Friday, October 30, 2015

Clark County.

Yesterday I decided to keep things old school and without checking OBOL or Tweeters, I headed up to Ridgefield for a loop around the auto tour followed up by a dog walk at Frenchman's Bar.  This is what I did ALL the time when I first started birding six years ago.  Check out this hilarious post from November 2009 where the always kind and helpful Laura W. corrected some impressively misidentified birds. 

Anyway.  Yesterday was fun.  Ridgefield treated me well. 

 Red-shouldered Hawk

Twin teasel

 Hooded Merganser, not my friend

I failed to find any Fox or White-throated Sparrows as I had hoped, but I did find a well-hidden Lincoln's. 

Red-headed Woodpecker.  Kidding.  Obvi. 

Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Kidding again.  See 2009 post comment. 

I was watching a kestrel hunt for a bit and I could see that it was catching things and eating them, but I could not tell what exactly.  The prey looked too small and thin for a rodent which is all I've ever seen kestrels eat.  When I got home I studied the photos and realized it was catching mantises!  So cool!

Five Sandhill Cranes were hanging out fairly close to the road for once...

Along the home stretch of the auto tour there are often herons and egrets hunting close to the road.  I stopped beside a heron only to be distracted by the action in the sky.  Something big was flying in from the north.  My first thought was, holy crap, is that a freakin Golden Eagle???  Ok so that's the edited version.  But yes, it was.

 It flew in to the area, soared around quick, then swooped down at Long Lake sending ducks flying in every direction.  As it rose back up it was joined by a Bald Eagle who seemed unconcerned with this newcomer.  They soared together before the Golden flew off to get harassed by a harrier.  Clark County bird!

I spent a long time stopped here watching the various raptors soaring, ignoring the heron ten feet from me.   A dark Red-tailed (or at least I'm 95% sure it's a Red-tail) passed over making me worry for a minute that I had imagined the Golden Eagle. 

Finally I looked down at the heron which had been doing very little while I was parked there.  It looked back at me. 

After Ridgefield I drove down to Frenchman's Bar Park to walk the dogs along the bike path.  As we approached the main road I could hear a Red-shouldered Hawk calling, a new bird for me at this location. 

We walked along Lower River Road for a bit, admiring the geese and cranes, and trying to avoid awkward talk with a random dude on a bike.  When we got back to the park I saw something walking along the edge of the entrance road...a raccoon!

Apparently it lives in the foundation of this weird little building. 

Bandit in jail.

This turned out to be a rather perfect and fun day of birding, with the bonus of tired dogs and a Clark County bird.  Old school for the win.  Good times!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I got nothing.

I'm losing the will to chase.  A pile of nice birds showed up near Newport recently and I could not bring myself to make the drive, even when I had the day off and the weather was pleasant.  What does this mean about the future of my blog?   Does it mean I will start torturing you all with foggy backyard bird shots that you don't care about at all? 

Over forty Pine Siskins have been coming every damn morning, but I know you don't care

Does it mean I will turn to all bugs all the time??

Bold jumping spider

All dead or dying stuff all the time?

I put this dude to sleep in my freezer... 

Does it mean I will start posting all dog photos?

Jake's 10th birthday!!!!  Warrior Rock trail on Sauvie Island 

Does it mean I will quit birding finally and obsess over squirrels instead?

Does it mean...gasp...that I will no longer list??????
No!  No!  No!  No!  No!  I don't know what it means, but I promise it means none of those things.  Look!  An owl!  County bird 162 for the year.  See?  I still care. 

I think all that it means is that I will go back to finding my own birds for awhile.  It worked quite well the first couple years of birding, back when I stumbled upon things like an Ovenbird and Great-tailed Grackles, all because I was out exploring and birding on my own.  We'll see.  Stay tuned.  Good times.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mount Rainier.

What a place.  It never gets old and never fails to impress.  Last week I hiked the Shadow Lake trail and the Fremont Lookout trail with my friend and despite not finding most of our target animals, it was still a blast.

American Robin decidedly not having a blast. 

 A Sooty Grouse was wandering the parking lot at Sunrise.

Along the trail to Shadow Lake we got our first taste of the day's raptor fest with a Rough-legged soaring over us with a Red-tailed and a Cooper's Hawk.

The trees including the one below were filled with Mountain Chickadees, though the photo does not prove this.

Gray Jays begged for snacks all day.

i know you have a nut bar give me your nut bar nut bar nut bar nut bar

A second Sooty Grouse on the trail felt a bit more legit than the parking lot bird...

 Spiders are neat

 At Shadow Lake we were hoping for some good wildlife but found only people and an American Dipper.

After a lunch break we set out on the Fremont Trail in good company.

Townsend's (?) chipmunk

 Mormon cricket (I think)

As we hiked up higher in elevation we started seeing more and more hawks, mostly accipiters, coming over the ridge and many passing at eye level.  It was awesome.

 Cooper's Hawk


 Red-tailed Hawk


Oh right, it was super pretty too.

Check out the white dots in the middle of the above photo.  It was a little mountain goat family!

No ptarmigan to be found by the fire lookout...

Hawk migration had ended for the day and the hike back down was fairly quiet.  The sun was sporting a nice halo...

A couple Townsend's Solitaires accompanied us part of the way.

After passing Frozen Lake we heard a loud chirping and were finally able to locate a pika.

This was my first time getting a photo of one so I was pretty stoked.

The rest of the hike was uneventful and we started the long drive home.  Sunset at Sunrise Point:

At a Shell station near Randle we found a herd of about 15 elk spread out over the grass and neighboring lawn.  Lots of bad photos happened here.

After seeing two dead elk on the drive up it was nice to see some live ones on the way home.  Good times!!!