Friday, May 29, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
After a week of training, we got to have our first day of work in our volunteer position. This selfie was taken at the Waxmyrtle Trailhead this morning where we started the day with a hike out to the beach. At the beach we checked out some footprints entering the restricted area, because that's a part of our job to report any trespassers into the Snowy Plover nesting areas. But a closer inspection revealed these to be deer tracks, so no reporting.
Our ranger took us back up the beach as far as the Carter Lake Trail, and then we hiked back to the Waxmyrtle Trail and back to our RV. It's obvious that we are going to get a lot of hiking in, and that's a good thing. I think my biggest fear in coming here for the summer was that we might get bored, but today put that worry away, we will get tired, but we will certainly not get bored. We also checked in with a Predator Control officer, met one of the Nest Monitors, and got to witness a contact with people trespassing on the beach with their dogs.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
We are enjoying our stay here at Waxmyrtle Campground in the Siltcoos Recreation Area. Every time we step out of our RV we immediately hear a bird that we know and enjoy. But, not only are we enjoying the many birds, there is a good population of critters scampering around. The most vocal are Douglas Squirrels. This morning I did a brief walk around the campground before we left for more training in Reedsport and took the following two photos.
Townsend's Chipmunk (Tarmias townendii)
Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Tahkenitch Creek Trail, one of our old favorites when we lived in near-by Elkton. Jeanette is shown here pausing to listen for Red Cross-bills.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Lagoon Loop Trail in the Siltcoos Recreation Area. It adds a real dimension of joy to be able to identify a bird just by its song. Some times it provides the only clue that a bird is around. More and more we are getting better at bird identification by ear and it speeds up the process of birding when you don't have to actually see a bird to be able to identify it. For example one of the most numerous birds we have here are Wrentits, and today we heard a total of at least 10 different Wrentits, but I think we only saw two and that was after coaxing them out with our iPhone. For the last two mornings we have taken Buster out for a walk and some birding before our day starts with working with the ranger, seems to be a good system.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Today we got a good introduction to our work area with a morning spent riding with our Ranger. We first drove an access road out to the beach on the south side of the Siltcoos River, then south on the beach as far as Tahkenich Creek and back. Next we covered the area on the north side of the Siltcoos River which involved a tour the off-road campground, Driftwood II which left me with the impression of a combination refuge camp/circus, and then a drive north thru the off-road area and then back to the Siltcoos Beach Access parking lot.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area this morning, our home for the summer. From now through August we will be volunteering in the Western Snowy Plover Conservation Program, a joint effort of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and US Fish & Wildlife Service. We have had a busy day of getting set up in our camping site, meeting with our boss Crystal Mullins, filling out paperwork, and meeting a couple of the other volunteers. For those who are interested in coming to visit us, we now know that our normal working hours will be 9-2:00, with days off on Wed & Thur. If you are planning on spending time with us, double check with us because the hours and days are subject to change. For more information on our camp ground click here. We are in campsite #55.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Our own back yard continues to provide us with premium bird watching opportunities. Besides the terrorist actions of the House Sparrows that I have previously reported, we also get to see some successful nurturing moments. This morning it was this male House Finch inserting food into the open mouth of his juvenile. The adults come to the feeder and then take some food to the juvenile waiting close by on the fence. We have watched both the female and male preform this duty. We have also seen adult / juvenile interaction with Song Sparrows and Brown-headed Cowbirds in our back yard in recent days, indicating the the fledgeling period for some species is well under way.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I worry about the other two nesting boxes with Swallows, but so far the Swallows seen to refuse to allow the Sparrow around. They are a little larger than the Chickadees, and are more aggressive in their defense by blocking the entrance with their body and attacking the Sparrow. We leave in two days for a three and a half month volunteer position on the coast so we may never know the outcome.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Take a good look at this bold-faced killer who chased away the parents and killed the babies of our nesting Black-capped Chickadees. It's a non-native species called a House Sparrow, formerly known as an English Sparrow. We were enjoying the busy activity of the adult Chickadees as they brought spiders and green worms to feed the little babies which are born blind, naked and completely helpless. I became alarmed yesterday morning when I noticed the presence of this male Sparrow. I spent most of the morning keeping him at bay and slowly the adult Chickadees returned to feeding. In the afternoon we left the house for some shopping errands and when we returned I checked the nest and found the last dead baby. The nesting box has a specifically sized entrance hole of 1 1/8" to prevent House Sparrows from entry, but some how he must of squeezed in. I've had plenty of experience with these aggressive House Sparrows over the years---they are bad birds.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Today is our 22nd Wedding Anniversary. For our Honeymoon Jeanette and I took a week long bicycle camping tour in the Columbia River Gorge. This photo was taken at Rowena Crest on the Historic Columbia River Highway, between Moiser and Rowena. We still consider ourselves two of the most fortunate people on the face of the earth.
