Monday, October 2, 2017

Greater Yellowlegs

Yesterday we made a trip to Fairview Drive Wetlands near the Salem Airport for a birdwalk.  I was hoping for some water and some new migrating water fowl or shore birds after a long dry summer.  There wasn't much water, but to my great suprise I did get the one bird I was hoping the most to see, a Greater Yellowlegs.  Jeanette and I have been birding at Fairview Wetlands for 19 years now.  We started walking there from our house on Reed Court in 1998.  Birding was mainly an excuse to get in a good walk.  For fun we started making a list of the birds we would see between our house and the wetlands.  In October of that year we spotted four to six birds we weren't sure of with long yellow legs and a strange high pitched cry.  I spent a lot of time looking at bird books before I could conclude that they were Greater Yellowlegs.  Now all these years later when ever we think of birding at Fairview Wetlands, it brings a smile to our faces as we recall the Greater Yellowlegs and their piercing call.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ducks in a Row

I'm the kind of a guy that likes to have all my ducks in a row, possibly that's one reason I like this photo taken a couple of days ago at Lyons City Park of these ducks all standing in a row on a log.  What initially caught my attention were the two spectacular males shown in the middle. They are a Wood Duck on the left, and a Mallard on the right. I can't remember ever seeing these two different species sharing a log at the same time.  To add to the uniqueness  of this photo,  flanking the male Mallard on the far right is a female Wood Duck, and flanking the male Wood Duck on the left is a female Mallard.  All the ducks may be in a row, but they are certainly not in order, and to a guy that likes order---well what can I say. I like the photo, and they all seem to be getting along, maybe diversity is a good kind of thing.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Revisiting Waxmytle Campground

Truth be told, this trip was just an excuse to spend time in our motor home, Serenity.  We love the sense of freedom and adventure it provides.  We had had a rainy week, so our first thought was to head for a drier area like the east end of the Columbia Gorge.  But as we were packing-up we discovered that I-84 East Bound was still closed between Troutdale and Hood River because of the Eagle Creek Fire.  How about the Washington side?  Highway 14 was open, but closed to all vehicles of 10,000 lbs, we are 11,030.  How about Summer Lake?  A look at Trip Check showed snow on the Willamette Pass.  That left us with some area on the Oregon Coast, which we had already visited a good deal this summer.  We settled on camping at Waxmytle Campground, a long time favorite of ours.  It's a place we have enjoyed camping, hiking, birding, and volunteering.  The additional appeal for us is that our good friend Glenn is the current campground host.  

Eight o'clock the next morning Glenn, Jeanette, myself, and Buster headed out on the Waxmyrtle Trail for a morning of birding.  Although not the birdiest, we did eventually get a good list of birds which you can see here.

Glenn is finishing up on two and a half years as serving as a volunteer on bird surveys, plover patrol, campground maintence, and campground host.  He takes off the end of the month for parts unknown in the southern direction. We hope to catch up with him this winter and get to do more birding together.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Camping at Lake of the Woods

Here is our campsite, #2 in the Aspen Point Campground at Lake of the Woods.  We made a stop up here for two nights on our way from the wedding at Collier Memorial State Park to Henderson Line-Up in Grants Pass. (We had an appointment at Henderson's to install rear Koni shocks on the Serenity, which by the way we are really impressed with the improvement.) This camping in the tree forest was our first opportunity to test out our new solar system.  With the hot weather, having shade was a necessity, but possibly a problem for the solar system. We found that even in shade some electricity is still being generated and with careful use we still had all the electricity we needed to keep laptops and phones charged. We made the big plunge to install solar this summer, in an effort to give us more days of dry camping without the dependency of being hooked up to electricity.  The experts on solar here in Oregon are AM Solar in Springfield, but they were not able to work us into their busy schedule until December. We wanted to be in Arizona by then so that was a no go.  Fortunately they have trained certified installers that they could recommend and we connected with Scott Harris of Urgent Care RV Repair & Solar, a mobile installer, who spends his summers in Newport.  He was able to install a solar system for us on August 16th.  We have not been connect to shore power at home since then, which in two more days will be a month! We loved our time at Lake of the Woods, even with some smoke in the air, the cooler temps were welcomed.

