Tuesday, June 30, 2020

One Stop Shopping

 White-crowned Sparrow juvenile
The Cascade Ramblings website is sort of a one stop shopping center for the nature lover.  It started out as a data base for high mountain lakes, where one could find all kinds of information about lakes; like location, route, fishing and camping possibilities, and much more.  Through time other sections were developed for wildflowers, mushrooms, and critters.  A trip journal developed, and then a blog attached. So now, nature lovers of almost any stripe can come looking for information, whether they be fishermen, hikers, back-packers, lovers of flowers and mushrooms, or, and this is the one important to me now, bird watching. It has become a vault of information that I continue to add to even as my circle of travel becomes more constricted to local trails and parks close at hand. These days I ramble on mostly about birds, and I am amazed at how much more there is to learn, and how exited I am in the discoveries.  This photo is a good example.  Many years ago I remember discovering the sweet insistent song of the White-crowned Sparrow with it's sharply contrasting black and white crown. It was some years later when I learned to recognize the more subtle brown and white coloring of an immature. And just days ago I was surprised to learn that even though the mature, and immature White-crowns have breasts with-out stripes, a recent fledged juvenile does have stripes. So, as I continue to use Cascade Ramblings as a depository for all kinds of information on nature, I hope others too will find it a helpful source when shopping for information on birds and much more. Check out the White-crowned Sparrow page in the Critters section here.   

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Buster's First Trip With Casper

Jeanette and I already camped three nights in Casper our Cascade Campers van while bringing it home to Dallas Oregon from Grass Valley California. However, the travel anxiety ridden Buster had not camped in it yet, as he waited out his time at the Oak Grove Kennel in Monmouth.  Thus the motive for a one-night to the coast that we took on Monday. 

We packed up Casper with some essentials, like coffee and paper towels. Plus extra clothes, and food items.  Small storage space automatically shortens packing time, so in sort order we were ready.

Although I didn't get a photo, our first stop was at Buell County Park for a break for Buster.  This is always a great stop for birding, see list here, and the shady trees and clear running Mill Creek combine for a travel oasis and a reduction in stress. Restrooms where open, import to note in this time of Covid-19. Our next stop for Buster was at Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area for lunch, which is the photo shown above.  We did a stationary bird count here from our picnic table. Restrooms were also open here.

Our third stop was at Van Duzer Rest Area, and yes the restrooms where open.  We picked a shady spot to park and get out our new handy folding chairs which Jeanette and scored on at a sale at Fred Myers last week for nine dollars a piece. You can see our bird list here. Our next stop in Lincoln City was the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy, which I failed to photograph, but Buster and I enjoyed a little exploratory stroll and bird count while Jeanette stretched out on the couch in the van for a rest. No restrooms here so we continued south on Highway 101 and made a stop at a public parking lot with restrooms, a new important necessity for our small bath-room-less van. Moe's was our next destination for some take-out fish and chips which we ate in the van. We traveled on south as I wanted to check on Boiler Bay State Rest Area.  It's important in these changing times of Covid-19 to verify open status. It was closed, and the entrance was barricaded, so hopes of parking vanished and it became our turn around point. 

Holmes Road Park with a nice view of Devils Lake became our compromise for an overnight spot.  I got in another bird list here, while we waited for the temperature to cool for the evening.  At 12:30 AM we had a knock on the door from the Lincoln City Police to explain there is no overnight camping allowed on the streets or parks of Lincoln City.  Oh, I say, I didn't realize, as we have parked here overnight on several occasions.  Well, we don't have enough staff to cover all the areas, he replied,  but it's been the law for 10 years. I dressed, drove the dark deserted streets in search of the Chinook Casino parking lots.
The morning sun lit up the Chinook Winds Casino from our parking spot.  It was a quiet remainder of the night here. After coffee and hot oatmeal we drove to the Dollar Tree for some shopping for van related items.

