Fall birding: Larch Mountain and the 5MR

Jacob and I recently went up to Larch Mountain to watch the sunrise and maybe see a few birds.  Success.

We heard a pygmy-owl hooting at first, and while I was off going to the bathroom Jacob heard a saw-whet.  Grr.  I never heard it.  The fog was thickening below which was pretty cool to watch.

Our county Townsend's Solitaire was hawking insects downslope, but it took off before we could get a photo.  After the sunrise we watched a Northern Harrier zip by us which gave us the idea that we should get a little higher and try some hawk-watching. 

We found a rocky slope we could scramble up, and on the scramble we watched an accipiter zoom by at eye level, then two more got in a scuffle over the next hill.  Tons of robins were flying over, plus one or two more solitaires.

Larch Mountain summit beyond the hill in front of us, Mount Hood directly behind us.  

Bad solitaire pic

Everything seemed so promising until that awesome view turned into this:

Hmm.  The clouds and fog never cleared s…

Birding is good again. Again.

Earlier this month Buff-breasted Sandpipers began showing up all along the coast, testing my resistance to chasing rare birds.  Eventually I could not take it anymore.  I made the drive to Nehalem Bay State Park to try for a couple that Audrey had bummed around with in a patch of salicornia about 15 hours earlier.  My initial optimism was shattered upon finding a little white dog running all over the area.  A Cooper's Hawk was perched nearby, periodically taking on the crows that were fighting over clams or crabs or something.

I'd love to blame an annoying dog for the lack of sandpipers, but really they probably had left anyway.   A handful (maybe two hands full) of Baird's Sandpipers further up the beach were not much of a consolation and I decided to check the ocean beach, then head home.

Back home, eating my feelings, I checked OBOL.  Goddammit.  A local birder had found five Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Sauvie Island.  Did I really want to put myself through this again?…

Birding is good again.

Finally!  As much as I love my chickadees and Song Sparrows, I am thrilled for fall migration to be in full swing.  Shorebirds and warblers have been moving through and it is that time of year when anything seems possible.  There are certain local birding spots that will need to be in heavy rotation for the next couple months so as not to miss anything.

First off, my patch!  I went out to Meadowbrook Marsh last week and enjoyed the nonstop bird activity.

California Scrub-Jay and Black-headed Grosbeak

 A better birder could probably identify this thing.

Warbling Vireos with the bluest legs!

So blue.

Swainson's Thrush, a new one for me at the park

Purple Finch, gorging on elderberries (I think)

Rufous hummers heart invasive jewelweed

At one end of my patch there's a big fenced off area with a greenhouse where the parks people grow many of the native plants for Vancouver parks.   Surrounding the fence they planted a ton of sunflowers, cosmos, and other plants which are loved by the gold…