Monday, November 29, 2010

Ridgefield NWR 11-28-10, etc.

Since the day turned out to be quite nice yesterday I decided to drive up to Ridgefield and see what I might find...

The first thing I saw was a flock of snipes... I don't think I've ever seen a bunch of them together...

Bad photo, but you get the idea.

Back in the wooded area I saw a Great Horned Owl hanging out... I was glad he had his eyes open for once.

That was pretty cool.  I didn't see much else there unfortunately... On the way home I stopped at Vancouver Lake Park to walk the dogs.  I got some good photos of them together...

They're so handsome.

Anyway.. Today I was looking out the window and I saw a Downy Woodpecker hopping around my tree... It got to my suet feeder, found it empty, and proceeded to give me the saddest little woodpecker face.  I was so moved I jumped in the car and stocked up on suet!  Hopefully she'll come back...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Smith and Bybee Lakes.

I decided to spend some time at Smith and Bybee this morning to freeze my fingers and see some birds... Right away I surprised a Hermit Thrush:

Although I know these thrushes are common I had never actually seen one before... Yay!

There were lots of Bewick's Wrens annoyed with me...

From the far blind I watched a kingfisher pose in Bybee Lake...

A bunch of Bushtits were seemingly asking to get their portraits taken..

There were over a dozen Common Mergansers out on the lake, and more flying by..

I was psyched to see three Varied Thrush in the trees... I was not psyched to see the sun come out behind them.

Someday I'll find some in good light.  While I was walking back towards the parking area a couple of deer crossed the path.  This lady seemed curious:

She seriously stared me down as I walked past her, so close I was a little nervous she wanted to charge at me (not that they do that) or something.

I had a good little stroll around the lakes!  Now I must brag about the awesome collar I found for Ralph at Pets On Broadway (and show off Jake's collar also from P.O.B., but not new):

Ralph's is the owl one, Jake's is the swallows.  Yay for cute dog collars!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ridgefield 11-23 and 11-24-10

It's been cold.  Yesterday, according to KATU, was the coldest November morning in 25 years.  I like it... It's my inner New Englander that craves sunny freezing cold days.  They're a rarity here so I've been pretty psyched about the last few days. 

Of course what better way to spend a freezing cold morning than inside the comfort of your heated car (once you get the doors pried open!) on the Ridgefield Auto Route hoping to find the Snow Bunting?

Tuesday morning was gorgeous... Snow dusted almost everything... The numbered markers were useless.

There were flocks of Golden-crowned Sparrows and mixed finches...

Golden-crowned Sparrow

House Finch

 House Finch (Yellow Variant)

I could not find the Snow Bunting for sure that day.  I flushed a bird I was nearly positive was the bunting but the combined effect of a flock of blackbirds, a harrier swooping in, and a car passing me made it impossible for me to relocate.

Sure was pretty though! 

Wednesday morning I decided what the hell, I'll go back up and try again.  The first thing I noticed were the Sandhill Cranes.  They were passing overhead, 20-30 at a time, non-stop.  Hundreds of them.  Flying northwest from what I could tell.  Was it not cold enough for them??

Warning: the next photo is a bummer.

 That made me sad even though I know it happens...  I finished up my trip around the refuge with some Tundra Swans...

Oh and Ralph saw his first coyote.  He's not a fan from what I could tell.

I reached the end of the route bummed that despite a lot of searching, I could not find the bunting.  I had stuff to do back in Portland... Thanksgiving dinner shopping, a birthday present to buy, oh and work of course..  Eh... I figured screw all that nonsense, I'll try one more time.. So I drove around again.

I watched this next bird for a bit.  Something about him didn't sit right with me.  I can't quite pinpoint it.


As I approached marker 12 I saw a few cars stopped ahead.. I got excited.  I was really hoping it wasn't a bunch of people looking at swans or something.  I got closer and closer... A nice fella in one of the cars pulled over asked if I was looking for the bunting.... Of course.  Yep, it was there!  I waited my turn and took a million pictures of the tolerant bird....

Such a gorgeous bird!!!  I am so glad to have seen it...

And one more, where he's actually in the snow...


Monday, November 22, 2010

Birds and dogs.

I had a big weekend.  I decided to take Jake to Petsmart in Tualatin to meet a potential new sister through the Oregon Dog Rescue.  The dog I fell in love with on their website, Tuna, ended up not being a big fan of Jake.  The volunteers were very nice and let Jake meet dog after dog, just to see if he clicked with one.  He did...

