Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review

Two major changes loom dramatically in my mind as I review 2011 for Jim, Jeanette and Buster.   At the end of June we made the decision to end our volunteer work. This brought to a close many years of volunteering with Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon State Parks, and Arizona State Parks. While volunteering had provided an economical means for us to have adventures, it had begun to extract a price in energy and freedom. By September we began to feel that our thirty-one foot Holiday Rambler motorhome was too much, and we downsized radically to a twenty-four foot Winnebago View, which in addition to being much easier to drive, costs half as much to operate.  Age, health, and money all have played into these decisions, but our hope is that we will continue to enjoy traveling and camping, perhaps in smaller economical campgrounds, and have the time to pursue our love of birding more fully.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Escape of 2009

The dark rainy days here at the end of December are providing me with lots of time to sort through photos and write reviews for Today, it’s going back to our trip to Death Valley in January of 2009.  Some great days of camping, hiking, and sunshine with our friends Dan & Charlene Lawry. I am shown here checking my altimeter at the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just took this photo of a male Purple Finch at our feeder this afternoon.  It's color seems to be the most Christmasy I could probably find, so Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mother and Child

I took this photo last week of these two Lesser Scaup, but it wasn’t until I got home and was looking closer at the images on my computer that I realized what I had.  In the fore ground is a female adult, and in the background is a juvenile.  Notice the mother has just returned to the surface with something in her mouth.  According to Wikipedia, “The origin of the name scaup may stem from the bird's preference for feeding on scalp - the Scottish word for clams, oysters, and mussels.” So, I’m guessing that maybe that’s a freshwater clam or mussel in her mouth.  We watched both ducks dive several times, so I know the juvenile is capable of finding its own food, but like its human counterpart, this juvenile still looks to mom to provide it something to eat. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


It seems I’ve got a new winter project, writing reviews on campgrounds. Some time ago, like maybe this summer, I installed a free App on my I-Pod for I’ve used it a little, and on our last trip to California, I began to see its real worth.  Not only is it helpful in locating an RV park or campground to stay in, you can also leave a review which can later serve to remind you what you liked or did not like about the park and what you paid. On top of that you can post photos, which again can serve as a nice reminder of your time.  I’m beginning to see it has kind of my own collection of campground information. Of course others can do the same, and so collectively it begins to really be a huge source of information, and it’s all free.  So, my project now is to review all the parks and campgrounds we have stayed in and add photos, that should keep me busy for some time.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Continuing Search

It’s becoming a habit of mine to search out the warmest spot around for a hiking/birding destination.  I check the weather forecast for several towns, and follow up with a look at the web cams. With cold fog hanging in the inland valleys, the coast has been the winning area lately.  Yesterday, Coos Bay was the warmest around by about five degrees, so I settled on the John Topits City Park for an afternoon bird walk. The park has a great network of paved trails that circle the Empire Lakes. One of the birds that we saw and I photographed is shown here, a male Ring-necked Duck on Lower Empire Lake. I also got some photos of a juvenile Lesser Scaup on Upper Empire Lake. It seemed like birds were a little scarce, but the warm sunshine was an ample reward, and still we ended up with 14 different species identified.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Search of Warmth and Birds

The reported sighting of a Snowy Owl in the Siltcoos Estuary last week, and my search for the warmest nearby weather, came together to suggest a birding trip yesterday.  Our Friend Janet Schaller went with us for an afternoon trip to the Siltcoos Recreation Area, north of Reedsport.  We didn’t see the owl, but in all honesty the warmth of the sun and the abundance of other birds caused us to kind of forget about the Snowy. There were a large number of Bufflehead Ducks on the water, Yellow-rumped Warblers flittered in and out among the trees in search of bugs, and the normally shy Hermit Thrush, seemed extra curious in regards to our presence. In all we spotted 16 different species of birds, a glorious afternoon of sunshine and birding.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Back to Home & Routine

We are back home in Elkton and into our normal routines.  Jeanette is shown here at coffee this morning at Arlene’s CafĂ© with her exercise friends.  The group meets weekday mornings at 6:30 for exercise, followed by coffee at 7:30. I usually monitor the coffee hour. Without a local newspaper it’s one of the better ways to know what’s going on.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Here is a number of little tidbits of information for you.

