Thursday, April 30, 2020

Buell County Park

Yesterday we took a picnic lunch to go birding at Buell county Park on the banks of Mill Creek.  I couldn't help but reflect on my first visit here 50 years ago.  I brought my wife Joyce, son Michael age 4, and daughter Lisa age 2, for a picnic lunch while I tried out fly fishing for trout.  

The stream still runs clear, the parking lot shaded, the trails wind through the park, the old style restrooms.

On this trip we had the park to ourselves.  My quest was not for trout but for birds.  We wandered the trails and sat at the picnic benches. Jeanette scanned the trees and bushes for birds while I took  photos.  You can see our bird list here.

Buster drank from the stream and dug for critters in the dirt.

In all we enjoyed an escape from our apartment, the warmth of the sunshine, the sweet song of birds, and the sighting  of spring wildflowers. 
 False Solomon's-seal

Monday, April 27, 2020

In Search of High Lakes

Forty years ago I started keeping track and making a paper list of high lakes in the Cascades.  I was interested in finding low elevation lakes that would offer early spring access for fishing. In order to make some organized sense to this list I started entering data such as the name of the lake and the elevation into an early Apple computer using Apple Works, and wonder of wonders, I could sort this list by name or elevation! So next i added the size of the lake in acres, and depth of the lake in feet. Oh, and then, I added hiking distance, trailhead elevation, access roads, and snow melt dates.  Eventually 20 some different fields of information were set up to enter and sort.  When my son Michael retuned from the Air Force he suggested that he could build a website, and Cascade Ramblings was born. It was an unbelievable concept to me that all the data which I had collected in my personal computer on high lakes could now be available for others to see and use.

I no longer seek out the hidden gems of the wilderness.  Tramping through the snow with a heavy pack loaded with fishing gear and an inflatable raft,  have been replaced with a more sedentary obsession of counting and photographing birds. Over the years Cascade Ramblings branched out to include sections for wildflowers, mushrooms, critters, a trip journal, and eventually this blog. The section for destinations of lakes, peaks, and trails sits idle.  This changed yesterday when two modern day adventurers sent me photos of remote lakes from their cell phones while they were on location.

The first was Erik Badziski's photo of Black Crater Lake.  This lake is in Cascade Ramblings, but is a lake I have never been to in real life, only in my far off sleepless nights.  Below is his photo. Thanks so much Erik.
Black Crater Lake - April 26, 2020

The second photo was from Kevin Wright of Ann Lake.  This was special for a different reason.  I have been there many times over the years, but the first time was with my family in 1946. It's always a pleasure to check back into all the many memories I have of this unique lake.  Thank you Kevin.
Ann Lake - April 26, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Nesting Battle

I happened along at the right time this morning to witness quite a battle for a nesting box between a pair of Violet-green Swallows and an intruding male House Sparrow.  I set this nesting box up earlier this year just outside of The Lodge where we live in at the Dallas Retirement Village hoping to attract swallows.  This box has a specifically designed narrow opening that will allow swallows to enter, but too small for the heftier House Sparrows to enter. For several day now the Violet-green Swallows have been hanging around this nesting box, and in fact this morning I saw the male collecting nesting material.

a male House Sparrow inspecting the nesting box

 He drops down for for a closer look

Its hard to make out, but on the far left is a male Violet-green Swallow in attack mode, and the House Sparrow is fleeing.

The male and female Violet-green Swallows back in control of the nesting box. I hope they will win this battle, as House Sparrows are very predacious.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Killdeer Discovery

My sister Susan called the other day to report a Killdeer nest she and a friend had found while walking in a park.  Jeanette and I and Buster went in search of it yesterday afternoon. Killdeer are rather unique in their behavior of calling to get your attention, and even faking injury, in order to draw you away from their nest which is made right on the ground.

In this photo the Killdeer was trying to draw our attention by appearing to be settling down in plain view in a fake nest. However the real nest was located  in the opposite direction.

Here is the real nest, taken with my camera zoomed from a distance, with four camouflage colored eggs.  Killdeer don't build a nest in the traditional sense of sticks and grass and feathers, but merely scoop out a depression, in this case bark dust, but many  times gravel.  I have purposely not mentioned the nest location in order to not attract any more attention to the nest site to hopefully help in its success.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Birding by Bicycle

Barberry Park
This morning our bicycle route plan was to the Osprey nest at the old Willamette Mill Site on South Main Street.  This was our third visit to the nesting site, and again we saw two Osprey. After making a bird list, Jeanette wanted to ride more and explore some of the housing areas to the East.  We picked up the Rickreall Creek Trail off of SE Azalea Ave, road past the Central Bark Dog Park, crossed over the Bridge and the Aquatic Center, and at the Pickball Court started riding East on Barberry Ave. As we road east on Barberry I noticed a small park at the River Gleann sign.  Further research when I got home revealed that this is Barberry Park, a Dallas City Park.  We got off the bikes and checked for birds and made a bird list.  We counted 6 bird houses here, we will be back to spend more time observing birds here.  After checking out another housing development we circled back to the Dallas Retirement Village.  A good ride and some good birding.