His name was Buster and he was rescued from a high-kill shelter in California where he was on death row.  Jake pounced on him right away and I figured that meant we should take him home.  So we did.

I renamed him Ralph after about a million attempts (from Andre to Stanley to Ramsey to Ozzy... ).  He seems like a Ralph.

Anyway.  My birding might slow down a bit until I master the art of holding two leashes and a camera... But there's always window birding... I finally got a Downy Woodpecker on my suet feeder!  No photo though, I was in my car about to leave when I saw it, unfortunately.  Lots of juncos around too.  And my flicker.  That's about it... Might have to start trying to ID the gulls my neighbor feeds!

Flicker wink!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hayden Island.

With the realization that it was NOT raining this morning I took a peek at the Oregon birding list to see where the action was...  I quickly came across the mention of a White-winged Scoter off Hayden Island and decided to head that way.

I found the big raft of birds exactly where they were supposed to be...

Scaups and grebes and scoters, oh my!  It was a bit like Where's Waldo while I scanned for the scoter...  I eventually found at least one...

I think this next one is a different one- looks lighter, maybe a female or a juvenile?

In this next shot you can see the scoter (in the center), at least three Horned Grebes, maybe nine Western Grebes, a Bufflehead, and a bunch of scaups...

I think I also found the Red-necked Grebe, but I'm not positive:

It looks very much like a 1st winter.. Wish it had been a bit closer!

So that makes it 179 birds for me, for the last year... Pretty sweet.  180 if anyone can verify that Red-necked Grebe!

I stopped by Force Lake on my way home... Not a lot of action but I did see this guy...

Can't go wrong with a Bald Eagle....

A whole year of blogging!

Wow.  I just realized I've been doing this bird blog thing for a year.  I seriously cannot believe how much I've learned this last year, nor how much support and help I've received from people all over the world!  It's been a blast and I hope there are many more years to come.  I recently entered all the birds I've photographed over the last year into to see my total so far: 178!  Don't worry.. I only counted the ones I was positive about... (Ha, remember that time I wrote an entire blog about Golden Eagles only to receive a very sweet and helpful comment from Laura that they were all immature Bald Eagles?  Hehe, silly me!)

Anyway... Yesterday morning I headed up to Ridgefield before the rain started... It was dark.  And cold.  And WINDY.   Not a lot to report, but I'll show you what I did manage to see...

Belted Kingfisher

Funny I visited Ridgefield last week and saw exactly TWO Tundra Swans in Rest Lake, and maybe three pass by overhead.   Now they're back in full effect!

Quite a few juvies too...

Oh and  the first Ruddy Duck I've seen in a long time...

Lastly, an American Kestrel was perched on a refuge sign and for some reason didn't fly away while I shot a ton of photos of him.  I am thinking that the wind was so crazy he didn't want to get swept away or something..

So handsome!

Not the best trip ever, but definitely not the worst...

Thanks again, everyone, for an awesome year!  Special thanks to my favorite bloggers, the Northwest Nature Nut, Chris at Tails of Birding, Frank at The Early Birder, and Laura at Laura Goes Birding!!!  Now, it looks like the rain is on pause so I'm off to find more birds!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fernhill Wetlands.

So the problem with me joining the Portland bird group on google is that now I get all this info about interesting birds, and then I feel the need to go find them.  This afternoon when I got off work I just had to take Jake to Fernhill to look for the Pacific Loon, the Red-breasted Merganser, and the Mew Gulls.

The sky was a bit ominous when we arrived but it did not rain a single drop!

The Pacific Loon was actually pretty easy for me to find...

Apparently it's a juvenile, with the white scaling on its back.

Quite a handsome fella!  (or pretty lady?)

 I also found what I think is a Lesser Goldfinch but I am having trouble figuring it out...

All the American Goldfinches around him were so much duller that it must be a Lesser, right?

I took a few random gull photos but most of the gulls were too far away for me to even try to ID...

I would love to call this a Mew Gull with the yellow legs, dark iris, faint ring on the bill, and the brown around the neck...

Hmm.  The big white spots on the wings would also indicate Mew Gull.  I am thinking that's what it is.

One last photo from the afternoon... This kestrel looked so freaking adorable all fluffed up like a stuffed penguin:

Good trip!