Saturday, May 19, 2018

Birding on the Metolius

Jeanette, Buster, and myself are spending a few days in Central Oregon to bird with our friend Glenn Pannier.  We are camped at Indian Ford Campground, primarily because there is cell service. On Friday morning we drove over to the Metolius River for some birding.  We parked at Camp Sherman and walked down the West side of the river, crossing at the Allingham Bridge and hiking back up the East side to reward ourselves with a sandwich at the Camp Sherman Store. You can see our bird list by clicking here.  In my mind the Metolius River area boarders on the sacred, I have visited it trails and campgrounds for almost 50 years now.  I've hiked, backpacked, photographed wild flowers and birds, cast flies for trout, slept in tents, and RVs, and have always felt I was someplace very special.  It still felt like that on Friday as we walked along the river. Besides the unbelievable scenery, I was filled with so many wonderful memories of past experiences. I am hard pressed to think of any area more special, more of my days need to be spent here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Baby Bluebird is Growing

This is the photo I took this morning, Sunday at 7:31AM, shortly after we got home from our trip to the coast.  As you can see compared to the previous photo taken on Thursday the baby has grown considerably, and the wide bill is very prominent.  According to one source that I read, the eyes will open on the forth to seventh day. We still have four eggs unhatched, who knows what happened to the sixth egg.  Because it has been at least three days since this baby was hatched, I'm beginning to think the remaining eggs may not be viable. Violet-green Swallows continue to circle and threaten to enter the nest box, so my parental anxiety is still at a high level.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

First Bluebird Chick!

Success, we have our first baby Western Bluebird!  This photo was taken this morning at 8:04AM. I've been keeping close tabs on this nesting box in our front yard this week in anticipation of some hatching.  My worry has been the continuing daily circling of Violet-green Swallows that appear to be threatening to enter the Bluebird nesting box.  The Violet-greens had a nesting box of their own also in the front yard.  But after doing a nest box survey over two weeks ago I discovered that they had not even started with any nesting material, where as the Western Bluebirds had not only built a nest, but had eggs.  So in an effort to to get rid of all the Swallow protest, I moved their nesting box to the back yard.  Yet, they continue to swoop and cry and create all kinds of havoc.  We are off to the coast for a few days, so I won't be able to check the box until we get back.  I'm hoping the other eggs will hatch successfully and the Swallows will be kept at bay.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bluebird Update

We continue to worry daily about our nesting pair of Western Bluebirds.  The Violet-green Swallows are still hanging around and creating lots of congestion in the front yard, even after I moved the box to the backyard, and the female Bluebird seems to spend way more time than we think she should away from the nest.  I checked the nest yesterday while they were away and they still have 6 eggs.  This is what I observed this morning, the female left and she and the male spent time at the suet feeder, then they flew off.  After a while the male came back, looked in the box, and then went in the box.  He then came out, and quick as a wink she was in the box.  It takes 2 weeks for incubation, and that dead line will be coming up this next Monday.  So for now---we still have our fingers crossed.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Western Bluebird Eggs!

Jeanette asked me this afternoon if I had seen the bluebirds today.  They seem to come and go, and we are not really sure if anything is going on with the nest or not. "No", I replied, "I don't think I have". I went to my den window to double check myself, and after looking around the front yard and staring at the blue bird nesting box for awhile I thought I might see a head inside of the entrance.  I got my binoculars and watched as the female squeezed out the opening and flew off to a street lamp post. As I continued to watch she flew back to our front porch gutter, and then flew off to the west in the direction of a green-way. I decided this was the time to find out if anything was going on with the nesting box. I got Jeanette, gave her my cell phone, and we made a quick inspection of the box.  To our complete surprise and astonishment we discovered these six eggs!  Western Bluebirds lay eggs at the pace of one a day, so this has been going on for at least six days.  Incubation takes two weeks, so we will try to wait patiently and keep our fingers crossed that they hatch successfully. By the way, we did a complete inventory of the rest of our nesting boxes, two that have had swallow activity were completely bare, the third had a House Sparrow start up nest, which got emptied.

