Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recent motorless adventures.

Heron in the slough

 Yesterday I spent the day working on my motorless list.  I only added a couple species but had a lovely long walk with the dogs, and a nice bike ride over to Whitaker Ponds.

Lesser Goldfinch at Mason Wetlands

I finally organized my list taxonomically so I could easily see what I was missing... Turns out there's quite a few birds I can still hope to get before the year ends, so hopefully I will focus more on it these next couple months.  

American Kestrel, random field on NE 185th

Along the river things were pretty windy and gulls would soar slowly by...

Mew Gull

 Herring Gull...yes?  No.

Last week I discovered I could walk down to Johnson Lake, an area adjacent to the highway that may or may not be filled with homeless camps.  The lake can be viewed from Glass Plant Road without entering the sketchy woods surrounding it, and here I found a suspicious wigeon.  Breaking all rules Seagull Steve has ever written (ok, just one rule), I thought I had found an American x Eurasian hybrid.  Steve knocked some sense into me and told me it appeared to be a molting full-blooded Eurasian Wigeon.  I went back yesterday to get some sunny day photos of it...

 A great bird for my motorless list since I have zero intentions of riding my bike all the way to Westmoreland anytime soon.  Whitaker Ponds, on the other hand, is much closer, so I went to pick up Black Phoebe for my list.

 It was not easily tracked down once a whole science class of kids showed up to collect water samples, but I finally heard it and followed it to the far side of the far pond.  Yellow-rumps were also out flycatching...

Kinglets: the only birds that care about my pathetic pishing attempts

 After my day on Bonney Butte I felt way more confident with accipiters.  Of course that all went to hell when I found this one creeping in the shrubs:

 The bird took off when it noticed I was also creeping.  The tail seemed pretty short, and the bird seemed kind of squat which made me think sharpie.  The best view I got of the chest barring:

 Yeah.  So... thoughts? 

That's about it for my motorless birds... unless you want to see the dead one I found in my wood stove!  Oh you do?  No problem...


 Ok now I'm done.  Good times!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Timothy Lake.

Something about October makes me want to run around in the mountains.  Maybe it's because I know the snow is coming and soon my car will weep at the thought of gaining more than a few hundred feet in elevation.  Anyhow I took the dogs up to Timothy Lake near Mt. Hood for a hike Saturday morning.

I don't know what we have done to deserve this amazing weather, or what we will have to suffer to pay for it, but I will try not to think about it...

The first bird I saw on the lake was chilly little Eared Grebe.

I noted five Barrow's Goldeneyes flying by, and it was only after looking at my photos that I realized one was an imposter.

Silly Bufflehead, your eye ain't golden.

I spooked a couple more Buffleheads when I crept out of the woods onto the beach.

Most of my hike I could see at least three Common Loons out on the water at one time, possibly up to five at one point. 

We had hiked a couple miles when I realized I had not brought any water and should probably not try to hike the entire lake- a 13 mile loop.  It was a bummer but a lovely hike regardless.  On the way back the mergansers were all out and about...

Common Mergansers

 Hooded Mergansers

Of course this happened:

After Timothy Lake I had hoped to finally track down Frying Pan Lake.  I drove down a bunch of random forest roads till I amazingly ended up in the right area.  This is not a popular area by any means.  The road that leads to the lake is a rocky dirt road so I parked at the end of the road and walked in with the dogs.  Just as I was thinking I might pop a squat I heard a man say Hey there!

Fact: no matter how nice and normal a man might seem, if he pops out of the trees with no apparent reason for being there, he is a serial killer/rapist/psycho in my eyes.  The man introduced himself and asked if I was mushroom picking.  I said no I was looking for the lake and he pointed me in the direction of it.  By the time I got to the lake I felt super creeped out and only took four shots that all looked like this:

I walked back to the car super uneasy.  We drove back up the road and saw the guy again, still with no apparent reason for being there.  I would have felt better if he had a gun or something because at least hunting seems legit there.  Good/creepy times.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Recent birds.