From Lincoln City we drove north over Cascade Head to Neskowin for some beach time for Buster. Click here for our bird observation list.

I specifically wanted to check out the Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site to see if it was open.  The ODOT site of Trip Check shows it closed, but the Oregon State Parks site showed it open.  It was indeed open, even the restrooms, and we enjoyed some time in the shade. Jeanette went to the store to pick up a sandwich for lunch at our next stop at Knight County Park on the Salmon River Estuary, where we found the restrooms open.  I failed to get a photo while at Knight Park, I guess in part because we were so busy.  We were enjoying the view, counting birds, and eating lunch, when a man by the name of Marshall approached us politely at a distance and asked if he could see our van.  He had a lot of questions and left determined to order one for himself. Buster had already chosen while we were first starting lunch, that he would rather be in the van, and had went back, jumped up into the van and settled himself on the couch.  At this point, I think we had our answer, we could travel with Buster.  The day had started to warm up, the mosquitoes we taking advantage of Jeanette, and Buster was asleep on the couch, so it made sense to drive home, secure in the knowledge that we can travel in this uncertain time of Covid-19 in our Cascade Campers van, and with our aging Buster dog. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Rescue of our Cascade Camper

I previously posted in May about our purchase of a custom built Cascade Campers van. As time went on Cascade Campers were able to move us up from a scheduled build date in mid July to the first week of June.  By June 9th they delivered the completed van to Pioneer Motors in Grass Valley.  Our plan had been to have the van transported to us in Dallas to avoid having to travel down and back to pick it up ourselves.  But after a week went by with no availability of a transport and prices starting to escalate, we made the decision Monday night, after locating a kennel for Buster, to drive down ourselves and pick-up the van.  The result was that we made a 10 hour drive straight to Grass Valley the next day.  

Jeanette is shown in these two photos on Tuesday afternoon transferring water, food and clothing to the van, and getting the kitchen set up in  the parking lot of Pioneer Motors, who allowed us to spend the night. The lot was gated at night and protected with security cameras. (a private conversation could reveal our night time experience).  As the sun went down the electrical system in the van started to fail. Calls to Cascade Campers resulted in the owner, Zach Yeager, coming in the morning at 8:00 to figure out the problem.

In this photo Zach is explaining the electrical system to Jeanette.  In the end, the battery breaker had not been switched on during the build.  The refrigerator and the electrical system had just been working off of the solar panel the day before, which is fine as long as there is sunshine, but once the sun went down, because the battery was not connected, we had no power.

Wednesday morning it was necessary for us to drive out of state, (another private conversation could reveal the reason), to Reno Nevada. After driving over Donner Pass and completing business we were pretty frazzled, so we found Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, parked in the shade, opened up the rear doors, listened to the sounds of birds and a babbling brook,  relaxed, and then took a walk and made a bird list which you can see here.

After gaining our composure, we headed out of town, passing on overnight parking at a Casino because of the heat, and drove on north.  We selected Honey Lake Rest Stop in California for an overnight parking spot, and it worked out perfectly.  Nice clean restrooms and lots of birds, you can see our bird list here, made for a perfect stop.

Home at last on Friday morning at Dallas Retirement Village, reserved parking space #8. Casper, as all Cascade Campers have names, will be ready to roll on a moments notice to take us away to secret locations on the Oregon Coast or the Cascade Mountains, or even nearby birding locations.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Additional Benefits

I bird everyday.  In fact I would be the first to admit I'm probably addicted to birding. But besides the enjoyment of  watching, identifying, and photographing birds, there are some additional benefits that are of importance.  Easily reconized is the health benefit of getting outdoors daily and getting some exercise.  In the process of birding I normally walk several miles, and it is in the great outdoors with lots of fresh air, and at very safe social distances.  Often my quest for birds is diverted by additional wildlife sightings, which brings me great joy.  Below are three examples of mammals I noticed while looking back on the first half of this month.

