Friday, October 28, 2011

Recent birds & Ridgefield today...

I didn't get out too much this week for birding but today's trip to Ridgefield more than made up for it... Before we get to that, here's a few birds from the week:

Common Raven, Timberline Lodge

A few Cacklers, Sauvie Island

A few more Cacklers...

Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco

And now for Ridgefield...  I went up there because I knew it was supposed to rain and I usually have good luck there when it rains.   First off I walked the little trail to the bird blind and was surprised to find a Great Horned Owl land in a tree not far from me.  He took off quickly but I got a couple blurry shots...

The trees were looking cool today...

Herons were out and about eating all sorts of creatures...

A rather unconcerned Peregrine:

All of this stuff was fine and dandy, but my favorite sighting of the day had to be this guy:

A porcupine!  This was only the second time I had seen one, and the first time I had seen one alive!  I wasn't sure if he was injured or if porcupines just walk funny...

I loved his little feet especially....

Alright, enough of that guy... Good times!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ridgefield NWR 10-23-11

I had an awesome morning up at Ridgefield.  One might even call it fantastic.  I think it helped that I had extremely low expectations.  First off, I thought it was going to rain and it turned out to be a beautiful!

Soon after arriving I came across a trio of coyotes.  One seemed more wary of me and took off quickly, while the other two seemed less concerned.  I think they were curious about Jake and Ralph, and seemed to catch a whiff of them at one point.

Good stuff.  It was a good day for hawks at the refuge, starting with this guy:

I think it's a Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk but not positive.. Any thoughts?  Next up I stopped to check out a couple funny little Marsh Wrens:

While I was stopped there I saw a hawk fly overhead and land in a tree...

It appears to be a Sharp-shinned Hawk, which I've never seen at the refuge.  Pretty cool.  He took off soon after landing...

I was scanning Rest Lake when I realized a harrier was perched right in front of me...

Meanwhile a Peregrine Falcon was hunting over the lake while a coyote watched...

Things were so good I decided to take a second trip around the refuge.  I ended up finding a White-throated Sparrow hanging out with a bunch of Golden-crowneds...  Wish I had gotten better photos but he disappeared too quickly...

Looks like a tan morph too- I think that's a first for me!  Part of the reason he disappeared so quickly was this vehicle passing by:

Not sure what the deal is, but I'm guessing it was a hunter on his way out?  Lastly, I noticed this hawk towards the end of the route:

Looks like a Rough-legged Hawk, yes?  Also present was a Bald Eagle to really round out the raptor variety.  What a great morning!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This week's birds...

I tried to get out every morning this week to tire the dogs out and hopefully squeeze in some good birds.  At Broughton Beach were a couple American Pipits walking along the river with some Killdeer and crows.

I could rant and rant about the out of control off-leash dog that proceeded to chase off all of the nearby birds, but I'll spare you.   At Force Lake I was psyched to see the return of both Common and Hooded Mergansers...

Along the Frenchman's Bar Trail were some new additions also- Snow Geese!  The first ones I have seen this fall.  I was trying to sort of sneak up on the geese, or at least make it look like I wasn't planning on going near them, but they saw us coming...

Oops.  I walked away for a bit until the birds settled back down.

You can see a Greater White-fronted Goose in the mix also, along with oodles and oodles of Canada and Cackling Geese.

Yesterday my plan was to hit up Smith & Bybee Lakes, Force Lake, and maybe wander down to Mud Slough.  I did none of these things because I stopped at the Columbia Slough Trail and decided to do some exploring.  The trees just before the trail were filled with birds including Bushtits, Bewick's Wrens, chickadees, an Orange-crowned Warbler, Brown Creepers, and this finchy bird:

Its markings looked much more distinct than the House Finches I'm used to seeing, but perhaps that's all it is...  [Purple Finch, it is!]  Along the trail a gull and a Red-tailed Hawk were having a disagreement:

Bad photo.  They eventually headed off in different directions.  A couple of Spotted Sandpipers came flying up the slough and landed on a log down the embankment.

I came across some exposed mud with a bunch of yellowlegs and dowitchers...

I'm guessing these were mostly juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers, but I don't know for sure.

I should mention that this trail is an odd one.  I would call most of the areas surrounding it wastelands, filled with homeless camps and garbage.  But it's also kind of pretty...

I met one really nice homeless man riding his bike who immediately asked me if I was looking for birds.  When I said yes he suggested I cut through the golf course and check out Force Lake.  Then he told me about a trip he took to Alaska where he took hundreds of photos, and about this "old geezer" he saw once run up and touch a sleeping grizzly bear.  He said that's what old geezers do for fun in Alaska.  He said I should never ever play that game.

I ran into him a second time when I was almost back to my car.  He warned me not to go down this one hill where there were tons of homeless camps, and they were mostly druggies and would knock me upside the head to steal my camera.  Then he rode off.

Part of the trail runs alongside the back of Portland International Raceway.  In addition to races, they also host a holiday festival of lights thing every December.  I saw where they store the decorations...

Duh, with the old porta potties.  Good times!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

North Coast.

I headed to the coast yesterday morning for the northwest's third day in a row of beautiful fall weather.  On this trip I only visited places where I could drag the dogs around and thankfully they are still tired.  My first stop was the cove in Seaside to finally see some Surfbirds.  There were dozens of them hopping around with some Black Turnstones.

Sometimes big waves would hit and the birds would go flying...

Later in the day I got some lunch and returned to the cove where the birds were a bit closer due to the tide coming in a bit.

Also at the cove was this pretty starfish:

While eating my lunch I watched a gull fly off with a starfish, a couple other gulls in pursuit.  He landed down on the beach and proceeded to eat it.

Wouldn't want to have to choke that thing down personally, but the gull seemed psyched.  My second stop was the south jetty of the Columbia River in Fort Stevens State Park.  I was hoping for Lapland Longspurs but no luck..  There were a gazillion Brown Pelicans flying by when I reached the river.

The dogs were psyched because there were little creature prints everywhere and they had to smell all of them.

Looks like raccoon tracks.. They must have been quite busy the night before.  In addition to pelicans overhead were tons of gulls, a Pergerine Falcon and some Surf Scoters:

This next bird confused the heck out of me- I was convinced it was a Northern Harrier that just looked weird, but finally realized it was a Rough-legged Hawk:

The first one I'd seen since spring!  Pretty cool.  After lunch I drove down to Cannon Beach and walked the dogs around the treatment ponds.  Nothing too special going on there so we went on to Ecola State Park and did the hike from the main parking area to the beach.  I heard oodles of kinglets, chickadees, and wrens along the trail, but saw very few.

Pacific Wren

The trail climbs uphill quite aways and occasionally breaks out of the trees for awesome views of the ocean.

(Pardon the cell phone picture, I never actually took any of the view with my camera).

That hike was enough to wear all of three of us out so we began heading back to Portland.  I stopped at the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area to see if any elk were around.  They were!

Pretty awesome... I lost count at about 80.  In other news, I finally carved up one of my pumpkins the other night... Ralph ate 5 of the candles I bought for lighting it (out of 8), perhaps due to their apple cinnamon scent, and I am guessing it is only a matter of time before he eats the pumpkin too.  Till then, Sir Pumpkin looks mighty fine.

Good times!