Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our New Site

Here is a photo of our new Volunteer Host Site at Denman Wildlife Management Area.  We arrived here mid-day today and are busy getting set up and acquainted with the area.  It may not be obvious from the photo, but the site needs a lot of work; mowing, weeding, trimming and the like; Jeanette thinks it may take us all month just to get it cleaned up.  They have been without hosts this season, so we have a lot of catch up. On the plus side there are birds galore here.  There are possibly as many as a dozen bird houses just in our site and I know already that many of them are occupied. Plus our site sits overlooking Whetstone Pond, so I’m sure we are going to have an excellent birding experience - - - if it would only stop raining!    

Friday, May 27, 2011

Packing Dilemma

We are home in Elkton for a few day packing up for our next volunteer experience, which is at Denman Wildlife Management Area near Medford.  Denman has over 1,700 acres that includes wetlands, streams, and ponds making it an ideal birding opportunity, and it’s right on the Rogue River so there will be trout fishing opportunities.  So besides binoculars and birds books, I will need to pack fishing gear, rods, reels, flies, leaders and waders.  Maybe I should take a float tube or an inflatable boat, the list starts to get longer. Oh, and bicycles, there are lots of good biking trails, for example the Bear Creek Trail that goes miles and miles. So that means bicycles, helmets, shorts, tire pump, tools and on and on. It is a dilemma, I’m going to busy for several days.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

4G Speed

We just received our new Verizon MiFi 4G Hot Spot today. For the last two years we have been using a Verizon MiFi Hot Spot for our Internet connection. It is the older slower 3G model and has served us well were ever we travel, faithfully providing Internet connection for our computers and IPods at home in Elkton or where ever our travels have taken us in Oregon, California, and Arizona. This last week we started having a problem with the connection to the charger.  After doing some checking it looked like we would need to speed 200 dollars for a new unit.  Well, that was before Jeanette sweet talked a customer service person into a new faster 4G model for FREE! Shipping was of course also free! Maybe I’ll be able to post to this blog faster.   

Monday, May 23, 2011

Color vs Geography

We get so much enjoyment watching birds from our motorhome. Yesterday morning an unusual sighting of a Lazuli Bunting at our feeder caused us to start a list for the birds we would see during the day just from the motor home; Purple Finch, Black-capped Chickadee, Orange-crowned Warbler, Violet-green Swallow. Jeanette noticed, “Hey they are all colors”. In the afternoon they switched to geographical names; American Crow, American Kestrel, California Quail, European Starling, Northern Harrier. And then there were two that tied by combining both; Western Bluebird, and American Goldfinch which is the pair featured in the photo.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Almost Gone

We haven’t seen any Golden-crowned Sparrows for some time and I was convinced that they were all gone for the season now.  But today we went birding at the Luckiamute State Natural Area and just as we were about to leave the parking lot I spotted this Golden-crowned Sparrow, so I guess they are not all gone.  Speaking of being gone, we are almost gone.  Come this Friday we will be leaving our site here at Adair Village and heading to our next volunteer opportunity with ODFW which is at Denman Wildlife Management Area near Medford.  We will be stopping on the way in Elkton for a few days over the weekend to unpack and repack the motor home, then on to Denman for the month of June.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Birding at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Today was a forced furlough day for state workers in order to save money.  I’m not sure how much money they saved by not having volunteers work, but oh well, we took the day off and went birding at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area west of Eugene.  We spent a couple hours birding from the Royale Ave. Trailhead.  We saw an unbelievable amount of birds.  Noisy Marsh Wrens caught our attention the minute we got out of the car and continued the first half of a mile.  At the second pond the Red-winged Blackbirds were the dominate bird, perhaps as many as fifty.  We were also treated to a dozen White Pelicans flying overhead. In all we identified 25 different species of birds, which included a first time spotting of a Black Tern. We topped of the day with lunch and a visit with son Michael and his wife Robin.    

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jim's Work

A good percentage of my work time is spent removing blackberry vines from the landscaped vegetation around ODFW’s District Office.  Buster would like to ride the tractor with me, it’s not really what happens, but it makes a cute photo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Badlands Birding

On Sunday, Dan put together a birding trip to two ponds located in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, located just East of Bend.  For more photos and information check out the Trip Journal or click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekend in Bend

We spent the weekend in Bend with our friends Dan and Charlene Lawry.  Jeanette, Charlene and Dan are shown here on a hike we did Saturday on the Deschutes River Trail.  More photos and details to follow soon, maybe even a Trip Journal.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nesting Material