Willamette Mill Site Osprey Nest

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Osprey Excitement!

This is a really exciting time to be watching Osprey nesting.  A live camera stream is available thanks to Pacific Power, The Indepence Hotel, and the City of Independence, and is viewable via YouTube.  This photo was taken with my iPhone from our TV at appoximately 10:00AM this morning.  It shows the female Osprey that has just returned to the nest to relieve the male who has just left after taking his turn in incubating the egg which can barely be seen by following Jeanette's pointing finger on the right hand side of the screen. The drama started yesterday when my sister Susan Humphrey was able to back up the camera to 12:09PM and verify the egg being laid. We are learning a lot today about this pairs behavior.  For example the male seems much more concerned and able in the incubation process.  He not only seems more concerned about setting on the nest than her, he also is the one turning the egg over I believe in order to give a uniform warmth to the egg for incubation.

Comment Problems and a Solution

I know many of the readers of this blog have been frustrated with not being able to post a comment. I too have been frustrated by not being able to reply to people that have been able to leave a comment. And I also have been frustrated because I am not able to leave a comment on other blogs I follow like, Keeping Up With Glenn Reubon. You may have experienced that your comment simply does not post, or you may have recieved a message that says to the effect that you are using an unsupported browser. Yesterday I believe I discovered the problem, and in the most simplest of terms it is that Apple and Google don't get along so well.  Here is what I found.  I use and post with my laptop, a MacBook Pro, an Apple Product.  My blog however is on Blogspot, a Google product. Apple comes equiped with their own browser which is Safari.  Google however uses Google for their browser.  What I did yesterday, using my iPhone that proved to be successful was instead of using Safari to access my blog, I used the Google app to search for Cascade Rambling and the blog.  It worked, I can now leave a comment.  I have not figured out yet how to access Google directly on the laptop, and seaching for Google with Safari means that Safari is the browser. The bottom line is if you want to leave a comment on my blog, make sure you are using Google as your browser. In a phone call with John West yesterday he discovered that Microsoft Edge will also work with a Google product, so either of those two will apparently work.  Good luck, and thanks for all your support over the many years.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Changing It Up

Every day we take a bird walk and a walk for Buster, but both of those are at such a slow pace that we don't get any kind of cardiovascular benifit. For the last two days we have changed up our routine to include a bicycle ride. This morning our destination was the Dallas Pickleball Club where Jeanette is axious to play again once the quarantine is lifted. This ride gave us a chance to check out a couple of different routes that Jeanette can use to ride her bike to pickleball from the Dallas Retirement Village. The opportunities for convenient cycling was one of the factors that played into our decsion to more to the DRV. Now that we are settled in and the weather is starting to warm we are excited to make bicycling a part of our life again.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Repeat Visit to Nesmith Park

Yesterday's selection was a revisit to one of our favorites, Nesmith Park.  This is a Polk County Park attached to the Polk County Fairgrounds.  I didn't realize until this morning that it was 10 days since we were last here on the 9th of April. The woodsy feel here always heals our soul and lifts our spirits. 

 Buster always lags going out, but first in line coming back.

Rickreall Creek is now running clear and clean

American Robin in a field of daisies

 We saw over a dozen Golden-crowned Sparrows

a male Spotted Towhee sang his heart out

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Buster's Afternoon Walk

As I have been mentioning is previous posts, Buster enjoys a slow start to his day, sleeping in and laying in the sun on our balcony.  But eventually he gets bored and seeks to do something more exciting.  He comes to me and stares me in the face, he starts to pace the floor, and eventually I catch on that Buster wants to go for a walk. So usually after lunch we get it together and take him to a park for a walk for him and some birding for us.  Yesterday we picked the Riverview Park in nearby Independence. It's one he enjoys, the broad concrete walk ways are easy to walk on year around, and an abundance of dog scented grass and shrubs entertains him endlessly. For us, this riverside trail provides us with a wide variety of bird life, eagles, ducks, geese, sandpipers and sparrows. Which brings me to another big reason for our choice of the day, the Osprey nest.

This is the nest that is getting so much attention becasue of the live feed camera that allows people to keep an eye on the Osprey via their smart phones or TV.  If you look at this photo, the object hanging down on the frame is the camera. It is a joint effort of Pacific Power, the Independence Hotel, and the City of Independence. The camera provides a view of the nest unparalleded in the world of bird cams. You can find a link to it in the right-hand column of this blog page under Rambler Recommended Links.