--we did get the generator repaired and by noon on Friday it was reinstalled in the Winnebago and running.

---after an assessment of all things, we decided that this was the time and place for our turn around and to head home.  We made a quick stop for groceries, and fuel, and grabbed a hamburger.

--- the greater Chico area had one more challenge to  hurl in our face, it seems the hamburger was not quite right and by that evening after stopping in Red Bluff for the night we were fighting food poisoning.
---- after dragging out of bed late morning we managed to drive as far as Medford where we spent the night at Pear Tree RV Park, and will continue on to Elkton today. (in much better health)

--- if you read this blog on a handheld device like a smart phone, you will notice that the format has been changed, simplified, and with a white back-ground.  Evidently Blog Spot (Google) decided for whatever reasons, to make the change.  I noticed it affected all blogs that I read that use Blog Spot.  If you read this blog with a regular computer it will still be with the green background.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Grimy Gulch

We are still waiting “semi-patiently” in Chico for our generator to be repaired, so the idea for today’s post is drawn from a side trip we took few days back while staying at Black Butte Lake.  Jeanette had talked with the Ranger and found out about free camping available at Stony Gorge Reservoir some 25 miles away.  So we took off one afternoon to investigate.  No campgrounds were shown on the map nor listed in any of the books I have.  We saw no signs and drove past a road we should have taken, but after some back tracking we finally located the right road and found the campgrounds.  They were closed, and I would have to say it was almost a sense of relief, because the name "Grimy Gulch" did not leave me with a feeling of clean campsite. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Aloha Black Butte Lake

We didn't know it at the time, but Tuesday was our last afternoon of soaking up the sun at Black Butte Lake. Where we were camped at Buckhorn Campground, there are no hookups, so we ran the generator a couple of times a day to keep the batteries charged up. Because the air mattress in our Comfort Couch uses an electric pump to inflate and deflate, we scheduled our generator time with our getting up and going to bed time. We also used this time to charge up our laptops, cell phones, I-pods, and MiFi. During this charging session on Tuesday night our generator abruptly stopped. I’ll spare you the rest of the details. The short version is we are now in Chico having the generator repaired under warranty at Jeff’s Truck Repair. They removed it from the RV yesterday and are working on it and hopeful they will be able to reinstall it this afternoon.  We have spent the night at nearby Almond Tree RV Park with all the luxuries of full hook-ups---electricity, water, sewer, and cable TV.  Our general plan is to be back in Oregon in time for Jeanette to keep a doctor’s appointment on the 21st.  In the mean time we will knock around this part of California soaking up the sunshine as long as we can.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Birding Overdose