Friday, April 13, 2018

More On Owl Chicks

Our good friend John West went to Cattail Cove State Park today to get this photo of the Great Horned Owl chicks.  Notice, on the far left is also an adult, which I would assume is the mom.  My guess is the chicks hatched some time around the first week in March, and will probably not be able to leave the nest until around the middle of May.  Even though they can fly then, they will still be dependent of being fed by the parents for a couple of more months. Owls hatch asynchronous, meaning not at the same time, and this is evident if you look at this post and the former post, you can see the three chicks are of different sizes.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Arizona Owl Chicks

I now have photographic evidence of the Great Horned Owl chicks at Cattail Cove State Park!  Regular readers of this blog will remember that Jeanette and I spent January and February volunteering at Cattail Cove State Park in Arizona.  While there, Jeanette was very fortunate to find the small cave where the female Great Horned Owl was starting to nest. This was on February 3rd.  Because the incubation period for Great Horned Owl is approximately 35 days, we were not able to see the chicks before we left at the end of February.  Yesterday we received e-mail from Ron and Alison Husak with an attachment of the above photo. Look close and you can see there are three chicks!  Alison was on some of my bird walks, and so knew the location of the nest, and took the above photo yesterday.  Below is the first photo of the mom on the nest, taken on February 3rd, for comparison.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Osprey Obsession

2018 begins my fifth year of paying attention to nesting Osprey in the West Salem Area.  It started with volunteering at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve on Eola Drive in 2014.  I was captivated with the Osprey that came to the platform that had been installed by Salem Electric.  The next year, returning Osprey to the nest site on Murlark Ave was brought to my attention by friend John West. Then I began keeping track of other sites in West Salem, the site at Patterson Street & 9th, and the site at the ball fields at Wallace Marine Park.  Keeping track of the observations and adding photos is made easy with e-Bird, and now I go to a whole new level of craziness, adding names.  Another birder/photographer on Facebook has come up with the novel idea of assigning names to the Osprey she photographs to help her keep track.  She gives them a name starting with the first letter of the location of the nest site.  So here goes for my collection of nesting Osprey in West Salem this year.

Each year it seems the first nest site to be occupied is the platform on Murlark Ave.  This female was first observed at the site on March 18th this year. A male has now joined her.  I'm thinking Muriel and Merl.

The Patterson & 9th Streets location provided a sighting on March 22nd.  Salem Electric has now installed a live cam which can be viewed via You Tube.  However if the bird is on the perch as in this photo it is out of range from the camera.  This female was photographed on 4/1/18. Patricia & Patrick seem right.

The ball field at Wallace Marine Park has long had an Osprey Nest.  This occupying pair was noted and photographed on March 30.  Wally sits on top of the pole while Wendy sits on the nest.

The site on Eola Drive NW at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve was the last of the four central West Salem sites to be claimed this year.  I believe this to be the returning male from last year.  I think Ernie fits him.

I don't know that handing out names helps any in keeping track, but it does make them a lot more personable than just referring to them as "the male" or "the female". Names can always be changed, so if you have any better suggestions, please leave a comment.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Seeking Her Favor

The saga of the Osprey nest on Murlark Ave continues. Yesterday morning when I stopped by the queen was on her throne, and it appeared two male supplicants were seeking her approval. They where circling overhead, hovering and making quiet a display.  In this photo the male, who I believe is the favored one, came in with a fish for a brief moment and then left.  I have watched this behavior before at other nesting sites and what normally happens is the male will perch near by and eat the head off of the fish before bringing it back to the female. This nesting site is currently the best location to watch the Osprey in their annual nesting routine.  I have suggested to eBird that it be classified as a Hot Spot, and it is now so designated.  This brings attention to the site with other birders, helping them locate and hopefully contribute to the data base with observations and photos.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Back To Our Old Haunts

We have been back home from our winter in Arizona for over two weeks now, and are enjoying birding at some of our old haunts.  Today we went to Fairview Dr Wetlands in South Salem.  It's on the list of our all time favorites, and possibly our oldest. I checked and we have been birding here for 20 years.  Here is the link to the oldest bird list is could find. We were starting to get serious enough that we started to make a written list then.  At that time we lived with-in walking distance of the wetlands.  We were much more into hiking at that time, more so than birds, so hiking to the wetlands  was simply a destination for a hike. It has developed over the years with the addition of wonderful trails and lots of native plantings.  A trip there now always brings back a flood of memories from our many birding experiences over the years. Here is the link for today's trip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Building of the Nest

The saga of the Osprey nest site on Murlark Ave in West Salem continues.  We orginally spotted the female at the nest site on Sunday.  Monday we checked, no birds.  Today, Tuesday when I checked the female was back on the pilots perch.  I stopped to take some photos, and she started giving an excited cry, and then the male flew in with this stick.  A fresh cotton wood limb with buds. It seems that they are getting right down to business.

