Saturday, June 24, 2017

Exploring Sitka Sedge

Hot temperatures of over 100 degrees has driven us to the coast for a few days to escape the heat. We made a stop this morning to learn more about Sitka Sedge State Natural Area, located North of Pacific City. We hiked a beginning portion of the trail, but the morning heat was building fast with a high forcast in the 90s, so it was a short one.  But it's a winner and I'm sure we will be returning many more times on cooler days.
The parking lot has yet to be developed.

A nice gravel path runs out through the wet lands.

Great Blue Heron

Swallowtail Butterfly

Friday, June 23, 2017

First Osprey Chicks

This as been an intense year of watching the Osprey at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve.  It's the fourth season we have had nesting Osprey. Each year I learn a little more, so by now I have some idea about whats going on and what to expect.  The first Osprey sighting in the West Salem area this year was on March 23rd at the Murlark Ave nest site. At the Reserve it was April 5th when the male showed up. It has been a record year for rain, which meant that the nearby Williamette River, the Osprey's main food source, ran high and muddy much longer than normal, making fishing by the Osprey almost impossible.  There was little evidence of fishing success and they looked gaunt, causing a good deal of worry on my part. Now all my worries have vanished as we discovered we have two chicks in the nest. I was at the Reserve on Wednesday the 21st and had no indication of any chicks, but Thursday the 22nd, arriving at the parking lot with Jeanette we heard the softer quieter call of what we suspected were chicks.  We could see the female striping flesh from a fish, which she seemed to eat herself, but after awhile we noticed she was feeding a chick, which began to get bolder and even started to demand food.  Backing up the days, I am estimating that incubation began about the 10th of May. Fledging should be around 50 days from now.  Last year the first sighting of chicks was the 20th of June. 






Friday, June 16, 2017

Posting Excuses and a Trip to the Coast

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I'm sure you have noticed a decrease in the number of posts.  I'm going to blame it on the continuing changes in social media.  There was a time when all my posting efforts went to my Trip Journal on my web page.  Then bogs came along, and my Trip Journal got neglected because of the ease of using the blog format.  Now it's Facebook that seems to be the quickest and easiest to use, and my life gets chronicled there on an almost daily basis.  However, Facebook seems to act as a giant hole, and can be hard to recover or find anything in a reasonable way.  So, I'm still committed to post to this blog, if for no other reason than a selfish wish to be able to have a record of our adventures.

Driftwood Beach State Recreation Area
Last weekend we make a quick trip to the coast for a few days.  We left the rain in the Willamette Valley on Saturday and spent the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday in glorious sunshine near the beach. Driftwood Beach is one of 57 state wide rest areas where up to 12 hours can be spent "resting" that we are continuing to find and enjoy.

 An early Sunday morning walk at Driftwood Beach did not net very many birds, but I did get this photo of a California Gull.

On Saturday we had traveled down Highway 99 thru Corvallis, taking Highway 20 towards Newport, with a turn off at Toledo to make birding stops at East Slope Park, and Paddle Park. Next was a stop at Beaver Creek Welcome Center where we have volunteered in the past.  We enjoyed sitting out on the deck and talking with the current volunteer and watching the bird life.  One of the many birds we watched was this female Rufous Hummingbird. 

A Sunday morning stop at Ona Beach in Brian Booth State Park was not that productive, the winter storms have changed the course of the Beaver Creek a lot, but I did get this Killdeer photo.

A mid-morning stop at Seal Rocks State Recreation Area gave us lots of birds.  Nesting Western Gulls and Pelagic Cormorants covered the rocks.  Here is a pair of Pigeon Guillemots.

During some afternoon time spent at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area I made sure to stop to check on the nesting Peregrine Falcon. The male was off hunting, the female was hiding out in a cleft of the cliff sleeping, and a lone chick was on the nest.

Our ever changing schedule evolved into a stop at Spirit Mountain Casino for the night, thinking a return to Salem in the morning.  However after dinner in the casino and an hour or so of resting in the RV, we decided on continuing on home where we could have TV.  We love the flexibility of the RV life style that we are able to live with our Serenity Leisure Travel Van. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Collier Memorial State Park


Jeanette scanning Klamath Marsh
May 23-25 - On Tuesday the 25 we left Summer Lake to travel over to Collier Memorial State Park, taking the Silver Lake Road over to Highway 97, stopping at Klamath Marsh for a little birding.  This was a great route, hardly any traffic and excelent pavement. Click here for our bird list.

Resting in the shade
After getting set up in the Collier campground in site A10, we spent the afternoon relaxing under the shade of our awning.  We discovered we could just spot birds from our chairs and so started up a bird list.  Later in the afternoon we ventured over to Spring Creek to hike along the cool stream bank and look for more birds.  Here is a link to our Observation List.

