When I was serious about fly fishing years ago I would often say that there is more to fishing than just fish. I feel that way about birding now, there is much more to birding than just birds. One reason is that it takes place in the great out of doors in some of the most scenic areas you will find. And in that process of finding and identifying birds in these scenic places you will also cross paths with many other interesting forms of nature, all kinds of plants and animals. Todays birding trip to the Rich Guadagno Memorial Loop Trail at Baskett Slough National Wildlife was a good reminder of many of the things I enjoy with birding. A good hike with a good friend, green grass, rolling hills, winding paths under towing oaks and maples. Below are a sample of some of things we enjoyed today.
Everyone of nature's creatures seems to be uniquely equipped to fill a particular niche in the world. Each one has its place and job to do. Watching Long-billed Dowitchers it is evident that their domain is the soft mud shoreline which they are able to probe deep down in search of something edible. Notice the length of the bill in the top photo and then look at lower photo to gage how far down into the mud it has buried its bill. This bird was with a group of twelve Long-billed Dowitchers I photographed yesterday with friend John West on the shore line of Cottonwood Pond at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.
This is my daughter Lisa's back yard in Dallas, Oregon. The bird house contains a nesting Black-capped Chickadee for the second year. But, right next to it in the tiny fir tree is a nesting Dark-eyed Junco for the first time. If you look closely at the lower photo you can see mama staring back at me while sitting on the nest. I took this photo through the window of Lisa's family room. Lisa reported to me later this afternoon that there are now four eggs in the Junco nest.
This post was supposed to have a photo of Ivy, and information about the importance of getting rid of Ivy and my volunteer efforts to do so. But after installing Apple's latest upgrade of Yosemite last night, this morning I find I can no longer open up any photos in Photo Shop. I changed from Windows to Apple about a year ago because it was supposed to make my life easier. Apple is after all bullet proof. My experience has been the opposite. Unless the god of Apple answers my prayers, this blog will now only contain text, no photos. :(
I enjoy birding the most while walking trails out in the natural world, and I did that today with my good friend John West at the Spring Valley Access of the Willamette River Trail. And we got a respectable list of birds including two FOY (first of the year) for Polk County for me, a Wilson's Warbler and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers. But the best photo I have for the day is this female Rufus Hummingbird, taken at 7:06 AM this morning while sitting on my living room couch!
Late yesterday afternoon Buster our dog was in need of a walk, so we grabbed our birding stuff and drove to our closest park, Brush College City Park which is probably only a mile away as the crow flies. This is a very small park, squeezed in between a busy street, a school and houses. Yet with a stream and an abundance of trees it offers a quiet convenient oasis to walk and bird. The tall canopy of trees were alive with warblers, and other small birds. Our forty minute amble resulted in a list larger than normal for this birding spot. The most significant sighting was this Western Wood-Pewee, a member of the Flycatcher Family. I was not even thinking of flycatchers when I zeroed in on this distant bird, so I had to sort of change gears to come up with what I was looking at. It's too early actually to be expecting flycatchers. When I looked in eBird when I got home the earliest they have been seen in Polk County is the 8th of May. So here we have one more example of the birds and bees and flowers appearing earlier than normal this year.
We spent the morning birding at Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove. It's been one of our favorites for a number of years, in fact over lunch in the RV, Jeanette and I had a discussion and we were hard pressed to come up with a location we enjoy any more than this one. With paved trails winding a route past a good number ponds adjacent to the Row River, it is prime habitat for a large variety of birds as well as turtles and beaver. Below are a collection from this morning.