Monday, March 19, 2018

First Osprey of the Season

Yesterday while returning home from visiting our grand-daughter in Springfield we decided to swing by the Osprey nest site on Murlark Ave in West Salem to check for possible Osprey.  Each year it seems to be the first nest site to be occupied by returning Osprey.  True to form, we found our first Osprey of the season.  Osprey make their migratory trips to Central America for the winter, and back north for the summer individually, getting together only when back at the nest site to breed and raise their young.  I have read that it is usually the male that arrives first at the site and then waits for the female.  However, based on the spotted breast, called a necklace, this is most probably a female. Interesting also is that this particular female's necklace is unusually high up the neck, and this is true of the photo I took of her last March, which makes me think she is indeed the same female.  Check out that blog here. For some reason, maybe she winters closer than some, or maybe she takes a shorter route, she appears to be the first back in West Salem year after year.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Swallows Are Back!

We have been back home in Salemtowne for four days now, and this morning while working on the motor home in the driveway, I thought I might be hearing swallows. Strange I had just looked on eBird earlier to judge their arrival date to figure out when I should put up the nesting boxes.  Last year it was on the 20th of March, so I decided to work on the motor home this morning and put up the nesting boxes later.  I paused from my work and looked around, and low and behold there were three or four swallows circling my front yard. I stopped my work and put up the nesting boxes and soon was rewarded by this pair of Violet-green Swallows coming in and inspecting perhaps their nesting site for this season. The male seems to be checking out the roof, the female looking around the door way.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Signs of Spring

Rock Pigeon
 We are in-route through the center of California, and aware of the signs of spring, green grass, fruit tree blossoms, and honey bees hitting the windshield. Yesterday we stopped for a break in Madera at their local park, the Lions Town and County Park.  Ironically we stopped here last March also.  A pair of Rock Pigeon were on the top of a power pole doing their Spring business. Click here for our bird list.  Our stop for the night was at Dos Reis County Park in Lathrop, were a walk in the last sunlight of the day these to Eurasian Collared-Doves were enjoying an intimate moment.  Click here for our bird list.  Everyday we drive a couple of hundred miles and get in a walk or two.  We are lined up to get over the Siskiyous on Wednesday, before the next moisture hits on Thursday.
Eurasian Collared-Dove

Monday, March 5, 2018

Rose-ringed Parakeet

Do not dismiss this post as a silly little story about a tiny parakeet. This is a big story about a big bird.  This is a much larger bird than you would think to be carrying the parakeet name, at sixteen inches in length. We found this bird while birding at the Hart Memorial County Park in Bakersfield California yesterday. It was quite by accident, and I took a photo hoping to learn more about the bird, and it turned out to be a new Life Bird for us. Not much can be learned from looking at bird guides, but by searching the Internet specifically for Bakersfield, I learned it is a pretty big story.  In 1977 a huge wind storm of 100 miles per hour in the area broke apart a private aviary  and released some birds including two pair of Rose-ringed Parakeets.  They were able to successfully reproduce and today there are in excess of 3,000 birds completely living a natural life in Kern County  Birders from all over the world travel to Bakersfield to seek out this large beautiful parakeet. We were amazingly lucky to just stumble on this bird in the park. True this is not a native species to North America, but like other immigrants to this country, their numbers are so large they should not and can not be denied.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Stop at the Salton Sea

