Monday, July 29, 2013

Ankeny NWR & Shellburg Falls

This morning I headed down to Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge with the mutts.  It was cool and cloudy but I still didn't want to leave them in the car for too long, so I just stationed myself at a couple of the overlooks to check things out.

Pintail Marsh had a good spread of shorebirds going, including Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, dowitchers, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, and a few Wilson's Phalaropes.

 Wilson's Phalarope

Spotted Sandpiper

At Eagle Marsh I didn't see any shorebirds but the Cliff Swallows nesting in the gazebo were entertaining.  I watched this one deliver food to the youngins and do some housecleaning...

Yum!  Mouthful of baby poop!

Right along the border of the refuge is the intersection of Buena Vista Rd and Ankeny Hill Rd.  I read awhile back that there's an Acorn Woodpecker granary near here so I decided to look for it.  I found the granary and one lone woodpecker.

The view through the trees was kind of lovely...

The dogs were super bored by this point so I used eBird to look for some kind of park in the same county where we could go for a walk.  I saw a report from Shellburg Falls and without doing any kind of research I drove out there.  I missed the turn off Highway 22 and while slowing down to make a U-turn I caught sight of some feathers.  After pulling over I realized I had found a dead Great Horned Owl!

So sad but so cool to see up close... Those fuzzy feet just slay me.

I made it back onto the correct road and parked at the trailhead.  A couple of Steller's Jays were hopping around and one actually sang a little song, unlike anything I would have expected from a jay.  Not sure if it was imitating something or if it's actually part of their natural repertoire.

Most of the trail was a gravel road barricaded on both ends to keep cars out.  About half a dozen cattle guards are along the road which are always fun with the dogs.  Ralph will walk across them but Jake has to be carried.  The scenery was gorgeous along the way...

Also along this road I saw many White-crowned Sparrows, juncos, a California Quail, scads of Violet-green Swallows, and one Red-tailed Hawk.  After about a mile the road heads into the Santiam Forest, and not much farther it crosses Shellburg Creek.  Some stairs lead up to a trail along the creek and on to the beautiful falls...

There's stairs down to the pool where the falls land and the dogs and I walked down there to cool off.

The trail headed behind the falls which was awesome...

We turned around after walking through this cave-like area, but the trail kept going.  Maybe it goes to the top?  This forested part of the trail was good for birds also with lots of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, more juncos, and even a single Hermit Warbler.  My camera battery had died by this point, and my spare was playing dead also.  So no warbler photos. 

Anyway, it was a great little hike and trip to Marion County!  I added about 13 birds to that county list and tired the dogs out.  Good times!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Friday afternoon my friend and I headed to the coast for a one-night camping trip that felt more like a week long vacation.  We crammed a ton of little adventures into our trip and had a blast.  It began with the hunt for the perfect campsite in the Suislaw National Forest.  After driving around random forest roads and checking out spots we found what we were looking for...

A quarter mile hike into the woods led to this small clearing near a cliff, offering a lovely view of the forest.  Swainson's Thrushes and Steller's Jays discussed our plans while Cedar Waxwings snatched up berries nearby.   We cooked some dinner and drank some beers and heard no owls.

In the morning we took our time, cooking some breakfast and drinking coffee.  I chased around some birds and hoped I would not get distracted and fall off the cliff.

Wilson's Warbler

 House Wren

Eventually we packed up and said goodbye to this awesome little spot and began the drive down towards Lincoln City.  My friend pointed out a cool old barn along the highway so we stopped to check it out.

My brother happened to call right then so my friend went out on his own, but returned in a few minutes excitedly declaring the barn was full of owls!  I got off the phone and trailed after him just in time to see a Barn Owl fly out.  But there was still one left...

So awesome!  My friend said he hadn't noticed the owls and was just taking pictures of the barn when a cat jumped out and scared him, which spooked an owl.   So there had actually been three to begin with.  While we looked at the last remaining owl a bold Swainson's Thrush was hopping around the beams nearby. 

 We got back in the car to continue on to our destination, the Drift Creek Falls trail.  I had been excited to walk along the 100 foot high suspension bridge overlooking the falls.

We sat by the falls for a bit and found this cool spider...

I believe it's a Goldenrod Crab Spider though it may also be an evil cartoon character.  On the hike back we opted to check out the North Loop which was beautiful but longer than anticipated.  We found this Hairy lady though:

I would definitely recommend this hike despite the crowds- get there early!  And not a Saturday afternoon!  Also, I had hoped the suspension bridge would feel sketchier than it did- it seemed pretty dang safe.  The birds were nice along the trail with Swainson's and Varied Thrushes, juncos, Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Pacific Wrens, creepers, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

On the drive back down to the highway a couple of birds crossed in front of us.  Some kind of peafowl I assume...

After stopping for some cold drinks we mapped out our next stop: Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in Estacada.  My friend had to deliver some shirts to them and I was excited to visit the resident rescues.

The owner kindly gave us a tour of the sanctuary and it was awesome.  In the above pen you can see a pigeon up in the rafter.  She told us that the pigeons in here were rescued from hunters that were using them to train their hunting dogs- by throwing them and having the dogs retrieve them.  Ugh.

Also around were tons of pigs, goats, a lamb, cats, a racing horse, llamas, bunnies, roosters, turkeys, ducks... So many animals.

This next pig was supposed to be an 80 pound pot bellied, but turned out to be a farm pig.  She's now 700 pounds.

It was so much fun to hang out with all those pigs and meet all the other residents.  Good people too!

An excellent end to our trip!  Good times!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Osprey report.

My Osprey neighbors are still doing well!  The two kids are growing up and looking healthy while the parents are working hard, taking good care of them.  I stopped by the nest yesterday morning...

Good times.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Frenchman's Bar.

Yesterday morning I walked the dogs along the Frenchman's Bar Trail and around the park. 

Shorebirds were abundant, but unfortunately they were not the regular kind.

American Goldfinches

 Swainson's Thrush

 White-crowned Sparrow & Crow

Also along the river, this Osprey nest was looking full...

 It wasn't just full of Osprey either- some other birds were flying in and out as well:

 I can't quite tell what kind of bird that is flying in under the nest- House Sparrow maybe?  We walked along the trail through the woods and found a couple Bullock's Oriole families.  This young one was chasing its pop around and occasionally trying to find its own food.

Also getting chased around was a chickadee by an obnoxious House Wren...


Near the beginning of the trail is a small field and across that field was this guy:

He or she was not pleased to be spotted.  We moved on down the trail to another spot that opened up to the river.  A stream of gulls was flying by...

When they reached a certain spot they stopped streaming by and started just soaring instead... It was interesting.

It didn't seem like they were still over water, but I guess that's actually Sauvie Island there, so who knows. 

Good times!!