Sunday, March 31, 2013

Birding on the Oregon Coast

Yesterday we took advantage of the fantastic weather to go hiking and birding on the Oregon Coast.  To read more about this adventure, click on the Trip Journal entry here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Yoncalla Pond Again

We were so excited about discovering Yoncalla Pond as a new birding site that we returned again yesterday.  On this trip we explored the other side, the west side, coming in at the middle across the highway from Main Street.  This looks like it will be the main entrance eventually as the pond is developed. Already a new bridge has been installed across the west creek. The highlight of the day was meeting a friendly local, Alvin, who told us where to get ice cream at the Deli & Grill. He later showed us an additional pond, Mt Baldy Log Pond, which is yet another good birding destination.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Yoncalla Pond

Here is a photo from our birding trip to Yoncalla Pond in the town of Yoncalla yesterday.  This old log pond has great potential for an outstanding venue for nature lovers.  For twenty years it has been off limits to the public, but as of May of 2012 it is under the care of North Douglas Betterment, a nonprofit organization, and open to the public. They are currently in an Inventory & Assessment phase, but some trail clearing has already happened and walking around the perimeter of the 80 acre pond is possible. We found it an outstanding area to bird and I’m sure as it gets developed it will be a popular destination for walking and fishing as well. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bird With An Attitude

We went birding at Yoncalla Pond this morning where I got this shot of a Bushtit.  He appears to be looking at me with a kind of attitude like, “you look’n at me?” There were several of them flittering around in the blackberry bushes, but I could not get a close enough look for a photo.  We then tried calling them in closer with a recorded call on my iPod, and it was amazing how close in their curiosity brought them. This trip to Yoncalla was to check out a hunch I had based on a newspaper article I had read about the old logging pond being accessible after two decades of being closed to the public. Turns out it was a good hunch and we had an excellent birding experience. Look for more information in the near future.   

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Traffic Jam in Elkton

We practically had a traffic jam in Elkton this morning with people arriving at the city park to attend our first weekly bird walk. We have no traffic lights in downtown Elkton, but critters always have the right away. Sometimes it’s Wild Turkeys; today it was this Mallard and a Muscovy. For a full account of the bird walk check out the Trip Journal by clicking here.     

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Sofa

Today we had a new sofa installed in our motorhome.  You can only understand its importance if you know that in our motorhome the sofa is also the bed. We have put up with an unbelievable poor design for almost two years, we have tried many different solutions for support, and in fact for the last six months we have resorted to sleeping on the floor. If anyone out there is acquainted with Winnebago’s own brand, Comfort Sleeper Sofa, you will know what an oxymoron the name is. A nylon fabric sling is supposed to provide support over a harsh steel frame. We think we have found a much better sofa/bed at Countryside Interiors in Junction City in a Flexsteel Hidebed with an air coil mattress, which is what we had installed today.  Buster seems right at home with it.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

Anna's Hummingbird

Since the Rufous Hummingbirds have arrived we have not seen the Anna’s Hummingbirds until yesterday when this brave female snuck into to feed at the front porch feeder.  We have set up a second feeding station by the kitchen window and the Rufous seem to be concentrating on it.  Hopeful the Anna’s will get more opportunities to use the front feeder. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Continuing Signs of Spring

Despite nighttime temperatures in the thirties, and fogged in mornings, the sun continues to break through and give us signs of Spring.  Yesterday was typical in that pattern, and after lunch when the sun came out, Jeanette and Buster and I went for a bird walk out to the Elkton Community Education Center.  Jeanette is shown here spotting a CedarWaxwing in a tree.  When I got home and checked, I found it to be the first Cedar Waxwing to be reported in Douglas County this year.  This is early, eBird shows no past sighting in March, a few in April, and normal numbers in May. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Another Sign of Spring

I am always reminded of Spring when I hear the cry of a Northern Flicker or see them flipping through the dead leaves of winter.  This one that we saw yesterday has taken it a step further and is actually digging deep into the dirt after something, notice the dirt on the end of his beak and the hole in the ground.  Flickers, who are members of the Woodpecker Family, differ from the rest of the family in that it is quite normal for them to be spotted foraging on the ground.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Arriving Female

This female hummingbird at our feeder was a greeting for us when we arrived home in Elkton today.  It’s a female Rufous Hummingbird and a FOS, which in “bird talk” stands for First of the Season. When we left a week ago we had only been seeing a male who was very busy defending a feeder for himself against another male Rufous as I posted on March 14. From what I have read, female Rufous’ usually arrive a couple of weeks after the males, presumably allowing the males time to establish their territories. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as the season progresses. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cold & Wet

I made a quick trip out to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge this morning. I timed it and it's only 10 minutes from my daughter’s house in Dallas where we have been staying this week, so pretty handy. It was basically a birding trip in the car for Buster and me as it was so cold and wet. You can see from this Golden-crowned Sparrow, even he was kind of hunkered down and all fluffed up trying to stay warm.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cackling Goose

One of the side benefits of visiting family in Dallas is the proximity to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.  Located just a few minutes away from my daughter’s house, I was able to spend an hour birding there on Sunday afternoon and got this photo of a Cackling Goose.

