Sunday, January 29, 2012

Plat I Reservoir Birding

Yesterday we took our friends Michael & Melisa with us on an Umpqua Valley Audubon Society birding trip. It was called the “Raptor Run” and was led by veteran birders Dale & Elva Paulson. We started at Fords Pond, and then went to Plat I Reservoir, and then multiple stops along North Bank Road.  Jeanette, Buster, Melisa and Michael are shown here at Plat I Reservoir where Jeanette is probably pointing out the location of the two Bald Eagles we spotted here. As to raptors, for the day we spotted a total of 7 Bald Eagles, 8 Red-tailed Hawks, and one American Kestrel. In all we saw 31 different species of birds.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rare Trumpeter Swan Sighting

Yesterday morning Sue Butkus from the Elkton Community Education Center called to alert us of a swan she had spotted along Hwy 38 on her way to work.  We packed up our gear and went in search to see if we could find it and make identification.  We found it in a large field with 50 Canada Geese about a hundred yards from the highway.  Because of the distance it was hard to get a quality photo and make a positive identification.  But after considerable scrutinizing I’m relatively certain it’s a Trumpeter Swan, which is classed as a rare sighting in this area.  The other possibility is a Tundra Swan, which is a little more common, but is smaller and normally has a yellow spot at the base of its bill.  We hope to go back today for second look.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spotter at Work

On our way back to Elkton yesterday we stopped in Cottage Grove at the Row River Nature Park, informally known as the Cottage Grove Ponds, to do some birding.  When we are birding Jeanette usually serves as the spotter.  Her sharp eyes are almost always the ones to first spot a bird, then she points it out to me, and if I get a chance I get a photo.  Here she is using a bird call on her iPod to call out a Bewick’s Wren that she spotted which disappeared in the bush.  The Bewick’s came back out to investigate as well as a Pacific Wren. Jeanette was able to hold their attention long enough that I was able to get photos of both birds.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Narrow Escape

We had a narrow escape yesterday when we almost accepted volunteer positions at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center. Our own peculiar penchant of looking for volunteer opportunities put us in this precarious position. It started innocent enough; I left Jeanette by herself at the Visitors Center while I went to retrieve the motor home.  When I returned we were almost ready to sign a contract. It was only the viewing of the dark shaded host site and a few breaths of fresh air that brought us to our senses and saved us from making too hasty of a commitment. --- photo – Jeanette viewing Cook’s Chasm at Cape Perpetua.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Long Way Home

If you have been keeping track of our where-abouts, and you know your geography, you will know that the Sea Lion Caves are way north of our turn off to Elkton! But, that is where we were this morning at the Sea Lion Caves looking out over the ocean.  Actually today’s post should probably be titled “Good Fortune” or something similar, so let me explain.  Leaving Bullards Beach on Sunday morning we thought we were headed home to Elkton, but after stopping in Coos Bay for groceries, we realized we didn’t have to go home, and could spend some more time going up the coast on Sunday, the one sunny day in the forecast.  It instantly made real good sense, because for one I was tired of driving in the hard winds of Sunday, secondly it would allow us to stop at Cape Perpetua the following day and check out our volunteer whale watching site we would be manning in March. Plus we could swing through Dallas and attend an update on my mom’s care, and get in a visit with daughter Lisa and grandsons Will, Luke, & Jake. Two minutes after making the decision we pulled into the Mill Casino RV Park.  Now here is when the “Good Fortune” began to really become apparent. Not only could we relax and not continue driving, we found out that Elkton was without electricity!  So as I sat in my warm motor home watching the wind whip the waves across Coos Bay, sipping a glass or two of wine, watching the football games, I did consider myself most fortunate. And today as we continued up the coast in the bright sunshine stopping at the Sea Lion Caves, Cape Perpetua, and many other stops, we continued to consider ourselves most fortunate.  We are camped tonight at South Beach State Park and will continue on to Dallas tomorrow.   

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Whale Watching Training

Dr. Carrie Newell is shown here lecturing on whales during the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” training held at Bullards Beach State Park. Dr. Newell is a very enthusiastic, entertaining and informative person and we learned a lot about whales, and Gray Whales in particular. The purpose of the training is to prepare us for manning a whale watching site for two days in March.  We attended along with our Elkton neighbors Lyle & Stephanie Schnabel. The Schnabels and we made the somewhat perilous journey down here to Bandon in our RV’s yesterday, having to use Hwy 42 as Hwy 38 was closed. We will be returning to Elkton tomorrow, probably with a strong tail wind.     

