Sunday, July 31, 2011

Juvenile Behavior

The last two mornings we have been birding at the Elkton Community Education Center, and we have observed a large number of juvenile birds.  It’s that time of year when most of the birds have hatched, but the juveniles are still hanging around close by. Because their plumage is quite often different than the plumage they will have as an adult, it sometimes is challenging to make identification. One of the identifying clues that we have begun to pick-up on is their odd behavior. Although in most cases they are the same size as their parents, they are not out forging on their own yet.  They can be seen hanging around the nesting area, waiting, even demanding to be fed.  In fact, they usually act a pretty goofy.   This juvenile Red-winged Blackbird in the photo is one of four we spotted in a Douglas Fir this morning. They hadn’t seemed to have figured out yet about predators.  They seemed content to goof off in the tree and were more concerned about preening their feathers than gainfully being employed in searching out their own food.  Remind you of any teen-agers you might know or have known?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

North Umpqua Trail

At the invitation of our neighbors Lyle and Stephanie Schnabel, we took a trip up the North Umpqua River on Friday to visit with them and their extended family and friends who are camping at the Eagle RockCampground. In talking with them we discovered that every year for the past some forty summers they have met and camped together here on the North Umpqua. Quite a wonderful tradition.  While in the area, Jeanette and I decided to hike a little bit on the famed North UmpquaTrail.  We did just a short section of the Marsters Segment, from the bridge to the junction of the Illahee Flats Trail, as the afternoon heat quickly took its toll on us.   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wild Mare Horse Trail

We are back home in Elkton now and all caught up in our daily routines of morning bike rides, Buster/bird walks, and all the normal household chores, so I sort of forgot to report on our last day at Bluebill Lake. On Sunday Morning we took a different route to the beach by using the Wild Mare Horse Trail.  From our camping site at Bluebill Campground we walked over to Wild Mare Campground and then took the Wild Mare Horse Trail to Horsfall Beach. The horses’ hooves had chewed up the sand pretty good making hiking a little slow.  Birding was only fair, but the mosquitos we outstanding along the trail.  Buster arrived back home with double or maybe even triple the number of mosquito bites compared to our bird sightings.

Monday, July 25, 2011

iBird Explorer Western

Here is an App I highly recommend if you have an iTouch, iPhone, or iPad.  The original iBird Pro was 29.95 and included Hawaii & Alaska, now there is a Western version that lists for only 9.95---but is currently on sale through the rest of the month through iTunes for 6.95!  I’ve been using this App for the last several days and am very impressed.  There are both painted images and photos, and lots and lots of information. There are four different displays to choose from for browsing, bird songs, and a seamless connection to the Internet for additional information. I originally choose the Sibley’s App which I have used for the last year or so, but now this App I find has much more to offer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baby Swallows

After we got setup in our campsite at Bluebill Lake Campground on Friday afternoon we took Buster for a walk to nearby Horsfall Beach. When we got to the Horsfall Beach parking lot I was surprised to see some Barn Swallows swooping through the area. The Horsfall Beach parking lot is a very busy area, crammed with RV’s, trailers, and off-road-vehicles it looks something like a circus or a refugee camp. The din of people, unmuffled sand bikes and quads is everywhere.  But there are no barns, or buildings of any kind for Barn Swallows to make their nest on as far as the eye can see. But wait; there is a concrete restroom building. When I investigated a little closer I found several empty nests and this occupied nest tucked in under the eaves on the back side.  These baby Barn Swallows sit patiently waiting for the next bug from their parents

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Morning Sun

This is the morning sun coming into our site at Bluebill Campground this morning. In my last post I said we would be coming back; you might not have imagined it would be this soon, but as we were driving away from Bluebill Lake on Wednesday we were already making plans to return. Friday morning we packed up the motor home and drove back over here to Bluebill Lake to spend three nights. The campground was completely empty when we arrived, so we got to choose any site we wanted. It has remained quiet with only a few campers drifting in last night. We had perfect weather here yesterday afternoon and it looks to be the same for the next few days. We are looking forward to lots of birding and enjoying the good weather,---Elkton was going to be too hot, you know in the high eighties.   

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Birding at Bluebill

We had a beautiful day of warm sunshine yesterday on a birding trip to Bluebill Lake which is just north of Coos Bay. It’s a gem of a place with a small lake, a great hiking trail, and a clean quite campground. The area has a lot of birds so we were kept quite busy with identifications.  We will be going back, no doubt about it. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Food on the Way

Jeanette shipped two more boxes of supplies off today for my brother Mark and his wife Holly who are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer. Mark & Holly are currently still tramping through California; in fact yesterday they hiked 25 miles! This was packages number 16 & 17.  It’s ironic to me that this epic back-pack trip from Mexico to Canada at this point has been mostly supplied from this little Post Office in our tiny obscure town of Elkton.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Surprising Discovery

Almost a month ago while birding at Eel Lake on the Oregon Coast I heard a distinct bird call that has haunted me daily.  I was not able to see the bird that day and despite hearing the song at different locations several times since, I have not been able to get a sighting and make an identification.  Today, in a split second it all changed.  Jeanette and I were birding at Honeyman State Park and we had located a small bird deep in the rhododendrons.  I had made a tentative identification of a Wrentit, and we were searching our guide books for confirmation, when Jeanette asked to try out their song on my iPod.  For a second I thought I was hearing another bird, and then I realized the sound was coming from my iPod and it was the mysterious song I had been seeking and moreover it belonged to a Wrentit! It all makes sense as the Wrentit is a tough bird to spot, it stays for the most part, buried deep in thick shrubbery. This photo is the only one I got for the day, but it made the whole trip worthwhile.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Empty Nest

