Sunday, November 29, 2015
It's hard to see from this photo taken at the south end of Huddleston Pond, but the far north end of the pond is completely covered in ice. We came here yesterday morning hoping for enough warmth from the sun to keep us warm from the freezing temperature. The pond, located in Hampton Park in the small town of Willamina is becoming a favorite of ours for winter birding this year. This community and former logging pond are tucked up next to the coast range, leaving their south-east side exposed to the morning sun. With half of the pond covered with a sheet of ice, the ducks were crowded up on this south end. Although not a large variety, there were large numbers of American Wigeons and American Coots. The observation list and photos can be seen here.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Downey Woodpecker - 1
Western Scrub-Jay - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 3
Song Sparrow - 1
House Finch - 3
Pine Siskin - 4
House Sparrow - 1
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Entrance Parking Lot
Of the three birding stops we made on Monday, I was most interested in returning to the Sheridan South Side Park. Despite "Sheridan South Side Park" being the official name of this location, I think it is more commonly known as the Sheridan Pond or simply the fish pond. It's claim to fame may actually reside with the fishing population, but we are looking at it through the lens of birding. My interest in returning was basically I felt that we could do a better job of birding with nicer weather, and although today the temperature was nearly the same we did have sunshine which made it seem warmer, and we did actually get a larger variety of birds. You can look at the observation list and photos here.
Fishing dock at far end
Monday, November 16, 2015
Our first stop was an unplanned one at the Brigittine Monastery, the result of a mis-turn. The temperature was a frigid 39 degrees with a bitter wind from the south. We only lasted a short 18 minutes at one of ponds scoping out water fowl, but we did make a list. The Monastery seemed rather quiet, I suppose the brothers were still at morning prayer, so we missed sampling their famous chocolate. Continuing on we were still cold so we pulled over in Ballston at the Ballston Park with a quaint pioneer school house (shown above) for some hot chocolate in the bird mobile.
Our second birding stop was at the Sheridan South Side Park. Temperature here was a balmy 47 degrees, perhaps in part because of it's location, protected to the west by a hill top cemetery, and to the south by a large federal prison complex. In spite of this unique almost hidden location, it was the best birding location of the day, producing this list.
Our third birding stop was at the Huddleston Fish Pond in Willamina. I made a brief circle of the pond here in between rain storms, and made this list.
We spent the remainder of the day on couch and recliner, enjoying having a furnace, TV, and a bathroom. Oh yes, also hot coffee, tea, and chili. I think there are many more trips to be made this winter in the bird mobile.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
We are always on the look out for new locations to walk and watch birds. Yesterday morning we went exploring to check out Grand Island Access, It's a part of the Willamette River Greenway, a concept born in the late 60's and administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. This particular parcel, which incidentally we just learned contains the states largest continual Black Cottonwood forest, is located along Lambert Slough on Grand Island just north of the Weatland Ferry. Primarily a canoe and kayak access point at river mile 70, it has the amenities of a port-potty, a picnic table, a couple of fire pits, and large flat areas that would work for camping. We were more interested in the informal trails that wander through the cottonwood forest to different access points to Lambert Slough. It was a cold quiet morning for birds, but will be worthy of future trips in spring and summer.
A tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet bathes in a mud puddle.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Once again we took advantage of the best part of the day to get in a bird walk. Based on the weather forecast for rain that was moving in, it looked like the best window of opportunity would be in the morning to the south-east of Salem. It was just starting to sprinkle when we left Salem and we drove into dry weather before we got to Lyons and our destination the Lyons City Park. The skies stayed clear for an hour and we almost made it back to the car before it started raining.
The Lyons City Park is a favorite of ours for birding, but beyond that it is a perfect place to observe nature in harmony. Busy beavers continue work on dams that have resulted in a series of ponds that provide the perfect habitat for water birds like ducks and geese. On this trip we saw newly arrived migrants of Ring-necked Ducks and Gadwalls, augmenting the resident Mallards, Canada Geese, Mergansers and Wood Ducks. Additional birds that like to hang out around the water were Kingfishers and Herons.
At first glance you may assume this photo of a beaver is taken looking down directly above him. If so, your eyes are playing a trick on you. The photo was taken from the side and the reflection in the water is making an almost perfect second image. I didn't realize I had a reflection in the water until I got home and downloaded the photo into the computer. While walking the trails around the many ponds, we spotted this beaver up against the bank holding very still, I think he assumed he might be unnoticed if he held very still. These ponds used to have a large population of Nutria when we started birding there in 2013, but at some point someone did something, which is a good thing, and yesterday we only saw beaver and their handiwork. They have constructed some amazing dams that well are worth the trip to the park just to marvel at their expertise.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Huddleston Pond in Willamina. Serious readers of this blog will remember we were just there the Saturday before last on our way home from the Tillamook area. I was delighted with the suggestion to return to Huddleston because Jeanette and I both felt that we could do better than the 13 birds we found that day. We hit the pond this morning just before 9:00 with the resolve to find more birds. Although the temperature was rather cool, we had bright sunshine and a whole raft of waterfowl. We ended an hour later with a list of 21 species. Our observation list and photos can be seen here. Interesting, we left Salem in sunshine, endured rain on the drive which stopped when we arrived in Willamina, and then started raining again just as we finished birding. The rains seemed more like spring showers than real fall rain.
Monday, November 2, 2015
This morning while birding at Wallace Marine Park in West Salem a walker stopped to tell us he thought he had just seen Swans in Salem's Riverfront Park. We finished up our observation list at Wallace and went in search, hoping he wasn't confused with perhaps Great Egrets. We found two swans, which turned out to be Mute Swans not the Tundra Swans we were hoping for. These may possibly be the two we found last year at Stone Quarry Lake by the airport. Those were considered to be released pets and not countable on eBird. Mute Swans are not native to North America. The thing is, last winter we found Mute Swans in Anderson California, see blog post here, and they are an accepted species there I think because their numbers are large enough. I guess these bear watching to see if there are any more. Maybe with Global Warming the California birds will eventually find their way north to Oregon.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Jeanette with umbrella at lower pond
Mallards in flight from upper pond