We left Vallecito Stage Station County Park early yesterday morning and continued our circle of the Salton Sea. This area has so many memories of past trips here to the Imperial Sea View Spa where my mom, and later sister Kathy and husband Gary lived. We particularly enjoyed recalling bicycle camping tours that we made around the sea, the Imperial Valley, and Anza-Borrego State Park. Our stop for the day was the Salton Sea State Park Visitor Center and Campground.  The nice ranger at the gate informed us that the campground was closed due to a sewage problem, but said that the Mecca Beach Campground one mile to the South was opened.  He waived the day pass at the Visitor Center so that we could bird, trusting us to camp later at Mecca Beach, eighteen dollars for a dry site. The water level continues to drop in the Salton Sea, but the birds are still numerous, and the weather was perfect.  We made a good observation list of 27 species with 13 photos, which you can see here.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Soaking Up The Sun

We are continuing the quest to spend our time in warm and sunny areas, and with that in mind we drove south today to the Vallecito Stage Station County Park.  We stayed here last winter and enjoyed our time and birding.  Again this year we are the only campers in the 44 site RV area.  There is also a tent camping area, and an equestrian area, both of which are also empty.  We like it quiet, so we are happy.  It is one of the few campgrounds in the Anza-Borrego Desert that has cell service.  It is dry camping, meaning there are no hook-ups, but the site we always choose, number 24, is right next to a water faucet, so we hook up our hose, and we have solar to take care of our electical needs. This winter has been the grand experment with solar.  We had solar system installed this summer, but it wasn't until we were totally dependent on it at Cattail Cove State Park this winter that we came to realize that it was taking care of our electricity.  Basically we never actually need to be hooked up to electricity. Every day our solar panel soaks up the energy from the sun and charges up the batteries.  So, when I refer to soaking up the sun, I am not only refering to Jeanette and I soaking up some sun, but our RV is also soaking up some sun.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Adventures in Southern California

Palm Canyon Campground

 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Monday afternoon we said good-by to Arizona, crossed the Colorado River into California and began a bit of a post-volunteer adventure before heading back to Oregon.  A big factor is the weather, so we are in effect killing some more time in the sunny South-West before attempting the mountain passes.  Our first night's stop was at Lake Tamarisk Desert Resort, a pleasant repeat from last year. It was thirty-five dollars for full hook up.  Strange to hook up to electricity, our first time since December. (Solar is great) On Tuesday we ventured on to the greater Palm Springs area checking out some birding spots before meeting friends Kerry and Debbie Kliever for a night, parking at the Augustine Casino. Birding spots in the Palm Springs area proved to be pretty much a flop.  Most eBird Hot Spots do not allow dogs or are at Private Clubs and Golf Courses. A brief look at the Hot Spot map made the area look like a gold mine, but after checking closer, we were ready to move on.  The casino however was a winner for both parking and meals. This morning we traveled on to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the town of Borrego Springs. We stopped at the Christmas Circle and made up a bird list as we strolled accross the green lawn.  Next was a list at the Botanical Gardens, followed by lunch in the Serenity before moving on to the Palm Canyon Campground where we are camped next to our friends Dan and Elaine Scott in a dry camping site for twenty-three dollars.  We made another bird list for the campground and then took a nice walk to the Visitor's Center and another list.  No dogs are allowed on the hiking trails, but the nice 3/4 mile paved path between the campground and the Visitor's Center is OK dogs and bicycles and made for a good walk. Buster watched for lizards while we watched for birds. Below are some of the birds I managed to photograph in town and in the park.

Northern Mockingbird


Western Bluebird

Monday, February 26, 2018

Last Day at Cattail Cove State Park

This is our Serenity waiting patiently next to the Cactus Garden this morning, waiting for me to finish  my morning guided bird walk. Today was our last day at Cattail Cove State Park for this season of volunteering.  It has been a very rewarding experience.  In our two months here I have logged 225 volunteer hours, led 40 guided bird walks, plus a half-dozen other un-official hikes and bird walks. Sixty-six different species of birds have been identified in this period, making Cattail Cove State Park the number one eBird Hot Spot of the 76 Hot Spots in Mohave County year-to-date. But even more rewarding have been all the wonderful people we have interacted with.  I've found it very enjoyable to have new people show up each day eager to learn more about the birds to be seen here in the park.  An additional pleasure has been the 15 or so friends and past bird walk participants that have come to attend these bird walks, some to even camp here.  We left today looking forward to returning next year.  Because the weather is not that great back in Oregon yet, we have decided to take a little more circuitous route back catching some warm weather in the vicinity of the Salton Sea. After leaving the park this morning we stopped in Parker for lunch, groceries and fuel, and drove on to Lake Tamarisk Desert Resort where we have a site for the night.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden

