Sunday, May 26, 2024

Places We Love to Bird - Fairview Wetlands

We are currently on a streak of early morning bird walks, bursting out the door around 7:00AM, which has provided amazing results in the number of birds we get to hear, see, and identify. It is also possible that it is an effort on our part to divert our attention from my upcoming shoulder replacement surgery this Tuesday the 28th.   Saturday, our early morning destination of choice was Fairview Wetlands in Salem.  We have birded here for over 30 years. Our first trip was only a walk from our home on Reed Court to keep in shape for hiking. The wetlands had not even been developed yet. A road had been built for the development of the Fairview Industrial Park. In a wet marshy area, we saw some medium sized birds with long legs and long bills. They caught our attention, but we had no idea what they were. Hours later, looking through bird guides I came to the conclusion they were Greater Yellowlegs. Our first, and we were hooked. We started making paper lists. We have returned many times now, in fact over one hundred and twenty checklists have been turned into eBird, identifying 115 different species. Our appreciation for the cycle of life continues to deepen as we become aware of seasons and migrating patterns of these beautiful creatures we seek out. Here is the link to our checklist of the day.  If you decide to go here to look for birds, overlook the noisy airport next door, and the massive industrial complex that encircles this oasis. It can be just you and the birds.        

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Thursday's Bird Watch

On Mother's Day we went for a walk at the Delbert Hunter Arboretum which is located adjacent to the Dallas City Park.  This continues to be a great place to walk and look for birds. There is an open meadow with a couple of nesting boxes, and this is where we found this bright male Western Bluebird. It's possible the female is in the nest, and he may be just checking on her. There is a nice bench to sit on close by and observe the coming and goings of this pair of Western Bluebirds. Here is our eBird Check List  

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Places We Love to Bird - Chitwood Bridge

During a recent trip to the Oregon Coast, we veered off of modern Highway 20 to travel the old route through Eddyville and Chitwood. It's a road filled with bends and curves as the route follows the winding Yaquina River through the coast range, fighting for space with the historic Corvallis & Eastern Railroad in the narrow corridor. It brought back memories for me of my families many miserable trips in the 1940s from Lebanon to Toledo and Otter Rock in our old GMC plumbing truck. But on this day, Jeanette and I enjoyed the slow pace and bucolic setting of this almost forgotten route.   

Chitwood was a railroad settlement of 200 people and a bridge, along a dreamed-up train route over the Cascades that would connect the Pacific to the East Coast.  Bankruptcy brought a halt to Colonel Hogg's scheme, and only the connection from Yaquina to Corvallis remained intact for many years. Now the rails lie empty and rusting away. Ony the historic bridge serves to remind us of the important past.

Our stop for a break, and a look around, was rewarded with bright sunshine and a good variety of birds. Barn Swallows were the overriding species, with close to 20 busy swoping over the river for bugs and visiting nesting sites in the rafters of the covered bridge. Here is our bird observation list.  Birders take note, Chitwood Bridge is now a recognized eBird Hotspot. This will definitely be a recurring stop in future trips to the Coast.   

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Places We Love to Bird - Ritner Creek Bridge

This post is the first of which I hope to make a series of posts about places we love to go birding.  I have said many times that birding for me is as much or more about place as it is about birds.  In other words, there may be a rare bird at the water treatment plant, but I will take a pass, and choose to enjoy a common song sparrow at a scenic location in a stream-side park.

This trip on Friday afternoon, May 17, involved a stop to take a break and check out the bird life at the Ritner Creek Bridge Park, some 15 miles south of Dallas on Kings Valley Highway.  Jeanette set up chairs in the shade, made coffee, and provided cookies, as we sat and enjoyed listening to the birds sing, and we made an eBird Check List

One of 10 Polk County Parks, this historic covered bridge spans Ritner Creek just before it joins the Luckiamute River. Parking, picnic tables, a porta poti, and limited creek and river access, make this a delightful location to relax from busy Highway 223. Just a-heads-up, there is no cell service. 

It's easy to imagine that this entrance point of Ritner Creek into the Luckiamute River would undoubtable have been an important geographic location of the gathering of native Luckiamute bands of the Kalapuya tribes to share in the harvest of camas bulbs and berries, fish and deer and other mammals. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Thursday's Bird Watch

 This is an "update" on the baby Anna's Hummingbird I featured on my post of May 2nd.  That post reported on the first day the juvenile left its nest in the Central Courtyard here at Dallas Retirement Village on April 23rd.  Since then, we have had quiet a variety of hummingbirds visit our juice feeder on our balcony, and it's always a fun chore to decide it it's an Anna's Hummingbird or a Rufous Hummingbird, and if it is a male, a female or a juvenile.   This last Thursday evening, May 9th, we got this close-up of what I believe is our baby of this year as it spent close to a half hour at our feeder drinking and preening its feathers.  We can now tell with certainty that our juvenile is a male as we note the change in his plumage, for instance the darkening under the chin.  If you look closely, you will notice his tongue sticking out.  I'm not sure if that was a part of his preening or an objection to having his photo taken.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Big Day on Baskett Butte

With another warm day in the weather forecast, Jeanette and I made plans to get an early start for a big day of birding at nearby Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. We choose to take the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail which loops around Baskett Butte. When we arrived at the trailhead a little after seven, and turned on eBird to make a Checklist, we discovered by pure coincidence it was Global Big Day in the birding world. It was a magnificent morning of bright sunshine filled with bird song.


Western Meadowlark

The song of the Western Meadowlark greeted us immediately when we stepped from the car. Before our hike was over we had counted more meadowlarks than ebird would allow, so we pared back the number to 15, the highest they would accept.

 Jeanette was kept busy with her iPhone using the Merlin ID to identify bird songs, and then entering each species into eBird, for a total of 43 separate species. Here is our eBird Checklist.

It was a day of birds and bees.  Here is a Yellow-fronted Bumble Bee.

Cat's Ears were always a favorite in my wildflower days before birds.  I now need to brush up on them again.


Thursday, May 2, 2024

Thursday's Bird Watch

We had a successful nesting this year of an Anna's Hummingbird here at Dallas Retirement Village in the Lodge Central Courtyard.  This photo is of the juvenile just after leaving the nest for the first time on Tuesday, April 23rd.  There was only one baby, and a number of residents have enjoyed checking it out over the last two weeks.  It did not seem to have any interest in returning to the nest, perhaps it was glad to be out of the nest which seemed to be coming a little too camped, and probably boring.  The mom was able to find it and feed it again as it tried out perching in a couple of different trees.