Friday, May 8, 2015
Wednesday I spent two hours at the Audubon Reserve trying to get a good photo of a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches feeding their young. Yesterday on Thursday I discovered I could just sit on my back porch at home and also have an opportunity to photograph feeding birds. Our nesting Black-capped Chickadees just started feeding their young, and just like the Nuthatches the babies are not yet making a peep. While I was sitting and photographing the Chickadees, a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and nabbed a House Sparrow in a neighbor's tree. The hawk was pursued by an angry American Crow which chased the hawk out of the area. But, back to the chickadees, you may notice the spider it has in its bill. Check out the lower photo for a close-up look. It's one itsy bitsy spider that will not be going up the water spout again.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
I took Buster for a walk at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve because he likes to check out a couple of old culverts. He even chased a cat out of one of them once so he always returns with hight hopes. As I was patiently waiting for him to check out the culverts I was surprised to see small birds flying in and out of one of the snags we had installed with nesting cavities last year. I soon determined they were Red-breasted Nuthatches. With one of the first photos with a bird in the entrance I noticed it was carrying out what looked like a fecal sac. Many species of young birds when first hatched produce their waist in a mucous membrane that allows the parents to remove their waist from the nest.
I took a lot more photos, over 50, but it was hard to catch the bird in flight coming or going to and from the nest. They are very small birds and fly in and out of the nest so fast it is almost impossible to get a good photo.
I was unsure at this point if I was observing feeding behavior with removal of the fecal sac or if they were in the process of cleaning out the cavity and building a nest. I moved up close to the nest to see if I could hear or see any baby birds. I could not, but I noticed the sticky pitch in the entrance. I remembered that I had read that Red-breasted Nuthatches smear pitch on the entrance hole to perhaps prevent small mammals or other birds from entering.
At this point I realized why it was so hard to get their photo, they fly in and out without touching the rim of the hole in order to avoid the sticky pitch. A second realization came when I got home and read that during the first week the babies do not make any noise. My conclusion now is yes, we have nesting baby Red-breasted Nuthatches, probably in their first week, that are being fed. That was a fecal sac I saw. And the parents are a couple of amazing birds to fly in and out of the nesting hole without touching the edges.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
This is the 5th woodpecker I have written about in the last week, so I guess it's some what like a series. Jeanette noticed this Red-breasted Sapsucker yesterday on the pedestrian bridge over the Yamhill River at the Dayton Landing County Park. I've always assumed that sapsuckers must have weaker bills than their woodpecker kinfolk because they drill such shallow holes in the surface bark of trees to retrive the sap. But here we observed a sapsucker digging out a nesting cavity in this huge solid laminated beam on the suspension bridge. The top photo shows it at the entrance, then it entered and we could hear it chiseling away, and then it appeared as in the lower photo, spiting out a mouthful of sawdust. Obvious these are tougher birds than I imagined.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Hutton's Vireo. These tiny busy birds are easily confused with Ruby Kinglets, so it takes some time and patience to get a good look at them. In fact this is the first time I've been able to get a good enough photo of a Hutton's Vireo to add to the Critters section of Cascade Ramblings.
Monday, May 4, 2015
All three of our bird houses are now occupied here at 3346 Walnut Place. It took over a month of the birds checking out the houses before every couple had settled on a house, which was a much longer process than I had thought it would take.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
here to see the list.