Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Spontaneity and Serendipity

On Friday evening Jeanette suggested that she would like to broaden our birding circle.  That is, instead of taking our daily bird walk just in the Salem area, take the van and go someplace further, like the Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove.  Saturday morning we started packing and we were on our way before 9:00AM on four day spontaneous trip.

Cottage Grove -

Greater White-fronted Goose
One of our all-time favorites for birding and dog walking is the Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove. It's a series of ponds that were dug out years ago for gravel for the I-5 construction. Our push to get here on Saturday was based on the forecast calling for rain on Sunday.  We made stops along the way at Adair Wildlife Area to bird, and Guarantee RV in Junction City to spend a gift card.  It was still dry when we arrived in Cottage Grove and we got in a great walk and bird list. There were 75 Canada Geese on one pond, but Jeanette was able to pick out this lone Greater White-fronted Goose. 

The Walmart in Cottage Grove no longer allows over-night parking, but Jeanette selected a quiet dead-end street in an industrial area for our overnight spot after picking up some carry out Thai food.  We had a great evening of watching the Ducks win a football game, eating Thai food and enjoying a quiet parking spot.

Siltcoos Recreation Area -

campsite at Lagoon Campground.
Sunday morning the weather forecast came true and we drove in rain from Cottage Grove over to Reedsport.  At that point the rain had passed and we stopped at Stables Road on the Smith River to bird.  This is another of our favorites.  From there we traveled on to Carter Lake for another walk and bird list, and then just a short piece up the road to the Siltcoos National Recreation Area where we pulled in to the Lagoon Campground for the night, eleven dollars with a Senior Pass. Before leaving the next morning we did a bird walk on the Lagoon Loop Trail.
Lagoon Loop Trail

Walport -

Monday morning we continued north on 101, starting with fog, then rain, then bright sunshine at Yachts where we stopped for lunch at Luna Sea.  After lunch we were a little uninspired and stopped in Walport on a side street RV parking area.  Rain gave us a good excuse to fold out the bed and take a nap.  In late afternoon Buster was restless and wanted outside, so I stepped outside with him.  Now here is where the Serendipity part kicks in.  Directly across the street was a hiking trail sign!  We walked up the dirt road and discovered the John Mare Woodland Trail!


 Jeanette and Buster were still in the rest mode, but my curiosity was stoked, so I put on my boots and took off on a wonderful hike up this lovely trail.
Woodland Trail

Tuesday morning we pushed on up the coast and home, making stops at Depot Bay and the Van Duzer Rest Area.  Our Roadtrek Zion van is working out well for us to pick-up on a moments notice and head out, stop when ever we want, park for the night in a variety of situations, and live comfortably in all kinds of weather.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Rewarding Morning

Huddleston Pond

A good amount of rain was in the forecast to arrive midday yesterday, so continuing to work our "bright spot" plan we made a morning trip to Huddleston Pond in Willamina. I was hoping that recent rains would have brought in some winter migrants to the pond.  When we arrived, all was quiet, and we immediately began to think we were going to have to make a second choice of where to bird, but we started off on a loop of the pond.  The further we went the more birds we started to pick up, and by the end we had identified 22 species.  You can see the complete list here.  

The real story of the day is a rare bird we happen to get, a Black Scoter.  All Scoters; Surf, White-winged, and Black, are coastal and rarely seen in the Willamette Valley.  Jeanette is the spotter on our team and I'm the recorder/photographer.  She noticed an unusual bird with a lot of white swimming near a couple Pied-billed Grebes, and called to me to get a photo.  As I zoomed in the camera, I was unsure so took a number of photos.  As I looked at them later in the camera, I decided it was probably a female Ruddy Duck, a common bird to be seen arriving this time of year.  When I got home and down-loaded the photos to my lap-top, it didn't look right.  Searching through bird guides I began to think it was a female Black Scoter.  But as I looked at eBird records, none had ever been seen at Huddleston Pond, and very few have ever been seen in the Willamette Valley.  So, I retracted my Scoter idea and settled for a Ruddy Duck.

Late last night while reading "Oregon Bird New" on my iPhone I was surprised to see a birder reporting that a Black Scoter had been seen at Willamina Pond by Jim & Jeanette Scott!  Isaac Denzer, an amazing teen-age birder, had recognized my photo on eBird of a Ruddy Duck was actually a Black Scoter and reported it on Oregon Bird News.  It was confirmed on site by another birder, and then reconfirmed by veteran Yamhill birder Paul Sullivan.  Wow, a first time ever at that location! I gladly changed my Ruddy Duck to a Black Scoter.

female Black Scoter