Friday, May 7, 2021

Summer Lake Safari

Kordell - Patty - Jeanette - Jim

A trip to Summer Lake in South-Central Oregon was the seed of a desire of Jeanette's, that sprouted into an idea of celebration of our 28th wedding anniversary, that grew into a stay at The Lodge at Summer Lake, and finally bloomed into a full-on birdwatching safari with Kordell and Patty Blair.
 

Fort Rock State Park
In route we make several fun stops. This one was at Fort Rock State Park, where we got to soak up some sun, stretch our legs, and watch Ravens in a duel with a Prairie Falcon.


Kordell at dock at Christmas Valley Golf Course 
The next stop was in the small town of Christmas Valley and a surprise find of this lake at the golf course chalk full of birds. For a complete list of the birds we identified and lots of photos click here.


The Lodge at Summer Lake back pond
By late afternoon we were checked into our rooms at The Lodge at Summer Lake and enjoying some relaxing time on the back deck overlooking  the pond and looking for more birds before dinner in the lodge. 


Observation Blind
The next morning after breakfast in The Lodge we started out in Kordell and Patty's pick-up on a driving tour for a full out assault of Summer Lake State Wildlife Refuge.  A highlight of our four and a half hour birding trip was the observation blind. In all we counted 49 separate species. You can see our observation list here.  



   

Thursday, April 29, 2021

A Bird Sit

 Yesterday afternoon we experienced the advantages of what I will call a "bird sit" as apposed to a "bird walk". Actually, in the birding world this is known as a stationary count. So what we did was sit in our lawn chairs in the Dallas City Park and counted the birds we could hear or see from that location. We had had a busy morning, and just needed to sit and rest, which we could justify by doing a stationary bird count. The amazing think is that we learned some things we probably would not have learned while moving along on a bird walk.  Sitting stationary for some time I noticed an Acorn Woodpecker high on a perch. As a watched I realized it was leaving the perch and returning repeatedly, and I came to conclude that it was leaving the perch to catch an insect, and then returning, and then repeating. In birding terms this is knows a "hawking". I observed this action for some time and then it left the perch going lower down the tree and as I later learned from studying the photos, was there to harvest sap oozing out of the previously drilled holes. The harvesting of sap we learned about the day before, but catching insects was a new insight in their behavior.  

Back with a bug

Down to the sap wells

Harvesting sap

     

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Dallas City Park


Jeanette is shown here with her binoculars checking out some birds with a background of flowering red currant. This is in the Delbert Hunter Arboretum in the Dallas City Park, which is an amazing natural area of native trees and plants, and of course birds.

 


This colorful female Acorn Woodpecker caught our eye. A close look reveals sap is oozing out of bore holes in the bark of this tree. Acorn Woodpeckers are supposed to eat acorns, right.  Doing some research I learned that they also eat insects and sap.



Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) is blooming now as well as a good many wildflowers, making this an excellent time to visit the park.  For us it's only a couple of blocks away, which was a factor in our decision to chose Dallas Retirement Village. You can see our bird list for the morning here

Monday, April 19, 2021

Bluebird Nest Building

 Yesterday morning I did a check on the nesting boxes here at the Dallas Retirement Village. There seemed to be a lot of uncertainty as to who is going to use which nesting box.  House Sparrows have claimed one box that I was sure a pair of Violet-green Swallows were going to use.  At another location, House Sparrows were not following through with a nest they had started. Two more nesting boxes continue to not have any activity. And then, the nesting box at the Community Garden was a confusion of activity.  Two Violet-green Swallows appeared at the box, and suddenly the pair of Western Bluebirds that had been shown interest in the box, but not present, showed up and chased the offenders away. 

Bluebirds lay claim to the box

Later in the evening, Jeanette and I went back to the garden to just sit and spend some time to see what was going on.  We were rewarded with nest building activity by the female.

This is the first material she brought into the box.

This is the second piece she brought.

Oops, too wide!


Meanwhile, the male spent his time staring at the mirrored reflection of himself in the Village Apartments window.  

