Monday, March 28, 2011

Sauvie Island

I decided to try for the Harris's Sparrow at Sauvie Island today even though it had not been seen for a week or so... I even thought to bring some seed to throw on the ground in hopes of increasing my chances.  I got to work right away tossing seed around the trail to the blind, where the bird had been seen before.

This towhee seemed unimpressed with my seed:


Unfortunately the only birds that seemed impressed with the seed were juncos and Song Sparrows.  I could have stayed home and watched those birds from my window, darn it!   Further up the road were a bunch of Golden-crowned Sparrows feeding in this tree...


I watched them for a while but didn't see anything special.  I went back down towards the blind trail and parked for a bit... I managed to glimpse a White-throated Sparrow in the trees across the road but no photo.  He was too fast.

I had the dogs with me and they were bored so I drove over to Collins Beach to walk them.  Thankfully there were no naked people (or any people) at this clothing-optional beach.  I was ready to devote some time to the dogs and ignore the birds when a Pileated Woodpecker caught my eye...  There were two of them, working the moss on the trees next to the beach...


Awesome!  Finally I let Jake run around a bit though Ralph was on lockdown- we passed way too many herd-able animals on the way to the beach and god only knows where he would have run off to...


Aren't they handsome?!  Anyway, after the beach I drove back to Rentenaar Road for another try... There was already a fellow standing by the blind trail keeping an eye on things so I opted to return to the area with all the Golden-crowneds... They were still stuffing their faces.


It seemed they were knocking a lot of the edible stuff off the tree onto the ground where more sparrows were waiting to gobble it up.  Oh yes, the Harris's Sparrow included!!!!!!


I could not believe my luck!  What an awesome day...  I made sure to stop and tell the guy at the blind trail about him on my way out... I hope he saw him too!  [Side note: upon flipping through my Birds of the Willamette Valley Region this morning I realized that the guy I mentioned was Mr. Harry Nehls himself!]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ridgefield NWR 03-25-11

After yesterday's awesome trip to Ridgefield I could not wait to return.. I headed up there after work today in search of more rails and hopefully Soras..

I decided the best plan of action was to park in a spot where a bird might creep out of the reeds and just wait quietly..  That plan worked pretty well.. A Virginia Rail crept out after about five minutes of waiting but then disappeared pretty quickly.  I got a couple shots...


I drove up the road a little further and found my Sora!



Woohoo!  Mission accomplished.  But of course there was plenty more to see...

Bald Eagle

 Tundra Swan

And then I finally came across a creature I had been wanting to see for awhile... one of the ugliest creatures known to man... the albino nutria!


Gnarly fella.  On my way home I stopped to walk the dogs along the Frenchman's Bar Trail and found that there are still tons of Sandhill Cranes in the fields there.  Some were rather close to the trail so I got a couple good shots...





Good times!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ridgefield NWR 03-24-11

I had the best trip to Ridgefield this morning!  When I first got off the highway either a Cooper's or a Sharp-shinned Hawk landed on the traffic light...  I took that as a good sign. 

Towards the beginning of the auto tour I startled a small bird in the grasses to my left.  I peeked down and saw a Wilson's Snipe peeking back at me...


Cute.  A minute later I startled another bird and my first thought was that it was probably another snipe.  Nope.  It was my first Virginia Rail!!!!  He ran off into the grasses and I was sad, but patiently waited for him to return.  He did not.  I kept driving and found two more!!  And they let me take their picture!


I watched them for awhile when seemingly out of nowhere they started gettin frisky!  Yep they were totally doing it!



It only lasted about a minute, and then they went back to walking around poking in the mud.


Oh wow that was so awesome!   I saw a few more good birds on my trip but nothing quite like that!

Greater Yellowlegs

 Marsh Wren


What an awesome trip....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whitaker Ponds Nature Park

I decided to go in search of spring this afternoon at Whitaker Ponds.  It was raining lightly most of the time with a few sun breaks... 

I did find some spring....


I also founds some good birds...

Townsend's Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)

 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)

There were TONS of YRW's in the trees making quite a racket.. A few were in breeding plumage like this one:


 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 I came across what I think is a slightly leucistic Dark-eyed Junco:


Here's a dark shot but it shows the "hood":


Interesting bird.  Also seen on my walk around the ponds:  Tree Swallows, Downy Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, Bushtits, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Gadwalls, crows, Anna's Hummingbirds, robins, and probably more I'm forgetting.  It is a great time of year for visiting this park!  Don't be scared off by the big fence that makes it always look closed off!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Newport, OR.

I spent the day in Newport checking out the grebes and scoters and loons and such... I had remarkable luck and took way more photos that I've taken on a day trip in a loooonng time!  I headed straight to the South Jetty...

...and was rewarded with a Pigeon Guillemot!


I saw a LOT of Common Loons today in various stages of molt... This fella had a snack:


At the Hatfield Marine Science Center, a Western Gull chose the salad for breakfast.


I walked the nearby Newport fishing pier and found some great birds...



Another Common Loon but super close up!  Those red eyes really pop!



At one point I stopped to take a (terrible) photo of a cormorant perched on the bridge- I looked down and there were two Harlequin Ducks directly below me!


After that I headed over to the bayfront and walked around one of the docks.  There were a bunch of Mew Gulls bobbing around...


There were quite a few Surf Scoters around, many of which seemed to be first winter males:


Of course there were some ladies also...



There was a lone White-winged Scoter hanging around also...


There were a variety of grebes represented including my first Clark's Grebe for 2011:


Other grebes included a Western Grebe...


...an Eared Grebe...


...and of course some Horned Grebes.


Now for the highlight of my day... A Common Loon in full on breeding plumage!!!


So awesome!!



Now that was a perfect trip!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ridgefield NWR/ Yard birds

I went up to Ridgefield before work yesterday morning... It was a bit rainy and gross so I didn't get a ton of great photos, but here are a few I liked:

Western Scrub-Jay

 Coot army


American Kestrel


On a different note, my yard has been attracting some new birds... I recently added Brewer's Blackbirds to the list...



 And just a few minutes ago I got my first Bushtits... A whole flock has been mobbing the suet.  Yay!


One week ago today I hung a hummingbird feeder for the first time ever.  Yesterday when I got home from Ridgefield there was a hummer on it!  I ran inside to get a better view from a window but it was gone... Hopefully it will return soon!

Ah, just after I typed that I found one had returned....





I'm assuming it's an Anna's Hummingbird but let me know if that's wrong... I'm new to these guys!