Contrary to what you may think, it hasn't been all goshawks all the time lately.  Here are some other birds from the last couple weeks around town...

Red-breasted Nuthatch in the yard

 Cackling Goose party along Lower River Road, Vancouver

Canada vs. Cackling comparison, Vancouver (don't be fooled, the Canada:Cackling ratio was more like 20:5000)

A few good shrooms on an unbirdy hike on Wildcat Mountain:

Back to birds...

Common Merganser, Columbia River

Double-crested Cormorants, Columbia River

 Couple o' camouflaged creepers, Clackamette Park

 Herring Gull (I think *not*), Clackamette Park

And that's about it... Good times.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bonney Butte.

I have been itching to get up to Bonney Butte, a HawkWatch site on Mount Hood, ever since I first heard about it years ago.  You can't get there in a regular car, you need something with high clearance because the last few miles of road are just bananas.  Thankfully Rhett and his friend Sarah invited me to join them yesterday in an appropriate vehicle for a full day up at the butte. 

The roads aren't marked and after a lot of what seemed like dice-rolling rather than map-reading we ended up in a parking lot filled with fiending Gray Jays.

Crumbs for me, yes? 

 A random bum in the parking lot offered up some donut crumbs to the jays...

 One bold bird hopped in our car while we were getting our gear together.

Ok enough of those jokers.  We hiked up to the top and joined the two hawkwatchers for a chilly but awesome day of birds.  Initially the joke was that we had arrived just in time for peak robin migration.  They were flying by in dozens, almost constantly throughout the morning.  Sometimes they would land nearby, along with grosbeaks, bluebirds, solitaires, and nutcrackers...

Clark's Nutcracker

 Townsend's Solitaire

 Evening Grosbeak (Blogger is insisting on adding a pink hue to this photo, wtf)

Not only do they watch hawks at this site, but they also have a banding station set up on the hill to the north of the watch area.  This was my first experience with banding- where birds are caught and a little band is attached to their leg so if they are caught again or found dead somewhere, this data can be recorded.

It's hard to see, but in the above photo one of the bird banders, Andrew, is freeing a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk from a net to be banded.  I appreciate banding and what can be learned about birds from it, but I have to say I really struggled with the use of live bird baits.   The banders sit in a small blind and when they see a hawk or something overhead they give a tug on a string to cause a bird (pigeon, starling, or house sparrow) outside in a harness-type thing to hop up and flutter it's wings.  This sometimes attracts the hawk to swoop in to grab it and then gets caught in the net.  I honestly couldn't watch it, but that's just me.

And I ain't saying I didn't benefit from it.

Sharp-shinned Hawk in a can

We watched Dan, the other bander, measure and weigh the bird, attach a band, and then joined him outside for the release.

Sarah got to actually release the bird, though it took a minute for the hawk to realize its freedom.

Back at the watch site hawks and such were flying by regularly.  Lots of sharpies, but also a couple of Bald Eagles, a Golden Eagle, a Rough-legged Hawk, Red-tails, a Merlin, and only one Cooper's Hawk that I saw.


While I was eating my sandwich the banding station called us and said they had caught a juvenile male Northern Goshawk.  Rhett was trusted with the task of fetching the bird from the station to bring back to the watch site for everyone to see.

Rhett handed the bird off to Jade, one of the official hawkwatchers, to get the bird out of the can and into our hearts.  I didn't just say that.

And some close-ups...

They said this was only the second goshawk they had caught this season, which is coincidental because Michele and Dwight got to see their first one a week or two ago.  A little while after releasing this bird another goshawk came into sight- a bigger female!  We watched it suddenly swoop down towards the banding station and we crossed our fingers that they had caught it.  Turns out she was only briefly caught before freeing herself from the net.  Ah well, can't complain.

It was an awesome day up at the butte!  Many many thanks to Rhett for the invite and to the hawkwatchers for the quick ID's!  Good times!!