We went birding at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge yesterday and kind of overdosed on birding.  I believe Sacramento NWR is one of the premier bird refuges in the nation; it is certainly the best one I have ever visited.  We were here the first time in March of 2005 and spent two days birding, but everyone said we were too late to witness the spectacular Snow Geese migration.  This time we hit it.
The afternoon started out innocent enough.   At the Visitor Center I noticed a Snowy Egret in a pond; Jeanette spotted a pair of House Finches in a tree.  On park personnel’s recommendation we start the 6 mile driving loop.  A Vulture soars overhead, a Flicker flees for cover, and a Black Phoebe sits on the fence.  The list is starting to grow.  The first water way holds a dozen Coots, a similar number of Mallards and a couple of Marsh Wrens.  We drive on and spot two Ravens and admire a swooping Northern Harrier.  This is the greatest.  A half dozen White-crowned Sparrows dart along the road. Ring-necked Pheasants can be seen in twos and threes. Our numbers are increasing. Meadow Larks work the ground, a Red-tailed Hawk is perched in a tree, and a lone American Pipit walks a shoreline. The count is really expanding.  A larger pond reveals Pintails, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, and Great White-fronted Geese.  Too many, we will just have to estimate their numbers. We drive on to a larger pond, covered with signature Snow Geese so numerous we cannot see the water.  We cannot even guess their number.  Now we notice ponds to our right as well as are left contain Snow Geese, the air is filled with birds in flight, who could possibly know their numbers. About this time we realize this is not a place to count birds, just check off species.  I photograph and Jeanette tries to discern Ross’s Snow Goose from the common Snow Goose. My eyes are burning, my mind is numb, we stop for a cup of coffee.  Bufflehead, Avocets, Cinnamon Teal and Ring-necked Ducks catch our attention.  We are only halfway around our six mile loop, but I make a pronouncement---we need to leave, I have birded enough.  We start to drive, but spot some Least Grebes, a Nuttall’s Woodpecker in a thicket, a Great Blue Heron lumbers overhead, a Great Egret stands alone, a Bald Eagle watches from a snag. I press on, Red-winged Blackbirds, Double Crested Cormorants, stop---what are those, Rudy Ducks?  Yes, in winter plumage. Drive, stop, juvenile Common Moorhens. Now I drive with determination, a flight of Juncos and a Robin.  I make it to the gate, we turn for our campground.  I need blinders to focus on the road, I wonder if I can drive to our site with my eyes closed. --- 38 species in all if you’ve counted.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nightmare at 3:00 AM

I don’t have a photo to go with today’s post, and it’s a good thing because it would be ugly.  At 3:00 this morning wind gusts against the motor home woke me up, and in the background I thought I could hear the refrigerator trying to start, and then the next thing I noticed was the warning flashing lights on the refrigerator.  Oh no,--- we are out of propane. 

On Thursday morning when we were leaving Red Bluff my propane tank had registered 1/3 so I stopped to get propane.  The attendant said the tank was full and he could not add any.  Motorhome gauges for propane, water, and sewer waste tanks are notoriously inaccurate, so I immediately concluded the gauge was wrong and went on my way.

On Friday we moved to the Buckhorn Recreation Area at Black Butte Lake, thirteen miles west of Orland, where we are camped without any hookups.  By Saturday the gauge read empty, stupid gauge.

At three o’clock this morning it was pretty easy to conclude we were actually out of propane.  The furnace came on about that time, and only blew cold air.  Jeanette tried lighting the stove as a test, no flame.  Now we are really in a pickle, because our generator also runs on propane, which means if the motor home battery is dead we would not be able to run the generator to recharge it. We assume the gates are locked until 7, so we are stuck. Now try going back to sleep with all that in your mind!

To bring this story to an end, daylight did eventually come, the motor home did start, we did leave the park, and we did get propane. 

As a footnote, while in town we did laundry, bought groceries, had lunch and visited Sacramento Wildlife Refuge. More on that tomorrow. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Good Morning of Birding

This morning was another bright sunny morning in California, only most import of all, we were free of the wind that had plagued us Friday night and all day Saturday.  Free of the wind we got a good start for a morning of birding, out the door and down the trail by 8:30.  We were rewarded with Western Meadowlarks, almost too numerous to count, easily over 4 dozen. A few even called out with their melodious song, like the one shown in the photo.  We hiked three miles in three hours and identified 23 species of birds.  An import additional sighting was a Coyote hunting for ground birds, who was unaware of our presence for a short time.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sunset at Black Butte Lake

I took this photo tonight thru the window of our Winnebago in our campsite at Buckhorn Campground at Black Butte Lake. We are set up in campsite #8, the same campsite we were in last year, click here to see that post. We plan on staying here as long as the good weather holds.  Last year we fled from here to escape a rain storm.  We have thought of this campground all year, yearning to return, at last we have, and we are looking forward to many days here with great birding.  Of the 90 sites here, only one other one seems to be occupied.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Camping at Sycamore Grove

