The 5MR Revolution.

Lately I've been thinking about the hierarchy of birds, for example how a new Clark County bird is often more exciting to me than a life bird in another state.  A new yard bird better than a new state bird.  A new state bird seen in the yard?  Even better.  The reward is higher for me when I'm closer to home.

Creating a 5MR list keeps the fun going by factoring another level in the hierarchy, one that is high on the scale of reward.

It seems other birders appreciate the hierarchy as well since there has been a 5MR EXPLOSION on eBird, with piles of California 5MR's (thanks to blog-lurker Kevin L in SoCal), not to mention an Olympia one and a Florida one (yay, Caroline!). 

This attention combined with the recent public endorsement of 5MR's by famous bird blogger Seagull Steve, I figured it was time to dust off my own 5MR and work on my local patches.  I've hit Meadowbrook Marsh on foot a couple times recently which picked me up six motorless year birds, including a c…

Coyote Wall

Super popular hikes aren't often appealing to me and I've driven through the gorge enough times to know that the Coyote Wall trailhead is usually packed with cars.  Almost as bad as Dog Mountain, another gorge hike I've managed to avoid for the almost 16.5 years I've lived here.  But this week Jacob and I had a brisk and rainy weekday off together so it seemed like the best possible time to try a popular hike. We arrived just before 9 and were the first to park at the trailhead.  Good start.

This area is popular for a few reasons including the stunning views of the gorge, the wildflower scene, the mountain biking action, and the general Instagram-friendly look to the place.  Douglas' grass widow was the most conspicuous flower blooming on our hike.

Western Meadowlarks were singing and Bald Eagles soared low over our heads as we gained elevation.  Our plan was a shorter loop involving the Moab and Little Maui Trails, but we got a little confused and took a longer ro…

Sweet Gilliam memories.

Gilliam County, where few folks dare to (e)bird, has become so familiar to me over the last few years.  It started with an interest in birding the least eBirded county in Oregon, but led to me running winter raptor surveys and making my way into the top 10 for the county.  Of the 51 hotspots in Gilliam, 31 are Oregon 2020 hotspots which you should not use unless following Oregon 2020 protocol.  That means there's 20 real hotspots, at least half of which I suggested. 

This has been my last winter of raptor surveys out there, as I trade my routes in for a much closer to home North Portland survey.  Thankfully, sweet memories are everlasting.  So says the shot-up mug at the Fourmile Historic Site, where wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail are visible on the hillside.

This week I went out to run what might be my last raptor survey there, starting at the I-84 exit for Phillipi Canyon.  I had the boy mutts with me so they could help.

So helpful

We made our way up the windy road till I heard a…

Local February birds.

It's February, a month of taking what you can get birding-wise.  For whatever reason, being in a new county makes me want to bird a little bit harder so I've been trying more than usual to get county year birds.  It's been fun.  It's also been a little easier now that I get texts from some of the local birders when they find cool shit, like this Western Screech-Owl tucked in a potential nest cavity:

This was probably a county bird for me, as my only previous sighting was a sketchy backlit bird at Ridgefield my first year of birding.

On a sunny day earlier this month I walked to Meadowbrook Marsh Park to work on my motorless list, adding only Green-winged Teal and Pied-billed Grebe, but also my first motorless rough-skinned newt!

Local birders had seen a Black Phoebe around Vancouver Lake Park recently and I tried for it a couple times unsuccessfully.  There are plenty of birds to entertain there though.

Steller's Jay

 White-throated Year Bird

Eurasian Wigeons