Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Recent birds.

I managed to get out a lot the last few days, not always looking for birds necessarily, but birds are pretty much inevitable, aren't they?  On Sunday my friend and I headed to the gorge to wander around the waterfalls.  They never get old.

                              Multnomah Falls

Didn't see a lot of birds around, but there were some Chestnut-backed Chickadees lingering around the snack shop at Multnomah Falls.


It's such a pretty area to explore- I wish we hadn't run out of daylight...


Monday morning was cold but sunny and I headed up to Ridgefield.  Some of the geese had frosty backs...


Despite the chill, there were some mighty fine signs that the seasons are changing...  Tree Swallows (and even a couple Violet-greens) are starting to take over.  And the bird I was most surprised to see:


A yellowlegs!  The usual eagles and hawks were around as well...

Bald Eagle
 
Red-tailed Hawk

Another thing I was psyched about was the Great Horned Owl sitting on her nest...


Can't wait for owlets...   Yesterday morning I decided to head back to Sauvie Island and try for the Harris's Sparrow again.  I had read someone had heavily seeded the area on Monday so I figured my chances were much better.  Indeed!  He showed up within five minutes.  And disappeared in less than thirty seconds.  Dang it!  Forty-five minutes later he came out again...




Very cool- and I got much better looks at this guy than the one that was here last winter.  Stoked.  Very tempted to cut and paste this guy's photo into the center of this photo:


Mmm zonos...  My sparrow-nerd-destiny is coming together... 

Anyway.  Also on Sauvie Island, the heron rookery is looking good and full...


And lastly, I stopped to ooh and aah over the baby cows.  Calves.  Whatever.



I am pretty sure I should end every post with baby animals.  That would be living the dream.  Good times!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Yard birds/ Scappoose Bottoms

Things have been tense in the yard this weekend.  The scrub-jays have been fighting.  The crows have been fighting.  And the starlings?  They want to murder each other.  It's made for some good couch birding.

The starling fights usually start off like this:


Then the two birds start fighting in the air until either one breaks away, or they both land on the ground and continue their disagreement.  The latter has happened at least four times this weekend. 






Intense stuff, but all the birds seemed to fly away completely fine.  Yesterday before the starling fights started a crow came by and made me laugh...

Crow fail.

Today the scrub-jays came by for their peanut fix.  One bird decided to just hide the peanuts all around the yard including in this Fred Meyer bag:


Anyway, enough of the yard stuff.  I went up to Scappoose Bottoms yesterday afternoon to see if the Rough-legged Hawks were still around.  I found one perched on a fence post pretty far away, but as some crazy winds picked up he decided to show off for me.



In the distance were a pair of Bald Eagles perched with flocks of Snow Geese flying in behind them... I have no sense of direction so they may have actually been on Sauvie Island or even Ridgefield. 


I stopped to pick up some cow bones for a friend, interestingly right in front of a cow crossing sign...


One of my favorite things about the day was seeing two different male harriers hunting- I so rarely see the males that they always seem special... Unfortunately it was raining pretty hard when I saw this guy:


Still cool.  Good times!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Steigerwald Lake NWR

Yesterday afternoon after work I managed to muster up some motivation and headed out to Steigerwald NWR near Washougal.  This was my second attempt to visit after last Friday's (or was it the Friday before?) failure- big winds, rain, and cold all encouraged me to throw in the towel after about fifteen minutes.  This time it was cloudy, with the rain holding off until my walk back to the car.


See that deer?  We stared at each other for a little bit before he (or she) started walking towards me.  I had that fleeting moment of panic that it was going to pounce on me, but came to my senses and figured it just wanted to cross the path I was on.  I stopped and waited and sure enough he ran right in front of me and up the hill to my right. 



The first birds I noticed at the refuge were swallows- lots of them!  My first for the year.  I forgot how freakin loud they are. 

    Tree Swallow


 I really should visit this area more often- it's pretty rad.



Along the trail I watched a kestrel catch a rodent and fly off to a tree where it proceeded to stomp it to death on a limb.  At least that's how it appeared.  Lucky for you I didn't get any good photos of this.  The main trail intersects the dike trail along the Columbia River after awhile and this is where the star of the show herself has been spending her time....


Yep that's a Mountain Bluebird!  I feel a bit like jerk- I put off going to look for her for a long time because it was the female and not the male.  Some feminist I am...  This little lady was all class and she made me realize I was just as happy to see her as I would have been to see a male.


Plus look at her fly!  She is just as fancy as a male.  Go see her!  Also around were oodles of robins...


Anyway, I had a very nice couple hours at the refuge before the rain kicked in.  The resident Mute Swan was napping on the lake, a Pileated Woodpecker flew over my head, and a Bald Eagle perched near the bluebird looking way too cool for the rest of us.  Good times!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sparrows!

I honestly never thought I'd be the kind of person to get excited over a freakin sparrow.  The fact that I do get psyched on sparrows is still bizarre to me, but whatever, here we are.  I spent the morning looking for the Harris's Sparrow on Sauvie Island- never found it but was actually pretty happy with all the other sparrows around...

Golden-crowned Sparrow

 Savannah Sparrow


 White-throated Sparrow

 White-crowned Sparrow


 Lincoln's Sparrow


And these were just the five species I managed to photograph- there were also Song Sparrows, a Fox Sparrow, towhees and juncos... Nine sparrow species, not too shabby.

On the drive to the beach to walk the dogs I stopped to look at a flock of singing Western Meadowlarks.


 That was about it..  Good times!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ridgefield NWR.

It was a pretty typical day at the refuge yesterday- grey and a little rainy, but birdy and entertaining. And there were even some signs of spring...


It was a good day for wrens...

 Bewick's Wren


Marsh Wren

Can't go wrong with Sandhill Cranes, especially when practicing kung fu.





I was watching a Peregrine at one point and looked down and found a bittern about six feet in front of me.  I think I actually jumped.


Always lots of harriers around..


One thing that really stood out at the refuge was the complete lack of Tundra Swans.  I saw a few pairs fly overhead and that was it.  Spring is coming, yes?  On the last leg of the route I came across a coyote hunting and was psyched to get some close-up looks (especially after drooling over Michele's recent photos over at Nature Nut Notes!). 


I do wonder sometimes if people who don't have dogs really appreciate coyotes as much as the rest of us... There's just something about watching a wild animal do all the exact same things (stalking, pouncing, marking, rolling, socializing, etc) as my dogs.  This guy came across a dead vole and had a blast rolling around on it...


I think Jake was jealous.  Dead stuff is his specialty, though horse poop is his favorite cologne.  Anyway, this coyote was catching voles left and right- haven't seen one this successful in a long time.


Good times!!