Monday, April 29, 2013

Suprise in Elkton

This is a Lark Sparrow that I spotted and photographed on Friday. It was a surprise to find this bird here in Elkton as it is normally seen in Southern and Central Oregon.  In fact, in looking at the reported observations in eBird it has only been reported once before in Douglas and Coos Counties.  We saw this Lark Sparrow and one more mixed in with several American Goldfinches during our morning walk. They are striking birds with the sharp contrasting colors of facial stripes.  Another clue which is not evident in the photo is a black central spot on a plain stripe less breast. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Birding at Wild Mare

After surviving our perilous journey from Powers we settled into a peaceful overnight stay and some birding at Wild Mare Horse Camp.  Located in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Wild Mare Horse Camp is a campground constructed for horse users with a horse corral in each site. Because our preferred campground at Bluebill Lake next door is still closed for the season and Wild Mare is open and empty we selected a site there. When I first stepped out from the RV yesterday morning the first bird I heard was a Wrentit like the one shown above.  They are easy to hear but hard to see.  We heard over a dozen of them during our morning of birding.  This particular Wrentit I brought out of the bushes by whistling its song, enabling me to get this photo.  Although they are shy birds that prefer to stay hidden, but their curiosity seems to get the best of them. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Powers County Park

Jeanette is shown birding at the huge pond in Powers County Park yesterday afternoon.  We had pleasant memories of camping here years ago, in the mid-nineties when Jeanette and I were on a fall bicycling tour. We had started in Coos Bay and cycled down the coast to Gold Beach, up the Rogue River to Agnes, over the top and down to Powers, and then returning to Coos Bay. My folks had joined us for a few days in their RV, camping with us at Agnes, Powers, and Bandon.  The pleasant memories of that trip influenced my decision to return here to camp and bird. I was shocked to discover that the twisty winding road to and from the isolated community of Powers is no place for a man my age to be driving a RV. I was passed by an empty logging truck, and a full one wanted to run right over the top of me. In short, we will probably never return. We did have a brighter spot in the day yesterday with a morning stop in Coquille and a very pleasant walk and birding experience on the Coquille Riverwalk.  This one will be a return destination. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Return of the Purple Martins

Purple Martins have returned to the Northwest from their wintering grounds in South America.  I took this photo yesterday at the boat docks of Tenmile Lakes County Park.

Jeanette and I have taken off in our Winnebago View for a three day mini tour into Coos County. We drove down yesterday afternoon to Lakeside and stopped for an overnight at Tenmile Lakes County Park.  It’s the last week of their winter rates of fifteen dollars a night for a site with water and electricity, so a pretty good deal. Our plan for the day is to travel on through Coos Bay, Coquille, Myrtle Point and on to Powers to stay in the Powers County Park. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Walk around the Pond

This morning Jeanette and I went to Roseburg to bird with the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society at the Stewart Wildlife Ponds.  One of the highlights was watching this mother Canada Goose take her babies down to the water’s edge for a drink and a little swim. The event, titled “Walk around the Pond”, was led by Matt Hunter a phenomenal birder who can identify an unbelievable number of birds just by sound. He pointed out birds that we would have missed altogether, with the result being I was able to add some new birds to my Douglas County List and my Life List.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Birding at Winchester Bay

This is a historical marker at Ork Rock, a Douglas County Park, one of several places we stopped yesterday afternoon while birding at Winchester Bay.  The weather forecast was a 30 percent chance of rain, but we enjoyed 100 percent sunshine!  We identified and counted a good number of birds, you can look at the list by clicking here

Monday, April 15, 2013

Horned Grebe

This is a Horned Grebe in the process of changing into its breeding plumage.  I took this photograph yesterday afternoon at Winchester Bay where I spent a couple of hours looking for birds, amazingly enough in the sunshine.  It was raining when I left my site at Oceanside RV Park at 11:30, raining when I filled up with diesel at the Pony Village Safeway, and still raining when I filled the propane tank at North Bend, but by the time I got to Winchester Bay the rain had ceased and the sun was out.  I watched three Osprey preform numerous aerial displays, put up with numerous squawking Western Gulls, and admired diving Common Loons in their black and white breeding plumage. I took over 100 photos and this Horned Grebe is my favorite of the day. I saw about six of these small grebes, but they continued to move their diving just far enough away to make photographing difficult. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Western Gull

It’s raining this morning at my site in Oceanside RV Park, so I’ve elected to sit at the computer and work on photos I’ve taken the last few days. The more electricity I can use here, the better I feel about my registration fee. One of the birds I’ve update this morning in the Critters section of Cascade Ramblings is the Western Gull as shown above. I’ve been able to add two different stages in the gull’s development. Click on Western Gull to see the new photos. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Buster at the Beach

I woke up to rain this morning, and it continued to look threatening, so when I got to Millicoma Marsh I left Buster in the motor home while I went birding. After lunch I made it up to him, the sun came out, and we drove out to Cape Argo and stopped at Bastendorff Beach so he could get in a good run. He loves to run in the soft sand at full speed. I elected to stay tonight at Oceanside RV Park; it looked so inviting with its open sites in the full sunshine as compared to the shady sites at the less expensive Bastendorff Beach County Park next door.  So I’m in complete luxury tonight with all the electricity I want, cable TV, and free Internet, plus water and sewer which I don’t need yet. For a day with a poor weather forecast, it turned out amazingly nice.   

