Friday, March 26, 2021

Osprey Nest Survey

Yesterday we devoted to surveying seven Osprey nest sights here in Polk County.  Of the seven, three were empty at the time we checked. Riverview Park in Independence was empty, but we have photographed a bird there previous days, starting with a male on March 19th. The Live Stream Camera is active now and we have seen multiple birds there, and even breeding going on.  Salem Audubon Nature Reserve nest was empty, and as far as I know, none have showed up yet.  The Patterson Street nest site, also in West Salem was empty, and the camera of Salem Electric has not shown any birds yet. Below are the nest sites with birds.

The former Willamette Mill site in Dallas has a nest on an abandoned power pole. There has been this female hanging around since March 18th. We have observed her eating fish, doing a breeding display, and nest building. No actual sighting of a male, but I believe that the male was one of birds we have seen and others have reported along Rickreall Creek beginning on March 12th.

This is a nest on a platform on Buena Vista Road, south of Independence. The female is on the nest, and the male was on a tree right next to the nest. We have photographed Osprey here near the nest since March 16th.

Murlark Avenue in West Salem has a nest platform put up by Salem Electric and always has the earliest Osprey. This year our first observation was March 18th. This is the female on the nest.  The male was not around.

The last nest we checked was in Wallace Marine Park. The male was on the post and the female was doing her best with breeding postures, but with no success. This was our first check of the nest this year. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Dallas Osprey Nest

 As far as I know the only Osprey nest in Dallas is located in the old Willamette Mill site and is visible off of South Main Street.  I had spotted an Osprey at the nest the previous two days, so yesterday morning we went to check on the progress. Jeanette is shown above entering our observation on her iPhone.  You can check out the list here.  As you can see in the photo below, the nest is located atop an old power pole. We watched the female preform a breeding display, and then fly off the nest and over to some cottonwood trees and break off a stick, which is the one she has just brought back to the nest in the photo.  I believe this nest is going to be occupied by the Osprey we have been observing along Rickreall Creek since March 12th. We will be keeping track of the progress here at this nest site the rest of the season. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Independence Osprey Update

I have been checking out the Osprey nest site at the Riverview Park in Independence for several weeks now, anticipating their seasonal return. I checked again this morning, but no Osprey were in view when I arrived. You can see my complete observation list with photos here. I was almost back to the van, when I saw a large bird coming in high from the East almost directly over the Bald Eagle nest.  It circled over the river pausing to hover several times, probably looking for fish, before going over and perching on a cottonwood tree close to the Osprey nest. Looks to be a male, and is the first Osprey I have seen at that nest site this year.  After a few minutes it was chased away by an immature Bald Eagle. This sighting date of March 19th, is the earliest reporting to e-Bird for this location.  



Thursday, March 18, 2021

FOY Rufus Hummingbird

We now have our First of the Year sighting of a Rufus Hummingbird! We have been checking all hummingbirds for the last couple of weeks in hopes of getting a Rufus, but each one has been an Anna's. Last night this male Rufus Hummingbird showed up at our juice feeder on our balcony. Anna's are year-around residents, but Rufus' are migrants returning each Spring from wintering far to the South. Rufus Hummingbirds are fiery little guys, and tend to dominate the larger Anna's Hummingbirds.  We will be watching closely to see if everybody gets along at the feeder. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Cascade Ramblings Van

Today we added the "Cascade Ramblings" letters to our van.  We have always thought that it was an interesting coincidence that Cascade Campers is the name of the company that did our camper customization. It came with their logo in the top corner. We just thought the rest of the panel would look good with our name. Now we should be easily recognized.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sutler's Store

I've written several times recently about birding at Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area.  But birding is only a fraction of the reasons to visit Fort Yamhill.  It's well worth your time to take a detour off the main highway on your way to Spirit Mountain Casino, or the Oregon Coast to visit this historical site. It sits on a knoll on the side of Fort Hill overlooking the Grand Ronde Valley. To get a glimpse into it's historical contribution is easily the overriding reason to stop here. It served as a US military fort for a decade in a turbulent time of forced relocation of Native Americans to the Grand Ronde Reservation.  I highly recommend the personal journals of Corporal Royal A. Bensell edited by Gunter Barth entitled "All Quiet on the Yamhill". 

In reading Bensell's journals, I was puzzled several  times about what he referred to as the Sutlers Store.  My first uninformed guess was that it was a miss-spelling of "settler", thinking it was a store either run by a settler or for the settlers' use.  As I have now come to know, a sutler, or civilian storekeeper, was a person authorized to operate a general store near a military outpost.  The Sutler's Store provided goods and supplies for the military, Native Americans and settlers.