  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Osprey Meet-Up

Jeanette and I went to Riverview Park in Independence this morning for birding. One of the things we are keeping a close watch on is the Osprey nest located right in front of the hotel.  Our timing was perfect, and the female followed by the male, flew in just as we were approaching the nest.  While the Osprey were still in the air, Jeanette contacted Cheryl Gaston, who is stage center for the followers of the live cam on the nest, to alert her that the Osprey were approaching the nest site  Cheryl came down to meet us. Although we were there to see the Osprey, and continued to do so, our live meet-up with her became the highlight of the morning. We have so much more in common than Ospreys, I'm sure we are destined to have a close relationship for some time. Below are photos, in sequential order. This pair appear to still be working out the details and duties of their relationship.


The female is the first to land on the nest. She appears to have something in her beak, perhaps a little decoration for the nest.

Next, the male descends, as she looks up with anticipation. 

The female expresses her expectations of a fish, while the male looks ashamedly away.

Finally he drops off the nest down to the river in search of a fish.  He makes several passes up and down the river, and multiple dives, but fails to come up with a fish. 

If you enlarge the photo, and look closely at her face, I think you will note the disappointment, and perhaps even disgust in her eye at his poor performance.
 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Coastal Getaway

We took advantage of forecasted warmth and sunshine for an overnight getaway to the Oregon Coast.  Our camping destination was Alder Dune Campground in the Siuslaw National Forest, five miles north of Florence.  Ironically, this same campground was the last place we camped in October.  And much to our delight we were able to camp in the same site, #29 right next to the restroom.

Jeanette setting up the kitchen

Alder Dune Campground is squeezed in between Alder Lake and Dune Lake.  We love this little campground for a number of reasons.  It is one of the few National Forest Campgrounds that is open year around.  Although located close to Florence,  it never seems crowded. Perhaps many campers want sites with water, sewer, and electricity, which it does not have.  It's very affordable at twenty four dollars a night, which as holders of a Senior Pass means only twelve dollars for us. It's well kept and quiet and has trails which make for easy birding.

Great Blue Heron at Dune Lake

During a stroll after dinner, we found a loop trail that we have never noticed, only about 10 yards from our campsite.  We checked it out and were pleased to find lots of Trilliums.


Other than the campground host, there was only one other site in use, a father and a son in a tent.  I only had one bar of cell service which was not enough for me to use the Internet. It was a cold night, down to 36 F, and sleep did not come easy. Are we too old for this, our just out of practice? Only time will tell. 

The next morning we headed back home along the coast, enjoying fantastic views of the ocean, and waiting for the temperatures to increase and the frost disappear. We made a stop at a bakery in Seal Beach, and a tour along the Siletz River to check out campgrounds. By mid-morning the sunshine was out in force and the temps were in the forties. We stopped to bird one of our favorites, Alder Island at the Siletz Bay NWR. You can see our bird list with photos here.  After birding, Jeanette fixed our lunch in the sunshine in the parking lot.


After lunch, a stop at Lincoln City Outlets netted Jeanette a new warm coat for birding and for me a new vest for birding. Tired, our next stop was East Devil's Lake State Park to fold out the bed and stretch out for some down time, (a daily necessity now-days), before driving on home to Dallas Retirement Village.  

  

Friday, March 26, 2021

Osprey Nest Survey

Yesterday we devoted to surveying seven Osprey nest sights here in Polk County.  Of the seven, three were empty at the time we checked. Riverview Park in Independence was empty, but we have photographed a bird there previous days, starting with a male on March 19th. The Live Stream Camera is active now and we have seen multiple birds there, and even breeding going on.  Salem Audubon Nature Reserve nest was empty, and as far as I know, none have showed up yet.  The Patterson Street nest site, also in West Salem was empty, and the camera of Salem Electric has not shown any birds yet. Below are the nest sites with birds.

The former Willamette Mill site in Dallas has a nest on an abandoned power pole. There has been this female hanging around since March 18th. We have observed her eating fish, doing a breeding display, and nest building. No actual sighting of a male, but I believe that the male was one of birds we have seen and others have reported along Rickreall Creek beginning on March 12th.

This is a nest on a platform on Buena Vista Road, south of Independence. The female is on the nest, and the male was on a tree right next to the nest. We have photographed Osprey here near the nest since March 16th.

Murlark Avenue in West Salem has a nest platform put up by Salem Electric and always has the earliest Osprey. This year our first observation was March 18th. This is the female on the nest.  The male was not around.

The last nest we checked was in Wallace Marine Park. The male was on the post and the female was doing her best with breeding postures, but with no success. This was our first check of the nest this year.