Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Birdwalks at Salemtowne

A higher than normal volume of rain in the Willamette Valley continues to attempt to cramp our style of living. However, we are not defeated easily and try to get in a bird walk every day. I've been leading weekly spring birdwalks at Salemtowne during this month of April.  This mornings rain dampened the number of participants, but eight brave people showed up anyway. We have met every Sunday at 8:00am for an hour and have had as many as eighteen people.  We have walked a variety of routes and seen a good number of bird species.  Todays number was our highest at twenty six species. You can check out today's observation list here. It's been a good social event and I hope to repeat next Spring.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Columbia River Gorge - Then & Now

We have just returned from a trip of four days in the Columbia River Gorge.  It's an area that holds many memories for Jeanette and me, starting with our Honeymoon Bicycle Tour in May of 1993.  We  returned there many times in the following years on bike tours, day hikes, and backpacks.  Spring is our favorite time to be there and enjoy the fantastic wild flowers. 

Horsetheif Lake Campground - May 1993

Horsetheif Lake Campground - April 2017
Times have changed, in 1993 our transportation was bicycles and we had the campground to ourselves. It was very quiet.  This year we traveled in luxury in our RV, the campground was full by night fall and our neighbors with an alcohol fueled party where up chopping wood until 1:30am in the morning.

In March of 2006, we took Buster on one of his longest hikes on The Dalles Riverfront Trail.
This year a greying older Buster, a little braver, hiked a total of four miles. Spring is a little late this year, maybe as much as a month.  Snow banks still can be seen along I-84 near Multnoma Falls, and the major wild flowers have yet to bloom. Guess we will just have to return again.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Return of the Osprey

The Osprey have made their annual return to the West Salem area.  I was made aware of their presence on Thusday by email and photos that my neighbor Lou Nelson sent me. She happens to drive by the nesting site on Murlark Avenue several times a week, and Thursday March 23rd was her first sighting of this season.  Last year Jeanette saw them for the first time on March 20th, and the year before I noticed them on March 25th.

I went by the nest site this morning and took this photo.  I was lucky enough to be there at the time the male brought in a stick to the platform.  When I first got there the female, which is the larger one on the right, was alone on the nest and crying out loudly.  Suddenly the male, which is the smaller one on the left, appeared and flew down to the nest with a large stick.  If you look closely at the photo (clicking on the image will enlarge it) you can see the stick that is on the top, and also notice the scrutiny in the look of the female.  This is a ritual they will preform many times in this next week or so as they build an acceptable crude network of sticks for their nest.

I checked out all six nesting sites that I keep track of in West Salem this morning.  Of the six, three where occupied, but only the one on Murlark is to the building stage.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Recap of our Winter Escape

Cooper Creek Reservoir

We arrived back home in Salem Oregon yesterday afternoon, Thursday March the 23rd.  One of the stops we made on our route back to do some birding was Cooper Creek Reservoir just outside of Sutherlin Oregon two days ago. My thoughts over the last few days has been of the statistical nature, thinking  about all the states and counties we have birded in since leaving home on January 10th.  If you are not much in to statistics, you might want to move on to something else, but if you are interested, read on.  Birding kind of drove our trip, and we made it a point to walk and seek out some birds every day. To recap our birding experience: We were gone for 73 days in our attempt to seek some sunshine and escape the Oregon rain, and turned in 114 bird observation lists in 30 different counties.  This involved the four states of Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. We discovered many new places and revisited many old favorites. In all we enjoyed the combination of the RV life style and the birding experience. I'm sure there are many more trips in our future.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Mystery of San Lorenzo

We arrived here at San Lorenzo Regional Park on Saturday, and by the time we leave on Friday we will have been here a full week. We first found this park in November of 2010. Fleeing the crazy congestion of the Bay Area, we stopped for a night, and stayed for a week. It's an easy place to camp.  At 100 camping sites, there's certainly one to fit any ones taste.  Pull through sites with full hook-ups, sites with water and electricity only, or just plain tent sites.  Rest rooms with showers,  a group meeting building, even a 24 hour laundry. Towering trees provide shade if wanted, open areas provide sun. Miles of trails to stroll or get in some exercise, or in our case, specifically to go birding.  At least three museums provide displays of the agriculture and history of the area.  A train depot with track and train car, farm tractors of every description are spread out through the large day use area, there is no reason to be bored here. This Monterey County Park is huge, in spite of being squeezed between busy Highway 101, the Salinas River and the town of King City, it has the relaxed feeling of being apart from civilization.  Here is the mystery, with the exception of a large group than came in yesterday, we have practically had the park to ourselves. Only a half dozen other sites have been occupied in this 100 site campground.  Why is it the park not full?  We have enjoyed perfect weather with temps in the 70s and 80s.  The rates are very economical.  The little town of King City is convenient for groceries, fuel, or almost any necesiteies. Access is easy off of Highway 101. It's a mystery I continue to ponder, against a backdrop of desert parks in Arizona and other areas of California where campgrounds are crowded to the point of making reservations a necessity.  In addition to campers being a scarcity here, so are volunteers. The mystery of San Lorenzo deepens and continues.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pleasant Time In Pleasanton

Today we arrived in Pleasanton California and are expecting a pleasant couple of days with my sister-in-law Mary Sites.  Mary's dog Hollie, and our dog Buster always have a good time together. The weather is a perfect 70 degrees, without wind or rain, a very pleasant day. Mary took us on a bird-walk this afternoon at the near-by Kottinger Park.  Here is a link to our observation list. Based on the weather conditions in Oregon, and on the advice of friends there, it sounds like we should stay in sunny Calfornia a while longer.

Picture of Jeanette and I taken by Mary

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RV Traveling Tips

Since last posting we have driven from the far southern border of Arizona, across the Colorado River, and the Mojave Desert, and up into Central California.  On long days of driving I often reflect on the marvels of traveling in this high tech age, and how much we depend on our iPhones.  In many ways, a smart phone may be your most valuable piece of traveling equipment.  It is an indispensable aid for us and here is why.

WEATHER:  We check the weather on our phone daily, as well as the weather in several locations. The above photo, taken at Davis Camp on the Colorado River, illustrates its value.  Traveling from the Phoenix area out towards the Mojave Desert, I was clued in to high winds with gusts over 50mph.  That is not the conditions I want to be driving in an RV.  So, we settled into the protection of a camping site at Davis Camp for another day, and then continued on with normal driving conditions.

NAVIGATION:  On this trip we have relied on our iPhone almost exclusively to plan our driving route. I has been indispensable in figuring mileage and guiding us though unknown locations. And of course we use it to find locations for fuel, groceries and miscellaneous shopping needs.

BREAKS:  We have found taking breaks during the day along our route is paramount to our sanity.  And here is where we use our iPhone to access eBird and locate birding Hot Spots to stop, get in a walk, count some birds, take some photos, and bring down our level of stress from driving. During the past two days we have made stops in cities along our route in Baker, Tehachapi and Delano with city parks that were unknown to us in spite of have traveled this route many times over the years.

OVERNIGHT STOPS: Jeanette found an app that has proven to be one of our most valued tools on this trip,  It shows us immediately where we are and all the nearby locations for free overnight parking.  And we can look ahead at any area and plan accordingly. Although we blend in stops at campgrounds with hook-ups, being self contained, we often just need a place to park for the night.

STAYING CONNECTED:  Using our iPhones allows us the luxury of travel to new and unexplored areas seeking good weather, and still be connected to family and friends although many miles away.