This week in birds.

Tuesday morning I knew the dogs really needed a good walk but I also knew that Dave Irons had found a Black-legged Kittiwake in a random field in Marion County the day before.  I checked the map and was psyched to see that Champoeg State Park was not far from the gull and so off we went.

There were only three gulls in the field so it was not hard to pick out the kittiwake.

State bird!  And more importantly, year bird!  Apparently if I had waited a bit longer I could have seen the bird way closer, even sitting in the road.  Oh well, I had important things to do, like walk the dogs around in the mud at Champoeg and watch the Acorn Woodpeckers at the disc golf course.

Acorn Woodpeckers always seem to go hand in hand with Western Bluebirds.

Check it out, this bird has a leg band!  My wish of finding more banded birds is coming true!  Too bad I can only read parts of it.  I'll try to piece it together.

Along one of the muddy trails I came across a rough-skinned newt so of course I dropped the dog leashes to lay down in the mud with it.

The dude (or dudette) kept trying to run away for some reason.  Look at this leg lift:

Champoeg is pretty cool, if you haven't been.  Not many people in the fall/winter and plenty of birds.

Wednesday morning I met up with local birder/photographer Jacob Durrent for some rainy birding at Blue Lake Park.  I am telling you now, that park is going to turn up something rare someday!  Till then, the regular birds are pretty great.

On a previous visit I had thought one of the sapsuckers looked to have hybrid potential, but this was definitely not that bird.  This bird is damn near picture perfect for the ruber subspecies.

A large flock of mostly Cackling Geese was making noise in the main field and Jake pointed out a Snow Goose in the mix.

That's always a good bird to find away from Sauvie Island.  Hopefully it sticks around till January 7th*.

I tried to turn the lone gull around into a Thayer's, but thankfully John Rakestraw set me straight.

Just another Olympic 

Towards the end of our loop around the park a Hermit Thrush appeared in front of us.

Such a likeable bird.  We finished the morning with 36 species here, my best checklist yet for the park.

Yesterday morning I birded the other side of Marine Drive, Chinook Landing.

Blue Lake and Chinook Landing are becoming my favorite birding spots this fall.  They're not heavily birded and in general there aren't that many folks around.

Common Merganser

 The marshy area by the archery range is a great place for sparrows and seems to be reliable for Lincoln's:

This is good information to know.

Some crows dive-bombing a hawk in a tree drew me back across the parking lot to the river where I immediately noticed a couple of grebes.  The water levels were high and as I tried to get a better view of what looked like a Clark's Grebe, I got one foot completely soaked.  I sloshed back around a different way and was able to confirm:

Western and Clark's Grebes

That's a good bird!  Another bird I would appreciate sticking around till January 7th*.

Back on the south side of the parking lot I found a Red-breasted Sapsucker of questionable purity.

If I reported this bird east of the Cascades with this photo I have no doubt that the reviewer would be screaming hybrid.  Maybe I'm even screaming hybrid too.  There is a dark line creeping from the shoulder, and lots of black on the back of the head.

Check out the breast on this photo:

That's a lot of black spots.  I should be screaming hybrid.  But wait, what about hatch year birds?  They start off dark all over the place.  How do I know this isn't a young bird still acquiring all its color?  The Sapsucker Dilemma is alive and well.

Back on the river a Glaucous-winged Gull flew in with an apple core.  This offers far less brain pain than sapsucker hybrids.

 I had 39 species on this trip, full checklist here.  Good times!!

*January 7th is a big day.  A Big Day in fact.  I will be competing against Seagull Steve and Texas Nate in a Big Day competition within our own 5-mile-radii.  Stay tuned!


  1. You are on to something with the 5-mile radius thing. This compulsive lister will be eagerly awaiting the results of your competition. Also, cool birds!

    1. Thanks! It should be interesting, especially to see how TX and CA compare with OR in winter.

  2. The challenge is for the day? Should be very exciting winter birds have arrived altho not in the numbers I'm used to seeing. I immediately shouted, Clark's, when I saw your grebe the only grebe in the ABA listing area I need to complete all the Grebes! All those SS hybrids would confuse me to no end...glad you have a handle on it. Oh and If only I could see a Lincoln's sparrow it would make my day!!

    1. When you visited Lower Klamath NWR last year you definitely should have seen some Clark's Grebes- I would double check your photos! They're very common east of the Cascades in Oregon.

  3. Chinook Landing is a no dog area , right? Otherwise I would go there more often. Hatch-year (HY) Red-breasted Sapsuckers molt into their adult plumage rather quickly in the fall. The reliable way to tell if it is a HY bird is to see details of the remiges. But the gray-brown iris might mean HY bird, adult should be red-brown. I read HY birds change iris color by Jan.

    1. Yep, no dogs. Thanks for the plumage info. Interesting about the iris color- it just looks plain brown to me in the photos. Per usual, I still have a lot to learn!


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