Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Recent birds and things.

Let's start with the hot topic of my last post:  hybrid sapsuckers.  Don't worry, I'm keeping it to one photo and it's not even my own, it's my friend Michele's.  This is a bird that was coming to her suet last winter in Beaverton:


Now THAT'S a hybrid!  The dark showing through on the breast, the fairly bold white mustachial stripe, the dark on the back of the head... It's a good specimen.  A hybrid I fully support.

Anyway.  It's been a rainy March here but I have tried to get out birding when I can, like last week when I squeezed in a dog walk at Powell Butte before rain arrived.  I even saw the visiting Mountain Bluebird, a county bird!


That afternoon I went out to Ridgefield in the rain, taking cover in the car on the auto tour. 


Most of the action was in the big field towards the end where herons and an egret were actively hunting.  When the egret landed close to me I was excited to see what it might catch...


A worm.  This huge bird caught a damn worm.  This was disappointing but I decided the next catch would be more impressive, the worm was a warm up.


Yay.  But then a Red-tailed Hawk swooped in and attempted to steal the meal.  A high speed, high altitude chase ensued and I lost sight of both birds.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to Catherine Creek to see the early wildflowers.  Several Western Bluebirds were hopping around one section of the trail (year bird!).


The Douglas' grass widow was the flower highlight:


The scenery alone is worth the trip...

Catherine Creek Arch

 Lewis's Woodpecker central

 
This morning I had invited Audrey to hike up Larch Mountain to try for Sooty Grouse.  We knew there might be some snow but we definitely underestimated the 8-mile roundtrip trek. 


We parked just shy of the gate due to the snow, and hiked up via the main road, then a side trail to the Larch Mountain Trail.  There was at least a foot of snow at this point and still another 1.5 miles to the trailhead. 


It was rough to say the least and the snow increased as the elevation increased.  We made it to the parking lot for the trailhead and were greeted by thigh-high (if not waist-high) snow.  The rest of the hike to the top, Sherrards Point, was not easy. 

Parking lot

Somehow we made it up the snow-covered stairs to the base of Sherrards Point and found amazing views of snow and sky and mountains and fog.


Getting to the very top was a feat all its own and involved a lot of clinging to the chain link fence. 


 View from the top

 The top.

View from the top of the stairs. 

It still amazes me that we even made it to the top and the walk back down was even harder.  Crossing the parking lot was impressively difficult, with thigh-high snow the whole way.  It barely got better over the next mile...

This is our trudge trail through knee-high snow. 
 
Lesson learned.  Don't hike up here when there's 2+ feet of snow.  It's terrible.  Hilarious and beautiful, but terrible.  I am grateful that Audrey took it all in stride, and let me whine and bitch on the way down.  I recall saying  "This is so stupid" a number of times.  I also recall there being no grouse.  At least we had a pygmy-owl hooting on the drive up...

Good times!!

15 comments:

  1. Mountain Shop...snowshoes...day rental...cheap...easy...fun

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  2. Sorry I missed the death march, I mean birding trip!

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  3. Wow, you guys are troopers. Do you have frost bite? I have been watching for this winter's sapsucker to check it out more closely to see if it's the same bird. He hasn't been back since I sent you the photo, but I'm watching.

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    1. No frostbite, amazingly. Yes I want to see this year's sap!

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  4. Gorgeous photos Jen. As always, you supply scenic beauty with exquisite violence and gore. Bravo!

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    1. P.S. "and things" is a registered trademark of Butler's Birds Inc. and cannot be reproduced, imitated, or distributed without the expressed written consent of Butler's Birds and the NFL.

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    2. You no longer use "and things" and therefore I find your trademark irrelevant and worthy of abuse.

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  5. Glad y'all made it back that was quite a feat! Excellent shots love the snowy landscapes and trees!

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  6. Don't knock that worm. Which would you rather swallow whole, prey item #1 or prey item #2? Entertaining read as always!

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    1. If I was a hungry hungry egret I would go with #2!

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