Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lincoln City.

For my friend's birthday on Friday a bunch of us headed out to Chinook Winds Casino Resort on the coast in Lincoln City.  It was far from a birding trip but I did bring along my new Nikon point and shoot (a Coolpix S6100) just in case.  Saturday morning I woke up after only four hours of sleep and decided to hit the beach before hitting the breakfast buffet. 


I found a nice group of gulls hanging around a pool of water in the middle of the beach...


I was most psyched to see a few Heermann's Gulls, which eBird told me were the first I'd seen this year. 


The are definitely up there on my list of favorite gulls...


Also in the mix was a California Gull...


I have never felt too comfortable saying things like "check out those worn primaries," but seriously, check out those worn primaries!  Even more visible on this Western Gull:


And on this Glaucous-winged Gull:


Brown Pelicans were constantly coming and going along the shore with a couple stopping to pose on rocks for me...



Less common along the beach were pigeons.  This next shot confused me greatly but I think the bird has both of its wings up so they look like one giant wing:


Since the camera was new I decided to test out the macro setting- it worked pretty well...


Other birds that did some fly-bys were Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murres, Surf Scoters, and unidentified black dots.  Good times!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ridgefield NWR.

It was a gorgeous morning up at Ridgefield today.  The air was cool, the breeze was nice, and the birds were out and about like it was springtime. 


I was most surprised to find a Western Tanager flitting about in the trees...


In the same area were a couple of Black-headed Grosbeaks, a handful of House Finches, and an adorable young Swainson's Thrush who seemed to have no idea that he was supposed to hide from my camera.


I am pretty sure I was the first to hit the refuge this morning which always has its advantages, like increased chances of seeing non-bird wildlife. 


Back to birds... I don't often post photos of starlings, so this little fella should feel quite honored:


I just love his or her little splash of shimmery green.  A pop of color, if you will.

Tree Swallow

I watched a Marsh Wren take a dust bath in the middle of the road.  It was pretty cute. 


Shorebirds were abundant.  They were also far away.  From what I could tell it was mostly dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, sandpipers, and Killdeer, not to mention oodles of Wilson's Snipes...


 In a blackberry bush towards the end of the loop were a male Red-winged Blackbird, a juvenile blackbird, and a yellowthroat.  Kind of funny to see them next to each other (though out of focus)...


That was about it for the refuge.  On the home front, my Eurasian Collared-Dove population has DOUBLED.  Now there are two.  I have named them Bill & Ted.


 
Good times!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sandy River Delta & Fernhill Wetlands

I met up with a couple of lovely birder ladies out at the delta yesterday morning to finally track down the reported Indigo Bunting.  We found him right away...


He moved around quite a bit but I never got a very good photo.   Oh well, still cool to see a second one this month.  We were also successful in finding one of the Eastern Kingbirds that nests at the delta...


Swainson's Thrushes were out in full force singing and calling and even popping out on shaded branches occasionally...


Fact: grasshoppers are probably one of the cutest insects ever.


On our way back we came across another birder looking at the Indigo Bunting who pointed out a robin's nest in the parking lot.  One of the parents flew in to feed at least two little open beaks...


It was a very nice morning walk with good people and my new favorite birding pup, Chipper:


Check out Michele's take on our morning walk (and a much better bunting photo) on her blog, Nature Nut Notes!

Now back on Sunday morning I decided to venture out to Fernhill Wetlands to see the amazingly low water levels (and the shorebirds) for myself.


Before I could even find any peeps I found oodles of geese including the funny hybrid family that lives there:


Love them.  The first and most easily identified shorebird I found was a Spotted Sandpiper:


In addition to Least and Western Sandpipers, folks have been reporting Semipalmated Sandpipers.  I was hoping to be able to pick one out of the crowds, but I am not sure I can...


Most birds kept their distance but a small group were close enough for decent looks.  Like these next two that seemed to be providing me with a side by side comparison of... something... Least & Western?   Western and Western?  Smith & Western?



Here are some more that are making my brain hurt...



Seems like mostly Westerns? 

Moving on to other more easily identified shorebirds....

Greater Yellowlegs

 Long-billed Dowitchers

 Green Heron, Red-winged Blackbird

Back to the confusing peeps... I think this one's a Least? 


My camera battery died shortly after this.  My spare was about a mile and a half away in the car.  Safe and sound.  But before it died, I took some photos of this big ole fish:


And that's all... Good times!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Over the mountains.

I could barely sleep last night after putting an offer on a pretty sweet house, so I had plenty of time to ponder where to go birding this morning.  I decided to do a little lifer hunting just past the Cascades in Wasco county.


The first area I wanted to check was Victor Road where someone had reported some Mountain Quail.  Horned Larks were the first to greet me...


This next bird was closely associating with the larks so I had thought it to be a juvenile, but not completely sure...


I never found the Mountain Quail but I did see more California Quail than I have ever seen in one area before.  Two huge family groups plus other random pairs and singles...


I found a little family of Western Kingbirds making a ruckus in a tree.  Only one was kind enough to pose for me...


Across the road from the kingbird tree a couple of birds paused on the fence for me...


Ummmmm.... What the hell are they??  Finches?  Sparrows?  That one on the right is soooo busted-looking. 


And what about this thing on the ground:


One of my favorite birds of the day was this young Say's Phoebe:


Super cute.  Also cute is this lizard (fence lizard?):


Super not cute but super creepy was this structure... Gallows?


Weird...


After Victor Road I headed down Juniper Flats Road to see if I could find the Tricolored Blackbirds I saw reported on eBird.  Success!   There were dozens of them in this one cattail marsh.  Terrible lighting for photos...


But a lifer nonetheless!  The white patches (rather than yellow on Red-winged Blackbirds) really stands out when they fly.  But I have no photos to prove this.

While I was watching the blackbirds several Common Nighthawks cruised by overhead...


Alright, and the last bird of the trip... When I first arrived on Victor Road I was driving slowly when suddenly a Short-eared Owl took flight from a fence post.  I was scrambling for my camera when a second one took flight a little further ahead.  I was in owl-overload and fumbled too much and ended up with no photos worth sharing.  I was bummed, and even more bummed when a THIRD freakin owl took flight and I missed that one too.

So on my way back home I stopped at Victor Road again and amazingly one owl had returned, and upon seeing me flew straight to the ground.  And let me take a billion photos of him (or her, I had trouble deciding which).


 I have never sat so long with a Short-eared Owl, it was pretty awesome.  I don't even care that the sun was in a bad spot.  There's something to be said about a bird like that looking you straight in the eyes...



So yeah, obviously it was a pretty good day!  Definitely helped distract me from waiting around to hear about the house (have to wait till Monday, ugh).  Good times!!