Monday, November 30, 2020

Sharp-shinned Hawk Rescue

My sister Susan called me this morning to say they had an injured bird in their yard. I went right over and found this juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk prostrate on the ground.  As the story unfolded, it became evident that this was a cat injury, and while we were deciding what to do, a cat appeared confirming our suspicions. Jeff, my brother-in-law, chased the cat away for the 3rd or 4th time. Susan was able to contact Chintimini Wildlife Center, and their advice was to put the bird in a box and bring it to them.  Susan rounded up a box, and a towel, and Jeff caught the hawk and placed it in the box. 
Jeff was able to throw the towel over the hawk to catch it.

Jeff with Susan's help placed the hawk gently in the box.

The hawk settled in for the trip

Susan ready to load up the patient in her car.

Susan reported that she arrived at Chintimini, checked the bird in, and they said she was welcome to check back with them, but give them 24 hours.  Moral of the story, please keep your cats inside. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Post Thanksgiving Sunshine

Earlier this week Jeanette had set up a bird walk with her sister Patty, and Patty's husband, Kordell, for the Friday after Thanksgiving. The location was Lyons City Park in the small town of Lyons, east of Salem.  The weather continued to deteriorate as the day grew closer, so by Friday we were facing temperatures in the 30's and fog. We soldiered on, driving through the fog east on Highway 22, and then miraculously into bright sunshine by the time we arrived at Lyons City Park. I took this quick photo before Patty & Kordell arrived, and when they arrived, it was a mad rush to put on as many hats, coats and gloves as we could muster against the cold.  We kept on the move to stay warm, and I failed to get a photo of us all. We did have a good time though, pointing out bird sightings as we traveled around the pond and then on through the ponds that make up bordering John Neal Memorial Park.  You can see our bird list with photos here.  Plus, here is a bonus link to our very first trip to Lyons City Park

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

American Pipit

Yesterday morning we took another driving tour of Livermore Road and I was able to photograph this American Pipit along with other species which you can see in our list with additional photos here.  The American Pipit is a small sparrow sized bird, and a winter migrant here in the Willamette Valley.  In adding this photo to the Critters section of Cascade Ramblings, Jeanette and I remembered that our very first sighting of an American Pipit was in Arizona on the lower Colorado River at Buckskin Mountain State Park.  It was during a bird walk that I was leading as a Park Volunteer.  Even though I was leading the group, I had no idea what we were seeing.  Luckily we had an experienced birder in the group who politely suggested it was an American Pipit. It took some digging but I was able to find that date was January 24, 2011.  I did not get a photo that day, but have since photographed American Pipits in a variety of locations.  Here is the link to the Critters page of Cascade Ramblings.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Visiting a Gentle Giant

 A tip from Grant's Getaways on TV led us to take a trip to the Oregon Coast yesterday to seek out this giant cedar tree that is reported to be 800 to 1200 years old.  It's hard to comprehend the years it has stood here and all that it has endured. Giant stumps in the area testify that this tree's family members where cut down and removed probably with-in the last 100 years. Yet here it still stands, perhaps spared because of it twisted gnarly appearance.


The Old Growth Cedar Preserve is located in the town of Rockaway Beach.  A board walk of a half a mile leads over the wetlands to the an elevated platform that circles this gentle giant.  Doubly attractive to us is that this preserve is an eBird Hotspot. We had a great time spotting and identifying birds along the walk way. You can see our observation list with photos here.

If you want to visit the Old Growth Cedar Preserve, be sure and look for this clue.  Approaching the town of Rockaway Beach from the south, look for this Welcome sign and the parking lot. This is where the boardwalk begins that leads to the Gentle Giant.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Safe Birding During COVID-19

We went on a bird watching trip yesterday morning on Livermore Road in Polk County.  My preferred method of birding is on foot on a walkway or path through a park or natural area, but Livermore Road is a unique birding experience.  You drive down a straight gravel road for 4 miles with basically no turn-outs.  On a day of a mixed weather forecast, it was a good choice to be able to stay warm and dry and still look for birds.  It occurred to me part way through, that being quarantined in the confines of a car is the perfect method in these times of COVID-19. We never got out of the car, never had physical contact with any other possibly infected person, and we were able to put together a bird list which you can see here

Jeanette and I work together as a well oiled machine when we go birding.  She has far better eye sight than I do, so she works as the "spotter".  I work on collecting the data and taking photographs. Yesterday we kept the same rolls, she drove, and when spotting a bird, stopped and checked with binoculars.  I entered the observation on a check list in my iPhone, and when the opportunity presented itself, took photos for further documentation. 


Monday, November 16, 2020

Territorial Dispute

It's a delight to have our winter sparrows back, like this Golden-crowned Sparrow seen along the path at Fairview Wetlands in Salem yesterday.  He does however seem to have an objection to our presence. The bark dust path which runs along the east bank of the lower pond is great habitat for Golden-crowns to scratch up in search of bugs. In fact they probably consider the path belongs to them. Fairview Wetlands is our go-to-spot for Sundays.  We like it because the many near-by workers who use the path for walking on their breaks during the week are not around on the weekend.  In other words, we have it to ourselves on Sundays.  Perhaps this Gold-crowned Sparrow has the same attitude, he feels like it's his territory!  Here is the link to our observation list.  

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Our Secret for Survival

Jeanette looking out on Huddleston Pond

The stress that coronavirus is putting on peoples lives is tremendous, and I believe that it requires some  effort and discipline to be able to continue living happy healthful lives. We have found that we have a couple of built in daily practices that are serving us well in this crucial time of the coronavirus. Number one, is that we truly love to go birding.  This puts us out in the fresh air, provides us some exercise, and for the most part, keeps us away from other people. Number two has to do with the weather.  For around 15 years we traveled to Arizona for the winter, where getting outside on a daily basis was a no brainer. But here in the Northwest, with lots of cold and rain, it is a different matter.  Years ago I came up with the concept of looking for the "sweet spot" in each day.  That is, looking at the weather forecast, figuring out the best time of day to be outside in regard to temperature and rain, and then plan your day accordingly.  It's amazing that each day normally has a window of fairly nice weather, and that's when we jump into action.  Yesterday's trip to Huddleston Pond in Willamina is a good example.  There were some morning dry hours in the weather forecast, so we left home first thing in the morning with the expectation of getting in a bird walk.  It was true, we got in a nice walk of around a mile and a good bird list and some photos.  You can see it here.  Afterward we stopped at a drive-thru coffee shop for some hot chocolate, and then drove over to Sheridan where we picked up a Subway sandwich which we took to the Sheridan Southside City Park and Pond. We noted a few more birds, then enjoyed our lunch in the warm comfort of our van. On our way back to Dallas we were pleased to spot probably a dozen American Kestrels on the power lines, a few Red-tailed Hawks, two Northern Harriers, and a Rough-legged Hawk. We arrived back at Dallas Retirement Village just as the rain started. We had gotten outside for some fresh air and exercise, avoided close contact with people, and most importantly enjoyed a sense of adventure.

Great Egret with a male Hooded Merganser

Monday, November 9, 2020

Some Things Are Hard To Swallow

Yesterday, Jeanette and I decided to take advantage of a full day of sunshine by making a return trip to the coast to the Alder Island Nature Trail at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Though biting cold, we had bright sunshine. You can see our complete eBird observation list with photos here.  One of the most entertaining things we saw was this Red-necked Grebe swallowing a fish.  It looked like a difficult proposition, but judging by the huge lump at the base of its throat, which was taken a minute later, it was successful.