Saturday, August 30, 2014

This week in birds.

Thursday morning I set out on a five mile walk to Whitaker Ponds in hopes of adding a bird or two to my motorless list.  My first birding destination along the route was the section of slough bike path that parallels NE Alderwood Road. 

This section is only about half a mile long, but I have always had luck with birds here.  This area was part of a Columbia Slough Bank Stabilization project funded by Port of Portland after a flood in 1996, and a lot of native species thrive here.  Some non-natives flourish here as well, like this spotted jewelweed:

On this day I came across a feisty mixed flock of Black-capped Chickadees, Bewick's Wrens, Bushtits, Cedar Waxwings, and a lone but ballsy Black-throated Gray Warbler.  The trail ends at NE 92nd Ave and the Alderwood Trail picks up for another short stretch.  It was near this second trail that I felt a sharp pain in my foot and found this guy stuck through the sole of my sneaker:

Ow.  As I continued up Alderwood I noticed some crows hanging out in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection parking lot. 

Poor dude.  I eventually made it to the slough adjacent to Whitaker Ponds where Cedar Waxwings were flying down to snack on Oregon grape.

The ponds themselves were relatively birdy (relative to the fact that it was August), but frogs were a bit more accommodating photo-wise.

Kingfishers kept their distance...

Yellowthroats stayed in the shadows...

And ducks preferred the other side of the pond. 

But!  These weren't just any ducks.  I was pretty sure these were a couple of Cinnamon Teals (thanks for the confirmation, Steve!)  a motorless target that I had missed so many times since spring.  Motorless year bird #122!  Woohoo.

Yesterday morning I went up to Ridgefield NWR for the first time in almost two months.  A Wilson's Snipe was the first greeter...

A couple of ravens were flying around one spot, annoyed by the arrival of a Red-tailed Hawk.

I decided to walk the Kiwa Trail for the first and probably last time this year.  Things were mellow but alright.

A slug was crossing the trail at one point and I decided to bust out the Hyperlapse app on it.  In case you are not familiar, this is an app that records a video but cuts it into frames like a time lapse video.

Not too exciting, but stay tuned for a feeder video soon.  Back on the trail, most of the bird activity involved young Savannah Sparrows and a handful of Mourning Doves posing for retro Valentine's Day cards.

Half a dozen Turkey Vultures were roosting along the trail.

Back on the auto tour I was ready for the last part of the loop where shorebirds often congregate.  First shorebird seen was this fellow that in the field I was confident was a Solitary Sandpiper.

Looking at photos, I started to doubt this ID and am still feeling confused.  If only the bird were closer or my photos better, I might have more confidence.  [note: it is indeed a Solitary Sandpiper]

On the opposite side of the road, Least and Western Sandpipers were way more identifiable, along with a couple of Greater Yellowlegs.

A couple of dowitchers seen above eventually made their way closer to me just as the sun peeked out.

The sun seemed to lure bitterns out of the grass...

And that was about it for Ridgefield.  Good times!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Broughton Beach, etc.

Yesterday morning I decided to take a long walk out to Broughton Beach on the slimmest of chances that a certain Arctic Tern would still be hanging around.  It was not, but I had a good walk and added at least one bird to my motorless year list.

Osprey were out fishing which, as I'm sure I've mentioned, is one of my favorite things to watch.  They are just SO good at it.  Except when they're not.

This seemed like a regular plunge at first, but the Osprey did not fly back up, fish in talons.  Instead it sort of flopped about, swimming kind of,  awkwardly wrestling what turned out to be a pretty big fish. 

It was fairly close to shore so after some more "paddling" and fluttering, it hopped up onto some rocks with the fish.

Once on the rocks, there were was still much debate about what to do next.  A flyby Bald Eagle caused a brief disturbance during which I thought the fish was lost.  It was not.  The eagle flew back across the river and the Osprey returned.

After a minute the Osprey took off again and just sort of circled, so I left in case I was disturbing his meal. 

At the beach I was hoping for some peeps to add to my motorless list.  Right away something spooked five birds from the west and they passed right by me and over the bike path.  Trying to ID sandpipers in flight is not easy for me, but judging by the bill length I am guessing they were Leasts.  Thoughts?

These were the only shorebirds I saw on this walk.  Kind of a bummer.  I did finally nab a couple Horned Larks for my list...

A couple of Caspian Terns were around, showing me their weird side.

Despite the lack of shorebirds (and the lack of Arctic Terns), the beach was fairly entertaining.  Dead stuff and flowers filled in the gaps nicely.

And when all else fails, there are grasshoppers and other critters to look at.

My 2014 motorless list is now up to 121!  Only 14 species to go to tie my list from last year, which is amazing since this year I am trying out a walking-only list.  Last year I rode my bike a bunch.  Good times!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Timberline Lodge.  You've seen The Shining, right?  Well I didn't head out to this historic Mount Hood lodge yesterday to hunt for ghost twins or rub noses with Jack Nicholson.  I just wanted to check out the trails that lead up the mountain from the lodge and maybe see a few birds along the way...

Wildflowers were a big highlight with hot pink paintbrush, lupine, aster, and many more I have yet to identify brightening up the landscape.





While hiking up a thick fog rolled in and the mountain completely disappeared for awhile. 

What mountain? 

Oh right.  Birds.  There were some of those too.  A young Horned Lark surprised us in the fog...

Later on after the fog passed and the sun came out I found a couple of adults as well.

The most abundant bird of the day was the juvenile Chipping Sparrow.  They were everywhere.  Never saw a single full-blown adult.

With the sunshine came much better views of... well... everything.

Early morning skiers

Ok back to birds.  The hike down passed through a major Mountain Bluebird party.

Also along the trail were lots of finches.  I saw no obvious males which made me very indecisive about the ID- Cassin's or Purple?

Never a lack of golden-mantled ground squirrels in these parts

As we made our way back down the trail I tried to keep an eye out for raptors.  No Golden Eagles or fancy hawks to be seen, but a Prairie Falcon tore through the small group of trees near the bottom of the trail.  eBird questioned it, so it must be a good sighting.  Har har.

The trees also attracted Clark's Nutcrackers.

See ya

 Lil chippy

 It was a good morning!  I would really like to explore this area more sometime, and maybe even figure out what trail I was on..

Good times!!