Although we check on the nest many times a day via our phone or via YouTube on our TV, I was interested in checking on the nest at the actual physical location.  We were fortunate to catch some action yesterday outside of the camera's view. The male had just returned to the area and had landed on a post, when he suddenly took off and as we watched we realized he was involved in chasing away two additional intruding Osprey. Be sure and check out the live stream camera, I think egg laying could start any day.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Staying Home During Covid-19

A post about Buster a few days ago doubled the number of views of this blog site, causing me to think perhaps I should post more on Burster. Staying home for Buster is no problem, especially on a sunny day.  He loves to lay in the sun on our 2nd floor balcony and soak up the sun.  Staying home for Jeanette and I is a little bit more of a problem as we enjoy travel and adventure, but we did well this morning and went for our bird walk just here in our neighborhood of the Dallas Retirement Village. Below are some selected photos.

 male House Finch

 Violet-green Swallow

female Western Bluebird

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Bird House Business

I arrived here at the Dallas Retirement Village the first part of January with a half dozen bird nestinging boxes, an armload of support poles, and years of successful bird nesting experience.  I first sought permission to put up a box in the garden area in hopes of attacting swallows with a box specifically build for them, yet keep out House Sparrows.  After a couple of weeks the first birds to show an interest were a pair of Western Bluebirds.  Down came the custom swallow box and up went a box with a large enough entrance hole to accommodate bluebirds.  Weeks went on with them coming and going, some competition with House Sparrows, and now a month later or more and no sign of the bluebirds.  My next bright idea was to put up a nesting box on our second floor balcony, and because I had seen some Violet-green Swallows circling the central courtyard, I put up the special swallow box.  Nothing.  The third location I came up with a month ago was at the end of the parking garage overlooking a water collection basin.  I had one more swallow box, so I put that up. It's been written up in our newsletter, people wanting to know what it was and who put it there.  The Executive Director supported me, but again no birds showed any interest.  And then suddenly today there were a half dozen swallows cirlcing this third nesting box.  Of course I had no carmera with me.  Later, with camera in hand I got a photo of this Tree Swallow taking a look inside the box.  I have my fingers crossed that I get a nesting pair here.  My reputation is in bad need of some supporting evidence of my bird house knowledge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Walk For Buster

As Buster continues to age, his preference is to sleep more, and he particularly likes to sleep in longer in the morning.  It has changed our schedule over the last couple of years in that Jeanette and I tend to do things in the morning and then take him for a walk later when it has warmed up and he is ready to go some place.  In the last two weeks our new normal has become that in the morning Jeanette and I go out to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge (where dogs are not allowed) for a good bird walk, and then after lunch we take Buster for a short walk in a park some place.  Yesterday the park was Mt Fir Park in Independence.

Jeanette is shown here walking the path along the South Fork of Ash Creek in Mt Fir Park.

 Buster brings up the rear,  kind of dragging his feet, making slow progess along the path.

 Buster continues to lag behind

After we left the path along the creek and took the paved walkway back to the car Buster was in his "back to the barn" mode and out in front.  Hard to know sometimes wether his slowness is physical or mental.  As you can see, social distance is not a problem here. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Morning Song

The sweet song of the White-crowned Sparrow greets us each morning brightening our day as he calls out from the central courtyard of The Lodge here at the Dallas Retirement Village.  I only need to step out on our second floor balcony to see him and take a photo as I did this morning.  Because he has been at this for some time now, as a matter of fact two weeks, I assume he is doing his best to attract the attention of a female.  White-crowned Sparrows make their nest in small shrubs, and because our  central courtyard is landscape with lots of shrubs, I'm starting to think if I am very observant I should be able to spot a female coming and going  from a shrub. Keep checking, I will report any procress I make.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Our Own Refuge

Jeanette looking for birds on Mount Baldy

Yesterday morning we made another trip to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, and I realized in these troubled times of dealing with the Corona Virus it has become our own refuge. It's an opportunity to flee the world of illness, financial worry, and politcal uncertainty, and for an hour or more take refuge in the world of nature where spring comes again as it does every year, birds sing their sweet songs, bright wildflowers nod in the breeze, and all is well with the world. 

 We left the formal trail and took off cross-county down to Parvipes Marsh.  On the way we were pleased to find these nesting boxes and a pair of interested Tree Swallows.

 A male Western Bluebird was also interested in the nesting box and was trying to stake his claim. He was greatly out numbered by the swallows, only time will tell who wins the day.

At the marsh atop last years teasel we found this Savannah Sparrow. In all the years of photographing this species in Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, and the Willamette Valley, this is the first time I recall a singing Savannah Sparrow.  It's not much of a song, but he sang his heart out.

To see our complete observation list click here.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Dallas Osprey Nest!