Rainbow Bay with Brown Mountain in the background

Monday, September 11, 2017

Birding at Wood River Wetland

We have been hanging out in Klamath County for the last several days, attending our nephew Matt Scott's wedding, and squeezing in as much birding as possible. From last night's parking sight at Kal-mo-ya Casino we drove to our morning destination for birding at Wood River Wetland, the top eBird Hot Sport in Klamath County. We have birded here a couple of times in past years, so we knew to expect a good number of birds. We usually encounter a variety of people on the trail.  Some come to walk their dogs, some to fish, and some even to hunt.  In fact today we saw three hunters on mt. bikes coming back with what I think we Canada Geese stuffed in their backpacks.  But today we also actually came across some birders.  We could tell they were the real thing because they not only had binoculars, but also spotting scopes, and would stand for long periods of time identifying birds in the trees, in the bushes and out on the water.  Jeanette who has the uncanny ability to engage anyone with-in a 20 yard radius in conversation, soon had these guys by the ear asking all kind of questions. Turns out they are the top two eBirders in Klamath County, Dave Haupt (on the left), and Kevin Spencer (on the right). They were a huge help to us in nailing down species that we hadn't gotten a good enough look at to be sure on the identification. Here is a link to our observation list.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Northern Goshhawk

Today we had a lot of things going on, so we squeezed in a short mid-morning walk for Buster and to make a quick bird list.  For convenience we went to nearby Wallace Marine Park.  Our normal route for walking around the ball fields looked a little congested so we elected to take a different route next to the river that we could make into a short loop.  Midway through the loop we spotted a large bird fly into a tight mix of cottonwood and big-leaf maple trees.  Looking with our binoculars we thought it was an immature Cooper's Hawk, it was for sure too big to be a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Just to be on the safe side I quickly took some photos so that I could get a closer look. When I got home and down loaded the photos into my laptop, I started to check some birding guides to confirm that our bird was a Cooper's Hawk, to my great surprise I began to realize we had a juvenile Northern Goshawk.  Neither Jeanette nor I had ever seen a Northern Goshawk before, so a new bird for Cascade Ramblings and a new Life Bird!  Further research revealed that this species is normally found in the high Cascades, and when seen here in the valley, it is usually in winter.  I'm guessing with the all the wildfires and smoke problems in the Cascades that it has fled here to the valley for better conditions.  Goshawks are bigger than a Cooper's Hawk or a Red-tailed Hawk, in fact they are only surpassed in size in the hawk group by Golden and Bald Eagles.  This fits with our first impression of a big bird.  Here is our eBird checklist.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Where Has The Time Gone.....

Tomorrow is the last day of August! Where has the time gone?  I noticed yesterday that I had written only one blog this month, and for the last two months I have only posted three per month.  What has happened?  This is from a blogger who, for example, did 20 posts for the month of August in 2010. It could be blamed on aging, my brain is now past three quarters of a century old. But the other reality is I am busier posting to Facebook and eBird than I was in 2010. I had joined Facebook in 2008, but I'm sure I didn't post much.  Now, in addition to my own FB page, I manage two other additional pages, Salem Audubon Nature Reserve, and Salemtowne Birders.  I didn't join eBird until 2011 and and at that time I probably tried to put up a bird list once a week.  Now I post to eBird at least once every day, and also try to add to the new feature of photos.  Bottom line I'm spending a lot of my time on other media in place of my blog.

This photo is of a lone juvenile at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve. I saw it today take a practice loop to a tree,  abort a poor attempt at landing on a limb, and have to circle back to the nest. This is the last juvenile of three to leave this season's nest, and I was struck by where has the time gone.  It has been a fascinating year to watch the Osprey, from the arrival of the parents this spring, their courtship and nest building, the birth of the chicks, the effort of the mom and the dad to feed and protect them, and now only one juvenile is left, and it too will soon be heading south.  Where has the time gone?  Well it rolls on day by day, month after month, season upon season and year after year.