Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Best of Spring

Western Meadowlark
This morning I seemed to have an abundance of energy that needed to be burned off, so I selected a bird hike on the Rich Guadagno Trail at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.  It's a beautiful trail that climbs and circles a butte through wonderful oak forest. An abundance of birds were making their presence known, most notabily the Western Meadowlark with it's melodious song. It was one of those glorious sunny spring mornings when one can't help feeling grateful to be alive.  Because I have lived in the Willamette Valley most of my life, I remembered that Feburary always has a week of unbelievable spring weather. We are right in the middle of that great weather right now.  Bright sunshine and warm temperatures every day, the flowers are starting to bloom, the birds are singing, it is the best of spring!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Buster Hunts Critters

Our dog Buster is photographed yesterday during a bird walk at Fairview Wetlands. He is watching intently for any movement in the dirt to give away the location of a critter.  Fairview Wetlands located near the Salem Airport is one of our regular birding hangouts, and one of Buster's favorites.   He recognizes the location before we even stop the car, and demands to get out of the car and get started on the hunt. Birding for us is a family affair, it has to work out for all three of our family, suitable for me, Jeanette and Buster.  There are several National Wildlife Refuges close by with lots of outstanding birding opportunities, but because dogs are not allowed,  they are not suitable birding locations for us.  Instead we seek the city, county and state parks, where dogs are allowed and we can all enjoy an outing. At Fairview, Buster always patiently waits for us when we pause to identify and count birds along along the circular route around the ponds. But his preferred area is the section along the west side bordering Fairview Industrial Drive that is riddled with holes and mounds of earth left by the critters, here is where his hunt begins, and he searches intently for the scent of any fresh activity. Once a fresh mound is selected he stands rigidly still in total concentration.  He may ponce and dig furious in an effort to catch his intended victim.  But his attention is always broken as we walk on, he then gives up and moves to the next possibility. It's a winning combination, while we hunt for birds to identify and count, Buster hunts for critters.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Red-breasted Sapsucker

This photo, taken yesterday during a bird walk in the Dallas City Park, is our first sighting of the year in Polk County of a Red-breasted Sapsucker. The spring weather has the sap moving in the trees and this member of the woodpecker family is visiting his sap wells for sap and any insects that might have be attracted to the sap. If you look closely at the photo you can see the round hole he has made previously with the sticky sap at the edges. Even more interesting in the photo is the dull look to his eye.  Notice the shine coming from a partially closed eye lid.  It's a translucent third eyelid, technically called a nictitating membrane. It allows protection to the eye while still allowing visibility. In this case the sapsucker's eyes are protected from flying wood chips and sap while drilling. This interesting feature is found in not only birds but fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Ok, call me a bird nerd, I can't help rambling on about things I find fascinating.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adair Pond

We stopped late yesterday afternoon at the Department of Fish & Wildlife District Office north of Corvallis to bird at Adair Pond. The pond is a place we have fond memories of particularly because we have spend a couple of seasons volunteering at that location. This was the final stop for us on a seven day trip.  We left last Thursday morning in our Winnebago and spent a week looking at RVs, working on our house in Elkton, and birding on the coast with our friend Glenn. It was a fun trip for us with just the right amount of work, play, adventure, and relaxation. And our campsite costs for the week were zero!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Great Day Of Birding

Jeanette & Glenn
We met our friend Glenn early this morning on the Smith River estuary for some birding. Although it was a perfect morning with low tide, the birds were a little scarce, we could only come up with a list of 18 species, so after an hour we moved on to Reedsport. Here is our checklist for Staples Road on the Smith River estuary. 
Great Egret

In Reedsport we took Glenn on an old favorite route of ours on the Schofield Levee. Here we found an abundance of birds, ending up with an observation list of 40 species, perhaps a record for us. Checklist for our Reedsport list.
Jeanette & Glenn on the levee
Red-shouldered Hawk

Friday, February 5, 2016

Birding at Dusk

It's a well know fact that the most productive hours of the day to bird are the morning hours.  We have proven this to ourselves over the years many times.  The second most productive time of day is reported to be the hours just before or at dusk.  This is something we really don't have much experience with, but today we got to test it out.  After a busy day we realized we had not got out for our Buster & Bird walk.  We were just approaching Cottage Grove in our motor home in late afternoon and a walk in the Row River Nature Park sounded like a perfect idea. 

One thing we discovered is that white birds show up pretty good in the low light of dusk.  Above in a Great Egret. Below is a pair of Buffleheads. We were able to identify 20 different species in the hour we spent here at dusk.

We are camped for the night a few blocks away from the park at Walmart.  This particular Walmart is a great place to stay.  They ask that you register with them, taking your name, phone number, vehicle type, license number, and departure date.  In exchange you get a free place to park for the night.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Waiting for the Daffodils

This Mourning Dove hunkered down under a rhododendron bush in my back yard caught my attention this morning. Fluffed up for warmth along side some daffodil shoots, I realized instantly that he symbolized my mood today.  I am  basically hanging around inside the warmth of my house waiting for the weather to warm-up, the sun come out, and the daffodils to bloom. Spring can not come too soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Caught in the Act

WARNING: This post contains material appropriate for mature audiences only!

Yesterday morning the sun came out early so I made a quick trip to the Salem Audubon Society's Audubon Nature Reserve for birding. The sun was working it's magic and lots of birds could both be heard and seen. Just as I was leaving I happened to notice the following activity.

Raccoons are always considered nocturnal, yet here in broad day light, I caught them doing the deed.

She suddenly realizes they are being watched.

"Ah, we were just hugging a little"