While reading this Interpretive sign at Fort Yamhill this past week I had a personal epiphany concerning my grandfather Scott.  I heard stories in my youth of my grandfather who traveled by train from Missouri to Montana, and among many things, he sold clothing to the Indians. So, now it occurs to me that it is possible that my grandfather George Henry Scott worked as a sutler. This fits with his life later when he moved to Oregon and he and my grandmother operated a variety store in Lebanon. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

FOY Osprey

 FOY, or "First of the Year" bird sightings, are a big deal for many birders.  Jeanette and I have a particular obsession for FOY Osprey.  They are special in part because they migrate, leaving in the Fall to spend the Winter in Mexico and further south, and then they return in the Spring. Normally they return to the same nest site around the middle of March.  It's always an exciting moment when we discover them because it heralds in a season of activity with pair interaction, nest building, and chick raising. Because of their size they are an easy bird to keep track of.

Yesterday while walking in our neighborhood at Dallas Retirement Village, one of the residents stopped to tell us that they had seen an Osprey with a fish on Rickreall Creek the morning before. This was big news for us because we had been watching nest sites for the past three weeks hoping to catch our FOY sighting. We abruptly ended our bird walk and drove to the Aquatics Center to walk the area of the Rickreall Creek Trail System where the Osprey was seen.  We came up empty handed, but as we were returning to the car, another couple stopped to ask if we had seen the Osprey near the foot bridge next to the dog park.  We were off on a fast walk, and sure enough Jeanette spotted this Osprey and I took some photos.  This is not only our FOY Osprey, but possible the FOY Osprey for the greater area of Polk, Yamhill, and Marion Counties.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Early Morning at Ft Yamhill

 A report of a couple of birders finding two Northern Pygmy-Owls at Ft Yamhill State Heritage Area sent us on an early morning chase yesterday in hopes of finding them.  Arriving at 7:30AM, shafts of sunlight were penetrating the morning fog as they cut through the forest revealing a land of frost. We did hear a couple weak calls, possibly from a Northern Pygmy-Owl, but our lack of experience kept us from claiming them as an official observation. However, Jeanette did spot a flock of ten Red Crossbills high in the tree tops.  And here the story comes full circle.  Our first sighting of a Northern Pygmy-Owl was seven years ago while serving as volunteers at the Beaver Creek Welcome Center, and Red Crossbills played a pivotal role in finding the owl.  You can read about that event here

We spent a couple of hours on the interpretive trail, hanging out in spots of warm sunshine, scanning the trees for any sighting of an owl. Although we came up empty, we were pleased with the birds we could identify and photograph which you can see here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Birds, Bunnies, & Hot Chocolate

Taking our Cascade Camper van on birding trips, even for just a day-trip is working out real well for us.  Yesterday's trip is a good example.  The weather forecast was for a dry morning, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and got in a full morning of birding at four different locations.  Although dry, it was cold, in fact 32 degrees when we arrived at our second stop at 8:30 at Ft. Yamhill State Heritage Area.  After almost an hour of looking and photographing birds, Jeanette was ready to warm up with some hot chocolate.  Casper the Cascade Camper van has a butane stove that's easy to set up on a picnic bench and quickly can boil hot water.  
Birding trips always involve more than just birds.  This little bunny is techincally know as a Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)

I barely got a photo of the last of seven California Quail before they disappeared into the brush.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers are one of our favorite woodpeckers to watch.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Adventure Day at the Coast

This beautiful sunrise greeted us yesterday morning when we walked out the door to our van. What a way to start the day! With good weather in the forecast, and no obligations on the calendar, we decided to take our Cascade Camper van to the coast for the day. The Lincoln City area is close, less than on hour away, and chock-full of birding opportunities. Our top favorite continues to be the Alder Island Trail at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  We arrived at 8:00AM, and were immediately overwhelmed with an unbelievable number of Great Blue Herons. We counted 17 in all, and in the end figured out that they have a rookery in a grove of Red Alder trees. You can see more photos and our observation list here


Our second stop was at the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy.  This is a quiet place hidden away in the center of busy Lincoln City that we always enjoy for a bit of down time.  We had lunch in the van and then stretched out for a little nap.  This is why we enjoy the van for day trips, a comfortable place for lunch and a nap. Refreshed, we took a tour of the grounds to count birds and enjoy the flowers like this giant rhododendron.