Yesterday morning on a spur of the moment decision to escape the humdrum care and worries of our everyday life, we drove up the Santiam Canyon to hike at Shellburg Falls. While hiking in on the road from the trailhead we stopped to look at some birds, when down the road behind us two hikers approached and called out "Jim Scott". We had no idea who, and called back to that effect. Back came "John Stolting" to our utterly amazement. It was our long time friend John Stolting and his brother Michael Stolting. John has been our companion on countless hiking, biking, skiing, and camping trips on the trails, roads, and mountains throughout Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Colorado. We continued our hike up under the falls and to the campground, enjoying the splendid beauty of the Shellburg Falls Area, regaling each other with many of the experiences of our past adventures. A perfect day!
Tree Swallows appear to be still shopping for a summer lease. This male and female showed up today to look at our nesting box, not sure if they are the same ones that looked earlier or a different couple. There were actually four swallows swooping through the air in our backyard, so not sure if there are two pairs in a biding war, or some kind of a territorial dispute. Bottom line is the first couple to sign the lease can have possession.
While birding with friend John West yesterday we stopped by Wallace Marine Park to check on the Osprey pair that I last wrote about. It looks like they are determined to stick it out at the same location. (These images can be clicked on for a larger view)
In the Other News category, John and I spent most of our time at Cascade Gateway Park in Salem where among other things I saw my first Canada Goose goslings of the year. They are being guided by mom and dad to the shoreline at Walter Wirth Pond. I guess because the geese share this pond with a good number of fishermen on a daily basis they were quite comfortable coming ashore right in front of us.
This pair of Osprey, the male on the left and the female on the right, appear to be assessing their old nest site and contemplating what to do. In fact I think they look a little discouraged. The nest site is on a light pole in the ball field at Wallace Marine Park in West Salem. Last year the nest was a tall stack of sticks three or four feet high, obviously used repeatedly for several years. We learned the other day from a lady that walks her dog there daily that winter storms broke apart the nest. Now the question is, will they rebuild the nest? I have photographed the female at the sight a couple of times since the 28th of March. But yesterday, the 5th of April, is the first time I have seen the male at the nest site. Because it is the male that brings the majority of the large sticks to the nest site, the female may have a big task in convincing him to do the necessary rebuilding. Osprey normally come back to the same nest every Spring, but with this one so badly destroyed , and with several empty easy to construct on platforms in the area, it will be interesting to watch for the decision they make.
This female Osprey screams out her siren's song atop the nesting platform at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve this morning. Minutes later two other Osprey appeared in a confrontational flight overhead. My take on this is the call worked, and I say-- may the best man win.
I seem to be off on a new tangent in my birding obsession; Osprey behavior. I have now located six Osprey nesting platforms within an approximate two mile radius of my home in West Salem. I checked-out all six this morning. Four of the six appear to have been claimed and the Osprey seem to be in various stages of their relationship. The pair on the nest site on Murlark Ave NW were photographed copulating on March 30th by John West. The pair on Riverbend Road NW, I just found two days ago, and they see inseparable. The females screaming away at Wallace Marine Park and the Audubon Reserve appear to still be in the courting phase. I have yet to see any birds on the nesting platforms on Wallace Road or Patterson Street NW. Stay tuned, I will be reporting more in the days to come.
On Wednesdays when I volunteer at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve, I sometimes go an hour early to get in some birding before starting work. Yesterday, my friend John West joined me and we got in some quality time finding and photographing birds and wild flowers. Right away we noticed the male Osprey perched on the same tree he used last year across the street from the nesting platform. (I'm assuming it's the same bird). Some other highlights were a bright colored Red-breasted Sapsucker, some busy Black-capped Chickadees, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch at the seed feeder. My best photo of the day was this male Downy Woodpecker. The smallest of the Woodpecker Family, they are also probably the most commonly seen outside of the Northern Flicker. They are always a joy to watch and seem to tolerate being photographed fairly well.
When I took this photo yesterday afternoon during a brief sunny break I made the obvious assumption that this female Red-shafted Flicker was drying out her feathers. But, today when I looked through the series of photos again, and all the odd contortions, I began to wonder about the possibility of mating displaying on her part. I never saw a male, but you know the old saying, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there"? So, just saying.