Ladder-backed Woodpecker
For our days off this week from our volunteering duty at Cattail Cove State Park, we drove to Lake Havasu City, to meet up with friends, eat out, and grocery shopping. As you might guess, we also did what we like to do the most---go for a bird walk. We are camping in the overflow lot at Lake Havasu State Park, so it was an easy choice to spend some time yesterday afternoon in the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden.  We were pleased to be able to say hi to Ray, the ever faithful volunteer and gardian of the garden.  A year around resident of Lake Havasu City, he continues to maintain and improve the paths, benches, and vegetation of the cactus garden.  We enjoyed our time watching a busy Ladder-backed Woodpecker male in his search of larva or something.  Also at least two pair of Verdin were busy gathering twigs to for nest construction.  Both Anna and Costa male hummingbirds were seen. A couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers, some Gambel's Quail, a Say's Phoebe, a Great-tailed Grackle, two Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and two Turkey Vultures, finished off our bird list.  It was a very pleasant time spent in the cactus garden in the sunshine, tucked in out the wind blowing accross Lake Havasu.  Tomorrow brings the start of our final week of leading bird walks at Cattail Cove State Park, and then our migration north begins.   


Friday, February 16, 2018

Common Merganser Looking for Fish

I've learned so much this winter while leading bird walks at Cattail Cove State Park, some things just from daily observations, some things from research, and some things from participants on the bird walk.  This piece of new knowledge came from a participant a few weeks ago.  We were watching a couple of Common Merganser females swimming along the surface of the water with their head partially under water like this photo I took today.  I hadn't given it much thought, but the participant asked if the duck was possibly looking for fish.  The light went on, of course!  As you may notice her head is just under the surface to the point of allowing the eye to see under water.

This photo is taken of the same bird, a mere 10 seconds later after an unsuccessful dive.  I now have a new understanding and appreciation for the times I see this behavior.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Great Basin Whiptail Lizard

This Great Basin Whiptail is the latest addition to the Cascade Ramblings Critters section, a proof positive that I look at other things than just birds all the time.  Buster has taken a shine to lizards, after all there are not that many squirrels here in the desert where we are for him to chase, but he has picked-up on the idea that lizards hang around the creosote bushes, so our walks mean he checks out each creosote bush for lizards. Today he found two of these medium sized lizards out enjoying the sun.  Larger than the Side-blotched Lizards he has found out on the trail, these were along the sidewalk, and lucky for the lizards, or most probably Buster, they were on the other side of a chain link fence.

Monday, February 12, 2018

New Nest Construction

A participant in yesterday's Bird Walk at Cattail Cove State Park showed me an strange nest she had noticed in the north end of the Cactus Garden.  I wasn't sure but thought it was possibly a Verdin nest.  I returned for a second look in the afternoon and discovered a pair of Verdin busy with nest construction.  Taking into account  that they have no hands, only their bill to weave an estimated 2,000 twigs into place, it's a remarkable feat of workmanship.  They build a sphere shaped structure, hollow in the inside, with an entrance on a low corner.  We watched them zoom in and out of this entrance hole as they worked inside and out bringing twigs to strategically put in place to make a strong nest. They will finish by lining the inside with feathers for a soft surface to lay her eggs.  I have been hoping to find an active nest for the past month, but had only been able to find four older sites, so this was a pretty exciting find.  We will be visiting this new nest site with my Bird Walk group daily to monitor the busy activity.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sneaking Up Behind Us

I am frequently asked if we see any Roadrunners here at Cattail Cove State Park, today we did.  This afternoon while I was in the motor home working on my observation bird list for eBird, Jeanette called to me from outside, "Jim, a Roadrunner!"  I grabbed my camera, slipped into my crocks, and stumbled out the door.  Lucky for me my camera was able to find this Greater Roadrunner climbing up the rocky slope behind the motor home, presumably looking for lizards.  Jeanette and I were both surprised at how quickly he was able to climb up such a steep slope.  Everyday we are amazed here at Cattail Cove at the abundance of wildlife, particular birds, on the water, in the campground, and right here behind our motor home. Click on the photo for an enlarged view.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Progress in the Digital Age