The weather forecasters put a scare on us about severe winds for today, so we just sort of hunkered down in the motor home this morning.  We did have a lot of wind which completely “raked” all the leaves for me leaving us with a clean campsite, but I noticed that now all the leaves are all piled up against the restrooms. The only other campers left this morning, so we now have this 30 site campground all to ourselves.  By eleven o’clock we were getting cabin fever so decided to walk to the store for some milk.  We thought it would be about a mile and a half.  Turned out the closest convenience stores were two and a half miles, but no milk, so it was a half a mile further to the grocery store, so now a three mile walk, which meant a six mile round trip. But hey, we needed the excise and a break from birding.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birding at Red Bluff

When we arrived at the Red Bluff Recreation Area yesterday afternoon temperatures were just shy of 70 degrees.  After selecting a site in the Sycamore Grove Campground we set off for some birding. In an hour’s time we identified 19 different species. Northern Flickers (top photo) were the most numerous, easily over 2 dozen.  The Red-tailed Hawk (lower photo) was the most impressive of the four different species of hawks we saw.  This is an area that we love to bird in since discovering it in 2009.  The campground is never crowded, as in this visit, there is only one other camper plus the hosts in this 30 site campground. Rates are unbelievable low, 16 dollars a night, which we pay half. And there are miles of trails and the Sacramento River. Everything meets our criteria of a perfect place to stay and bird.  The plan is to stay here two more nights before heading to Chico for Tony’s birthday on Thursday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What a View!

You might think I am talking about the view we had of Mt Shasta during lunch at a rest stop, or the view we have at our campsite at Sycamore Grove Campground tonight, but actually what I want to give accolades to is our new Winnebago View motor home.  This was our first trip south over the Siskiyous in this motor home.  Climbing over the Siskiyous is something I had come to dread with our past motor homes built on Chevy and Ford chassis, it has always been a struggle up the steep climbs and a serious matter to pay attention to on the steep declines.  But, the handling of this View with its Mercedes Benz chassis was a whole new experience today.  Plenty of power for climbing, smooth shifts from the transmission, lots of margin on the braking, and precise control with the steering. It was a pleasure to drive all the way.  And on top of that, the fuel costs are half of what the others were.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seven Feathers Casino

We took off today on our annual migration to the south in search of warmth and sunshine. We had planned to leave tomorrow, but by mid-day we were packed and ready.  A little head start on tomorrow’s goal of Sycamore Grove Campground in Red Bluff sounded like a good idea, so we drove as far as the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville.  We are set up in the parking lot where they allow RV’ers to stay for free. A free shuttle is provided to take you to the casino, but we walked since we wanted the exercise. Buster seemed to take an interest in the Salmon & Eagle sculpture at the main entrance. I love seeing the success the Native Americans are having with casinos.  The “taxation” that has built these elegant entertainment centers is purely voluntary. I don’t care to be taxed, so I am able to enjoy these facilities for free!  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Jake Learns Birding

My six year old grandson Jake is shown this morning using binoculars to be able to describe a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a distant tree.  He and his mom Lisa and brothers William and Luke are here in Elkton for Thanksgiving. We all took a walk this morning to check out the new playground equipment at the grade school. Of course a walk means a birding experience for Grandpa.  Jake was a good student.  He has a keen mind which was demonstrated on the way back home when he pointed out the exact tree where we had spotted a number of Steller’s Jays.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eagle Eye

I took this photo of a young Bald Eagle yesterday, which sort of gives me the idea of where the expression “eagle eye” comes from.  We took advantage of a dry day to go hiking, and the coast looked warmer than inland, so I chose the Carter Lake area and made a loop with the Carter Dunes Trail and the Taylor Dunes Trail. We had bright sunshine the whole way and in the end were rewarded with this young Bald Eagle, which I believe to be a second year bird. It takes four years for them to fully develop the white head and tail.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Black Phoebe

I took this photo of a Black Phoebe on a country fence yesterday during my walk.  I first became aware of Black Phoebes some years ago along the Coachella Canal in Southern California near the Salton Sea.  I have since enjoyed them every year while wintering in California and Arizona. I was pleased but a little surprised to see this bird yesterday.  It seemed as though he should have been further south by now.  As I reflect on that sitting in my den on this cold rainy morning,--so should have I.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Today a Deer

