Driving east.

We have entered the season of driving east.  There are early wildflowers blooming in the gorge, there are year birds waiting in the high desert, and most importantly, there's a better chance of dry weather east of the Cascades.  On my recent weekend I drove east to Larch Mountain to cry over new clearcuts and poke around.  Bird activity was minimal though a Chestnut-backed Chickadee came in to check me out.

On the edge of a clearcut I saw a Red-tailed Hawk flying and it eventually came over and soared right over me for awhile.  It had a stick. 

It soared with two other Red-taileds briefly before cruising down straight to the trees on the edge of the clearcut and depositing the stick somewhere.  It reappeared soon after without the stick.  I can only hope on my next visit those trees are still standing.

On Friday Jacob and I drove east to Catherine Creek to look for wildflowers and birds.  Grass widows were the main attraction flower-wise. 

Prairiestars were also in bloom along wit…

The 5MR continues.

Earlier this afternoon I picked up my 99th 5-Mile Radius bird for the year, a lone Pine Siskin stuffing its face on my tray feeder in the pouring rain.  I had not seen one in the yard since last July.  I certainly was not expecting one to show up today while I grumbled (to myself) about the rain and my inability to stop eating this box of samoas.

Other than the siskin not much of interest has been happening in the yard.  One recent rainy day I took a million photos of my local hummingbirds because I didn't want to go outside.  I learned that if one perched on my Japanese maple I could line it up with my neighbor's porch light to create a cool effect.

Edit:  I'm adding this crazy junco that showed up in the yard yesterday (3/11).   Before I had bins on it I turned it into a Rustic Bunting which was fun.

Back in January I discovered a Barn Owl in my 5MR and was bummed to learn it would flush at the slightest glance.  I saw it once in February, and it flushed again.  Finally…

Chasing Mallards.

Winter is not over, but the wettest February on record has been left in the past.  We can only move forward.  To kick off February finally ending and March beginning with a mostly dry day, Audrey and I headed to the coast to chase some reported Mallards.  Other birds, too, but why set the bar high?

We left Portland at the reasonable time of 4:06 a.m. with our first real stop being Tomaselli's Pastry Mill & Cafe in Elkton.

We loaded up on fresh coffee, equally fresh pastries, and something called a Bird Seed Bar.  A big flock of Wild Turkeys at the local school offered up my first year bird.  Our next stop was the Dean Creek elk viewing area where a couple of bucks were going at it.

As planned, we made it to Fossil Point in Coos Bay just before low tide to search for the King Eider.  I began to scan the amazing mass of birds on the water from left to right and within minutes was on the bird.  Birding is easy.  We trekked out on the mud to get closer views and marvel at numbers…