Sunday, January 24, 2021

Rough-legged Hawk

 Rough-legged Hawks are an uncommon species here in the Willamette Valley.  They nest in the great tundra of the North, migrating here in October, and leaving by May. So, it's always a big deal to be able see and photograph one.  This one is even a little more unusual in that it is a dark morph, instead of the more common light morph. 

With a full day of sunshine in the weather forecast, we chose to spend the main part of our day birding despite the temperature continuing to hang in the 30's.  The plan was to visit the Luckiamute State Natural Area south unit. It was still cold and the birds were extremely quite at 11:00, but we struck out walking. We spotted several Red-tailed Hawks, which is expected.  They out number all other hawks, and possibly all other hawks combined.  So, when you see a large raptor soaring, or perched on a power pole or in a tree, your first reaction is to assume that it is a Red-tail. When we spotted this bird in the tree, Jeanette asked "what kind of hawk is that with such a small tail?"  I explained to her that Red-tails have short tails as I snapped a photo.  When we got home and I downloaded the photos into my laptop I realized to my own pleasure that I was wrong, and after checking some bird guides came to the conclusion it was a Rough-legged Hawk. An additional interesting fact is that our only other sighting of a Rough-legged Hawk at this location was January 14, 2014. Click here to see that image. 

We finished our walk with a feeling of success.  You can see our checklist here


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Winter Survival Secret

This photo of the dash display in our car shows the temperature of 57 degrees during a trip at the coast on Saturday, January the 9th. It was a cold 37 degrees and foggy in Dallas when we left home in the morning for a birding trip to Siletz Bay. (see our bird list here) The weather forecast for Lincoln City was for a high of 52, and indeed it was even better at 57. That's a 20 degree difference from our 37 degree starting temperature!

We watch the weather like a hawk, so to speak.  We look for the dry times of day, and the warmest locations on a daily basis, sometimes even checking hourly, and then make plans accordingly.

For many years we traveled south to Arizona to hide out from the cold and rain of the Northwest, but in our declining years we find traveling that much distance too stressful, and opt to stay home here in the Willamette Valley.  But, the dark and dreary days of winter, especially in this time of the Pandemic, can be quite depressing. So, our remedy is at minimum, to look for the "sweet spot" of the day, when the rain has let up or the sun is shining to at least get in a walk.  If there is a big enough window and a big temperature difference we head to the Oregon Coast for the day.  To our good fortune, where we live now in Dallas, we are less than an hour away from the coast and some excellent birding locations. So, check the weather, and plan your escape.    

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Buena Vista Park

The 1st of January always begins a fresh start for birders turning in observation lists to e-Bird.  The slate is wiped clean, and you begin with "0" birds.  So, there's usually a little extra push to get your numbers up for the county you're birding in, which in our case is Polk County. This year for some reason there are a lot more people turning in bird lists.  I don't know if there are just more people interested in birding than past years, or has the Corona virus caused people to seek recreation in the great outdoors. We dutifully turned in an observation list on January 1st, and a second list on January 2nd, but on the 3rd of January I discovered we were suddenly way behind!  So for the last two days we have been out making a big push to get our numbers up. Yesterday we traveled north and turned in 7 lists in the Perrydale area.  Today we went south concentrating in the Buena Vista Area.  Below are photos from Buena Vista Park, a Polk County Park located next door to the Buena Vista Ferry. This was our second stop out of five for the morning.        

Jeanette's quick reactions and sharp eyes has earned her the "spotters" position.  I stumble along behind, madly entering her findings into the cell phone, and trying to grab some photos with the camera.

American Kestrel male

American Robin

Spotted Sandpiper

Friday, January 1, 2021

First Birds of 2021

I looked back last night in Cascade Ramblings, and noticed that for the past 10 years I have always put up a blog post on the first of January. Many years we were in Arizona, volunteering in Arizona State Parks along the Colorado River This year we are in Oregon for the second winter in a row, and are now living in the Dallas Retirement Village, where birding continues to occupy a big part of our life. And, like most days, we started the day with a bird walk. Below are featured the birds I photographed this first day of 2021 here at Dallas Retirement Village.

Anna's Hummingbird
When we stepped outside this morning at 8:30, the first bird we saw and photographed was this female Anna's Hummingbird, all fluffed up to say warm.

White-crowned Sparrow
In a tree full of small birds we found eight White-crowned Sparrows.

Spotted Towhee
A gorgeous male Sotted Towhee made his presence know in a thicket of bushes.

European Starling
This European Starling, one of seven, was busy on a suet feeder

Ruby Crowned Kinglet
A tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet, the size of a hummingbird, was caught in flight

Red-tailed Hawk
High up in a tall fir tree, a Red-tailed Hawk surveys our world below