Showing posts from November, 2016

Banded birds.

Back in October when Famous Frank was in town and we were looking for the Emperor Goose on Sauvie Island we noticed a couple of Cackling Geese with neck bands.  I don't usually bother trying to the read the tags which is stupid because it's fun to find out where the bird came from.  Thankfully Frank was dedicated to the cause and picked out one of the banded geese and photographed it. 

Roughly 1.5% of the Cacklers that day

Above is the goose that I reported to the Bird Banding Lab.  They use funky symbols in their codes sometimes and this one read U @E.  Last week I received a Certificate of Appreciation with the details about the bird:

The goose was at least four years old and banded near Newtok, AK.  Google Maps shows me this is located on the Bering Sea, on the southwest coast of Alaska.  It would take 13 hours to get there on at least four planes.  Pretty cool. 

The next week I was driving out on Highway 14 and stopped at the Franz Lake NWR overlook to get my Skamania Count…

The Loophole.

While viewing the Common Scoter last week one of the big year women commented on the rainy weather, wondering how we Oregonians deal with it.  I can be defensive of our wet weather, and I look forward to it returning every fall, but I also know the loophole when things get too frustrating:   driving east.  Often enough, all it takes is getting east of the Cascades and the clouds part and the sun pokes out.

On Wednesday I decided to take advantage of the loophole by driving east to a new spot for me, McNary Wildlife Area in Umatilla County.  A Summer Tanager had been reported here the week before, and folks that had gone to look for it reported Bohemian Waxwings.  This was a lifer I had long desired, and had already decided to hunt down the first ones I heard reported this winter. 

I found the entrance to the McNary Dam and followed the road down, turning left on 3rd Street.  I was looking for a sign for a Nature Trail when I noticed a couple of big berry-filled trees and I slammed on…

Scotes and 'ropes and things.

As you may have heard, a Common Scoterwas found last weekend on the Oregon coast, a mere 2.5 hours from Portland.  Thanks to text alerts from Steve I was aware of this bird immediately, giving me extra time to build anxious excitement for the next few days while stuck at work.  I left early yesterday morning, joined at the last minute by my fellow bird nerd friend Eric, and made it to Siletz Bay by about 8:30.  It was fairly dark and raining and cold, but the bird was there.  Sleeping.  Way out there.

Siletz Bay

Black Scoter, Western Grebe, Common Scoter, more grebes

This was not ideal.  What was ideal was the little gazebo that was keeping us dry, so we stood around for about an hour hoping the dude would wake up.  This happened once for a second, then again for about three seconds.  Just long enough to see the bill through the scope.  While we waited we listened to a couple of women discussing what I think were their respective big years- one woman had traveled there from Ohio, and an…

That's how it goes.

"This is NOT how the story ends. This is just the part of the story where we wake the fuck up..."  -Hip Sobriety.

At a huge and devastating cost, that is the one silver lining:  people realized how fucked up things really are this week. 

This is good.  Knowledge is power.  Figure out how to cope.  Be kind and stand up for our fellow humans.  Donate money or time.  Talk it out with people who also need to talk it out.  Music can help.  Art can help.  Sitting outside watching a junco can help.  No retreat, baby, no surrender.

Anyway.  Birds.

After stumbling upon an Ash-throated Flycatcher at Chinook Landing last month I realized that finding good birds close to home is the most rewarding birding for me.  It makes me the happiest.  I even started a new bird list I'm calling a Five Mile Radius list.   I used this website to see what was in a five mile radius of my house and I have to say, I'm damn lucky.  My radius includes Broughton Beach, Mount Tabor, half of Chinook…