Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finding Crossbills

I’m still sorting through my digital photos, deleting some, and organizing others in folders.  I came across this photo of Red Crossbills feeding on Sitka Spruce cones. You may have to look close to spot the male hanging upside down, and then there is a striped juvenile up and to the left.  Red Crossbills are fairly common in the Coast Range, but as this photo illustrates they blend in with the cones so well, that I think they are easily missed. Plus adding to the difficultly, they seem to prefer cones way at the top of the trees. They normally travel in flocks and are quite vocal and very busy.  When hiking in the coast range, keep ears open and look to the top of the conifirs for some commotion and you will probably spot these easily overlooked birds.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cleaning Out My Desk

Most people have had the experience of having to clean out their desk when they leave their job.  It’s one of the last things you have to do, and it’s always a bitter-sweet experience as you go through your desk and files and find things that should have already been discarded, projects never finished, and items that hold pleasant memories. For me, cleaning out my desk in this case is cleaning up my photo files.  Hundreds and hundreds of photos have been taken over the past month at Beaver Creek and the surrounding area.  Some turned out to be good photos, but many need to go in the trash, out of focus, bad lighting, repetitive, etc... But a couple I have come across represent unfinished work. One is of a mushroom taken on the Beaver Creek Loop Trail, chalk white with neither spores nor gills underneath the cap.  The other is a large moth I found one morning clinging to the shingles on the side of the Welcome Center, camouflaged so well it’s hard to make out any defining characteristics.  I’ll save them both and maybe someone at some point will give me a hand in identification. Tomorrow is our last day; after our shift is complete we drive home to Salem. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Straggler from the Sky

Quite a few birders around the state have been reporting flocks of migrating Greater White-fronted Geese passing overhead on their way south. I haven’t seen any yet, but it’s probably from my lack of experience to be able to differentiate them from flocks of Canada Geese. When we headed out to Ona Beach this morning if I had been able to articulate my wish for the morning it would probably have been to see some Greater White-fronted Geese.  You can imagine my surprise and pleasure to find such a goose on a little island in Beaver Creek at Ona Beach.  I consider it my “gift of the day”.  You can tell from the lack of white on the forehead that it is a juvenile.  My guess is that it got dropped from a passing flight last night or very early this morning.  I’m hoping that after a day or more of rest, feeding and recuperation that it will join with another passing flock and continue its migration south.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Misty Morning on the Marsh

My mornings start early at the Welcome Center at Beaver Creek State Natural Area with unlocking the gate, putting up the flags and putting out the bird feeders.  I was stopped mid-way through my chores this morning by this view of the marsh from the observation deck. The morning mists were clearing away revealing the marsh. All was quiet; a pair of huge Great Blue Herons flew silently along the edge.

We are drawing close to the end of our job here; we will be leaving Monday morning, so I find myself in a reflective mood.  We have been volunteering as hosts for fifteen years now in places too numerous to mention, but each one has had its own natural beauty that has caused me to stop in my tracks at some point and take a deep breath and consider my great fortune to be in that time and place. Volunteering in unique, wild and beautiful locations has been an adventure that both Jeanette and I cherish. There is no pay, we volunteer our time, but on another level we have been paid many times over.    

Friday, September 19, 2014

Morning Magic

There is that time in many early mornings when everything appears to take on an aura of magic.  Yesterday was such a morning, the sun struck the world with it bight beams, the night’s rain sparkled, the air misty and pungent, and yet fresh. Colors seem most vibrant, everything appeared renewed. Through the camouflage of alder, spiraea, and cattails I spotted this Great Egret fishing along Simpson Creek in Beaver Creek Marsh. I should always be out and about to catch these magical mornings.   

Thursday, September 18, 2014

First Merlin

Yesterday, Steve a regular visitor at the Welcome Center pointed out a Merlin in the hemlock tree off of the observation deck.  I rushed out and got this photo.  I was particularly excited as this is the first Merlin of the season to be reported to eBird in Lincoln County.  Merlin spent their summers up in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, and then migrate to the lower 48 for the winter. They were last reported to eBird in Lincoln County in April.  As members of the Falcon Family they are extremely fast and like to make their catch of smaller birds in mid­-flight. I am hoping this female Merlin will find the bird feeders here at the Welcome Center productive and stick around for a while. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Black Oystercatcher

I always enjoy seeing the Black Oystercatcher with its brightly colored thick red bill. Over the years I’ve taken plenty of photos of them along the Oregon Coast, but this is the first time I have gotten a photo of one with its catch. I don’t think it has an oyster, but it looks to be a mussel, which are quite numerous on the rocks. I took this photo yesterday on the beach at Seal Rocks during a morning walk with our visiting friends Kerry & Debbie with our dogs Max and Buster.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hike to Snaggy Point

