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 Landing, and Blue Lake Park. 

 Thankfully inside the radius at Chinook Landing (10.14.16)

So far I've seen 183 species in this radius including some fun rarities like Ovenbird, American Tree Sparrow, Long-billed Curlew, American Avocet, Common Tern, Snow Bunting, and Black Scoter.  Does anyone else keep a list like this? 

Last week I decided to bird the heck out of Blue Lake Park, a Metro manicured park that has never had much appeal to me.  But no one had submitted an eBird checklist since July and I figured why not?

I had only birded there once, briefly, and was surprised to find some neat little trails tucked away on the west end.  Birdy trails. 

Brown Creeper camo is top notch

The lone Bushtit humoring my pishing

 Tree frogs and garter snakes lurked in the leaf litter alongside the trails.

Overall I was impressed with the number of species I was able to find on a warm fall afternoon.  Full checklist here.  I was also amazed to not see a single human on the trails, not even evidence of homeless camps. 

 A couple days ago I decided to bird the heck out of Chinook Landing, with somewhat pathetic results (27 species).  Not sure if it was the wind keeping diversity low, or what exactly.  But the birds I did see were good ones!

Ravens are not easy birds away from Larch Mountain and Sauvie Island, but when they do cruise through it's usually on windy days.   They make for good silhouettes.

I was walking the perimeter of the field south of the parking lot and looked up to see a Red-shouldered Hawk fly into the trees.  Always a pleasant bird to see in these parts. 

I spent a lot of time scouring the willows by the river for sparrows, coming up with only a few.  A couple of Common Mergansers stole my attention for awhile. 

The raven and hawk combined with my county year Lincoln's Sparrow made for a good morning.  Full checklist here.

I've done some other local birding recently outside the five mile radius, like last Saturday.  I was at work when I received a text from a friend who had a Harris's Sparrow show up in his backyard.  My coworker approved a mad dash to NoPo to nab this county bird on my lunch break.  Woohoo. 

Phone through borrowed binoculars

 Yesterday I went by Force Lake, my old patch, after taking Jake to the vet (yay tapeworms).  I was most excited to see that one of the weird Pied-billed Grebe twins was close to the road so I could take its photo.

And in case you forgot what one should look like, here's a bad photo:

I think that about covers it for recent local birding.  I'll leave you with this oh so appropriate classic:

Till next time, hang in there. 


  1. Thank you Jen, for the supporting intro to this weeks blog. No retreat, No surrender, No hate. But on to birds, lovely "catches" this week, am particularly fond of the brown creeper, myself, because of their "cutesy" stealth : )

    1. Thanks, Catherine-Cady! Creepers are such great little birds.

  2. This helped to get my blood pressure back within the normal range! At least you're in the blue sea Im in the red sea and It is stifling...A great idea to do the 5 mile radius, sometimes that's all I have time for, Brilliant idea!

    1. Oh man, I can't imagine being in a sea of red these days. I hope you're hanging in there and that the birds are helping to keep you sane.

  3. One of the things I appreciate about your blog, Jen, is the change in focus of your nature observations--from the landscape view all the way down to zooming in on the tiny frog in the leaf litter and the creeper hidden in the tree's bark. Well done.

    1. Thanks, Greg! It's true, I am curious about everything, big and small. Glad that's reflected in my blog.

  4. I haven't been birding since before Tuesday. I am sure that will help. As a great Indiana author once said, the birds are the only ones who can say anything that makes sense after something incomprehensible happens. Po-tee-weet?

  5. WTF is up with that grebe???

    Since last Tuesday I've been dying to get to a show...was going to see Choking Victim tonight but it sold out.

    I went on Google Earth to check my 5 miles...there is a wealth of mediocrity within said radius. But I like the idea. Could be a fun challenge though (a la TFG), maybe dueling big days?

    1. Ooh I like it. Let's talk.

      As far as the grebe, I have no idea. They were born this year and had normal parents.

  6. Juncos are good birds to watch when you need to escape.

  7. yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. hwm hwm hwm hwm hwm hwm hwm hwm. grouse grouse grouse grouse grouse grouse grouse.

  8. I dig the 5-mile radius thing. Your circle is awesome.


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