This is a deer I saw on my walk today.  It is the third daily photo in a row that I am posting that features a critter, and all three critters were found within the city limits of our little town of Elkton.  Ironically all three of these critters are considered by the locals to be pests.  And in a note of further irony, I think they could all contribute to a fine Thanksgiving Table.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Doves Prompt Search

I took some photos of Eurasian Collared Doves in my yard this morning.  That led me to consider using this photo in a post, but I knew I had posted several blogs on Eurasian Collared Doves before, but my age-faded memory had no clue when. That made me realize I really needed a search function for the blog. And that caused me to look at the Design feature in my blog, and ------ look at that, I now have a Search feature!  Look at the top right-hand corner. Hopefully it will be helpful to you in searching for a blog that you want to read again, I know it will be helpful for me.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wild Turkeys

I did take my camera with me on our walk today, and we did spot 13 different species of birds including 17 Mallard Ducks, 30 American Robins, and 40 European Starlings, but this is the best photo I could produce.  This handsome pair, Mr. & Mrs. Tom Turkey, are technically known  as  a Wild Turkey”, but it would be hard to convince any of the local people here in Elkton that they are “wild”.  They are in fact a year around nuisance, raising heck with people's gardens and flower beds, and pooping on the streets and sidewalks.  Every year about this time as Thanksgiving draws nigh I consider doing my part to help curb the local population, and provide for my table at the same time.  hmmm

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Camera, Always the Camera!

I always take my camera with me.  I carry it in a shoulder bag with my binoculars, a bird guide, and a windbreaker and a few odds and ends.  I bought this particular shoulder bag last winter when we were in San Diego at an REI store and I’ve used it almost every day since.  Each day when I take off for a walk, which is usually a combination of a walk for exercise, a walk for our dog Buster, and an opportunity to do some birding, I throw this bag over my shoulder and off we go.  However, this morning was an exception.  It was overcast and actually raining, but I was impatient to get a walk in, so I left the bag with my camera at home to stay dry.  I grabbed an umbrella as I went out the door, giving my wife and dog an excused absence on the walk.  Two blocks away from the house the rain let up.  As I continued walking on our town’s brand new sidewalk overlooking the Umpqua River, I noticed some movement in a quite backwater.  A closer look revealed two pair of exquisite Hooded Mergansers.  Few ducks rival the striking pattern of the males, and few females can match the fluffy hairdo of the females.  But here I was without my camera!  A strong curse and a vow to always always always take the camera were made once again.   

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunrise Send-off

This was the sunrise display from our campsite yesterday morning, signaling our last morning.  We ended up spending all three nights at the Mill Casino RV Park while we were in Coos Bay because we got such a great deal, 15 dollars a night for full hook-ups plus free Wi-Fi and cable TV!  Every day we went birding in a different area, plus did some shopping and then back to the RV Park for the night. We always enjoy staying at the Mill Casino Park, the staff is friendly, the grounds are immaculate, and the location is very convenient for exploring area.  We have stayed here many times and will be back again for sure. Check out the TRIP JOURNAL for our stop at Bluebill Lake on the way home.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Millicoma Marsh

We went birding yesterday morning at the south end of Coos Bay at Millicoma Marsh.  I had read about the area in the pamphlet “Oregon Coast Birding Trail”, and it turned out to be an amazing place to bird. The large number and variety of small birds, like sparrows, had us stumped for identification several times. Then there was also the large number of water fowl on the bay.  In fact after a quick break for lunch in the motor home we went back with the scope to help us make some positive identifications.  We logged a record number of 30 birds, and I was able to add photos of a King Fisher and a Greater Yellowlegs to Cascade Ramblings.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cape Arago

