Sunday, December 30, 2018

Duck Trifecta

In this photo of six ducks we have three sets of couples representing three different species! In the front are a male and female Green-wing Teal, in the middle a male and female American Wigeon, and in the back a male and female Northern Pintail. This photo was taken at Fairview Wetlands yesterday. The complete list and photos can be seen here.

For bird photos I use the Nikon Coolpix P900 with the amazing x83 zoom.  This shot was at such a distance I had no idea of what kind of ducks I was photographing.  Immediately after taking the photo I knew I had a collection of birds, but it wasn't until I down-loaded the photos into my laptop that I was aware that I had three separate species in the one photo. Jeanette had already counted a good number of Green-winged Teals and Northern Pintails, but it wasn't until taking this photo I realized that we also had two American Wigeons.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Winter Survival

Hairy Woodpecker

Yesterday marked the official first day of Winter, and I'm happy to recognize that we are coping quite well.  As opposed to many years in the past two decades when we have escaped South for the winter, we have come to the decision this year to stay put in Oregon.  It's a decision that we came to gradually as our calendar continued to fill up with appointments and activities.  Anxiety with long distance we would travel played a big part too. In the end it seemed the easiest and perhaps wisest to stay home.  We are feeling it is working out for the best.  The latest confirmation is the event of cataract surgery for me, which will keep us occupied into February. 

It's been a record dry and warm fall in Oregon, so it's been easy for us to get in daily dog/bird walks, and occasional short trips in our camper van provide us with some sense of adventure. Birding continues to occupy center stage, and the pursuit of bird lists and photos brightens our days and truly is one of the keys to happiness and winter survival. One of the volunteer responsibilities I have is at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve where this photo of a male Hairy Woodpecker was taken on Wednesday.  Hairy Woodpeckers are year around residents here in the Willamette Valley, and today I am reflecting on how they survive winter.  I strikes me that winter is not much of a problem for them.  Their food supply is just a few pecks away, never covered entirely by snow, or washed away by floods, a safe pantry locked up and waiting.  We're really not that different, our cupboards and shelves are stocked with food stuffs, and stores are close by.  I think we will survive just fine. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Seeking Sunshine & Birds

We are back home in West Salem following our fun week at the coast.  We are feeling a little let down weather wise after the mild temps and sunshine we experienced.  This morning, pinned in with cold fog, by chance I looked at Trip Check and noticed that South Salem had bright sunshine. We piled into the car, noticing the temperature was 37 and drove to Fairview Drive Wetlands which is out south by the airport.  Here the world was 46 and bright sun shine. We got in a good bird walk which netted us this handsome male American Kestrel. You can see the list here. So, when people ask if we are going south this winter, we will say yes, down to Fairview Drive Wetlands.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ferry Road Park

Yesterday morning as we were on our way to go birding at Bluebill Lake I noticed a park off to the right just at the foot of the McCullough Memorial Bridge that crosses over Coos Bay. After birding at Bluebill we returned to explore this park called Ferry Road Park.  It looks like it gets a lot of use as a play ground and a park to walk dogs, but we looked at it through the lens of birding, and were surprised at its great potential, to the point that I have recommend it to e-Bird as a Hot Spot.  Besides the playground and picnic area at the parking lot, there are some nice walking trails, and most important  from a birders view point access to the bay. Below are two birds I photograph while there.

 Western Grebe

Spotted Sandpiper 

This stop capped our three day stay in the North Bend/Coos Bay area, which has been filled with birding past favorite birding locations and adding new locations. We spent a good amount of time at Ferry Road Park yesterday, resting, having lunch, birding, and computer work. In late afternoon we traveled on north on 101 to William Tugman State Park for our overnight parking spot.  The parking area in the Day Use Area at the boat ramp is recognized as a State Rest Area and overnight parking is allowed.  We have known about this for a couple of years, and now we can say we have stayed here.  This was our fourth night out on this trip and our camping fees were a total of zero!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

North Bend/Coos Bay

Jeanette at Mingus Park

We spent yesterday hanging around North Bend and Coos Bay enjoying a glorious full day of sunshine. We had spent a quiet night parked in the Pony Village parking lot.  In fact we parked next to a Christmas Tree lot.  The owner came over to strike up a conversation with us and admire our Roadtrek Zion.  His parting words were, "If security gives you any problem, tell them your working for me."