Swallows are busy building nests now.  We have been watching a pair of Barn Swallows thru our dinning window gather mud from a mud puddle to daub a nest together up under the porch at the office.  Today I caught this Tree Swallow with nesting material headed for her nest box. She and I were both in sight of the nest box, but she would not give it away by going there until I had left.  Although I wanted to get a photo of her at the nest box, I finally took pity on her and walked on.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Raccoon Nest

While birding at Nesmith County Park in Rickreall the other day Jeanette spotted two raccoons climbing up a tree.  Here they are shown settled in a fork of the tree for their day time nap I assume.  Not sure about the plastic bag, imagine the wind blew it there, might be handy for their garbage.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Red-Eared Slider Update

Last week on May 1st, I posted a blog on some turtles enjoying the sun at Delta Ponds in Eugene.  I mistakenly assumed they were Western Pond Turtles until my sister-in-law Patty commented and asked if they were natives.  This caused me to take a closer look and I was surprised to discover that they were non-native Red-eared Sliders.  Now, many of you who follow closely already know all this, but here is the next chapter---- this morning I talked to some people at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife District Office where we volunteer and I learn ironically enough that this week ODFW will start trapping turtles at Delta Ponds, removing the non-native Red-Eared Siders, and tagging the native Western Pond Turtles.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Outing

Daughter Lisa brought hers boys down for an outing this afternoon.  We selected Jackson-Frazier Wetland for a hike/bird walk as the boardwalk loop there assures you of staying out of the mud.  Everything about the plan worked great except for the weather.  We were accosted by rain showers much of the time we on the loop, arriving back at the car entirely drenched.  But, we had a good time spotting, identifying, and counting birds. The oldest grandson Will proved to have the sharpest eyes, and best memory.  In all we counted 32 birds of 9 different species.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bunny Rabbits

We don’t actually spend all of our time looking at birds; we also spent some of our time watching the bunny rabbits here at our RV site.  Jeanette took this photo this morning looking through the front windshield of our Holiday Rambler. These rabbits, actually know as Eastern Cottontails, come out daily from the briar patch next to us to nibble on our green grass.  It’s OK with me, because what they don’t eat I have to mow. However they drive Buster crazy.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spotted Sandpipers

Last night we noticed someone birding down at the pond around dusk.  When she walked up past our motor home I stepped out to talk with her and discovered she is a fellow eBird member, Gail Andrews.  She was quite happy to report that she had seen a Spotted Sandpiper.  I was surprised because I had only been seeing Killdeer.  So, this afternoon I went down and made a concentrated effort and low and behold I saw four Spotted Sandpipers fly in at once. These are tiny birds and I took this photo so I could get a better look and didn’t realize until I had downloaded to the computer that I had actually gotten two birds in this picture.  One of my field guides says that they are seen singularly, so I am feeling very fortunate to have seen four at the same time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Resupply Rendezvous

My brother Mark and his wife Holly who are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer have taken a week off to attend their oldest son’s college graduation in Salem.  They rendezvoused with us today in our motor home to hand over 12 resupply boxes that Jeanette will ship to various scheduled resupply points over time as the weeks and months go by. They will be in cell phone contact with us in case the time schedule changes. We will get another 10 boxes from them on Saturday.  Going to be a full motor home for a while, but at least we will have lots to eat if there’s a big disaster.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beaver Creek Natural Area

Yesterday we made deliveries of volunteer support materials for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to the Oregon Hatchery Research Center deep in the coast range west of Alsea and the Newport Field Office in Newport.  In between deliveries we stopped for a quick visit at the Beaver Creek State Natural Area located south of Newport.  This is one of Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation’s newest developments and is going to offer outstanding birding opportunities. We were quick to notice there is a volunteer host site there. We’re always “looking for cheese” for those that are acquainted with the story.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Overnight Guests

Yesterday afternoon after getting back to Adair Village Buster and I took a walk around Adair Pond which lies just below our RV site.  We spotted this lovely pair of Bufflehead Ducks.  When I got back to the motorhome I checked in my favorite bird guide for this area, “Birds of the Willamette Valley Region” and learned that Buffleheads usually leave the region by May.  This morning the ducks appear to be gone, I guess they were aware of their migratory schedule and are headed on north for the summer.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Enjoying the Sun

Sun at last!  We stopped in Eugene at Delta Ponds to bird on our way back to Adair Village today.  People were out walking and biking, the birds were out, but it was the turtles that caught our attention.  They were out in mass on every log. I took this photo of this family of Western Pond Turtles whom seemed the most organized in their effort to soak up the sun. I've read that turtles need the heat from the sun to be able to digest their food.

Editorial Note:  I originally mistakenly assumed these where Western Pond Turtles.  I now believe they are Red-Eared Sliders, a very competitive non-native species.