Tuesday, March 31, 2020

High-Tech Birding

Yesterday morning we went back to Indepence's Riverview Park to physically check on the Osprey nest-site that we had been watching remotely for the past several days on the Independence Live Stream. When we got to the park we could only see one Osprey on the nest. So Jeanette decided to check on the nest using the live feed with her iPhone.

Lo and behold, there were two birds on the nest! I zoomed in with my camera and got this photo of the male placing a stick on the nest.  Notice, the female with beak open continues to demand, encourage or complain.

Mean while, Buster is not much interested in hi-tech, he trusts his old nose to check out a culvert.

If you haven't checked out the Independence Osprey Nest Live Stream, click on the link in the right-hand column of this blog page in the Rambler Recommended Links. Or you can also find the live stream by running a search in YouTube.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Sweet Songs of Spring

This singing male White-crowned Sparrow started our birding day yesterday morning. He was in the Central Court Yard of the Dallas Retirement Village Lodge where we live.  Jeanette noticed him from our second story balcony patio, and called to me to get my camera. Calling male song birds announcing their presence in their best effort to attract a female is one of the great joys of spring.  We went out for an hour birdwalk here in our village campus and counted 16 different species of birds.  You can see our list of birds and photos by clicking here.  You can also see the complete Illustrated Checklist of the 44 species observed here at Dallas Retirement Village by clicking here. Ironically, the last bird on our list as we returned to our apartment was this singing male Dark-eyed Junco shown below.  He was on the roof top in the Central Court Yard.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dispare - Distraction - Discovery

Most of my mornings begin in a fog of despair over the conditions facing our nation with the corona virus and this presidency.  Fortified with my morning coffee, I come up with a distraction for the day, which usually has to do with birds and some out door exercise.  The discovery I have made this week is the amazing live stream from the Osprey Nest at the Riverview Park in Independence.  It is possibly the best live stream I have ever seen. Right now is a perfect time to watch it as the pair of Osprey are just starting to develop the nest site.  In the photo above taken off of my laptop screen yesterday, the male has just brought in a stick for the waiting female. The next action was x-rated, and was repeated many times.  According to Stokes Guide to Bird Behavior, this courtship behavior by Osprey can occour as many as fifteen to twenty times a day! Click on the link here and be ready to have something to watch in the privacy of your own home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Perfect Morning

Jeanette and Buster on the walk-way

Today all the elements of weather, time of day, bird activity, good planning, and luck, came together to make for a successful morning. The weather was forcast for good in the morning, and it was, and as I write this in the afternoon I notice out my den window that it is raining.  The plan was to check-out the Osprey nest at the Independence Riverview Park.  From checking eBird records I knew that the earliest we have seen an Osprey at this nest site was March 30th in 2015. The earliest anyone has reported was March 2nd by Sally Hill in 2018, and the next earliest for anyone else was March 31 by Donna Bolt in 2019. So, I knew the time was close for the Osprey to make their return to this nest site.  Sure enough as we were walking down the walk-way, Jeanette noticed a large bird in the sky, as it approached we reconized it was an Osprey, and to our great good fortune, she landed on the nest!

Osprey landing on the nest-site

It was a perfect morning in so many ways.  For the first time in over three weeks Buster was back to his normal self, raring to go, anxious to explore.  Not the sick dog that has wanted to just stay home or wait in the car. When we finished here, he still wanted more, so we drove on and checked out a second Osprey nest-site on the Buena Vista Road, and then stopped for another walk at Mt. Fir Park in Independence.

An important addition:  The Osprey nest has a live stream available, click here.  This is a great way to see what is going on at the nest site.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Great Start To Our Day

Jeanette and I got out first thing this morning for a walk to and thru, Dallas City Park and back for a great start to our day.
Oops, we broke Gov. Brown's  Executive Order 20-12.  We were actully closer than 6 feet in our selfie photo at the top of the post. But, what the heck, I sleep with this woman!