Common Goldeneye (immature male)

The digital age is such a exciting and rewarding time to be involved in birding. Great strides have been made in cameras, enabling even a beginner to take good close-up photos of birds.  The Internet now provides amazing tools to accumulate huge masses of  information on bird populations and migration. A world wide data base called eBird is probably the best example of the use of the Internet to collect and share information.  In the past year they have made it extremely easy to post and share photographs.  My volunteer time here at Cattail Cove State Park has piqued my awareness of the gigantic progress that has been made to birding.  Today, Arizona State Parks installed a link for eBird's Illustrated Checklist at Cattail Cove State Park on the park's web page. You can now look at all the species that have been reported,  bar graphs of the observations, and most importantly photos.  For example by looking at this Illustrated Checklist, and checking on Common Goldeneyes, you can note the latest observation, the bar graph for the times it has been seen, and in this case, photos of adult males, females, and immature males, in order to learn the differences. Click here for the Illustrated Checklist for Cattail Cove State Park.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Update on the Great Horned Owl

On Monday Feb 5th, I decided to take the people on my Bird Walk up to see the owl.  I had people from California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.  The California people were Mike and Jan Wacker from Chico who had attended my bird walks at Buckskin Mountain years ago, and have continued to stay in contact with us. I wasn't 100% sure the owl would be there, but it was, and everyone was delighted.  I am now some what certain we have a nesting female.  It even appears she has managed to move a rock to the front of the cave.  You can notice the difference by looking at the former post. Perhaps her lower profile suggests she is sitting on eggs. I will continue to update as soon as we are back at Cattail Cove, right now we are taking couple of days off in Parker to bird with John West at Ahakhav Tribal Preserve, see the bird list here,  and shop for groceries.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Great Horned Owl Quest

Since arriving at our hosting site in the over-flow lot at Cattail Cove State Park a month ago we have been on a quest to see the Great Horned Owl.  We hear an owl, or owls every night at some time between dusk to dawn.  Their hoot-hoot-hoot echos between the canyon walls surrounding our parking lot.  A few days ago a camper here spotted an owl at dusk and six of us got a fleeting glance of several short flights, and I got a very poor quality photo.  Yesterday morning just after 7:00 a hoot- hoot sent us scrambling out of our RV in the early morning darkness and we spotted a profile on the canyon rim from where it was calling, and I got another poor photo, shown below. Then last evening just after 5:00 a faint call prompted Jeanette to make another determined effort to locate the owl.  This time she hit the jack pot and found the owl in a small cave in the above photo.  We at first jumped to the conclusion that this was the nesting female, but when we returned some twenty minutes later to locate a second calling the cave was empty.  Our conclusion is that this was just a day time resting spot for either a male or female.  There is a known nesting site, used in past years on the north canyon wall, but so far we have not seen any activity there. It's getting late in the season so we're not sure what the nesting situation is.  This photographed sighting is a significant event in our quest, but still leaves our search open as we continue to hope for an active nest. As I am finishing this blog at 6:00am I hear a male calling on the cliff to the north and a female answering to the south.  Our quest continues.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Spring on the Colorado River

This singing Black-tailed Gnatcatcher male says it all, spring has sprung on the lower Colorado River. Bird song fills the campground here at Cattail Cove State Park. Birds of all species are pairing up. Males are busy either proclaiming their territory or attempting to attract a female. Today I saw a pair of House Finches inspecting a bird house. Trees and shrubs are greening up. Fremont Cottonwood trees seem to have leafed out over night.  Day time temps are consistently in the low eighties. The daylight is starting to last a little longer in the evening. Spring starts earlier in the South-West, and birds need to get serious about nesting to get it done before the oppressive heat of summer. Migrating birds have a different strategy, they head north to cooler climates to breed and raise their young. I was reminded of that this morning when a huge flock of Canada Geese flew over, headed north.  We are starting our last month of volunteering at Cattail Cove for this season, the time seems to be speeding by, and we too will soon be heading north to enjoy a spring in Oregon.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Upswing in Birding

I've been through a tough stretch with a pretty low response to my bird walks here at Cattail Cove State Park.  It's the kind of thing that makes me question if I put together an idea that just was not workable.  Maybe there are not that many people interested in birding.  Maybe this is just the wrong place to attract people interested in birds.  At the same time I have just tried to soldier on, grin and bear it, and try to believe it will eventually catch on.  All those fears vanished this weekend.  I had six people show up on Friday, and today, Saturday, I had ten people show up.