Yesterday morning while our motor home was being worked on at Porter’s RV we took a fun walk along the Coos Bay waterfront, walked the Boardwalk, visited the Visitors Center, and in general enjoyed the amenities of city life. After lunch we took a driving tour out through Charleston, Sunset Bay State Park, and Cape Arago State Park.  At Cape Arago we walked down to an observation point to count some birds.  Jeanette shown here, counted 18 Brown Pelicans in formation. We sighted Cormorants, Gulls, and Harlequin Ducks.  While walking back to the motor home it started raining. We made a quick retreat into the motor home and luxuriated in the warmth and dry with hot coffee and cookies. This is the thing I don’t think non RV’ers get, and it’s what we get such a kick out of;  total comfort anytime where ever you are!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Exploring the North Spit

We did some exploring of the North Spit of Coos Bay yesterday looking for birds.  It was our first time here.  After driving the length of the road, we settled on hiking on the South Dike Road out to the beach. It was a little scarce on birds.  A small flock of 14 female Red-wing Blackbirds stumped us. Without the tell-tale red on the wing of a male it was confusing to identify what we were seeing.  At the beach we spotted two Mew Gulls, winter visitors to our coast and a new addition to my Life List. We later found the settling pond with hundreds of birds which I hope to come back and count on another day.  We also stopped at the boat launch where I took a photo of a Horned Grebe.  We are visiting the Coos Bay area for a few days, the main reason being to have the computer control box for our slide in the motor home replaced, which is happening today, hoping this solves the mysterious self-actuation problem.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Trip Down Memory Lane

November weather has given me pause to wonder what I was doing ten years ago.  I discovered that ten years ago this past week, on November 3rd of 2001, Jeanette & I and our friend John Stolting took an eight mile hike in the Olallie Scenic Area.  We took the Red Lake Trail stopping at Red Lake, Averill Lake, Wall Lake, and Sheep Lake.  Turning up the Potato Butte Trail we stopped at Big Spud and Little Spud Lakes before gaining the summit of Potato Butte. Wow, that was a great trip down memory lane. (Click on any off the underlined destinations for a view of that page.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Photo Editing

With the colder damp weather setting in I am spending more time working with my computer files, organizing, editing, deleting and so forth.  Today while working on a file of photos taken in 2006 here in Elkton, I came across a good photo of the MonarchButterfly.  I had forgotten all about it and had failed to include it in my CRITTERS section. So I added it and also a photo of a Tree Swallow.  I’ve decided that I’m going to add a little notice on the TRAILHEAD page of whatever recent photo I have just added. This will give the reader some idea of what’s going on behind the scene as I had new photos.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hiking or Birding?

These two kids set out yesterday to see if they could still do a real hike, not just a couple of mile birding walk, but an honest “take your lunch with you” hike. Check the Trip Journal to see how it went.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Western Gray Squirrel

This Western Gray Squirrel is the latest addition to the squirrel family found in the Critters section.  I was surprised when I totaled them up that in the last 10 years I have added 12 different species of squirrels to Cascade Ramblings. My first one was a Douglas Squirrel taken on a cross-country ski trip near the Santiam Pass in December of 2002. I have photographed them in the three states of Oregon, California, and Arizona, and in all kinds of places, from common city and state parks to a remote campsite in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of the Wallowa Mountains. As I look at the photos and think back I am struck by the fact that they truly make up a cast of a dozen different characters. You can see them all by using the SEARCH function and typing in the word “squirrel” in the Critters box.    

Monday, October 31, 2011

Acorn Woodpecker

One of the things I enjoy about birding is all the things I continue to learn about birds, even after the original sightings. This is where a good photo is particularly helpful.  A week ago I took a photo of an Acorn Woodpecker while at Lake Mendocino in California.  Today, while editing photos of the trip I became aware that one of the photos I had taken was of a female Acorn Woodpecker. (notice the black band between the white forehead and the read crown) I previously only had a photo of a male in the Critters section of Cascade Ramblings.  Now I have both male and female photos of the Acorn Woodpecker.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk

This fleeing Red-tailed Hawk is one of the first birds we spotted on a hike we took today.  A call yesterday to our friend Eddie Harrod set up this trip, and at his suggestion we started at Cottage Grove’s North Regional Park. We took the paved path that winds through Cottage Grove’s new Disc Golf Course, then skirts along the edge of the Middle Field Golf Course.  We had a section we had to endure through houses and businesses, but soon picked up another paved path that took us through the East Region Park where the birds were the most numerous on and around the many ponds.   A call to Eddie’s wife Jeannie provided a shuttle for us back to our cars.  We ended up with a hike of almost 5 miles and identifying 15 different species of birds.    