Here is a Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hermionus) I saw on Friday morning, June 12th. It was on the Rickreall Creek Trail right in the City of Dallas. It seemed little concerned with my presence.

While looking for birds here in the Dallas Retirement Village on June 7th, I noticed this Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) busy looking for extra sunflower seeds.

This was a suprise find on June 1st while looking for Wood Ducks in the Monroe City Park, a Northern River Otter (Lutra canadensis).  Notice it has a crawdad in its mouth.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Baby Dark-eyed Juncos

I can count four
Yesterday when Jeanette was walking back from our next-door Grocery Outlet, a Dark-eyed Junco with a mouthfull of bugs caught her attention.  She paused to see if it would lead her to the nesting site.  The Junco took a round about route, first to a tree, then to a shrub, then another shrub, then to the ground, circling around before disappearing.  All this I believe was an effort on the bird's part to conceal the nest location.  She came up stairs to report the sighting to me and we went down for a closer look.  After searching the most promising shrub, I finally found it, after over looking it several times, tucked in a corner on the ground. Dark-eyed Juncos for the most part nest at higher elevations in the Cascades and Coast Range, but we have had a least one pair and possibly more stick around here at the Dallas Retirement Village.  We have heard and seen the males singing on the roof gables and lamp post, but this is the first confirmation that we have nesting occuring here at the Dallas Retirement Village.    

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Today's rainy condition has forced me to spend my morning in the den. Looking back through my recent photos, this photo of a Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, taken on Wednesday, caught my attention. Jeanette and I had taken Buster for an afternoon walk at Mt. Fir Park in Independence.  Buster, although cooperative in leaving the apartment, and eager to get out of the car, was not much interested in walking.  In fact, he refused to walk, and was only interested in sniffing the first spot of grass we came to.  Bird activity was quiet, so I was kind of stuck.  In looking around for any possible bird activity, this big bright butterfly caught my attention. It was busy in a bramble of blackberries, going from blossom to blossom harvesting nector. Close observers of this photo may notice that the right wing is damaged with a good portion missing. Yet here it is carrying on with its daily life.  Perhaps there is a lesson to learn here, some easy analogies come to mind.  For more images of Western Tiger Swallowtails from the Cascade Ramblings Critters section click here.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Rickreall Creek

Rickreall Creek flows right through our small town of Dallas, and only a couple of blocks from our residence in the Dallas Retirement Village.  Along the creek's banks are several city parks and a creek side trail. We feel so fortunate to have this wonderful resource so close and available. Birds enjoy it too, and at this spot this morning Jeanette and I saw two Green Herons.  This bubbling brook seems to drown out all the noise of national problems of race, disease and politics, and during the time we spend exploreing it's shady trails we breath easier. We are indeed fortunate beyond measure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Birding With Out Crowds

During these confining times of Covid-19 and all the worries about social distancing, birding has served us well.  This trip taken yesterday morning to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, a mere 10 minutes from our house, is a perfect example. We walked for an hour and half on this road, called the South Slough transect path, and never saw a single soul. It was just us and the birds in the wide open spaces, with sunshine, blue skies, and all the fresh air we could breath.  Check out our bird list and photos here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Play Date with Madeleine

Madeleine our grand-daughter lives in Springfield, so with Covid-19 we have not gotten to see her in person.  We keep in touch via phone calls, but that's not the same as in person. Our last get together was in February 19th at the City Park in Monroe.  With Phase 1 in place we decided to meet up again at the same park.  Michael brough baseball stuff and Madeleine's trike and we all had a fun time.

 "Grama-nett" demonstrates taking a swing

 Madeleine takes a swing

 Madeleine readies her trike

off on a trike trip

lunch time

The Long Timber Brewey was our planned lunch stop.  We put on our masks to enter the brewey only to find it had just started closing on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Plan "B" became to drive to Junction City and get a Subway to take to a park.  We found tables at Laurel Park, which worked out great for a picnic in the sunshine.