Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adios, 2011.

Well, it's time to do what everyone else seems to be doing- wrapping up the year with some reminiscing and positive thoughts for 2012.

I'll start by saying this year was alright for me.  Some things sucked but some things were totally awesome.  Like the birds.  I saw some awesome awesome birds this year.  Wanna know my favorites?  Ok, who doesn't love an end of the year top ten list??

Favorite lifer #10: Virginia Rail

Ridgefield NWR, March 2011

Favorite lifer #9: Western Kingbird

Sherman County, August 2011

Favorite lifer #8: Ruddy Turnstone

Seaside Cove, August 2011

Favorite lifer #7: Tufted Puffin

Cannon Beach, June 2011

Favorite lifer #6: Lazuli Bunting

Powell Butte, June 2011

Favorite Lifer #5: Baltimore Oriole

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Wellfleet, MA), May 2011

Favorite lifer #4: White-eyed Vireo

Norman Bird Sanctuary (Newport, RI), May 2011

Favorite lifer #3: Sooty Grouse

Mount Rainier, October 2011

Favorite lifer #2: Snowy Owl

Ocean Shores, December 2011

And, finally, my most favorite lifer of the year: the White-headed Woodpecker!

Sisters, Oregon, September 2011

Dang those were some amazing birds!

If you care about numbers, then I will say I did not make my goal of 300 on my life list this year... If you count the Ruffed Grouse, White-winged Dove, and Gambel's Quail (from my blog-o-versary post) I am at 299.  That's 95 new birds this year!  Woot!  My year list stands at 281, not too shabby...

What's on my agenda for 2012?  I have some general goals of driving less, motorless birding more, being kinder to the planet, all that hippie crap.  As for trips, plans are made to be broken so I prefer to wing it and keep you surprised!

Happy New Years!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ridgefield NWR

Man it's been nice not working all week.  I've had time for all sorts of things like making pancakes for breakfast and hot dice.  At Ridgefield I usually have some time constraints, either having to go to work or the sun setting.  Today there was none of that nonsense.

First up this Bewick's Wren had absolutely no problem telling me just how irritating he found me to be:

A heron pinching its own butt:

In the forest there was a Red-tailed Hawk perched in every other tree, or so it seemed.  I think this is the first one I've ever snuck up on- he seriously jumped when he noticed me...

A coot army has been amassing in the slough through the forest, drafting any duck that gets in the way...

There were many Bald Eagles around.  I watched a couple young ones for about half an hour hoping they would do something cool, but they never did.  An adult flew through at one point and they just watched.

It was interesting to watch the ducks after the eagles settled on the ground.  Mallards swam right by them, and a Bufflehead nearby I thought for sure would be lunch.  Not to mention a pair of Cinnamon Teals snoozing in the grass.  I was biting my nails!  But no, nothing happened.

Some Greater White-fronted Geese were mixed in with the Tundra Swans...

I watched a pair of coyotes hunting the fields.  The one closest to me was sort of depressingly unsuccessful.  He already looked a mess, but to see him fail with every pounce was just a bummer.  His partner was doing much better, and had a much healthier-looking coat.

After awhile both coyotes took off running to the far side of the field where I saw two ravens flying off.  I wonder if they were looking for their leftovers?  One raven landed awkwardly in a tree- lots of flapping was involved before it finally settled.

That was about it!  A nice leisurely trip with only a couple small bouts of rain.  Good times!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Birding fail.

I set out yesterday morning on an adventure down the valley to look for some interesting birds... I did not check the weather forecast.  It ended up raining somewhere between steadily and angrily all day long.  I took 123 pictures of which I kept seven.  SEVEN.

I will jump to the most exciting bird of the day:

It's true.  As this crappy photo indicates, the Blue Jay was the best bird of the day.  East coasters might be scratching their heads, but here in Oregon we don't see Blue Jays very often.  Bald Hill Park in Corvallis was my last birding stop of the day, and the first one the dogs were able to accompany me at.  We walked around in the downpour for an hour and a half before finally finding this bird.  I whipped out my camera for four quick shots before throwing it back in the safety of my waterproof bag.

I won't go into all the failures I accomplished yesterday, but I will share this photo of a Red-tailed Hawk taking a poopoo at Ankeny NWR:

When all was said and done I realized I had a great time regardless of the rain, the dips, and the long, stinky, wet drive home.  It was just so ridiculous.  The icing on the cake was getting home and finding out I had driven RIGHT past a Snowy Owl.  Twice.  Yep.  Can't win em all...