Not having to get on down the road, we had a leisurely morning; coffee, watched the morning news, and had breakfast.  By 10:00 we drove to the bank for some cash, Walmart for shopping, and a stop for propane.  The digital meter for propane in the van read empty, but the attendant couldn't get any propane in. After spewing enough propane out his loose connection to set off our propane alarm in the van, he pronounced it full and noted the gauge on the tank read full.  He decided he was going to charge me for 2 gallons of propane, but when he couldn't get his computerized cash register to work he waved me off. Next was lunch at Subway before driving to Mingus Park for some birding.

Mingus Park was a good choice.  The sun shone brightly, the ducks were plentiful, people strolled the walkways, and Buster got to meet lots of other dogs.  Everybody was in a good mood.  Below are a couple of the most striking ducks we saw.  For the complete list click here.

Eurasian Wigeon

Hooded Merganser

We left the busy park to spend the rest of the afternoon in the quiet parking lot of the North Bend Boardwalk. My time was used to work on photos and the bird list, Jeanette and Buster relaxed.  Cell service was puzzlingly poor, so we moved to our next planned early dinner spot, Captain's Choice Family Fish House.  Cell service was good there and I could download photos.  We enjoyed take-out fish and chips in the van and possibly the best clam chowder ever. For our night parking we returned to our guard job at the Christmas Tree lot for a second night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New Birding Spots and A New Life Bird

Jeanette at Hall Lake

Yesterday morning we continued on our way from our over-night spot at Three Rivers Casino in Florence.  Temperature was a cool 39 degrees, but that was 10 degrees warmer than the morning before in Salem.  Our first birding stop of the day was at Hall Lake, a small overlooked lake in the Siuslaw National Forest just across Hwy 101 from William Tugman State Park.  I had visited this lake some ten years ago while living in Elkton and searching for fishing destinations, but I had never stopped here to bird.  I had the hunch that it might be good for birds, and it turned out to be as our short stop here in the cold netted 14 species.  The bird list can be seen here. We next went over to the William Tugman State Park and enjoyed a sunny spot in the Day Use Area where did some more birding, had lunch, and relaxed and got caught up on bird photos and lists.  In mid afternoon we moved on South to the Coos Bay area.  Another new birding spot that I wanted to check out was the North Bend Boardwalk. Here we had the great good fortune of Jeanette discovering some busy little busy birds, which later I identified as Palm Warblers, classified as a "Rare" bird.  Perhaps even more important to us is it a new Life Bird for us.  For any non birders, that means a bird you identify for yourself for the very first time. Life Birds get harder to find the longer you bird , so they also get to be a bigger deal.

Palm Warbler 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Escaping Sub-Freezing Temps

The temperature was 29 degrees,when we pulled out of our drive-way in Salemtowne yesterday morning. Wallace Road had been sprayed with de-icer. Mid 20 degree temps are forecast this week for the Willamette Valley so we are hanging out at the coast for the week.  It looks like we will not be traveling to Arizona this winter, for a variety of reasons, so this is enacting our survival plan.  Anytime the temps are this cold we go to the coast where milder weather usually assures us a 10 degree or more advantage.

The above photo was taken late after-noon yesterday at the Three Rivers Casino in Florence.  Notice the sunshine and the empty parking lot!  This was our night parking spot and it was very quiet.  A short walk to the Blue Bill Sports Bar in the casino netted up a nice dinner. We will venture on to the Coos Bay area today to spend the next three days, where day time highs will be in the mid to high 50s and night time lows in the upper 30s. The forecast is also for dry weather, so we are also planing on some good birding everyday.