Hiking the Williamson River Trail
On Wednesday we made a big push to hike the Williamson River Trail to the Williamson River Campground and back, some five miles or more.  This is a trail we worked on when we worked as Volunteers here the fall of 2010. It was fun to re-travel the route that we have hiked so many times through the years of continuing to volunteer here in 2011 and 2012. Click here for our observation list.  

Birding the River Loop Trail
Thursday morning we got in a good bird walk on the River Loop Trail before traveling north to Sun River for lunch with Kerry and Debbie Kliever, and then on to Bend for an overnighter at my brother Mark's place. You can see our bird list from the River Loop Trail here

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Summer Lake Trip

May 21-23 - The impetus for this trip to the Summer Lake area was Jeanette's desire to get here before Spring had passed us by. On Sunday May 21, we made the drive down I-5, over the Willamette Pass, over to Gilchrist where we stopped for lunch in our RV, and on to state highway 31 through Silver Lake and on to Summer Lake. At Silver Lake we had actually come up with the brain storm of going up to camp at Thompson Reservoir, but a few miles on the badly separated pavement caused us to abort that idea.   

Our stop for the day was the Summer Lake Rest Area.  This is an oasis in the surrounding desert area, and where it's possible to pause and park for up to 18 hours in a 24 hour period.  This is one of 57 State of Oregon Rest Areas where free over night parking is allowed, and possibly the best one we have used.  

Belding Ground Squirrls were our closest neighbors. These three could be the squirrel equivalent to the Thee Bears. Thier numbers greatly exceeded the number of traveling visitors and indeed the total population of Summer Lake.

I love the morning sun at 6:30, filled with bird song and fresh air. The empty park revealed we were the only persons to enjoy this Rest Area for the night.

After a great breakfast at the Lodge at Summer Lake, we spent the day driving and birding  on the Summer Lake Wildlife Area Loop Route.  Jeanette is shown here using her iPhone to call in some birds along the Anna River. Check out our Observation List here for out species total and photos.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Treasure-trove of Birding

American Goldfinch

Watching birds leads to a treasure-trove of information and experience.  It's akin to falling down the rabbit hole as in Alice in Wonderland. You are drawn into a world beyond your understanding. A world of art, history, and science, all interwoven and connected. It may start out simple enough, you observe a bird, perhaps in your yard and a question comes to mind, "what kind of bird is that?" That may lead to interaction with another person to seek some understanding, or perhaps borrow or purchase a book about birds.  Next you discover it would help to have binoculars. Then, you may need a better camera with a zoom lens to be able to get a photo. As you begin to build on your knowledge you realize that males and females may look different. There are seasonal changes, some birds are around all year, but some only in summer, some only in winter.  Some eat bugs, some eat fruit, some eat fish, some even eat other birds.  And you are drawn even further into the vast world of birding.  Different birds for different locations. Birds species on the decline, other species on the move and expanding. Seasonal changes of nesting, fledgling, and migration. The more you see and learn, the more questions surface.      

Yesterday morning my wife Jeanette, our dog Buster, and I all went for a bird walk at a nearby park, Wallace Marine Park.  During our walk along the river through towering cotton-wood trees, Jeanette spotted and I photograph this female American Goldfinch nest building, in a brier patch of all places! It sort of crystallizes for me our birding experience. Consider if you would, that we have seen many nesting birds over the years of our birdwatching, but this was the first time to ever find a nesting Goldfinch. Granted they are common enough, with great numbers easy to observe at back yard feeders, but nesting has always been a vague mystery. But to get to this simple trail side treasure has taken a culmination of experiences, study, and technology.  Our hand held smart phones contain applications for bird sounds as well as drawings and photographs to aid identification.  My digital camera with an 83 zoom lens allows photos to be taken for closer observation, identification and sharing. All of this converged in yesterday's sighting identification and photo of this female nesting American Goldfinch. This treasure hunt of birding is something Jeanette and I have found to be an all  encompassing experience, even life-changing, and we are very grateful.   

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Johnson Pond

Jeanette using her iPhone to call in a bird

This week we are taking advantage of the good weather to do a loop on the Oregon Coast. Our first night's stay was in the Safeway parking lot in Roseburg.  This morning our plan was to drive Highway 42 to Bandon and bird at Face Rock State Park hoping to find some Tufted Puffins, but along the way while driving between Myrtle Point and Coquille I spotted a sign for Johnson Pond County Park. I seemed to recall that it was an e-Bird Hot Spot, and when I mentioned it to Jeanette, she said lets check it out.  Turns out it was an excellent impulsive decision, and we spend the rest of the morning birding there and having lunch.  We love the flexibility of the RV life style and serendipitous experiences we tumble into. Tonight we are camped in Bulllards Beach State Park and will make a second attempt tomorrow to look for Puffins.  Below are some of the birds we enjoyed at Johnson Pond.

Tree Swallow

Purple Martins

Marsh Wren