Giant Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum) caught my attention

Red-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguine) is at it's finest

Mr Spotted Towhee looked a little grumpy

A female Anna's Hummingbird was busy gathering nectar

Monday, March 23, 2020

Osprey Survey

Today's weather forcast was cloudy with showers, so I thought it might be a good morning to go for  a drive and survey the Osprey nest sites I keep an eye on in West Salem. Our last survey was made on March 15th, and the The Murlark Ave. site was the only one to have an Osprey on it.  This was true again today.  When we stopped to check the nest site the female flew in and commenced to cry.  Then Jeanette noticed a second bird circling and crying overhead. Zooming in with the camera revealed that it was a male with a fish, and true to Osprey practice the the male had preemptively eaten off the head of the fish.  I'm not sure why they both needed to be calling, perhaps some kind of bargaining was going on. 

female on nest

male with fish

It should be noted that this driving trip was made in the morning before Govenor Brown announced at 11:00 her directive for Oregonians to stay home. I should also add, that Jeanette did a good job of driving and stayed 6 feet away from all the other cars.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Social Distancing

As I have mentioned in the past couple of posts, we take Buster on a walk in a park on a daily basis.  We normally only encounter a few other people walking the trails or paths we are on. In the past when we encountered others and Buster starts to bark we have always been apologetic as we restrain our killer dog on the leash and explain that he doesn't do well with people.  Now with the requirement of social distancing in place, as we pass fellow park users with Buster on his 6 ft leash, we just smile and nod, assuming they realize we are just being sensitive and using social distancing.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The New Normal

As the corona virus further engulfs the world, the tightening controls are affecting us even here in the Dallas Retirement Village. All of the events, like the exercise classes we so enjoy and Picklball, have all been cancelled.  Consequently we have adopted a new daily schedule for oursleves. Our morning starts out the same with coffee and news and breakfast.  Then since Buster likes to sleep in, Jeanette and I go for a morning bird walk. This morning we drove to Independence where we walked the Riverview Park.  This is where I got the photo above of a female Anna's Hummingbird.  You can see the complete bird list here.  When we come back, there is generally a little computer time, and then lunch.  After lunch when the day has warmed we take Buster for a bird/dog walk, which today was to nearby Kingsborough Park.  I will write about that tomorrow.  Returning home we usually rest and clean-up before going to dinner. Just as we were about to leave for the dinning room today, we got a notice on the phone from the dinning room that it would be closed.  Tonight we got a notice at our door with the new plan of a daily meal available for delivery each afternoon to our apartment.  So our new plan will be private walks in the parks morning and afternoons, a meal delivered to our apartment, and we will provide our own breakfast and lunch.  Jeanette has been working, and will continue working on movie streaming to break up the TV news. So this is our new normal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Birding Is The Cure

These are troubling days for sure with the problems of the corona virus pendemic and the resulting quarantines, but our habit of daily birding seems to be serving us well. We get out and get some exercise and if lucky soak up some sunshine.  Birding is sort of an anti-social sport to begin with as looking for birds means seeking out the quite environments where birds are most likely to be seen.

Our day did not start out yesterday as a birding event.  We went to check out an RV which turned out to be a dud.  Because it involved a couple of hours of driving, the darkest part of the day reared it's ugly head in the form of Buster's travel anxiety. We are not sure if his anxiety starts out as excitement and anticipation of an adventure or if it is the discomfort of constant motion in the car.  Regardless, what starts out as a small amount of whining, builds with each mile and minute to a full state of panic which is only cured by stopping for a break.  The result is that we can only drive about 15 miles at a time, so an hour's drive ends up to be two hours of frustrating endurance.

