Friday, October 20, 2017

Recent things.

Birds are back.  At work, customers have been talking excitedly about the chaos in their yards, how they are seeing more finches than they have seen before.   Goldfinches and siskins are keeping us in business right now.

The fall weather has also brought Chestnut-backed Chickadees to the yard.


These handsome devils inspired my recent junk mail creation for Portland Audubon's Wild Arts Festival:


Anyone can donate a 6x6 canvas to be sold at the festival for $45 with the money going to Audubon.  More info here.  Jacob also made one by printing one of his photos onto regular paper, then using Mod Podge Photo Transfer goo to transfer the ink to the canvas.  It came out pretty cool:


I visited Blue Lake yesterday to see if anything new had shown up for fall.  First off was a decent-sized flock of American Pipits.  I counted 16 at one time, though there easily could have been more.  Possibly the biggest flock I've had in Portland, but no rarities that I could pick out.


At one point I found a nice flock of sparrows which included a bunch of Golden-crowneds, tons of juncos, a couple Songs, a towhee, and two White-throateds.  We don't see multiple White-throateds in one flock often in Portland, away from Sauvie Island.


Both the pipit and the sparrow were new birds for the park, bringing the total on eBird up to 110.  On the way out of the park I stopped to scan a flock of Cackling Geese and noticed one had a band.  I love learning how old a bird is and where it has been.



TX@.  What a name.  I reported the bird in the afternoon and by the next morning I had a certificate in my email with her details.


Sweet!  She was born in 2010 or earlier, and was banded near Chevak, Alaska.  Kristine Sowl seems to be a busy goose-bander because this is the third (I think) goose I have submitted that was banded by her.  Last year I did a post with another one of her geese here.  Fun stuff.

On Monday morning Jacob and I tried to go to Whitaker Ponds but unfortunately they're still making a mess, putting in a new parking area.  Instead we visited the weird pond by the Radisson Hotel off Columbia Blvd.  There was fog and sun and spiderwebs and some birds.

 Ring-necked Ducks


 Green-winged Teal



The Columbia Slough passes through this area and there's a pipe that connects it below the road.  At the entrance to the pipe the water was swirling around and the fall leaves reflecting in the water was lovely.



Yesterday someone posted on OBOL a link to this eBird checklist from a cruise ship off the coast of British Columbia.  I'm glad there was a birder on the boat to document this event as it really is fascinating, even though it didn't end well for most of the birds.  

The cruise ship reminded me of the movie Jacob and I watched the other night:



The NRDC recently sent out an email inviting anyone to watch the movie for free on Vimeo (available on Roku fyi) with the code SONICSEE.  It's a beautiful and horribly depressing film, perfect for a dreary evening.

That's about it for me, happy fall!!!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Massachusetts Part Two

Our second to last day on Cape Cod Jacob and I boarded a Hyannis Whale Watcher boat to hopefully see some pelagic birds.  The guy in charge of the microphone saw us boarding and asked if we were birders.  We said yes, and he chatted about all the birds we could see, and once on the water called out birds we were passing.  He may have called a Cooper's Hawk a Merlin but I was grateful when he called out the only Manx Shearwaters of the trip.

The first awesome birds we came across were Northern Gannets.  We saw dozens if not hundreds during the boat trip. 



Cory's Shearwaters were by far the most abundant shearwater that day.



We also had Great Shearwaters, one or two Sootys, and the two Manx already mentioned.

Great Shearwater

Of course there were jaegers keeping things exciting.

Parasitic, I think

We missed storm-petrels and terns but that's ok.  Plenty of humpback whale action provided entertainment.



The next morning Jacob and I planned to make it to Highland Light, a lighthouse near the tip of Cape Cod, for the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.  Success all around.  When we arrived the harvest moon was setting and the sky was starting to turn brilliant colors.


Jacob stayed behind when I walked out towards the beach to see the lighthouse from the angle shown above.   When I returned to where Jacob was set up, I came around the corner and there were twenty more people standing there.  Ugh.  A whole photography class had shown up.  Oh well, there goes the peaceful sunrise.  The dude with the drone didn't help either.


Still beautiful, even with all the people.


 The original plan had been to stick around and bird this area after the sun rose but with all the people and more importantly, all the mosquitoes, we decided to head up to Race Point Beach instead. 


Hundreds of birds were flying over the water, though mostly too far out for decent binocular views.  There were terns by the truckload, plus shearwaters and gulls and at least four jaegers.  On the beach were Sanderlings and more Sanderlings, a few Dunlin and a lone Semipalmated Sandpiper.



When the terns would occasionally come close-ish to shore we would try get photos to pick out different species.  There were lots of Common and Forster's, though this bird seems to have a bigger bill:


Kind of looks like either a Caspian or a Royal, though either would be rare at this time, so maybe I'm way off.

Then there's this photo, which I think is a Forster's and a Common, but could be wrong. 


And a Common Tern fishing relatively close in:


The number of jaegers was impressive.  At any point you could look out and find one tearing things up way out there.



I am guessing they are all Parasitic but my confidence is low in jaeger ID.   Note to self:  more boats.

Hard to identify terns and jaegers are great and all, but the real highlight at Race Point for me were the gray seals.  Lifer mammal!


Wikipedia has taught me that their Latin name means "Hooked-nosed sea pig."


Sea pigs.  Love it.

This spot was a good reminder that I can't identify terns for shit, especially when they're far out on the water.  Something to work on.

While we were at my parents' house I set up my camera trap every night to see what I might catch.  I was super psyched to catch a red fox twice, plus a raccoon, skunk, squirrels, chipmunks, and an Eastern Towhee.





I think that's everything from our trip.  Congrats to Jacob for surviving a week with my family!  Congrats to my family for surviving a week with us!  Good times!!