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Birding Trip

We are back home in Elkton now, concluding our trip down into Northern California.  Besides the wedding that was the purpose of the trip, we got to do a lot of birding in some great new places. This photo of a Marbled Godwit was taken during a stop near Eureka California. We were looking for a break from driving, and I recalled a county park I had seen on the map on Humboldt Bay right off Hwy 101 called Fields Landing. We parked the motor home, and while Jeanette made some fresh coffee, I stepped out with Buster and right way noticed a good number of birds. The net result is three new Critter photos for Cascade Ramblings, this MarbledGodwit, a Black-bellied Plover, and a Willet. In all during our trip I was able to add new photos of 9 different species of birds.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lake Mendocino

This has turned out to be a really strange stop!  We arrived here at Kyen Campground at Lake Mendocino with high hopes, the weather was perfect, warm and sunny, the lake was beautiful, and the campground looked inviting in a wooded setting.  But, as we drove through the campground, the occupied sites all appeared to be homeless people, tents and stuff strewn around, and almost no vehicles.  We did not have a comfortable feeling.  Luckily for us, as we were starting to drive away we stopped to talk with the campground hosts.  They assured us it would be alright, some would be leaving, it would be quiet, and offered to help us with a site next to them. I had just got the motor home leveled, and the slide out, when Jeanette started spotting birds.  She asked for her binoculars, and then a chair, and that was as far as we got.  We were besieged with birds, for the next 45 minutes we identified a dozen species of birds right from our site. Most exciting for us were a number of Oak Titmice, a brand new bird for us. Strange, we were set to drive away, and 15 minutes later we were in a birders paradise. Sort of like 0-60 in 5 seconds.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Novato RV Park

We picked Novato RV Park to stay in because of its proximity to San Rafael where Tony & Maggie’s wedding was held yesterday.  It has worked out well for us as a base of operations to meet with family and attend the wedding.  It’s on the pricey side at fifty dollars a night, but it’s been very convenient and has a store, deli, laundry, and free Wi-Fi. Another big plus is its location right next to Rush Creek Open Space, a 522 acre preserve with miles of trails for hiking, running, & cycling, and the Rush Creek Marsh, a huge birding area. You probably got the picture;- -  I’ve spent time birding there the last three days, counting hundreds of birds and adding four new birds to my Life List, plus a couple of photos to the Critters section.  Tomorrow, we start back north, planning on a first night’s stay at Lake Mendocino.   

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ferndale to Cloverdale

Yesterday was primarily a travel day, didn’t take any photos or do any birding, just drove from Ferndale to Cloverdale, with a stop in Willets for diesel and groceries. It was a pretty route through the redwoods and brought back memories of our bicycle tour from Canada to Mexico 12 years ago on this same route. Here in Cloverdale we are camped at the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds, another one of those "under the radar" good RV camping spots. It was 80 degrees when we arrived yesterday afternoon, so we spent some time sitting and relaxing on the shady side of the motor home. Today we move on to Novato to be ready for the big day of Tony & Maggie’s wedding on Saturday.  We will be staying in the Novato RV Park and attending the wedding rehearsal dinner tonight.  My mistake not a “rehearsal dinner” - - a “Soiree”.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Traffic Delay

OK, we are used to traffic delays because of road work and bridge construction, but this was a first for us, having to stop and wait for a herd of Elk to cross.  We were heading south on Hwy 101 when this incident occured, interesting enough right at the Stone Lagoon Information Center. Luckily, Jeanette had just cleaned the windshield this morning, because I snapped this photo from the driver’s seat. (Remember, you can click on the image to see a larger view.) In spite of the delay we were able to stay on schedule and are set up this afternoon at one of our favorite and usual stops Ferndale, in the Humboldt County Fairgrounds Campground.  
This was the main bull.