This is the situation we found out selves in yesterday when we stopped in desperation at the Jackson-Frazier Wetland on the north-end of Corvallis. And here is where the miraculous cure of birding takes place.  We get out of the car, breath in some fresh air, feel the warmth of the sunshine, start to look for birds and Buster begins his search for what ever it is he smells. Right away we realize because we were focused on a quick trip to look at an RV,  we had not brought our binoculars or my camera.  The question is, "can we find and identify birds with out binoculars"? In the photo above, taken with my iPhone, Jeanette points out a shiny bright male Rufus Hummingbird.  Easily seen and reconized without binoculars, so we are off to see what else we  can find.  In the end we were able to identify 20 different species of birds by either sight or sound.  Our level of stress and tension evaporated as the sights and experiences of the wetland took over our consciousness. Our pledge to ourselves in enduring the next however many weeks or months, is to make sure to fill our days with birding time.  

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Osprey Are Back!

 Thanks to a text from my friend Kevin Wright yestday afternoon, I was alerted to his first sighting of the year of a returning Osprey at a nest site on Buena Vista Rd south of Indepence. In short order Jeanette and I and Buster were out the door and driving to the Osprey nest site where we found this female. We were lucky enough to get a photo before she took off. We have been keeping an eye out for Osprey as mid to late March is normally the earliest arrival date for their return from their winter hang-out in Mexico and places south.  From there we checked out the nest site in Independence at the River View Park. It was empty, so we decided to drive on to West Salem to check out some more nest sites.

This is the nest site on Murlark Av., which has always been the nest where we see the first Osprey every year. We were thrilled to find a bird here too.  The earliest past observation was March 18th 2018.  We also checked out the nest sites on Patterson St and the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve on Eola Drive. Both were empty.  This nest site has a new look this year. Salem Electric who put up the poles and platforms, have replaced the wooden platforms with a metal platform on this site and also the Patterson and Audubon sites.The sticks you see on this platform were placed they by Salem Electric I presume to give the Osprey a little encouragement.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Booth Kelly Trailhead

 With Jeanette and Buster on the sick list, I traveled solo to Springfield to spend some time with Michael and Madeleine.  Michael took us to the Booth Kelly Trailhead, a new park that he has discovered and enjoys walking. The park occupies a portion of the Booth Kelly mill site, and contains a large water filtration pond that makes for good bird habitat.

Red-winged Blackbirds were the most numerous birds.  Shown here is a male calling and displaying. Dispite seeing several males displaying, we didn't see any females. See the bird list here.

After our moring walk in the park where I photographed birds, and Madeleine collected rocks, and watched the trains, we went to Cornucopia for lunch. Thanks Michael for a great walk and lunch.

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Secret to Successful Birding

A rainy afternoon has given me the leisure to sit at my desk in the den and contemplate this past week of birding, which finished off our second month here at Dallas Retirement Village.  It has been a successful week, and for that matter two months.  Almost daily in talking with other residents, they tell me there aren't very many birds here.  At first I refused to be discouraged, and now I am continually puzzled.  I don't claim to have extraordany bird finding skills,  certainly don't have the best eyesight, and a good memory is a thing of the past. But I do get out everyday and look for birds, and that consitent effort, my friends, is what I believe breeds success. The following are high-lights from this past week.

 Monday's suprise was this strutting Wild Turkey tom, doing his best to follow along and impress a dozen or so Wild Turkey hens. As it turns out these Turkeys roam freely through the Dallas Retirement Village yards and streets at their own discretion.

 Tuesday's treasure was an Acorn Woodpecker male checking out a potential nesting cavity. Unfortunately when I checked the location this morning it looked like a pair of European Starlings has layed claim to this nesting site, as well as other Starlings are taking over a close-by site in a cottonwood tree which has housed an Acorn Woodpecker granary.

 Wendsday's find was this Red-breasted Sapsucker.  Usually known for their nice neat line-up of holes that serve as reservoirs for sap and traps for insects, this bird seems to be removing a large section of bark.

 Thursday's bright spot was a pair of Western Bluebirds checking out a nesting box I have put up in the Dallas Retirement Village community garden area.  Males, as shown here, always seem to like to check out the nesting box for several days before they allow the female to set up house.

Friday's sweet song came from a singing Spotted Towhee male.  You can probably understand why this Towhee was formerly called a Rufus-sided Towhee.