Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trying to Hide

We are back in Elkton for the weekend.  It’s been a week since we have taken a real bird walk, so we were anxious to get in a good one today.  We choose one of our favorite and most productive routes here in Elkton, out along Elk Creek on Schad Road.  It was still cool with clouds when we left the house in late morning.  And wouldn’t you know it, before we got to the end of the road it started raining, forcing us to turn around. On our way back we spotted this Canada Goose laying in the water.  Our first thought was it had been shot or was injured.  But as we began to think back we had seen this pair active along the bank earlier, and in fact after we had walked further away I looked back in by binoculars and she had gotten up and was feeding on some grass. My best guess is she was trying to hide, but it sure looked odd.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

With all the cold and rain this week it’s been real depressing, and also not a good week for bird watching. But looking back on the week, I guess we were pretty busy. The main effort of our volunteer position this week was delivering volunteer support items to various Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sites. To that end we delivered stuff to the South Santiam Fish Hatchery out of Sweet Home, the Springfield Field Office in Springfield, and the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area east of Eugene where this photo was taken. We took a break after delivering to check out the birding possibilities. It’s now high on our list for a return trip. Later in the week we also delivered to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery near Lincoln City, and to the Umpqua District Office in Roseburg.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

White-throated Sparrow

This guy seems to be saying, “hey, you looking at me?”  And, he’s right; I was looking at him---closely in fact.  His white throat and yellow eye brows separate him from the more common White-crowned Sparrow. From what I have read the White-throated Sparrow is an uncommon winter visitor here in the Willamette Valley, and come next month, he along with the more numerous Golden-crowned Sparrows will clear out of here and head north to Canada for the summer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jackson-Frazier Wetland

Yesterday afternoon we got in a little birding at the Jackson-Frazier Wetland on the north-end of Corvallis.  The great feature here is a three-quarter mile board-walk that takes you through the wetland just above the water level.  We saw literally hundreds of birds, but not a lot of diversity so we only ended up with 14 species. The most prolific were the swooping Violet-green Swallows.   The most interesting were Mallards. We saw two hens with tiny chicks in two different locations.  They were well camouflaged in the marsh grasses.  We also spotted a lone drake, hiding out in a thicket in deeper water.  Our largest effort went into identifying some Yellow Warblers, discarding possibilities of Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and female Common Yellowthroat.

Correction:  After further study, I have reconsidered and now feel confident we saw Orange-crowned Warbler not Yellow Warbler.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Up Close & Personal

I took this photo this afternoon of a female Western Bluebird through the window of our motor home.  It wasn’t until afterwards when I reviewed the photo that I noticed the band or bands on her leg. One of the things that is working out extremely well for us here at Adair is birding from our motor home.  It’s like birding from a bird blind, (although I’ve actually never done that), but the point is, the birds don’t seem to notice us and we get to watch them up close.  Today was a good example; we had so many birds around us that we had a hard time finishing our lunch.  Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows actively fed on the ground. A pair of Western Bluebirds excitedly inspected our bird house, while a pair of Tree Swallows also watched with interest close by from the power line. A pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers chased each other through the tree. Two Rufous Humming birds busily feed from our feeder.  And most surprising, a bird that seems to avoid personal encounters, a Hermit Thrush, paused to rest on our fence.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birding at E.E. Wilson

Got this shot of a Red-tailed Hawk taking off yesterday while birding at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area. We spent two and a half hours in the morning wandering roads and trails, and counted 143 birds of 29 different species. I was able to add a Bewick’s Wren and an improved Song Sparrow photo to Cascade Ramblings.

