Saturday, July 30, 2022

Alder Creek Farm

Hot weather with a week of temperatures in the upper 90's induced us to spend some time on the Oregon Coast with our Winnebago Pocket camping van. Friends Kerry and Debbie Kliever had a campsite for their RV at Nehalem Bay State Park for July 25 - 27 and invited us to join them for the day on Wed the 26. Because of commitments here at Dallas Retirement Village, we didn't get away from here until after lunch on Tues the 26th.  We drove as far as Tillamook that afternoon, stopping to bird at the Salmon River Estuary, and an evening bird walk on the Tillamook Hospital Hole Trail (see list here), with an overnight parking spot at an undisclosed location.  The next morning, we traveled on to Nehalem Bay State Park where we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast prepared by Kerry and Debbie, and a great bird walk along a section of Nehalem Bay (see list here). After a lunch provided by Jeanette, we traveled on to our next destination, the town of Nehalem Bay, where we parked at an iOverlander site behind City Hall. We spent the afternoon exploring the town and stopping at a food truck for fish tacos. The highlight of the evening, with the help of a local, was finding the upper trailhead of Alder Creek Farm. See our total bird list for the town here. We got so excited about exploring Alder Creek Farm, that we abandoned our plan of driving on up to Tolovana State Park the next day. We chose instead to stay right there in the Nehalem Bay area and explore the trails of Alder Creek Farm. The next morning, we awoke to thick wet fog, a normal morning for the Oregon Coast, so we adjusted our plan and chose a bird walk along the Nehalem River Dike (see bird list here). By the time we finished there, the fog was lifting and after a stop at the bakery for a scone and coffee we took Highway 101 over the hill to the Alder Creek Farm. This is not easy to find, and I suggest you do your homework before attempting a visit.  After crossing the foot bridge over Alder Creek, you are introduced to a deep coastal forest, thick with Sitka Spruce and Red Alder trees, Sword Fern, and blackberries gone amuck. It was a good workout, and a real challenge to ascertain the trail route. After much difference in opinion, and several false turns, and some retracing we finally found our way back to the van (see our bird list here). The great convenience of our van allowed us to change out of sweaty clothes before the drive back to Nehalem Bay and the City Park where we parked in the shade, and I was able to spend some time working on bird photos.  Our parking place down by City Hall worked well, but the cell service is much better up at the city park.  After a nice rest we decided we had the energy to simply drive home rather than hang around for another night.  The highlight of our trip was probably Cedar Creek Farms. Formerly a 54-acre dairy, this land of pasture, creek and bay frontage, was purchased in 2002 by the Lower Nehalem Community Trust. Additional purchase now brings the total to 140 acres. We have more to explore here, so I'm hopeful we will return again.         



Friday, July 15, 2022

Counting Birds & Cutting Ivy

 This is a Western Wood-Pewee I photographed this morning on the banks of Rickreall Creek here is Dallas.  I have been spending a lot of time on the Rickreall Creek Trail recently, in fact my last two blog posts have been about wildlife and birdwalks on the Rickreall Creek Trail.  Because my wife Jeanette plays pickleball three days a week on the courts next to the Dallas Aquatic Center and the Rickreall Creek Trail, I have fallen into catching a ride with her, and while she plays pickleball, I walk the trail and look for birds. However, because in my past I have spent many volunteer hours cutting back the very invasive English Ivy, I can't stand to bypass a tree in need of some Ivy removal. A few days ago, as I started out on the trail, with binoculars, camera, and clippers in hand, I was aware of a comfortable feeling of heading off to work. My "work", such as it is, can now best be described as "counting birds & cutting ivy". Lucky me it takes place along the wonderful environs of the Rickreall Creek Trail System.     

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Chemeketans Birdwalk on Rickreall Creek

The Chemeketans, an outdoor club based in Salem, met up at the Dallas Aquatic Center this morning to take a birdwalk on the Rickreall Creek Trail System.  This was a repeat of last year's trip, and enthusiasm ran high.

Everyone used their binoculars to spot birds, some took photos, and several used the Merlin phone app to identify birds by sound. We identified by sight or sound 20 separate species. Here is our eBird Observation List

Afterwords Jeanette put together a coffee break in The Lodge Central Courtyard of the Dallas Retirement Village. 


