Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recent stuff.

So I have learned what it means to buy a house:  you fix one thing and another thing breaks.  I get my car fixed, my heat breaks.  I fix my heat, my internet disappears.  I fix my internet and my car breaks again.  At this moment I have everything working but by the end of the day I'm sure the basement will be flooded.  Ok and technically the car is not fixed- the mechanics couldn't figure it out and I ended up buying a new (to me) car. 

It's not all bad- I got a couple new yard birds this week including this bad-ass:

Whaddaya mean you don't know what the heck that is?  Obviously it's a Merlin being dethroned by a crow... Only my second Merlin and it was zipping around my yard! 

I also had some new American Goldfinches on my nyjer, but they are not as exciting.  On Monday morning I took the dogs for a walk at Broughton Beach...

A Tufted Duck has once again shown up on the Columbia with hundreds of scaup, purely to mock me mercilessly.  I did my best to hold my binoculars steady in the crazy wind, with two leashes tucked under my feet, to try to find that fancy bastard.  No dice.  Another case where a scope would be helpful but now I am WAY too poor to even think about that. 

Instead I shall present to you this gull (um... dark eye, black primaries, pink legs... Western hybrid?)  snacking on some kind of fishy thing:

After Broughton Beach I went over to Force Lake where there wasn't much going on.  About ten Common Mergansers were the only flashy watefowl...

Yesterday morning I took the dogs out to Powell Butte in hopes of bagging a Northern Shrike.  The weather was uncooperative and we didn't see much at all- I think I had less than 10 species.  But it was pretty at times despite the sideways pellet rain and the 30 mph wind gusts...

So nothing much exciting this week, but that will all change this weekend when I head to the coast to find myself a couple of Snowy Owls and maybe even some White-tailed Kites.  Who knows, things could get wild.  Good times!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Westmoreland Park.

Yesterday afternoon my friend gave me a ride after I dropped my car off at the mechanic yet again.  My friend is obviously too nice for his own good because I somehow convinced him to drive all the way down to Westmoreland Park so I could take a look at a couple of swans.  In the pouring rain.

A couple of Tundra Swans settled in at the park awhile back.  They're not rare swans by any means, but I don't get many opportunities to see them close up, let alone in Portland.

I was also psyched to find an extremely obliging Canvasback, another bird I rarely see at close range. 

Can't go wrong with a couple of Wood Ducks...

Or a handsome merganser...

There were lots of gulls of course, some of which I even considered trying to ID.  I wanted to call this fella a Thayer's Gull, so it's probably a Herring:

These two buddies both make think something along the lines of Olympic, but really I don't know:

There were plenty more gulls but the rain was coming down steadily and my poor nice friend had no rain coat, so I threw in the towel.  I will leave you with a pretty domestic beast:

Good times!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Yesterday morning I noticed my heat wasn't working, checked the thermostat and saw the batteries needed to be changed.  Somehow I managed to break the whole thing in the process, so now it's quite chilly inside, but check out this morning view!  A girl could get used to that sort of scene.

I've been in my new house for just shy of three weeks now.  I've racked up 27 yard birds (the lastest was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet this morning) and I really believe I bought the right house.  This feeling was cemented when I started researching the original owners of the house who passed away in '07 and '10.  She was a poet and he was a cowboy/sprinkler system designer and manufacturer.  No kids, but they were big on education (there's a Lewis & Clark College scholarship in their name).  Viola, the poet, even started her own publishing house called Prescott Street Press.

                         Viola Gale, photo found in my basement

Of course once I found out all this I had to track down her poetry books.  I found a couple online as well as The Prescott Street Reader which features other poets and authors she published over the years.  I am not a big poetry person, and wasn't quite sure what to expect with her writing, but what I found was rad:

Hell yeah!  She writes about a lot of things but almost always includes bits of nature.  She writes about the high desert and the Sisters, Cape Foulweather and the beach, the rain and the grey.  She has poems about swifts, herons, owls, and shorebirds.  She has a poem about her husband and his friends as deer hunters: "I'll try to think they cheat a brutal winter's kill."  I might not enjoy these poems as much if I didn't live in the northwest and have a bird obsession, though I still think she writes well. 

Anyway.  My car has been acting up so my birding has been a bit limited lately.  Last week I made it out to Smith & Bybee Lakes and Broughton Beach, so here's a few photos from those outings...

