We made a return trip yesterday morning to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge to hike, the second one in three days. The sweet song of the Meadowlark, combined with the rolling green hills and oak trees on the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail put Jeanette and I back in our memories of Spring hikes in the Columbia Gorge. For many years we always made early spring trips to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area to hike and enjoy the wildflowers. We are finding these current early morning trips to Baskett Butte so invigorating that we are making them a part of our normal schedule. This trailhead is so close to the Dallas Retirement Village where we live, and yet standing on the butte and looking out over the Willamette Valley below, we seem transported to a different world. In the words of writer David Petersen, this is our Nearby Faraway.
Fawn Lilies, also known by some as Trout Lilies, and a I recall mother called Lamb's Tongue are at their peak right now.
This one I could use some help identifying. I'm thinking it's in the Mallow Family. Any help out there?
Our birding destination for yesterday morning, after finding a locked gate at Sarah Helmick State Park, was the Willamette River Trail in Independence. We are very grateful that city parks are open to walk in even though restrooms are locked. Jeanette is shown here demonstrating her emergency face mask, a gloved hand over her nose and mouth. The sign calls attention to Gov Brown's proclamation of 6 foot social distancing. This concrete walkway at 8 feet wide works well, and all the walkers we meant were very observant and courteous. Below are the birds I was able to photograph. For the complete observation list click here.
A pair of Common Mergansers in Ash Creek caught our attention right away. This is the male, the female is out of the frame.
An Osprey passed overhead. Their nest site is close by in the Riverview Park
A Northern Flicker was busy working on a nesting cavity.
After lunch today, just before the rain started again, we took Buster for a dog/bird walk on a section of the Rickreall Creek Trail starting at the Dallas Pickleball Courts. The first thing that caught my attention was this cluster of Giant Trillium (Tillium chloropetalum). I used to enjoy taking wild flower photos while hiking long before I became obsessed with birds. Flowers were much easier to photograph as they stand still.
Bushtits were seen in pairs today, indicating that nesting season has started. Look for their sock-like hanging nests.
Our friend Mary Coleman commented yesterday on Evening Grosbeaks, as loving "how they holler from the tree top". We had a bunch of them in the the tree tops today, couldn't figure out at first what was going on. Hard to see with the poor light, but I did get this one photo.
Because I got a lot of possitive feedback today on posting a Trip Journal entry from 2003, I am including a link here for a hike I did on Rickreall Creek five years ago in March of 2015. As I re-read it today, I was struck how my thoughts then, still ring true today.
A different bird caught our attention this morning during a quick bird walk at Kingsborough City Park here in Dallas. We make it a point to get out everyday and visit a park to get in a walk for ourselves and Buster and count and photograph birds. Today we were rewarded with this unusual sighting of a male Grosebeak. Checking eBird records I found out that this the first sighting of an Evening Grosebeak this season in the combined counties of Polk, Lincoln, Yamhill, and Marion. In looking closer, it is also been several years sense any have been reported in the Dallas area. Reading in the Field Guide to Birds of Oregon by David Irons (my new favorite bird book), I learned that Evening Grosbeaks, who breed at mid to higher locations, make a spring migrations to the lower elevations of the Willamette Valley to feed on the buds of deciduous trees. Note the buds in the photo. Taking daily birdwalks is what we do, and for the most part we see many of the same birds over and over, but today was great fun to find this some what unusual bird.
Today is a new month, April the 1st. However, with the current world wide pandemic and forced isolation, April Fools Jokes are probably the last thing on anyones mind. Instead, we have found ourselves these days being more focused on connecting with friends via telephone and concerned about each others good health.
I am getting a lot of positive feed-back from people that read this blog, which encourages me to post even more. I just glanced at this past month, and in the month of March, I posted 12 times. Which is a big up-tic from what has dropped down to only posting 3 or 4 times a month. In fact 12 is the highest number of posts in a month since December of 2017. I guess, staying home has given me the time and opportunity to be a little more observant of the things around me, like birds for instance.
Birding every day makes it easy to notice any change in birds and their behavior. Two days ago I wrote about the singing males that caught our attention, White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, and for the past two days House Finches have been singing. Yesterday what caught our attention was new nesting activity here at Dallas Retirement Village. In the above photo, a Eurasian Collared-Dove has just delivered some nesting material to its nest building project under the eaves of the Lodge building. We also have several European Starlings building nests in similar locations. This morning we saw a pair of Dark-eyes Junco exit the bottom of a bush that could possible be a nest site. And of course I have been reporting on new nest building by the Osprey in Independence.
These are all encouraging signs that serve as a reminder that even in these troubled times, life in the natural world is still going on.
Yesterday morning we went back to Indepence's Riverview Park to physically check on the Osprey nest-site that we had been watching remotely for the past several days on the Independence Live Stream. When we got to the park we could only see one Osprey on the nest. So Jeanette decided to check on the nest using the live feed with her iPhone.
Lo and behold, there were two birds on the nest! I zoomed in with my camera and got this photo of the male placing a stick on the nest. Notice, the female with beak open continues to demand, encourage or complain.
Mean while, Buster is not much interested in hi-tech, he trusts his old nose to check out a culvert.
If you haven't checked out the Independence Osprey Nest Live Stream, click on the link in the right-hand column of this blog page in the Rambler Recommended Links. Or you can also find the live stream by running a search in YouTube.
This singing male White-crowned Sparrow started our birding day yesterday morning. He was in the Central Court Yard of the Dallas Retirement Village Lodge where we live. Jeanette noticed him from our second story balcony patio, and called to me to get my camera. Calling male song birds announcing their presence in their best effort to attract a female is one of the great joys of spring. We went out for an hour birdwalk here in our village campus and counted 16 different species of birds. You can see our list of birds and photos by clicking here. You can also see the complete Illustrated Checklist of the 44 species observed here at Dallas Retirement Village by clicking here. Ironically, the last bird on our list as we returned to our apartment was this singing male Dark-eyed Junco shown below. He was on the roof top in the Central Court Yard.