Since Novermber I have been submitting a "Bird of the Month" to the Dallas Retirement Village Facebook page.  For the month of March the featured bird was the Osprey, noting their return from South America to the Willamette Valley to breed and raise their young.  Yesterday a reader of the post suggested I check out South Main Street at the old mill site. Jeanette and I drove out there this morning and indeed found an Osprey nest with a bird on the nest.  Checking on it from several viewing points in an attempt to get a better photo we realized there were actually two birds at the site, probably the female on the nest, and preening down below was probably the male.  This is the location of the former Willamette Industries mill, later bought out by Weyehaeuser Company, and now a fenced-in desolate post industrial site. Amazingly, the Osprey seem to be doing well on this abandoned power pole.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Nesmith County Park

Today's adventure choice for a dog/bird walk was Nesmith Park. Located in Rickreall at the Polk County Fairgrounds, it is mere minutes away from our Residence in the Dallas Retirement Village. We first birded here in May of 2011, and it ranks high on our list of favorite locations.  Gravel paths wind above Rickreall Creek through a forest of native trees and shrubs providing a woodsy experience.  Listed on the Polk County website as closed until May 1st, Jeanette made a call to the Fairgrounds office and a friendly lady explained that it was OK to park in the Fairgrounds and walk past the closed gate. We had the park to ourselves as we do on most occasions.
 Our best bird of the day would have to be this Chipping Sparrow.  It's buzzy call first caught our attention high is this fir tree.  Easily confused with imature White-crowned Sparrows, it's smaller size body and bill, and brighter crown, as well as different song defines its species. Check out our bird list here.

The most striking wildflower of the day would be this Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa).  A runner-up would be False Solumon's Seal which still needs some days to get to full bloom.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

More to Explore at Baskett Slough

Yesterday morning we made our 3rd trip to hike Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.  The first two mornings we made it a point to leave binoculars and camera home and just concentrate on hiking for exercise.  But this time we changed our focus, gave in and added binoculars and camera. It was the nicest weather we have had, with bright sunshine that brought out the best in bird life and wildflowers.  Jeanette worked at bird spotting and entering our bird observations into eBird on her iPhone, I worked at photogaphing birds and wildflowers. We actually got off the trail and explored the oak savana that the refuge is doing such a good job of restoring.

 The sweet song of the Western Meadowlark has added joy to each trip.  Jeanette was able to count 28 different species of birds on this trip.  Binoculars help a lot.  Click here to see our list.

This is Golden Painbrush, a threatened species that is being reintroduced to the Refuge. I realized this morning while adding this species to the Wildflower section of Cascade Ramblings, that I have been  documenting paintbrush species in Cascade Ramblings for almost 20 years now and this is the first  of the Golden Paintbrush.

Dogs are not allowed at Baskett Slough NWR, and with our aging dog Buster preferring to spend his mornings sleeping in, Jeanette and I are discovering a new freedom to explore. We are astonished at the resource we are so fortunate to have this close at hand to explore, bird and photograph. As I write this morning, I have taken the morning off to be able to get caught up with photos and posting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Spring Memories

We made a return trip yesterday morning to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge to hike, the second one in three days. The sweet song of the Meadowlark, combined with the rolling green hills and oak trees on the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail put Jeanette and I back in our memories of Spring hikes in the Columbia Gorge.  For many years we always made early spring trips to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area to hike and enjoy the wildflowers. We are finding these current early morning trips to Baskett Butte so invigorating that we are making them a part of our normal schedule.  This trailhead is so close to the Dallas Retirement Village where we live, and yet standing on the butte and looking out over the Willamette Valley below, we seem transported to a different world.  In the words of writer David Petersen, this is our Nearby Faraway.

Fawn Lilies, also known by some as Trout Lilies,  and a I recall mother called Lamb's Tongue are at their peak right now.

This one I could use some help identifying.  I'm thinking it's in the Mallow Family.  Any help out there?

Monday, April 6, 2020

Birding in the age of Corona Virus

 Our birding destination for yesterday morning, after finding a locked gate at Sarah Helmick State Park, was the Willamette River Trail in Independence. We are very grateful that city parks are open to walk in even though restrooms are locked. Jeanette is shown here demonstrating her emergency face mask, a gloved hand over her nose and mouth. The sign calls attention to Gov Brown's proclamation of 6 foot social distancing. This concrete walkway at 8 feet wide works well, and all the walkers we meant were very observant and courteous. Below are the birds I was able to photograph.  For the complete observation list click here.

 A pair of Common Mergansers in Ash Creek caught our attention right away.  This is the male, the female is out of the frame. 

 An Osprey passed overhead.  Their nest site is close by in the Riverview Park

A Northern Flicker was busy working on a nesting cavity.