They are gone! The Violet-green Swallows that I have so enjoyed watching are suddenly gone.  When we got back to Elkton on Wednesday they were still here.  I stood on the front porch that evening and watched the babies cry for more, and watched the parents continually swoop in with more bugs.  The next day, while watering the flowers I noticed that all was quite in the nesting box. I opened up the side door, and the nest was empty!  Not only is the nest empty, the swallows are gone completely, not a bird in sight for two days now.  I remember this from past years, the sudden departure, but it always leaves me a little sad. It seems so quiet.  It’s much like the human situation, when your kids leave home; it suddenly seems all too sudden.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Savannah Sparrow

Back home in Elkton today, I took a morning bird walk with Buster out Mehl Creek Road.  The open fields there gave up a number of good birds to count, among them this SavannahSparrow.  The yellow eyebrow is the key identifier.  It looks rather slim for a sparrow but my thinking is it’s probably a female you has worked her-self down to skin and bones feeding her young.  Notice the bug in her mouth as further evidence to my thinking. Remember, you can click on the image for a larger view. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Birder!

Grandson Will Borja is fast becoming a birder.  On a birding trip to Jackson-Frazier Wetland near Corvallis on Mother’s Day we discovered he had a sharp eye for birds, and an excellent recall of details.  Yesterday we gave him his own binoculars when we birded for a second time at Jackson-Frazier Wetland. Then today we did a short birding trip at the Dallas City Park. This afternoon, when this photo was taken, I am helping him add his birding numbers to his own e-Bird account. He is a whiz on the computer so it didn't take long.   He now has 20 birds on his own Life List. He is a fast learner, a grandpa couldn’t be prouder.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Birding at Jackson-Frazier Wetland

This morning we met our grandsons, Luke, Jake and William for a return birding trip to the Jackson-Frazier Wetland.  We were last here with them on Mother’s Day, and basically got chased out with rain.  Today was much dryer and we had a good time finding birds (and snakes), counting fifteen species of birds.  The most unusual sighting, and a new addition to my Life List, was a  juvenile Virginia Rail.   

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interesting Birding Time

This is an interesting time of year to be birding because many of the young birds are now leaving the nest.  With the extra birds coming from the nest the number of birds to be seen can be larger.  Today’s trip out Schad Road here in Elkton is a good example; we saw a record number of Steller’s Jays, Crows, and Kingbirds. Because juveniles are sometimes different in coloration it can also lead to some confusion. Sometime it’s hard to know if you are seeing a juvenile of one species or an adult of another. This juvenile swallow is a good example; I noticed the wide bill which was a clue that it is a juvenile not a dull colored female adult.  It could possibly be a juvenile Violet-green Swallow, but they have not left our box yet, it could also be a juvenile Tree-Swallow but I have not seen any Tree Swallows around.  In the end I decided it was a juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallow. I confirmed this by waiting around until the adult returned to feed it.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Red-Eared Slider

This Red-Eared Slider is one of the turtles we were looking at yesterday in Row River Nature Park. You can easily see the red slash behind the eye, and note the yellow stripes on the neck and tail.  Identifying this non-native is important, and raises concern because Red-Eared Sliders crowd out native species like the Western Pond Turtle.   

Thursday, July 7, 2011

South Lane Birders

I went birding this morning with the South Lane Birders at the Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove.  I had last birded with them in April, but have been gone much of the time and so have missed their monthly outings at Row River Nature Park.  It was fun to bird with them again and I counted 18 species that we were able to identify, not as many as before, but much harder to see the birds with all the foliage. We did get distracted for a while at looking at turtles and trying to decide if they were Western Pond Turtles or the non-native Red Sliders.  All in all, a great place to bird, and wonderful people to bird with.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brown Pelican

We headed to the coast this afternoon to escape the heat in Elkton. At Reedsport we stopped, spread out a blanket on the grass on the banks of the Umpqua River and took a little nap.  Revived we traveled on to Winchester Bay where the wind was blowing hard and cold enough we had to put on coats. We spotted this Brown Pelican and he, or she, was so engrossed in its personal grooming that it didn’t seem to mind us getting close enough for this photo. I’m assuming a stiff wind is useful to the grooming process. This coloration of the adult will change next month when the neck turns white. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Staying Home

We are staying home for this 4th of July Holiday.  Was a time when a three day holiday was the ticket for getting out of town and having an adventure.  But, those where the days when we were tied down with full-time jobs and a three day holiday was a great escape.  Now in the free-wheeling structure of retirement we have many more options, and for years we have traveled, biked & hiked, and enjoyed all kinds of thrilling adventures any time we choose. However, recently we have began to slow down and reluctantly we seem to be choosing options of less travel and less adventure; which brings me back to the subject of  “staying home”.  That is the option we have currently chosen in regards to volunteering. So, this pretty little cabin with poppies in the yard is once more going to be more our home than just our vacation cabin.