This cow was the last slow-poke coming across. Notice my Garmin GPS screen in the lower right hand corner. Incidentally, the GPS did not pick up the elk herd.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

I can’t imagine asking for anything more than the day we just had.  We spent the morning checking out three different National Wildlife Refuges in the Bandon Area.  The first one we stumbled on by accident, the Ni-les‘tun Unit of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, which is brand new and has so much potential in the years to come I guarantee you will be returning there again.(check out the Trip Journal)  The second one was the Bandon Unit of the BMNWR. We were aware of this one and have stopped before, but we enjoyed spotting birds here and counting. The last of our morning adventure was at Coquille Point a part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Here the scenery is spectacular and we enjoyed seeing hundreds if not thousands of Brown Pelicans on the rock islands.  After lunch we drove on down the coast amazed at the warm weather and great views of the coastline.  Now this evening we are tucked into this quaint site at the Port of Brookings Harbor Beachside RV Park. As I write the sun is still shinning, it’s warm, our windows are all open, and we are serenaded by the waves breaking on the beach.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bullards Beach State Park

Our second night stay is at Bullard’s Beach State Park. This afternoon we went out and visited the Coquille River Lighthouse.  That’s Jeanette and Buster sitting in the sun at the base of the lighthouse.  As you can see from the photo the weather is fantastic. I think it was 70 degrees in Coos Bay today. I also got some photos of Surf Scoters and a Double-crested Cormorant in the Coquille River estuary. We have given ourselves permission to take a leisurely route to the wedding, and so far it’s working.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Start of a New Journey

We are beginning a small journey that will take us down the coast of Oregon and Northern California to the San Francisco area and back.  The purpose for our trip is to attend the wedding of Jeanette’s son Tony on Oct 22st in San Rafael. Our first stop is in this sunny campsite in Eel Creek Campground about 10 miles south of Reedsport.  We can’t believe our luck, we are the only campers here, and with my Senior Pass it’s only ten dollars for the night.   However it’s always a little hard to choose a campsite when you have so many choices.  In the end we just picked a sunny one.  It’s a great start for our little journey. (check the Trip Journal for more--)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Change in the Bird Scene

This Lesser Goldfinch (as well as some American Goldfinches) is one of the birds we have been seeing again at our feeder in good numbers for the first time since last spring.  We have also been noticing during our daily walks a good number of American Robins and large numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos that evidently have migrated down from higher elevations. Canada Geese can also be heard daily as their flocks fly over. However, equally noticeable are the birds that have left, the noisy Ospreys, swooping Violet-green Swallows and circling Turkey Vultures, all are gone, migrating south.  It is for sure a time of change in the bird populations we watch here in Elkton.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Harvest Time

This time of year we daily see Steller’s Jays and Western Scrub Jays flying off with oak acorns in their mouths busily harvesting.  Today we were caught off guard when a Red-tailed Hawk flew up in front of us carrying something.  We watched him perched on a limb for some time, and eventually came to the conclusion that he had a squirrel in his talons.  I imagine it went something like this, --- a squirrel busy harvesting acorns failed to notice an approaching Red-tail and became harvested himself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Faithful Bird Dog

Today the weather is a little iffy, and we are still suffering from our colds, so we were standing at our front window doing a little “birding” watching our bird feeder.  I set down my binoculars and my bird book in a chair and went to get my camera.  When I came back I found Buster in this position with the book and binoculars. Birding paraphernalia always means a walk to him.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Mouthful

A single sunflower seed from our feeder makes a mouthful for this Black-capped Chickadee. The last four days have seen a dramatic increase in the number birds we see at our feeder and on our daily walks.  Some are grouping up and migrating as was the case with the 103 Turkey Vultures we saw two days ago, but I also have the impression that there is a sense of urgency in the feeding that is going on particularly with the resident birds. With the change in the air to fall it is probably well timed to add as much fat as possible.