Friday, July 1, 2022

Wildlife along Rickreall Creek

A picturesque stream called Rickreall Creek runs right through our little town of Dallas, Oregon.  The Rickreall Creek Trail System follows along that creek, and is made up of eight sections, some of which connect, and some that do not yet connect. One of the most productive sections for wildlife viewing is the Heibert Section, which runs from the Dallas Aquatic Center east to an exit on Barberry Ave.  This is the section I walked on June 29th and took the following photos. I feel so fortunate to live just blocks away from this magical world of stream, trees, and wildlife.

This little bunny is technical known as a Brush Rabbit  

A Black-tailed Deer browsing on Wild Cucumber leaves

A Green Heron in a Red Alder tree high above Rickreall Creek

Monday, June 6, 2022

First Osprey Chicks!

This afternoon we documented our first Osprey chicks of the season. This is in Dallas at a nest site located at the old Willamette Mill site and can be seen from South Main Street. This is one of 8 Osprey nests that we keep track of here in Polk County, four in West Salem, three in Independence, and this lone one in Dallas. What makes this so significant is that most of the nests have completely failed this year, and at this point I only know of only one or possibly two that may still have a possibility to succeed.    

Friday, June 3, 2022

Hummingbird Time Line

On our second-floor apartment in The Lodge at the Dallas Retirement Village we have a juice feeder hanging from our balcony. One evening, I just happened to see a hummingbird make a quick descent from the feeder to a pink flowering dogwood tree in the central courtyard. I rushed downstairs with my camera, hoping to be able to find a nest, and sure enough there she was on her nest, carefully hidden deep in the tree.

 May 2 - 7:00 PM

We continued to keep a close watch on her, not even sure if she was an Anna's Hummingbird or a Rufus Hummingbird, because we had females of both species coming to our feeder. Eventually we became convinced she was an Anna's, and by the 15th of May we noticed she could barely fit on the nest. 

May 15 - 9:35 AM

Daily we checked the nest hoping to get a photo when she was away. On the 19th, we got our first look at tips of two tiny bills protruding from the nest. Confirmation that we did have babies, in fact two! 

May 19 - 4:24 PM

On May 21st we got our first view of the babies. Not a pretty sight, and we were concerned whether they were actually getting care, because we did not see the mom coming to the juice feeder.  In time, we discovered her searching for insects in the trees, bushes, and buildings, concluding she was probably in search of protein for her babies.
May 21 - 7:43 AM

The mom apparently made quick stealth feeding visits, because the babies continued to grow, and by the 29th we could tell the nest was getting very crowded for the two babies. We began to anticipate that fledging (that's when birds first fly from the nest) could occur any time.

May 29 - 1:43 PM

Daily we were checking the nest, expecting to find it empty. I was extremely lucky when making a quick check on the nest before leaving on a Bus Birding Trip with the Village Birders on Thursday morning to arrive at the dogwood tree just after the first baby had left the nest and was sitting somewhat dazed on a limb. 
June 2 - 7:59 AM

Minutes later, this little guy took flight to explore the world on his own.  His sister bird was still on the nest. Later in the day our neighbor on the first floor, Dell Warren, would get a photo of the second bird off the nest.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Malheur Field Station Escape

Our friends Vern and Anne Beeson, put together this trip, the Dallas Retirement Village Escape to the Malheur Field Station. It's embarrassing that I didn't get a better photo representation of this amazing trip, but I feel compelled to share what I do have. Most of my energy went to establishing eBird observation lists with photos as I could. This four-day, three-night trip took place on May 24-27. Malheur Field Station was our base for lodging and meals. From there, Vern conducted daily trips in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for our party of nine persons. We made visits to the Headquarters, Buena Vista Overlook, Diamond Hotel, Diamond Craters, Peter French Round Barn, South Harney Road, Historic P Ranch, and French Glen

Checking for Golden Eagles at nest sites on South Harney Lake Road

Refuge Headquarters' Overlook

Buena Vista Overlook

Diamond Craters

Steens Mountain from Diamond Crater

Happy Hour in E-Dorm