Varied Thrush in camouflage (Smith & Bybee)

 Bushtit (Smith & Bybee)

Triple date at Force Lake: Common Mergansers, Bonaparte's Gulls, scaup

                          Broughton Beach

 Foggy pipit dancing (Broughton Beach)

On the homefront, the Pine Siskins are really taking over.  I read on Tweeters that this seems to be happening all over the northwest.  I am hoping my Sharp-shinned Hawk is able to do some population control this winter or things might get ugly.

That's all I have for you, hopefully I will get my car fixed for real and will be able to get out on some real adventures soon...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Accipiter brain pain.

I was all ready to post about a couple recent birding outings, but when I got home from Broughton Beach today there was a bit of yard action.  I heard crows making a ruckus so I peeked out the front window just in time to see a Red-tailed Hawk cruise right over the front yard pursued by a few crows.  He landed out of sight to the east in my neighbor's tree.  Then as I was watching some flickers another hawk, an accipiter, came flying from the west.  He cruised over my yard, looped back around, and flew back across the yard and eventually south. 

I grabbed my camera in the middle of this and took some quick shots.  The first few made the tail look quite squarish, making me think Sharp-shinned.  Later shots made the tail look rounded and the head bigger.  Argh.  Help me.

Please help, my brain hurts. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ridgefield NWR.

I finally made it out birding this morning!  I went up to Ridgefield for a couple hours to get away from housework.  It was very wintery feeling there, with those blueish cloudy skies and chilly air...  Not the best for photos but still good birding!

I don't remember seeing the teasel with these little green growths before- is it part of the teasel or something growing on it?

I watched a couple of coyotes following the same trail they used all summer, despite the fact that it's rather wet now...

There were Red-tailed Hawks everywhere, but never found a Rough-legged.  Most were just silhouettes anyway...

A family of four raccoons crept by through the tall grass...

A dark morph Red-tailed Hawk was the last interesting bird I saw...

It was nice to get out birding after being so busy the last couple weeks!  Good times!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yard birds.

I've managed to steal a few minutes here and there the last few mornings to check out who is visiting my feeders.  Nothing new or rare, but since I haven't gone birding in a bit, it's all I have to share...

The Pine Siskins are my best customers.  They love the nyjer-filled stocking- I've counted at least ten at a time on there.

I've had a decent variety of sparrows daily too, though no White-throateds yet. 

Spotted Towhee

 Golden-crowned Sparrow

 White-crowned Sparrow

 Dark-eyed Junco

Between the berries on my ash tree and the apple trees next door, there is no shortage of starlings, scrub-jays, crows, and robins.  I swear I heard a Varied Thrush one morning but no visual proof yet.  Hopefully I will get out birding this afternoon or tomorrow so I will have something more interesting to share!

Monday, November 5, 2012

New house.

As some of you know I moved into a new house last week.  I've only spent three nights there so far but I have already discovered all kinds of treasures and counted over 20 bird species.  As for treasures, the previous owners left some weird stuff...

                      Ugly seahorse screwed into a bathroom cabinet (there were two)
                       Ugly light fixture

In the backyard is an ugly old shed that I had to break into.  The inside looked like this:

In one of the random boxes were these old gems:

 3 ounces of Hires root beer concentrate (makes 5 gallons), still in the bottle, still smells like root beer

 Old iron, old bottles, old scale

There is tons more crap I'm not showing you.  I don't mind really, I like weird old crap.

Now for the birds- I updated the yard bird list up top of the page so you can check out everything I've been seeing.  It's pretty awesome.  Today I sat out in the yard with the dogs and just watched all the birds flying around.  Speaking of the dogs, they are stoked on the new yard...

Ok, now the birds for reals...

Pine Siskins

 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 American Robin

And my favorite yard bird so far: a Red-breasted Sapsucker...

I'm hoping to have more time to watch the feeders soon, but this week is looking like a busy one.  Oh, one last thing about my house- I realized I can see Mt Hood from the front yard!  It's been too cloudy to determine if I can see Mt St Helens from the backyard yet, but I'm hopeful...

One last thing: anyone know what kind of tree this is?  I am thinking it's in the willow family and it makes tons of red berries that the birds and mutts both love.

Good times!!