 degrees and still in the fog, but as we climbed up the winding Forest Service road the fog began to clear and at the upper parking lot the temps where in the 70s! We spent the rest of out time at the top in bright warm sunshine.  Although we did not find the Snow Bunting, we did get some other good birds, a flock of nine Western Bluebirds, three Horned Larks, and most notibly a pair of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, which were Life Birds for us.

Western Bluebird

Horned Lark

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches

Monday, November 4, 2019

One More Reason To Stay Home

It didn't take long for us to come up with another excuse to stay home for the winter, - - our grand-daughter Madeleine. On Saturday son Michael called to say he was thinking of coming up to visit us on Sunday, his day off, but he was also thinking of going to the beach.  Jeanette was quick to respond that we could meet at the beach!  We discussed beaches and we agreed on South Beach State Park at Newport, kind of a half-way for us both.  On Sunday morning we arrived at the parking lot with-in minutes of each other, and soon Madeline was fixed up with her hat, coat, sandbucket, and towel. 

South Beach Fish Market was next for some lunch. We all shared our orders of clam strips, fish & chips and shrimp salad. It was warm enough to sit outside, and before we had finished our lunch our jackets were all off.  Jeanette and I had to leave to make a quick trip back to Salemtowne to lead a bird walk for the Salemtowne Birders, and Michael and Madeleine were going to make another beach stop.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Autumn in Oregon

Huddleston Pond in Willamina

For the second year in a row, Jeanette and I have made the decision to stay home for the winter rather than travel to Southern California and Arizona.  Yesterday morning while in-route to Huddleston Pond to go birding we were going through the pros and cons of our decision.  We are at the age where it is much more stressful to travel a lot of miles, but beyond that we seem to have a good time right here in Oregon.  Our day turned out to be a pretty powerful reminder of how much adventure we get to enjoy right here close to home. As we circled the pond counting and photographing birds, we noticed one bird was not one we normally see.  We spent a good amount of effort in trying to get a good photo to be able to make a positive identification, which was hard because it seemed determined to feed along the edge of the pond opposite of where we were, and it continued to disappear as it dove under water in search of food. Back at the van, I downloaded the photos into my laptop where I could get a closer look and then searched on my phone apps for an identification.  In the end I came up with a female Red-breasted Merganser.  I needed to be positive because it was a species not expected to be seen here.  They are a species normally found in the bays and lower rivers of the coast. In fact a Red-breasted Merganser had never been reported in Yamhill County or Polk County! But I did have the photographic evidence, and by the time I got up this morning two of the top birders in these two counties had found and reported this bird.  So, we seem to discover all the excitement we need to keep us satisfied, and the Autumn colors are glorious.

Red-breasted Merganser

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.