Friday, April 12, 2013

Busy and Interesting Day

I took 65 photos today, and I’ve looked through them all trying to pick one that best shows off the day, and this one strikes me as kind of interesting.  It’s taken in Winchester Bay, and I’m struck by the fact that a Western Gull is sharing this piling with three Double-crested Cormorants. Usually I think I’ve seen Gulls together or Cormorants together, not Gulls and Cormorants.  If you look closely at the Cormorant in the left you can see he is flying his double crests, a sure sign of breeding season.

I’m setup tonight at Wild Mare Campground, North of Coos Bay. Bluebill Lake Campground is where I normally like to go, but it is still closed for the season. Even after a good walk this morning at Millicoma Marsh, Buster still wanted to go for a walk this afternoon so we walked over to Bluebill Lake and around and I got some good photos of this busy Hairy Woodpecker. He seems determined to make the Mrs happy. Hopefully third time is the charm.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

View With A View

This is our Winnebago View with the view from campsite # 15 at Tahkenitch Landing Campground on the Oregon Coast.  Jeanette is in San Francisco for a week visiting grandson Bobby, so today I packed up Buster and the View and we are off camping, hiking and birding on the Oregon Coast for a few days. We spent the afternoon exploring the campground checking out the camping sites, looking for birds and ended up hiking out to the Tahkenitch Dunes. Tomorrow we will be off seeking another exotic location to hike, bird and camp. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Staying Dry

Turned out to be a raining morning, so I didn’t get any good photos during our Bird Walk.  However, when I down-loaded the camera into the computer I did have this photo which I had taken on Sunday. Sunday was also a rainy day, but this little female Rufous Hummingbird took advantage of the dry location of the feeder to stay out of the rain.  I had just moved the feeder back under the pouch a few inches which gives it a little more protection.  We had several hummers linger longer at the feeder the rest of the day. One thing I like about this photo is you can see the birds tongue protruding from the end of its bill.  This long tongue is what the humming birds use to lick up the nectar or juice. (click on the image for a larger view) 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chipping Sparrow

This Chipping Sparrow is one of the birds we will be looking for on Wednesday’s Bird Walk here in Elkton. Mainly a summer resident in Douglas County, it is normally seen from April through September, and in fact I took this photo last Friday April 5. They are not as numerous or as well-known as the Song Sparrow or House Sparrow, but striking in appearance with an equally unusual song.  I know my readership is far flung, but if by chance you are in close proximity consider yourself invited to attend.  The walk starts at 10:00AM every Friday at the Tyson City Park in downtown Elkton.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Armchair Birding

Today is a very rainy stormy day so I am settled into my recliner monitoring our hummingbird feeder.  Buster likes it too. Armchair Birding may be a new category, perhaps even develop into a fad. --- photo by Jeanette

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Seeking a Cure

Too many rainy days in a row had given me cabin fever, so this morning we drove over to Winchester Bay on the coast hoping to see some different birds. High tide and winds made large swells, and crashing waves and no birds.  Plan “B” became checking out nearby Lake Marie.  Here the coastal forest gives protection to this small lake and the circling trail called us for a walk.  We heard an Osprey cry, the chatter of Steller’s Jays, and spotted a lone Pied-bill Grebe. But then the new Salal blooms caught my attention, and next the Salmonberry blossoms dripping with water.  Memories of past spring hikes with Salal and Salmonberry along forest trails filled my mind. We took a side trail out to the sand dunes where Buster got to run wild. Our short hike earned us an appetite which we appeased by eating our lunch at a picnic bench beside the lake while a Pacific Wren sang its heart out.  My fever had dissipated; once again I was made whole. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mallard Pair

We spotted this female and male Mallard Ducks yesterday on a pond in the Elkton Community Education Center.  They serve as a visual representative of what we saw during yesterday’s Elkton Bird Walk, lots of pairing up.  In addition to this Mallard pair, we also so in pairs: Canada Geese, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Violet-green Swallows, and Dark-eyed Juncos. We also saw sparrows, crows, doves, and jays in number too large to discern pairs. The point is it’s that time of year and the birds are pairing up to begin nesting. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hawk with a Snake

Today while walking back from the Elkton Community Education Center counting birds we were looking at a group of Turkey Vultures soring overhead when Jeanette noticed than one was not a Turkey Vulture but a Red-tailed Hawk and it had a snake! The quality of the photo is not the greatest but it’s hard to hit a moving target especially while trying to miss the power lines filling the foreground.