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Showing posts from 2018

Birding is good again. Again.

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Earlier this month Buff-breasted Sandpipers began showing up all along the coast, testing my resistance to chasing rare birds.  Eventually I could not take it anymore.  I made the drive to Nehalem Bay State Park to try for a couple that Audrey had bummed around with in a patch of salicornia about 15 hours earlier.  My initial optimism was shattered upon finding a little white dog running all over the area.  A Cooper's Hawk was perched nearby, periodically taking on the crows that were fighting over clams or crabs or something.


I'd love to blame an annoying dog for the lack of sandpipers, but really they probably had left anyway.   A handful (maybe two hands full) of Baird's Sandpipers further up the beach were not much of a consolation and I decided to check the ocean beach, then head home.

Back home, eating my feelings, I checked OBOL.  Goddammit.  A local birder had found five Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Sauvie Island.  Did I really want to put myself through this again?…

Birding is good again.

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Finally!  As much as I love my chickadees and Song Sparrows, I am thrilled for fall migration to be in full swing.  Shorebirds and warblers have been moving through and it is that time of year when anything seems possible.  There are certain local birding spots that will need to be in heavy rotation for the next couple months so as not to miss anything.

First off, my patch!  I went out to Meadowbrook Marsh last week and enjoyed the nonstop bird activity.

California Scrub-Jay and Black-headed Grosbeak



 A better birder could probably identify this thing.

Warbling Vireos with the bluest legs!

So blue.

Swainson's Thrush, a new one for me at the park

Purple Finch, gorging on elderberries (I think)

Rufous hummers heart invasive jewelweed

At one end of my patch there's a big fenced off area with a greenhouse where the parks people grow many of the native plants for Vancouver parks.   Surrounding the fence they planted a ton of sunflowers, cosmos, and other plants which are loved by the gold…

The Ptarmigan Myth.

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Over the years since I began birding I have heard many a story about the mythical White-tailed Ptarmigan that are said to inhabit Mount Rainier National Park.  I believed the tales I heard of birders snowshoeing for days before finally finding the blinding white bird against the blinding white snow, of hikers spotting a rock-colored bird amid a field of rocks.  After this week I feel confident in saying that despite the grand stories I have heard and the eBird checklists I have read and the photos I have seen, the White-tailed Ptarmigan of Mount Rainier (WTPMR) are a myth.*

How could this happen, you ask?  Let me offer a few ideas.

1. Ptarmigan look-alikes could easily be built out of snow.


2. A lot of rocks look like birds.

(From this website)

3. White-tailed Ptarmigan exist in other places and folks get their photos mixed up.

(Borrowed without permission from Steve's blog, ptarmigan in CO)

4. Birders want to believe in this myth, and so they do.


I get it.  I wanted to believe …