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.