Friday, February 8, 2019

A Study In Winter Birds

One of the advantages of our staying home in Oregon this winter, instead of traveling to Arizona, is that we get to enjoy some winter birds that we might not see other wise.  This photo was taken yesterday south of Monmouth on Arlie Road at Suver, and shows two different species of swans, a Tumpeter Swan of the left, and a Tundra Swan on the Right. You will need to click on this photo to see an enlarged view and notice the differences in the bill and neck in these two different species.  You can also realize that what appear to be rocks in the foreground are actually Killdeer hunkered down in the fozen grass.  Jeanette counted over 100 Killdeer, 14 Tumpeter Swans and 30 Tundra Swans.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


We woke up to snow here in West Salem this morning, which gave me the perfect excuse to stay home and photograph the birds in our back yard right from the comfort of our warm house.

 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 Song Sparrow

 Dark-eyed Junco

 American Robin

 White-crowned Sparrow

House Finch

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Eagle Eye

We spent yet another day of glorious sunshine yesterday birding in Yamhill County, with the majority of our time and effort at Huddleston Pond in the town of Willamina.  While we were busy identifying and photographing birds around the pond, this mature Bald Eagle kept an "eagle eye" on us.  To see our complete observation list with photos click here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Surviving Winter

Cackling Geese

A streak of dry weather and bright sunshine continues in Oregon, making our winter stay quite palatable. Everyday Buster is indulged with a walk, which is also aligned with a birdwalk for Jeanette and me. For the most part we select a local park and walk for a hour or more covering a mile or more. Jeanette is the one with the sharp eyes, and calls out the bird species and quantity, and I enter it into the eBird app on my iPhone. If it's a good enough view I take a photo.  In all we have over 20 parks close by that we visit on a regular basis, rotating through them based on what sounds like the best fit for the day. We may catch lunch while we are out or return home lunch.  My afternoon is spent double checking the list and working with the photos.  This morning, Geer Community Park was our destination and where these photos were taken.

American Robin

Mourning Dove

European Starling

Dark-eyed Junco

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Walkin' in the Woods

Every Wednesday I volunteer at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve in West Salem.  In fact this month marks the start of my sixth year.  I have worked on a number of projects in those years, but my current responsibilities are basically wondering through the Reserve photographing the work of other volunteers and all the flora and fauna, and then posting it to Facebook.  Last night as I was about to go to sleep, I was thinking about what I was going to do today, and it was a pleasant thought, volunteering at the Salem Audubon Reserve, and I wondered why that was. I sort of had an epiphany moment when I realized my great joy when I was growing up was just walkin' in the woods.  We moved to the county when I was 10 years old to a 5 acre property on Golden Valley Road.  A couple of years later my parents purchased an adjoining 80 acres. I suddenly had a big playground to explore. Old logging roads took me into the hills and forest, alongside streams and eventually several ponds. Connecting trails made for an unimaginable variety of routes and loops. I enjoyed every minute of my time walkin' in the woods.  Many times when I walked out the back door, across the lawn and through the gate I think might have not have known where I was going, but I knew for sure I was going for a walk in the woods.  That's sort of what I do now at the Reserve, just a walk in the woods.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Duck Trifecta

In this photo of six ducks we have three sets of couples representing three different species! In the front are a male and female Green-wing Teal, in the middle a male and female American Wigeon, and in the back a male and female Northern Pintail. This photo was taken at Fairview Wetlands yesterday. The complete list and photos can be seen here.

For bird photos I use the Nikon Coolpix P900 with the amazing x83 zoom.  This shot was at such a distance I had no idea of what kind of ducks I was photographing.  Immediately after taking the photo I knew I had a collection of birds, but it wasn't until I down-loaded the photos into my laptop that I was aware that I had three separate species in the one photo. Jeanette had already counted a good number of Green-winged Teals and Northern Pintails, but it wasn't until taking this photo I realized that we also had two American Wigeons.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Winter Survival

Hairy Woodpecker

Yesterday marked the official first day of Winter, and I'm happy to recognize that we are coping quite well.  As opposed to many years in the past two decades when we have escaped South for the winter, we have come to the decision this year to stay put in Oregon.  It's a decision that we came to gradually as our calendar continued to fill up with appointments and activities.  Anxiety with long distance we would travel played a big part too. In the end it seemed the easiest and perhaps wisest to stay home.  We are feeling it is working out for the best.  The latest confirmation is the event of cataract surgery for me, which will keep us occupied into February. 

It's been a record dry and warm fall in Oregon, so it's been easy for us to get in daily dog/bird walks, and occasional short trips in our camper van provide us with some sense of adventure. Birding continues to occupy center stage, and the pursuit of bird lists and photos brightens our days and truly is one of the keys to happiness and winter survival. One of the volunteer responsibilities I have is at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve where this photo of a male Hairy Woodpecker was taken on Wednesday.  Hairy Woodpeckers are year around residents here in the Willamette Valley, and today I am reflecting on how they survive winter.  I strikes me that winter is not much of a problem for them.  Their food supply is just a few pecks away, never covered entirely by snow, or washed away by floods, a safe pantry locked up and waiting.  We're really not that different, our cupboards and shelves are stocked with food stuffs, and stores are close by.  I think we will survive just fine.