Friday, March 29, 2024

Murlark Osprey Pair

The pair of Osprey that visit a nest site in West Salem seasonally to raise their chicks is becoming a lesson in persistence. Osprey are known for returning to the same nest year after year. Salem Electric in an effort to draw Osprey away from nesting atop power poles has put up a number of platforms on poles to provide them an alternative. In this case, this pair of Osprey have their own opinions, and their continued success year after year points to their stubbornness or persistence. They are the most successful nesting pair in the West Salem area. Always the first to return from their wintering grounds someplace in Mexico or Central America, they always produce the most young.  All this in spite of the fact that their nest has been moved on them at least four times in the last few years. When we stopped by to check on them this morning at their most recent nest building project on a pole put up by Salem Electric on Edgewater St NW, we were surprised to find it empty. We turned down Murlark Ave to check on another nest site on Patterson, when all of a sudden Jeanette spotted a new nest on a power power pole on Murlark Ave with three or four birds. Stopping to examine closer, we found this start of a nest on a pole with two Osprey, and two decoy birds that had obviously been placed to discourage their nesting.   

Here it looks like there is an "eye to eye" conversation going on between the Osprey and the fake bird,  perhaps about who actually belongs at this location.  

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Thursday's Bird Watch


While on a bird walk here at Dallas Retirement Village on Saturday morning this past week, I heard a loud drumming sound, possibly coming from the large aluminum streetlight pole at the corner of Tilgner and Brentwood, but I could not see it.  I suspected it was a Northern Flicker, well known for their antics in Spring when they drum out loudly on metal roof flashing and rain gutters to impress the fairer sex.   Luckily for me, DRV resident Joyce Pelo came by walking her little dog, and she spotted it on the shady side of the street sign.  Much to my surprise it was this little Red-breasted Sapsucker! Although I have heard and seen Northern Flickers many times making this loud drumming sound, never before have I seen and heard the much smaller Red-breasted Sapsucker.  I hope he is successful in attracting a mate!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Polk County First Osprey

This morning, we found our first Osprey of the season for Polk County.  We have been checking Osprey nest sites almost daily for the past week or so with anticipation of their return from their southern winter vacation. Of the six West Salem area nest sites we checked, three sites had an Osprey! This beautiful female was the first one we found off of Riverbend Rd NW. Next, we found one on the nest site at the ball field in Wallace Marine Park but failed at a good photo.  The third Osprey we found which is pictured below, was on Murlark Ave. Here the story gets a little complicated, in that there is no longer a nest on Murlark Ave. due to ongoing construction in that exact location. We found the bird waiting on a power pole. There is a relatively close nesting site nearby on Edgewater that Salem Electric put up last year, and hopefully the Osprey will decide that it is an acceptable alternative. 

Other nesting sites without Osprey were Bartell Dr. and Salem Audubon Nature Reserve on Eola Dr. I'm sure in the coming days other arriving Osprey will find their way to these two other sites. 

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Thursday's Bird Watch

Last week we went to check on the Buena Vista County Park. Located on the banks of the Willamette River right next to the Buena Vista Ferry, it has just recently reopened after a 2-year closure for remodel and renovation.  There are big improvements for parking at the boat launch area and a second restroom.  We had no need for a boat launch, but as you might guess, we were there to look for birds.  Our best photo was of this handsome male Common Merganser in his bright breeding plumage. He came riding past the park on the rain swollen Willamette River, possibly looking for a suitable mate for the season. Here is our eBird Observation List

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Using Merlin on the Scooter

One of the tools we have regularly used for the past several years in birding is the phone app Merlin. It's an amazing app that can identify birds by sound. I have now been able to mount a phone holder on the handlebar of my scooter so I can use the phone/app hands free as I motor along with both hands on the scooter controls. Yesterday afternoon we did a bird trip on the Rickreall Creek Trail System. This screen shot shows three of the birds Merlin identified as I rolled along: Dark-eyed Junco, Purple Finch, and California Scrub-Jay. Here is our eBird Observation List. We have now used the scooter/phone/Merlin combination on three trips, and loving life! 


Friday, March 8, 2024

Taking the Scooter for a ride.

Daily I ride my new Phantom electric scooter around the halls of the Dallas Retirement Village, going to lunch, dinner, and various meetings and events.  It has become the most pain-free way to move about, staying off of my bone spur plagued foot. Yesterday, we reversed rolls, and we took the scooter for a ride in our camper van to Toledo. Jeanette needed to return some books she had on loan from the Toledo History Center, and we took the scooter along to be able to do a bird walk on the cement walkway along Depot Slough called the Depot Slough Path. Despite overnight temps in the 20's, and roadside snow in the coast range, by mid-morning when we arrived in Toledo the temps were in the 40's with bright sunshine. We quickly discovered that I could coordinate my scooter speed with Jeanette's walking speed, and we could conduct a bird walk as normal, and to my great joy, without foot pain! Here is the link to our eBird Observation ListThe scooter fits perfectly in the back of the van and is easy to load and unload using an 8" wide board. Our imagination is on fire with future rides for the scooter.      

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Thursday's Bird Watch

 During our snowstorm last Friday March 1st here at Dallas Retirement Village, the sun came our briefly, and Jeanette and I rushed out hoping to photograph a bird in the snow.  We were fortunate to get this Dark-eyed Junco in Vern and Ann Beeson's Garden Home front yard.  Vern had sent me a text to let me know they had a lot of birds at their feeders.  Thanks for the tip Vern! As I have said many times before, Juncos are my favorite winter bird.  I still remember being fascinated with the first one I saw outside of my grandmother Scott's window in the snow under her camelia bush, 77 years ago.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Electric Scooter!

 For six months I have been dealing with debilitating foot pain. Footwear changes and attention to therapeutic stretching exercises, failed to bring healing. Time off my feet brings only temporary relief, curtailing my active lifestyle of walking to increased time in my rocking chair. Birding observation trips now occur from the front seat of our van. Jeanette literally waits on me hand and foot.  Medical visits, referrals, and x-rays have now pinpointed the problem as bone spurs. 

Today, hope arrived in the form of this electric scooter. This should allow me access to the halls, elevators, and dining rooms at Dallas Retirement Village pain free. But most importantly, Jeanette and I will be able to get back to putting on some miles on the trails, identifying and photographing birds!