Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bird House ???

We left our over-night spot at Walmart yesterday morning at 8:00, pointing our van north up Hyway 101 towards home.  By the time we were close to William Tugman State Park, Buster's travel anxiety was in high volume, so we pulled in to the Day Use Area.  His medicine which we could not find before leaving Walmart was discovered in the refrigerator and administered, followed by a short bird walk.  It was during this walk that I noticed two bird house as in the photo above, located at the fish trap at the outlet of Eel Lake.  My first thought at a distance was someone had plugged the entrance of the bird houses with a can.  Once I had zoomed in with the camera I realize that they were actually surveillance cameras placed in a "bird house" look-a-like. I'm not sure if their purpose is to watch for spawning fish, or fish poachers. Here is our short bird list.

We pressed on with our route home, turning at Florence to drive west on Highway 126. Above Mapleton the road took on the look of winter as in the photo below.  The snow continued to deepen, and by the time we reached Veneta, where we planned to stop for lunch, the snow was so deep that only plowed out areas in the parking lots could be used.  After lunch we continue north on Territorial Road where snow plows and electric repair trucks we out in mass all the way to Monroe.  The snow depth decreased as we continued north, to the point of bare ground by the time we reached home in Salemtowne. A great relief to arrive home safe, and grateful for our lithium batteries that provide all the electricity we needed to run the furnace, power the lights, and run the micro-wave.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Day Three

Shopping in Florence

Our third day out on our little escape from the sub-freezing temperatures and snow of the Willamette Valley started out with bright sunshine.  After a night at Sutton Campground we stopped in Florence for shopping at Fred Myer, the Dollar Store, and Shell for gasoline. Heading south, we stopped to bird at Cater Lake, a long time favorite.  Although still sunny, a biting wind off of the lake made the 37 degree seem much colder.  Here is a link to our bird list with photos. Next was a stop in Reedsport of a hot sandwich at Subway and some more shopping. We continued south to the Coos Bay area, stopping at the North Bend Boardwalk to bird, but the cold wind quickly forced us back to the van.  We passed some time with computer stuff and an unsuccessful attempt to get TV reception.  Giving up, we went to the Captain's Choice Fish House for an early dinner. Our original idea was to park for the night at Pony Village, but with poor TV reception we decided to try Walmart which has a higher location.  Lots of room, and for TV we got a Medford station. The night descended into darkness and a full blown rain storm.  The cold and rain was depressing enough that we started to think of shortening our 10 day get-away plan. Checking weather and routes, it looked like Wednesday would be a dry break and we went to bed relieved in the thought of driving home the next day.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Kick'n Around Florence

Our morning started with breakfast at a little cafe in Florence where we heard from a couple that were stranded from returning to Eugene by a wrecked snow-plow that blocked the tunnel on  Highway 126.  Well that was all right with us we wanted to continue south towards Coos Bay. Oh no, piped up a local, you can't get through to Reesport because of snow and downed trees.  So, after breakfast we concluded it would be the best to just spend the day in Florence.  First we killed some time at the True-Value Hardware and purchaed a small electric heater 900 - 1500 watts for use in the van.  The 900 watt setting should work well with our 2,000 watt inverter. By then the rain had stopped and it was starting to clear so we went to check out the North Jetty.  The area was a real mess with the Siuslaw River on a muddy rampage.  We ventured north and checked out the Darlingtonia Reserve with the insect eating plants.  Wrong time of year for bugs, and there were absolutly no birds.  Next we stopped at the Sutton Lake Boat Launch.  Birds caught our attention right away.  A majestic Great Blue Heron sat quietly still in a patch of dead cattails.  A Red-winged Blackbird made his presence known.  As we continued to check off birds we followed Sutton Creek to the campground as the sun continued to win over the grey sky. We got in a nice walk and a respectable bird list which you can see here.  We decided to check the Sutton Campgound for TV reception.  It was good and cell service was adequate, so we decided to get a site and spend the night.  First site we looked at was a pull through with lots of open sky, which was good for us for solar, no need to look farther. Standard sites are 24 dollars, or 12 with a Senior Pass. We had lunch and clean-up, some down time to relax and work on photos.  After his nap, Buster wanted to go for another walk, we obliged, and Buster got to give chase to a bunny rabbit.
Darlingtonia Reserve

Sutton Lake

Site B-1 Sutton Campground

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Fleeing the Storm

Three Rivers Casino
This morning we noticed that the weather forecast for the next 10 days included 3 days of snow ane 7 days of temperatures in the 20s! We decided to pack-up the van and head for more moderate temperatures on the Southern Oregon Coast.  We were able to get it all together and leave home around noon, and by around 3:00 we pulled into Three Rivers Casino in Florence. Jeanette registered us for a free nights parking, and then we picked a spot #43.  I think there are around 100 spaces, and only 2 others had RVs.  We will mosey on down Hwy 101 tomorrow stopping to bird when the conditions are right.  While driving here, about the time we were driving down Highway 99W through Monroe, Jeanette got a National Weather Alert on her phone warning possible winter snow of 4" to 6" for Salem.  We feel we have made the right choice.
 #43 parking site

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Pair of Northern Flickers

It was a spring like day, with bright sunshine.  In a stop at nearby Brush College City Park, we couldn't overlook hearing the familiar rat-ta-tat-tat of Norther Flicker male trying to impress a female. We have been hearing him during our past three visits.  But today we got to see the next step as they got closer together,  her in a submissive posture, he in a dominating pose.  After examining the image closer when I got home, I noticed another surprising difference.  The male is a Red-Shafted variety, the female is a Yellow-Shafted variety.  Once considered separate species, the Red-Shafted and the Yellow-Shafted are now lumped together as Northern Flickers. The red crescent on the nape of the female was the first clue, and the yellow tail shaft feathers support that idea. The photo below shows the red shaft feathers of the male.

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Study In Winter Birds

One of the advantages of our staying home in Oregon this winter, instead of traveling to Arizona, is that we get to enjoy some winter birds that we might not see other wise.  This photo was taken yesterday south of Monmouth on Arlie Road at Suver, and shows two different species of swans, a Tumpeter Swan of the left, and a Tundra Swan on the Right. You will need to click on this photo to see an enlarged view and notice the differences in the bill and neck in these two different species.  You can also realize that what appear to be rocks in the foreground are actually Killdeer hunkered down in the fozen grass.  Jeanette counted over 100 Killdeer, 14 Tumpeter Swans and 30 Tundra Swans.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


We woke up to snow here in West Salem this morning, which gave me the perfect excuse to stay home and photograph the birds in our back yard right from the comfort of our warm house.

 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 Song Sparrow

 Dark-eyed Junco

 American Robin

 White-crowned Sparrow

House Finch