Good times!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Goose Fest 2011.

I finished up my dog-sitting responsibilities yesterday so I figured it was a good time to go look for some interesting birds that turned up over the weekend.  I opted to look for the Brant that someone spotted in the huge flock of Cackling/Canada Geese at Heron Lakes Golf Course.  

It was challenging, to say the least...

There were already thousands of geese on the ground and they just kept on coming... I was psyched to find five Snow Geese hanging out close to the road, the most unconcerned Snow Geese I have ever encountered... 

While scanning the geese another birder arrived and we chatted a bit.  I immediately recognized his name from posts on OBOL but I was surprised when I told him my first name and he knew my last name from posting also.  Turns out his high school girlfriend had the same name as me so when he saw my name he remembered it (and was curious if I was her, I think).  Funny stuff.  

Of the thousands of cacklers, I noticed one with some possible leucism: 

Eventually the other birder located the Brant in his scope and I managed to see it just before it disappeared behind a hill.  After waiting quite awhile, the Brant emerged once again and gave some fleeting views during which I took a couple awful photos for the record... 

Yeah, you can barely see its head in the back row there.. Ah well.  On the way out of the golf course I stopped to look at eight Greater White-fronted Geese...

A rather pleasant goosey afternoon.   

But wait, there's more! 

When I got home that evening I saw on OBOL that an Emperor Goose had been seen at Tualatin River NWR!  I headed there first thing this morning and found two birders already had the bird in their scopes.  It was really far away...

What do you mean you can't see it???  Ha.  The other birders let me get great looks through their scopes.  I attempted a couple shots through one of the scopes but I am not so good at that...

Yeah.  It's cool.  I still saw six species of geese in the last 24 hours... Now I will just wait for a Barnacle and a Pink-footed to land in my yard.  Goose fest!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stickers, cookies, and dogs...

These are definitely a few of my favorite things.  That's why I was sooo stoked to open up my mail the other day and find some new stickers from Burly Bird!  A portion of the money from each sticker goes towards bird conservation efforts.  Check 'em out!  I immediately spruced up my car, my bike (I had a sweet spot created by removing my ex-boyfriend's band's sticker) and my water bottle...

They seem like they're good quality stickers and for a good quality cause too!

I've never really done the whole holiday baking thing but for some reason this year I was itching to bake some cookies and decorate them.  So I did that today.  My mom had given me some old cookie cutters when she cleaned out her kitchen a couple years ago, so that's what I used.  Plus my own interpretation of birds.

They came out alright.  Until I decorated them.  I am not good with decorations.  I will only show you the best ones.

I'm dog-sitting this weekend for my friends who watched my dogs over Thanksgiving.  It's been fun, the dogs all get along, and they all beg for cookies equally well...

Luckily my coworker had baked some dog cookies for us so I had something to give them.

Now for some yard birds... I managed to peek out the window while waiting for my cookies to bake and found a couple nice birds, like a Yellow-rumped Warbler:

Juncos have so much variation in coloring that there's always one in the yard that stands out...

I think she got a necklace for Christmas.  Anyway, that's all for today, the dogs are getting restless...  Plus it's almost time to get festive!  Please accept this photo of my lack of cookie-decorating skills as your holiday gift:

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recent birds...

I haven't had a ton of luck with birds this week due to the combined forces of me being sick and lots of fog, but I have managed to get out a bit.  So here's some recent random shots...

Spooooooooooky, Ridgefield NWR

BFF's (Northern Pintail & Mallard), Ridgefield NWR 

American Wigeons, Ridgefield NWR

Belted Kingfisher, Ridgefield NWR

 Bushtit, Kelley Point Park

Hooded Merganser, Force Lake

A few deer scared the crap out of me at Bybee Lake the other morning.  They were suddenly maybe 15 feet away and staring at me.  They stopped mid-chew.

In other news, I have almost made my way through a huge pot of black bean portobella stew from that Viva Vegan cookbook.  Tasty.

Christmas is coming- time for creepy Christmas cards!  When I was a kid I had nightmares that a little boy was peeking in my windows at night.  Once it was Freddy Krueger, but usually just a little boy.  I am still freaked out by dark windows.  My cousin just sent me this Christmas card:

Thanks, cuz.  Sweet dreams...