I recently read in the “Handbook of Oregon Birds” by Herlyn and Contreras --- “The Willamette Valley/lower Columbia River area has the most complex wintering aggregation of geese in North America.”  This Cackling Goose serves as an excellent example of that statement. Until ten years ago, the Cackling Goose was considered the same species as the Canada Goose.  Now, it is a separate species, and in fact this particular goose is a subspecies of that new species. The new full scientific name is,  Branta hutchinsii minima.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

96 Years Old

My mother, who now resides in a care facility, turned 96 years old today. I owe a good deal of my appreciation for wildflowers and birds to her. When I was growing up she would always express such joy with the first flowers of spring, and the return of the nesting swallows. In later years she enjoyed many hikes up Iron Mountain in the Oregon Cascades and made up her own alphabetical list of wildflowers.  She took great pride in making an annual trek to the summit even into her eighties. She made a winter home for herself near the Salton Sea in Southern California, where Jeanette and I visited annually and shared in a growing interest in birds. Her awareness and communication have been taken from us by the ravages of dementia. I’ve cried way over 96 tears today, Mom. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Rainbow of Colors

The male Rufous Hummingbird is capable of displaying a rainbow of colors.  His normal pose may be seen as rather drab, as shown in the above photo, but is an instant he can flash additional brilliant colors, as shown in the lower two photos. 

These photos are of the same bird within a one minute time frame from 6:29 to 6:30 last evening. I think the reason for such a dramatic display is that his territory at the feeder was being challenged by a second male Rufous Hummingbird.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rufous Hummingbird

Today I finally got a photo of a male Rufous Hummingbird at our feeder. I have been seeing it daily since the afternoon of March 8th, which is the day I took and posted a photo of Anna’s Hummingbird at the same feeder.  Turns out it was the last day for the Anna’s.  In other words ever since the Rufous has arrived, the Anna’s has gone missing.  The intriguing thing to me about this is that the Anna’s, a slightly larger bird and a year around resident, gets chased away by the Rufous who has just flown in after wintering in the tropics. The female Rufous is supposed to follow in a couple of weeks.  You can bet I will be watching closely, and because of my successful experience of watching nesting hummingbirds in Lake Havasu last month, I will be trying my best to find a nest to watch here in Elkton. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Evening Grosbeak

This morning as I was sitting in my den waiting for the day to warm up a bit and get out of the thirty’s, I was thinking about the bird walk I would be taking out Schad Road,  and trying to anticipate what birds I would see.  To be honest the list did not include the Evening Grosbeak.  I think of them as arriving later in the spring, more like early summer, and yet here in a winter leafless maple tree along Elk Creek were four Evening Grosbeaks. I was happily surprised, but a little confused.  It was the first day of Day-light Saving Time, but it felt more like the birds had sprung forward a month, not an hour.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Monk Parakeet

Today I took friends Michael & Melisa Garguilo with me on a biding trip with the Umpqua Audubon Society.  We joined the group at their first stop, Fords Pond on the East edge of Sutherlin.  While we were all busy watching the likes of Northern Shovelers, Buffleheads, a Red Shouldered Hawk, and a Northern Harrier, someone noticed on the power line behind us this Monk Parakeet.  Although a first sighting for most of us in the group, there were a couple of people that had seen and reported it several weeks ago.  As strange as it seems to find this bird in the wild, there are known populations in Portland and San Francisco.  Perhaps this bird just got lost or tired in route. :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Home and Hummingbirds

I caught this male Anna’s Hummingbird at the feeder off our front porch this morning.  It feels good to be home to the moist green climate of coastal Oregon which has the smell of spring in the air. We have made it back north ahead of some of the migrants like Osprey and Swallows which we look forward to seeing soon. It’s good to see the year around residents like this Anna’s Hummingbird, and the Dark-eyed Oregon Juncos, which have been especially busy. Sweet sounds of the Varied Thrush and Black-capped Chickadees have put a smile on my face. It’s a cold foggy morning here in Elkton, Oregon, but the fog will burn off and bright sunshine is expected this afternoon, and my wife Jeanette and our dog Buster will be off counting birds.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And Butterflies Too

Besides birds, I am interested in butterflies too.  In fact in the Critters section of Cascade Ramblings you will find 14 different species of butterflies. During our birding hike on Sunday afternoon at Sycamore Grove Campground, these two different butterflies caught my attention.  They were involved in a fierce dog-fight, and because of their large size they looked like a couple of hummingbirds involved in a dispute. Once they settled down on the ground to rest I was able to get their photos.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

Monday, March 4, 2013

Help with Blog Search

I seem to have a problem with the Search Box for this blog.  It no longer can complete a search of the blog. I’m hoping someone out there in the audience has experience with Blogspot or eBlogger and can offer a suggestion for a fix. Any help?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bluebird of Sycamore Grove

Today’s destination was the Sycamore Grove Campground in Red Bluff, California.  It’s one of our all-time favorites. It seems to be mostly overlooked by traveling RV’ers, which is fine with us because we have never had a problem with getting a spot.  Our campsite for the night was 16 dollars, but because it’s a National Forest Campground and we have the Senior Pass, it only costs us 8 dollars. Besides being economical we love the setting.  Located right on the Sacramento River it has miles of hiking trails with excellent habitat for birds. This explains why we got our driving time done early today so that we would be able to go birding this afternoon.  We spent three hours, walked over three miles and identified 24 different species of birds, among which was this Western Bluebird.  It was just what we needed to do to shake off three days of freeway driving.  We normally like to spend several days here hiking and birding, but with snow in the forecast for the Siskiyous for Tuesday, we are going to climb over them tomorrow. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Free for the Picking

Today we started our northward migration, driving as far as Bakersfield, California and the Orange Grove RV Park. We have stayed here many times coming and going to Arizona.  It’s conveniently located with easy access off the highway and is consistently well maintained.  And, because it’s actually in orange grove, you are allowed to pick oranges for free. We had an easy day of driving with perfect weather. Tomorrow it’s on to Dos Reis County Park south of Stockton.