For those keeping track of Mark & Holly’s progress on the PCT---Mark called me this morning to report they completed their first day yesterday on the trail, 22 miles to Lake Morena. Warm, Holly had a little heat rash, but everything OK. Will be to Lake Laguna by tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Site with a View

We are now set up in our Volunteer Host RV site overlooking Adair Pond north of Corvallis.  We are here again volunteering for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at the South Willamette Watershed District Office in Adair Village. We moved here yesterday, got set up, and had lunch at our favorite Fire House CafĂ©, which incidentally has a new expanded menu. We love the quiet setting of our site with the great view of Adair Pond. So all in all, life is good. We will be here through the end of May.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Peregrine Falcon

We went birding at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge yesterday despite all the wind and rain. While driving through the refuge in the car I spotted this bird on a power pole.  After some checking with the birding guides we concluded that it was a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. I think an adult bird would probably have chosen a different location to ride out the storm. It just so happens that this Peregrine Falcon is the 100th bird to add to my life list on eBird that I started about a month ago. It also ranks me now as 5th among Polk County ebirders.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Off to the Pacific Crest Trail

My brother Mark and his wife Holly are off to California to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. They will start at Campo on Sunday the 17th and hope to finish at Manning Park, 2664 miles later, around the first of October. We had lunch with them today at my sister Susan’s house and got to discuss their exciting plans.  Mark left us with a spread sheet of their itinerary which Jeanette will be using to ship their resupply boxes to various trail points.  Susan is going to coordinate their blog on Postholer which you can check out here.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Soccer

It’s been a busy week helping with the grandsons; soccer games and practice play a big part in their schedules, combined of course with school and home work. Here is a photo of grandson Will (in white) during a soccer match today.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Joy of eBird

Several weeks ago while birding with a group at Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove, Pam Reber of the Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council suggested that I enter my bird list for the day on eBird. I had never heard of eBird, but I went home a found it on the Internet,, and dutifully with a couple of tips from Pam entered my list of birds for the day. That event has radically ratcheted up my birding experience beyond anything I could have imagined.  Daily I enter my bird sightings into eBird and it builds a Life List for me keeping track of the numbers and locations. I can look at the at all kinds of statistics of species by county and state, arrivals, and departures, and even look at the list of the top 100 birders by county or state. It has proven to be a tremendous motivator for me by giving me a means to measure my progress. Now, first thing each morning besides checking my e-mail, and Facebook, I look at my standings in eBird, then grab the wife and dog, binoculars and camera, and dash out the door to identify and count more birds.    

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Pair of Gadwalls

It appears that this pair of Gadwalls, a male on the left and a female on the right are sharing a close moment. Gadwalls are unusual in the duck world in that the male is not brightly colored. It is that time of year, and many birds will be seen pairing up. I took this photo yesterday while birding at the Fairview Wetlands in Salem. For more, check out the TRIP JOURNAL and CRITTERS sections. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Northern Shoveler

Our “volunteer position” this week is helping with grandsons, but yesterday while school was in session and in between errands we got in an hour of birding at nearby Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. It was raining, so this was birding from the car, still we managed 13 species including this male Northern Shoveler. It’s easy to remember the name of this colorful duck because of its large “shovel” like bill.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dallas, Oregon

We have moved our "house on wheels" to the drive-way of daughter Lisa’s house in Dallas.  We will be here for the week helping taking care of the grandsons while Lisa is busy with the tax season.  Come next Monday we move south to our last year’s spot above Adair Pond at ODFW’s South Willamette Watershed District Office.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Western Bluebird

I took this photo of a Western Bluebird while walking through Elk Creek Ranch yesterday. It’s our first Bluebird of the year here, and is very reassuring that spring is actually close at hand despite the rain and cold we have been experiencing on a lingering basis.   

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Warm sunshine had us sitting out on our front porch yesterday afternoon enjoying the birds that were coming to our feeder.  We had an amazing number of Dark-eyed Juncos, a couple of pairs of House Finches in bright red breeding plumage, half a dozen noisy House Sparrows, and one or two female Lesser Goldfinches. The best part was some interest in our bird house by a pair of Chestnut-backed Chickadees.  They gave the bird house a complete inspection, so I have my fingers crossed.