Saturday, March 25, 2017

Return of the Osprey

The Osprey have made their annual return to the West Salem area.  I was made aware of their presence on Thusday by email and photos that my neighbor Lou Nelson sent me. She happens to drive by the nesting site on Murlark Avenue several times a week, and Thursday March 23rd was her first sighting of this season.  Last year Jeanette saw them for the first time on March 20th, and the year before I noticed them on March 25th.

I went by the nest site this morning and took this photo.  I was lucky enough to be there at the time the male brought in a stick to the platform.  When I first got there the female, which is the larger one on the right, was alone on the nest and crying out loudly.  Suddenly the male, which is the smaller one on the left, appeared and flew down to the nest with a large stick.  If you look closely at the photo (clicking on the image will enlarge it) you can see the stick that is on the top, and also notice the scrutiny in the look of the female.  This is a ritual they will preform many times in this next week or so as they build an acceptable crude network of sticks for their nest.

I checked out all six nesting sites that I keep track of in West Salem this morning.  Of the six, three where occupied, but only the one on Murlark is to the building stage.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Recap of our Winter Escape

Cooper Creek Reservoir

We arrived back home in Salem Oregon yesterday afternoon, Thursday March the 23rd.  One of the stops we made on our route back to do some birding was Cooper Creek Reservoir just outside of Sutherlin Oregon two days ago. My thoughts over the last few days has been of the statistical nature, thinking  about all the states and counties we have birded in since leaving home on January 10th.  If you are not much in to statistics, you might want to move on to something else, but if you are interested, read on.  Birding kind of drove our trip, and we made it a point to walk and seek out some birds every day. To recap our birding experience: We were gone for 73 days in our attempt to seek some sunshine and escape the Oregon rain, and turned in 114 bird observation lists in 30 different counties.  This involved the four states of Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. We discovered many new places and revisited many old favorites. In all we enjoyed the combination of the RV life style and the birding experience. I'm sure there are many more trips in our future.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Mystery of San Lorenzo

We arrived here at San Lorenzo Regional Park on Saturday, and by the time we leave on Friday we will have been here a full week. We first found this park in November of 2010. Fleeing the crazy congestion of the Bay Area, we stopped for a night, and stayed for a week. It's an easy place to camp.  At 100 camping sites, there's certainly one to fit any ones taste.  Pull through sites with full hook-ups, sites with water and electricity only, or just plain tent sites.  Rest rooms with showers,  a group meeting building, even a 24 hour laundry. Towering trees provide shade if wanted, open areas provide sun. Miles of trails to stroll or get in some exercise, or in our case, specifically to go birding.  At least three museums provide displays of the agriculture and history of the area.  A train depot with track and train car, farm tractors of every description are spread out through the large day use area, there is no reason to be bored here. This Monterey County Park is huge, in spite of being squeezed between busy Highway 101, the Salinas River and the town of King City, it has the relaxed feeling of being apart from civilization.  Here is the mystery, with the exception of a large group than came in yesterday, we have practically had the park to ourselves. Only a half dozen other sites have been occupied in this 100 site campground.  Why is it the park not full?  We have enjoyed perfect weather with temps in the 70s and 80s.  The rates are very economical.  The little town of King City is convenient for groceries, fuel, or almost any necesiteies. Access is easy off of Highway 101. It's a mystery I continue to ponder, against a backdrop of desert parks in Arizona and other areas of California where campgrounds are crowded to the point of making reservations a necessity.  In addition to campers being a scarcity here, so are volunteers. The mystery of San Lorenzo deepens and continues.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pleasant Time In Pleasanton

Today we arrived in Pleasanton California and are expecting a pleasant couple of days with my sister-in-law Mary Sites.  Mary's dog Hollie, and our dog Buster always have a good time together. The weather is a perfect 70 degrees, without wind or rain, a very pleasant day. Mary took us on a bird-walk this afternoon at the near-by Kottinger Park.  Here is a link to our observation list. Based on the weather conditions in Oregon, and on the advice of friends there, it sounds like we should stay in sunny Calfornia a while longer.

Picture of Jeanette and I taken by Mary

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RV Traveling Tips

Since last posting we have driven from the far southern border of Arizona, across the Colorado River, and the Mojave Desert, and up into Central California.  On long days of driving I often reflect on the marvels of traveling in this high tech age, and how much we depend on our iPhones.  In many ways, a smart phone may be your most valuable piece of traveling equipment.  It is an indispensable aid for us and here is why.

WEATHER:  We check the weather on our phone daily, as well as the weather in several locations. The above photo, taken at Davis Camp on the Colorado River, illustrates its value.  Traveling from the Phoenix area out towards the Mojave Desert, I was clued in to high winds with gusts over 50mph.  That is not the conditions I want to be driving in an RV.  So, we settled into the protection of a camping site at Davis Camp for another day, and then continued on with normal driving conditions.

NAVIGATION:  On this trip we have relied on our iPhone almost exclusively to plan our driving route. I has been indispensable in figuring mileage and guiding us though unknown locations. And of course we use it to find locations for fuel, groceries and miscellaneous shopping needs.

BREAKS:  We have found taking breaks during the day along our route is paramount to our sanity.  And here is where we use our iPhone to access eBird and locate birding Hot Spots to stop, get in a walk, count some birds, take some photos, and bring down our level of stress from driving. During the past two days we have made stops in cities along our route in Baker, Tehachapi and Delano with city parks that were unknown to us in spite of have traveled this route many times over the years.

OVERNIGHT STOPS: Jeanette found an app that has proven to be one of our most valued tools on this trip,  It shows us immediately where we are and all the nearby locations for free overnight parking.  And we can look ahead at any area and plan accordingly. Although we blend in stops at campgrounds with hook-ups, being self contained, we often just need a place to park for the night.

STAYING CONNECTED:  Using our iPhones allows us the luxury of travel to new and unexplored areas seeking good weather, and still be connected to family and friends although many miles away.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Patagonia Lake State Park Grand Finale

Green Kingfisher

Jeanette's sharp eyes spotted this female Green Kingfisher this morning. Smaller than our common Belted Kingfisher, and with a larger bill in proportion to the body.  It is listed as a rare bird here in the South West and found only in a small area of Southern Arizona. This was our last morning of birding here at Patagonia Lake State Park, and we took once again the Birding Trail. Here is our observation list. The Green Kingfisher is the 5th new spices I have added to my Life List while here at Patagonia Lake. This marks the end of the birding blitz we have been on here in South-Eastern Arizona, and one that has us hoping for a return next winter. Tomorrow we turn our route north and drive to Sun City to visit family, brother Mark & sister Kathy, then we make our way back through California with stops with more family and then on to home in Oregon. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Full Day of Birding

Buster & Jeanette birding from the paddle boat

Yesterday was rather questionable weather wise all day,  with overcast skies, cool temps and high winds.  Today with good weather in the forecast we planned to make a long bird walk on the Patagonia Lake State Park Birding Trail.  We had been told by a volunteer that the trail was where we would find the most birds.  We were out the door before 8:00am dispite the fact the temps were still in the 30s.  We took pitty on Buster and let him stay in the motor home.  The trail starts on the other side of the campgrounds, so we got a fast walk in to the trailhead.  We discovered it was indeed a fantastic area to bird and racked up a observation list of 47 species, which included a Rufous-winged Sparrow, another new addition to our Life Lists. Back to the motorhome, we took Buster for a short walk, had lunch and then rented a paddle boat to try out, and Jeanette made up another list. The two photos below were taken from the paddle boat.  After that excusion we drug our tired bodies back to the motor home and spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to recoup.

 Pied-bill Grebe

Cinnamon Teal