 This is the group from Friday, looking at the cliff where there is a Great Horned Owl nesting sight from past years.  It's strange, but the rumor persists and people insist that an owl and chicks have been seen here this year.  We are camped a few hundred feet away and pretty much keep around the clock watch, and we see no owls.  We do hear them nightly, but during the past week their calls come from further up the canyon.

This is the group of ten today at our meet-up place at the amphitheater. From here we usually walk out through the park, noting Great-tailed Grackles and Gamble's Quail hanging around the campsites. Next we check out Verdin nests, Great Horned Owl nests, and Common Raven nests.  Down at the cove we count American Coots, Lesser Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, and Pied-billed Grebes.  We end up back at the start hoping to see Black-tailed Gnatcatchers a maybe some Verdin. Click here to see todays list.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Visit from the Klievers

Sonara Tacos y Mariscos

Monday afternoon we met up with friends and fellow Salemtowne residents, Kerry & Debby Kliever and their dog Max in Lake Havasu City.  We set up our RVs in the Lake Havasu State Park overflow lot and then went for a nice walk through the park. Next was a short walk up to Sonora Tacos y Mariscos for their one dollar taco special. This was our second time here this year and may be a standard on our days off. On Tuesday we all did a number of errands and groceries, took the dogs for a walk at London Bridge Beach, and had lunch at Barley Brothers with a view of the bridge. In the afternoon we all moved to Cattail Cove State Park, where Kerry & Debbie are set up in their RV with us in the overflow lot.  This morning, Wednesday, we took a great hike on Ted's Trail out to Whyte's Retreat, circling back on Ripley's Run Trail.  It made a nice loop of around three and a half miles. Any of you hikers, this is the a route we would recommend. 

Climbing through a dry falls

An important junction of Ripley's Run

Friday, January 19, 2018

Changes in the Bird World

Singing male Verdin

We have been here at Cattail Cove State Park for just under a month now, and we are starting to notice changes going on in the bird world.  When we got here there were large rafts of ducks in our cove on Lake Havasu.  I just realized yesterday that has changed, the migrating water fowl have evidently moved on south, we now have only a hand full of a few ducks.  American Coots are down from over 200 to around 50.  Offsetting that down turn, is the changes going on with the non migrating birds.  Pairs of humming birds and gnatcatchers where chasing each other in the Cactus Garden where I was doing a stationary count, the list can be seen here, and this is where I got the above photo of a singing male Verdin close to a nesting sight.  Every morning now the Say's Phoebe are singing in the wash behind our campsite and in several locations in the campground.  Nightly we hear a pair of Great Horned Owls hooting in the canyon where we are camped. The next few weeks should be interesting as nest building gets underway.

 Say's Phoebe

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Monarch Butterfly

Yesterday afternoon while taking Buster for a walk, a butterfly came filtering past and lit on a Creosote Bush.  Zooming in with my camera I recognized it as the beautiful Monarch Butterfly. If you look closely you can see its proboscis inserted into the flower blossom to harvest nectar.  Well known author Barabara Kingsolver wrote an important book, Flight Pattern, about the plight of the Monarch Butterfly in its struggle against the devastating changes going on with our climate and habitat deforestation.  I was doubly pleased to see this Monarch feeding on nectar from the Creosote Bush.  My understanding is that the Creosote Bush is the most widespread plant of the South West desert, and we have lots of Creosote Bushes here at Cattail Cove State Park, so come on by Monarchs! In light of all the current negativity in politics  and the crumbling support of our natural resources, I am happy to spot light a positive observation.  Maybe that should be my goal for the New Year.