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Juncos in the Snow

Seeing Juncos in the snow this morning in my front yard took me back to my very first sighting of a Junco, they were in the snow under my grandmother’s camellia bush. I remember vividly every detail of peering out the window and observing the sharp contrast of the dark colors of birds on the white snow as they searched for camellia flower seeds. That was 65 years ago, strange what an impression it made on my mind and is so clear all these years later.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bandon Marsh

Yesterday as we worked our way up the coast I got in several stops for birding besides the Garrison Lake stop as previously posted.  In Coos Bay I got to count a few birds in the Coalbank Slough while Jeanette did some shopping at Fred Meyer, and later at the Mill Casino RV Park we walked along the bank and counted some more.  But the most impressive stop was one we made earlier in the afternoon at the Ni-les’tun Unit of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. We got to see a number of expected birds there, but just at the end as I looked a little closer at what looked like just a stub in the marsh grass, I discovered a Wilson’s Snipe, a first for my Life List.  For more photos and information on the Ni-les'tun Unit, check out the Trip Journal for the first stop we made here in October.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Garrison Lake

We started working our way back home to Elkton today. A lunch stop was made at Garrison Lake in Port Orford where this photo was taken.  While Jeanette fixed lunch I counted birds, 10 birds in 10 minutes or so. Kind of interesting to me is that when we stopped here a few years ago to check out this lake it was through the eyes of a fisherman, today it was through the eyes of a birder. The weather is so nice we have decided to spend one more day and night on the coast.  We are camped tonight at the Mill Casino RV Park in North Bend, one of our favorites, and will drive on to Elkton tomorrow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sunny Days

This is our campsite at Harris Beach State Park where we have been enjoying the warm sunshine of the Southern Oregon Coast for a couple of days now.  We have gotten in some short hikes, I’ve hiked all five trails in the park, and we’ve done lots of birding. The plan is to head home tomorrow while the weather is still good and be ready for the cold and rainy weather that starts this weekend.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Escape to the Beach

We have been planning to spend a couple of nights at the coast in our RV, and were thinking of some place close like Sutton Campground north of Florence.  But this morning during the 6:00 news when the weather map showed a 64 degree forecast for Brookings, we shifted gears, and by 7:30 we were packed and were pulling out of Elkton bound for Brookings. We stopped for lunch at the harbor in Port Orford and later stopped to play a little bit at Lone Ranch Beach, just North of Brookings. We had a great time enjoying the sunshine on the beach, spotting Black Oystercatchers, and watching Ravens cavorting in the updrafts. We are set up tonight at Harris Beach State Park and will be here for a couple of nights, unless we change our minds.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chapter Two

This photo came from my neighbor’s roof top where I spotted this Black Phoebe yesterday.  Today while on my daily walk I saw a Black Phoebe, but at a different location, the Elkton High School, which is located in between my house and the Elkton Community Education Center where I took the previous posted photo.  I have yet to see two Phoebe’s together, so I am leaning toward the position that we have one solitary Black Phoebe that I have now seen in four different locations. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Black Phoebe

I snapped this Black Phoebe photo today in the pond at the Elkton Community Education Center. We are used to seeing Black Phoebes during the winter in California and Arizona, but not so much around here.  In fact the Umpqua Audubon Society lists them as uncommon in Douglas County. For several weeks now we have been seeing a single Black Phoebe hanging around our neighborhood, but I have not been able to get a photo. We have also spotted one a block away on a downtown building. The question now is how many birds have we seen; one bird in three different places, or three birds, each in a different location? Perhaps time will tell, as we will be paying close attention.    

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Fox Sparrow

We went to the coast yesterday in search of sunshine and birds.  This Fox Sparrow is the first bird we happened upon.  Someone mistakenly thought from its chipping sound that it was a Junco.  In her defense, I would say that they do sound quite similar, and that they are, after all, a member of the same family.  I think this sparrow is also often mistaken for a Song Sparrow.
We did have lots of sunshine and saw a good number of Fox Sparrows, Wrentits, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Our plan was to take the Carter Dunes Trail to the beach and be able to add some gulls and perhaps some Brown Pelicans.  In the end we were thwarted from our plan of reaching the beach due to high water covering the trail, and simply circled back on the Taylor Dunes Trail.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Start of the Year

Today we started the New Year with our first birding trip and observation submission to eBird with a trip to Reedsport.  We have a walk that we have been doing for a couple of years now along the Scholfield Levee that is always productive.  I have been kind of holding it in my back pocket for several months now to use as a starter for the year of 2012. We have been watching the weather and keeping our fingers crossed for this day.  We lucked out with a dry day and were rewarded with a respectable number of birds.  In all, we counted a total 286 birds, representing 27 different species. Jeanette is shown here at one of the stops along the levee counting ducks on the Reedsport Duck Pond.