Our friends Kerry & Debbie Kliever, who incidentally have also moved to Salemtowne, are spending a few days visiting with us at the coast.  They are in their Safari TREK motor home staying at Seal Rocks RV Cove. They have a little dog named Max who is a great companion with our dog Buster. They are similar size and disposition and make great hiking buddies. Yesterday morning we all went hiking up to Snaggy Point here at Beaver Creek SNA. This is the location that I photographed Elk last summer.  We were not so fortunate to see any Elk this trip, but did get in a good four mile plus hike.  We had lunch at the Chowder Bowl in Newport, took a tour of the Yaquina Light House, and after I had a quick nap, we had dinner at Nana’s Irish Pub. A pretty good way to spend our day off.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not Just About Birds

Some readers might have begun to think my blog is just about birds, but actually I enjoy lots of other things.  I have long been interested in native plants and flowers.  Here are a couple of wild fruits I have taken photos of this past week.  The top photo is of Crabapple fruit, the lower photo is of Black Twinberry.  Their bright colors in the late summer always get my attention.  The birds seem to be attracted to them too; oops there I go about birds again.  Well, maybe this blog is for the birds. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Next Morning, Next Beach

Seal Rock Beach is only two miles south of Ona Beach, so that seemed like a logical next beach destination yesterday morning.  Our timing was impeccable, arriving just as the morning sun was hitting the rocks and at low tide to boot. We practically had the place to ourselves and spend a fun hour identifying and photographing birds. 
Cormorant and moon


Harlequin Ducks

Black Oystercatcher

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Morning at Ona Beach

I had a good morning birding and photographing at Ona Beach, it’s only about five minutes from where we are set up at Beaver Creek State Natural Area.  When I got there the moon was still showing among the snags. The birds were going about their morning business.    
 I caught a juvenile Hooded Merganser it what appeared to be a morning stretch.
Small Sandpipers were busy feeding.
 The only one who didn't seem to be having a good time was this lone Bald Eagle.  I must say he looked a little grumpy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Northern Pygmy-Owl

Jeanette and I are just finishing up our first week as Volunteer Hosts at the Welcome Center at Beaver Creek State Natural Area. We have had a lot of interesting visitors, which always makes the days go fast. Jeanette has gotten the lawns mowed and a lot of cleaning done, making the Center a little more presentable. I have been able to concentrate a lot on birds, and have identified 45 different species in this past week.  The bird that has gotten other birders the most excited is the Northern Pygmy-Owl we saw on Tuesday. As we were walking back to the RV after closing the Welcome Center at four o’clock, we heard a great deal of commotion up in a fir tree.  Looking at it with the binoculars we identified it as a Red-Crossbill. Then we noticed what had it excited, it was this Northern Pygmy-Owl in a nearby Hemlock tree. Thank goodness I got the photo, because we were not sure what kind of owl we had until we compared the photo to a number of bird guides. Northern Pygmy-Owls are very small, only about seven inches, and most interesting is that they do most of their hunting during the day.   

Saturday, September 6, 2014

World Shorebirds Day

I am posting this photo of a Spotted Sandpiper in recognition of World Shorebirds Day, the 6th of September. Cornell Lab of Ornithology posted this morning on Facebook about World Shorebirds Day featuring a Spotted Sandpiper as their bird of the week, which jogged my mind about this Spotted Sandpiper that I photographed yesterday on Beaver Creek at Ona Beach.  It’s a juvenile, so that’s why it’s still missing its familiar spotted breast. The Cornell post pointed out that the Spotted Sandpiper is the most widespread sandpiper in North America.  It breeds as far north as Alaska, and winters as far south as South America.  We are fortunate in Oregon to be at the cross over point and are able to see them year around.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello from Beaver Creek

I took this selfie of Jeanette and me today while we were working in the Welcome Center here at Beaver Creek State Natural Area.  We are several days into our new job and seeking to find a rhythm to work and play as we settle in to this month long volunteer position. We now know our days off will be Monday and Tuesday.  We man the Welcome Center from 12 to 4 Wednesday through Sunday. That should be just four hours a day, but so far it is adding up to more like six hours. We were discouraged to discover that our cell phones are for the most part inoperable, but the park has provided us with a personal land line this year.  So if you want to call us in our RV the number is 541-563-6423, but if it is during work hours, the office number is 541-563-6413.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Magical Morning

I left home this morning for our new assignment at Beaver Creek SNA shortly after six AM, the streets where empty, the highways quiet. When I stepped out of the motor home for a break at Siletz Bay I was greeted with sunshine, the chatter of Kingfishers and the cry of gulls. I breathed deep of the fresh moist air and felt most fortunate to be alive and enjoying the moment. Traffic was so light that I was able to simply pull over to the curb at Depoe Bay and watch the fishing boats heading out on a calm sea.  The scene in the above photo caused me to pull over near Beverly Beach and marvel at the morning sunlight accenting the waves with the background of Yaquina Head and the Light House. All things seemed in harmony.  I’m not sure why more mornings are not like this, but this magical of mornings was one to remember and hold one to.