Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Polk County.

Yesterday I set out to do some exploring around Polk County, an area that begins barely an hour south of Portland.  eBird said I had only seen 8 birds there which seems ridiculous.  My main destinations were Baskett Slough NWR and the foothills of the Coast Range near Falls City.

  Baskett Slough

 The narrows along Colville Road was the most productive stop I made with a calling Sora, flyby Green Heron, and a sneaky snipe.

It looked like someone had just spread some seed and the blackbirds, Mallards, coots, and geese were all poking around one spot.

 Yellow-headed Blackbird

Multiple icterid photo fail. 

This fancy female Red-winged was struttin her stuff, making all the other ladies feel inadequate:

Up the hill from the narrows a couple of Turkey Vultures were warming up for the day.

Further up the road, a kestrel spooked from the field.

After a couple hours at Baskett Slough I headed out to Falls City and beyond.  I followed Black Rock Road out of town and into the trees along the Little Luckiamute River, stopping at George T. Gerlinger County Park.  Want to know more about old George?  Wikipedia has you covered here.

The birds were singing but locating them for a photo proved frustrating.  Hence the snail.  And now a dog photo.  Pretend you are looking at Wilson's Warblers and Chestnut-backed Chickadees.

After the park I drove up Black Rock Road with the intention of hitting a place called Riley Peak, mentioned on the Birding Oregon website.  Unfortunately Weyerhauser had the road gated halfway there so I picked a nearby gated (but accessible) logging road to hike up with the mutts instead.

Although the trees seemed to be stuffed with warblers and Pacific-slope Flycatchers I managed few bird photos.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Gray Jay stalker

It was a nice hike even without the photos to prove it.  I had 65 species for the day without trying all that hard, and have a new appreciation for this part of the state.  Good times!

Friday, April 24, 2015

More wildflowers and pretty crap.

Yesterday I went back out to the gorge to drool over more wildflowers.  I hiked up Marsh Hill from the Memaloose Viewpoint, and to McCall Point at Rowena Crest.  There was never a point where things weren't ridiculously pretty.

 Paintbrush and lupine

I don't know what these little seed pod things are but they're so cool-looking:

There are several kinds of desert parsley around, from what I understand, and they all smell delicious.  My sweatshirt pocket became filled with little pieces so I could keep smelling it.

 Blue-eyed mary

Agoseris or hawksbeard?  I am confused. 

Checker lily, I think

The top of Marsh Hill is just a huge field of balsamroot.

 I was psyched to see a Western Kingbird actively fly-catching from one of the oaks at the top.  First one of the year.

The view from Marsh Hill:

On our my from Memaloose to Rowena Crest I stopped along a gravel road where there was some of this awesome camas (camassia leichtlinii?) blooming:

The view from the beginning of the trail at Rowena Crest:

If I had gone a little farther with the panorama you could have seen McCall Point, but here it is, the highest point in this photo:

 Oaks toothwort

Pee spot view, complete with Red-tailed Hawk

Columbia River view

 Gold stars

View from the top:

 Something peavine-related

 The hike back down was kind of awesome.

 Alright.  That's it.  Good times!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Motorless update.

Fun fact:  when I'm out riding my bike for my motorless bird list Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" often pops into my head and I start singing "Motor-less!  What's your price for fight... "  If it's a particularly long and uneventful ride I will start making up bird-related lyrics that I refuse to share here.  Make up your own.

I've been a bit more methodical in my motorless birding this year and it's paying off.  I stand at 110 for the year, a number I did not hit till May last year (and June the year before).  Last week I rode out to Mason Wetlands and the Columbia Slough one morning.

On that morning I picked up Orange-crowned and Black-throated Gray Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Vaux's Swift, Barn and Northern Rough-Winged Swallows, and Lincoln's Sparrow.

Another afternoon I rode out to Broughton Beach, Force Lake, and Vanport Wetlands.

Cliff Swallow (#99), Sea Scout Base

Cinnamon Teal (#103), Vanport Wetlands

That day I added Savannah Sparrow, Cliff Swallow, Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Cinnamon Teal.

On a weekend dog walk I picked up a new motorless mammal in the Columbia Slough:

 Beaver!  Only my third time actually seeing a live one.  I also added a motorless cowbird on this dog walk, and found a Northern Flicker had excavated a nest about five feet from the sidewalk on NE 122nd.

Had the flicker not made a huge mess during the excavation process I might not have even noticed.

Yesterday morning I got up early to ride up to Mount Tabor for the first time this spring and picked up most of my target birds and then some.

Nashville Warbler (#107)

 Orange-crowned Warbler

 Band-tailed Pigeon (#105)

 Fox Sparrow (#109)

 Cassin's Vireo (#108)

 Red-breasted Sapsucker

Hermit Thrush (#110)

Six new motorless birds yesterday, two of which were not on my motorless life list!  Hope to add some more before the month is over too.  Good times!!