Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Day of Adventure and Exploring

Recently I resigned from my volunteer position at Salem Audubon Nature Reserve in West Salem.  Now with Wednesdays free, I decided to take Jeanette and Buster on a day of adventure, and explore a new park for us to bird watch.  My target for the day was Mt. Fir Park in the near-by town of Independence. This park is rather secluded which is probably why it was unknown to us and probably others. It is located off of F Street between 7th and 9th Streets. The 7 acre park borders the South Fork of Ash Creek and has an additional entrance from G Street. Originally, the land was part of the Mt. Fir Lumber Mill, but the land was donated to the city in the early 90's.

Inspiration Garden, developed by OSU Polk County Master Gardeners, is the centerpiece of the park. A concrete path, installed by the City of Independence, runs the length of the garden providing exellent all weather foot travel and handicap access.

Ash Creek borders the west side of Mt. Fir Park and provides a ripairian habit for birds and particularly water fowl like this pair of Mallards. See our bird list here.

We are excited about returning to this park in the seasons ahead as the plants, shrubs and trees blossom and lure in all kinds of birds. Also included in our day was an earlier stop at Sarah Helmick State Park for Buster, see our bird list here,  and a stop at Suver Junction to photograph Tundra and Trumpeter Swans, see that bird list here. Our lunch stop was at the Pink House in Independence.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Travel Experiment

Our house has been sold, the money is in the bank, and we continue to discuss if we should buy a small van or not. The cheapest and simplest is to just have the car as our total transportation. So, to help us in making a decision, we had the idea of going to the coast for the day on Friday with our car.  All our trips to the coast in the last 7 years or so have been in an RV, with all the conveniences of a toilet, kitchen, bed, lots of  food and extra clothing.  So, could we do a day-trip with out these comforts?  Our first stop was at Holmes Road Park on Devil's Lake.  Just discovered this past year, it has become one of our favorite stops for birding on the coast in the Lincoln City area.  The sun was out and we got a good list of birds. Here are the photos.

female Bufflehead

 Red-breasted Nuthatch

Song Sparrow

Western Gull

After birding at the park we stopped at McDonalds for lunch, and then continued on to Lincoln City Outlets for some shopping. By early afternoon we were tired and drove home.  So, what did we learn? We did fine without our personal restroom, we used the public toilets at the park, McDonalds, and the Outlets.  We snacked on fruit and water we had brought and ate at McDonalds.  It was easier to park at the Outlets in a car than in a RV. We considered it a success, particularly made possible because the coast is much closer from Dallas than from Salem. Maybe we can get by using the car for our birding adventures.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Adventures with Madeleine

On Monday we met son Michael and grand-daughter Madeleine in Monroe at the City Park located on the banks of the Long Tom River for a morning adventure. This is one of our favorite birding spots, but Madeleine saw it through a different lens.

curious Madeleine and happy dad

tug over birds or puddles

puddles win!

Lambie barely survived

Following our adventure we went to the Long Timber Brewey for lunch. Our birding list can be seen here.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Birding Details

Yesterday morning while conducting what is now my daily birdwalk here at Dallas Retirement Village, I noticed several birds flutering around in a birch tree.  I pulled up my camera and did my best to get a photo so I could make an identification.  Once home, with the photos downloaded into my laptop I could confirm that they were American Goldfinches.

Secondly I noticed this bird had a seed in it's mouth, and could further realize that it was harvesting seeds from the catkin on this birch tree. Here is where it went from interesting to exciting.  Notice in the close-up below that this bird is actually holding up the catkin parallel to the limb its standing on with its toe nail! I'm sure holding it securely against the limb makes it easier to pull out the seeds. This make so much more sense compared to another Goldfinch I saw hanging upside down to harvest a dangleing catkin.

Focusing in on bird details is somewhat akin to Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole.  You get sucked into a whole other world and discover details beyond your own personal experience.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Cavorting Crows

There is a noticable change in bird behavior going on in recent days.  A couple of mornings ago while birding at Dallas Retirement Village a pair of American Crows caught my attention.  They were sitting side by side on a limb, and acting a little strange.  As I continued to watch, it became obvious to me they had a little courtship behavior going on.

The female, on the left sidles up a little closer

He whispers sweet nothings in her ear

He gives her a playful peck on the neck

He leans in to give her a little smooch

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Taking Advantage of the Sunshine

After a morning spent in Salem dealing with medical things, we returned to Dallas and some bright sunshine.  A quick change of clothes and we were out the door and over to the Dallas City Park.  Jeanette is shown here scanning the oak trees for Western Bluebirds which we saw and photographed the day before.  Buster stands patiently watching for any sight of squirrels or other dogs.  I have long been an advocate of looking for the sweet spot each day to get out and enjoy.  This time of year, it means waiting for the sun to come out.  It's so great to be living just a couple of blocks from the Dallas City Park and be able to get in a bird/dog walk at a monents notice.  Click here for our bird observation list.  

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Geographic Adjustments and More

 Green Heron

Yesterday had a weather forecast for dry after many days of rain, and we had nothing on our busy schedule, so we decided to go birding at one of our all time favorites, Huddleston Pond in Willamina. We knew we were now closer living in Dallas compared to living in Salemtowne, but to actually experience how close, left us a little shocked.  In mere minutes we were there. When living is Salem, it involved a big block of time.  It was probably a 30 to 45 minute drive, but with Buster along it always involved a stop along the way, and by the time we were finished birding we would usually have lunch at Coyote Joes in Willamina, so it would be afternoon before we were back home.  Yesterday morning Buster chose to go back to bed, so we were out the door and parked at Huddleston Pond in 20 minutes.  The loop around the pond went faster too with out having to make concessions for Buster.  Here is the link for our birding list. We had left Dallas Retirement Village around 8:30, and were back by 10:30, and Buster was still sound asleep.  So as we now adjust to closer proximity to many of our favorite birding destinations, we find we are also making adjustments for Buster's aging and giving him the option to stay home.  

Great Egret