Sunday, January 29, 2023

Short-billed Gull

 When Jeanette and I were at the Monmouth Wastewater Treatment Plant two days ago looking for the Field Sparrow, we also counted a great number of birds on the water, and most noticeable were three Short-billed Gulls.  This became a very intriguing bird to me.  To begin with, none of dozen or so bird guides I have, listed a Short-billed Gull.  It was only after using the Internet to search e-Bird and related sources that I discovered that in 2021 the name of the Mew Gull was changed to Short-billed Gull. It's not a gull we see here in the Willamette Valley that much, only in winter as it hangs out here while away from its summer breeding grounds in Alaska.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Field Sparrow

 Jeanette and I went looking for this little sparrow yesterday. We found it hiding in the bushes at the Monmouth Water Treatment Ponds.  So have over a hundred other people in the past ten days.  It was seen for the first time on January 17th by Brandon Wagner. The big deal is that this was the first reported sighting ever of this species in Oregon! It belongs on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, where it normally roams around from the Mid-West to the East Coast. The fact that it was spotted and identified by Brandon is a testimony to his birding skills and tenacity. The first thing Brandon did was share its location with the rest of the birding community.  Which also speaks to his great generosity. We also owe our good fortune to the kindness of two other birders who were on the scene when we arrived and willingly pointed out the bird to us. Click here to see our complete eBird Observation List.    If you plan on seeking out this unusual visitor, bear in mind that the wastewater treatment facilities are only open to the public Mon thru Fri from 8-3.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Dry Window

Jeanette scanning for birds

 Yesterday was a dry window in the weather after about 2 weeks of solid rain. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity and choose to take the van to Salem for the day and bird some of our old favorites. Fairview Wetlands was at the top of the list.  I checked back on the records, and we have birded there for 25 years, making 116 checklist lists, and identifying 104 different species of birds. Lots of memories. Back then we started out walking from our house on Reed Court, just looking for a way to get in some milage walking. Discovering birds new to us at the time, like Greater Yellowlegs, changed our focus from walking to birding. The industrial complex of Fairview Business Park had not been developed yet, there was only the undeveloped wetlands. No raised berms, no bark covered trails, and no water controlling dams. Over the years we have continued to come and enjoy the great diversity of bird life. You can see our bird list for today here

Green-wing Teal pair enjoying the morning sun 

Our next stop was Salem Riverfront Park where the fog had not yet lifted.  We stalled a little to have lunch in the warm comfort of the van and I worked on photos from our first stop. As the fog cleared, we stepped out of the van to a busy park, filled with families enjoying a free day due to Martin Luther King Holiday. We walked the length of the park, you can see our bird list here, and then crossed the Peter Courtney Bridge to the North Basin Conservation Area on Minto-Brown Island Park. Here is that list

As we left Salem in bright sunshine, we reflected on our great good fortune to be able to get out and enjoy the day.  Then, much to our surprise as we entered Dallas a rainstorm descended on us, however by the time we had parked the van at Dallas Retirement Village the rain had stopped. 

Monday, January 2, 2023

First Bird of the Year

Our first bird of the year was a Bald Eagle! This might seem a little like a scripted event, but honestly, when we stepped out of the van on Sunday Morning at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery, this Bald Eagle high in a tree eyeing the fishponds below, was the first bird Jeanette spotted. 

Normally, on the first day of the New Year we hit the nearby trials wherever we are living to count birds.  This year was a little different in that we headed to the Lincoln City area to do our birding. A couple of factors entered into our decision. For one, I was interested in going to the coast because it's a few degrees warmer. Secondly, I knew a landslide had blocked Highway 18 near Otis which would require taking a detour on Northbank Rd. to reach Lincoln City. That route would take us past the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. We had spent some time there back in 2008 and 2009 while volunteering for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Checking the eBird map I discovered it is now listed as an eBird Hotspot.  So, we made it our first stop of the day. 

We were delighted to discover this Hotspot. Located along the Salmon River, on the opposite side of busy Highway 18, it is a natural birding location. We enjoyed the morning sun and a good variety of birds. You can see our Observation List here.  We stayed on the asphalt walkways, but under drier conditions we will explore the dirt trails along the river. I can't wait to return; we expect this will be a regular birding location for us.

(click on image to enlarge)