My new county.

Birding underbirded places has always been the most fun for me, and as it turns out Clark County is kind of underbirded.  I never realized how much so until I moved here.  A quick check of eBird confirms that despite being the 5th most populous county in Washington, Clark is way down at #24 (out of 39 counties) in number of eBird checklists submitted. 

Good thing I'm here to help.  Heh. 

I've been birding a ton since the month began, attempting to reach 100 species in the county in January while also exploring both old and new places. 

My patch, Meadowbrook Marsh, has continued to offer me motorless (and year) birds such as this pleasant Purple Finch blending in perfectly:


Intergrade flickers seem to be as common as pure flickers in these parts.


On that day I also had a Red-breasted Sapsucker at the park, which was the first one reported in the county in 2018.  When I noticed that is when I realized that this county is not as heavily birded as I had thought. 

One day Jacob and I had off together we went up to Yacolt where a small population of Monk Parakeets lives, though we failed to find them.  In the afternoon we went to get his lifer Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in a county that was not Clark, followed up by a walk on the Salmon Creek Trail in Clark.  This was a new spot for us with fantastic habitat and four whole year birds. 

 Commonwealth Lake, Beaverton

Salmon Creek, checking out the Canvasbacks

Last week I went to do a Gilliam raptor survey and drove over 100 miles before realizing I had forgotten my wallet.  No wallet, no gas.  Luckily I had enough to get home!  In an effort to save the day from complete disaster I went out to the Vancouver Lake area to look for the reported Ross's Goose.

Banded Cackling Goose!

I found three banded geese that afternoon but have only heard back about this one so far.  She was born in 2012 and banded in April of 2013 near Scappose, OR by the same woman who has banded many of my reported geese.

Along Lower River Road near Frenchman's Bar was the huge flock of Snow Geese that contained the Ross's.  The birds were unconcerned with people on the bike path close by so I was able to scan them for quite a while.  Here's a taste of the scene:



A lone Greater White-fronted Goose stood out immediately.


A couple of blue Snow Geese were in the mix too:


When I realized how overwhelming the flock was I decided my goal would be to find a banded Snow Goose, but instead I found two! They seemed to be pretty bonded, never losing each other even when a nearby gunshot sent the flock briefly into the air.


I reported them but haven't heard back yet unfortunately. 

Settling after the gunshot

On my way home I stopped at the riverfront bike path by McMenamins, a spot I had never explored before.  Immediately I found a big flock of American Goldfinches, my first for the year, and searched for wayward redpolls.  No luck.  The best bird of my walk was a female Barrow's Goldeneye close to shore.


A Cooper's Hawk was perched on a path light, not caring about people walking right below it.  This is not my usual Cooper's Hawk interaction. 


This was my 5th Cooper's Hawk of the year, kind of a high number for only being a couple weeks in.  Another day I took Jake and Rexi for a walk at Columbia Springs and had my first Sharp-shinned of the year. 


A new 5MR bird for me.  This weekend one turned up in the yard eating a junco, making it a new yard and motorless bird for me too.



Yesterday was a holiday and so I would have expected there to be tons of eBird checklists going around.  In my former county, Multnomah, I see over 40 for the day.  In Clark, aside from the checklists Jacob and I submitted there are 2.  TWO.  You see what I'm saying about underbirded?

Anyway.  We went out to the Vancouver Lake area so we could get some more year birds and look for the reported Glaucous Gull.  First up was Vancouver Lake itself where we got our year Pileated Woodpecker flying by. 


We birded the end of Lower River Road where the Snowy Egret continues and then headed to the other side of the lowlands where the Snow Goose flock landed.  Unfortunately they all took flight and headed west before we had a chance to try for the Ross's.  Instead we found an extremely tolerant Cooper's Hawk, my 6th for the year.


From there we headed to the area where the Glaucous Gull had been seen at a transfer station.   A flock of Cackling Geese was in the field to the east so I started scanning them for rarities.  A Brant was in the mix! 


We ended up dipping on the gull so finding a different county bird in the same spot was rather fortuitous.  My first new county bird since I moved here, #201! 

There's plenty more to explore here but so far so good in my new county.  Good times!!

Comments

  1. Killing it in the new county! You are poised for becoming a Clark legend. Nice uncropped PIWO, most pleasing.

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    1. Thanks, I was pretty pleased with the PIWO myself. Just don't zoom in.

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  2. Those Snow Geese are amazing! Thanks for sharing the video :) Soooooo many!

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    1. The sound of that flock was incredible!

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  3. You are rocking your new county! It's like an open book full of pages to fill in! Awesome photos love the white out with the Snow Geese and your Brant sighting! I have this urge to run with scissors, and clip those big ass bands off the goose necks tho :o/ good grief that's like wearing an ill fitting bra 24/7 . And no response from the person who placed it? I know -I know- research is part of conservation... I'm such a bleeding heart.

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    1. Ha, I agree they don't look super comfortable but the birds seem to do just fine. Most of the ones I've reported have been rocking the neckwear for at least five years so it doesn't seem to hinder their survival.

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  4. What is the likelihood of getting Clark's Grebe or Nutcracker in Clark County? If you don't already have them, I feel like this should be priority #1.

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  5. So which is your fave state for birding - OR (higher state list) or WA (some pretty "rad" birds that are difficult or absent in OR)? I used to live in WA, pretty solid year-round birding.

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    1. Oof, I don't think I can answer that one yet. I've done a LOT more exploring in Oregon and have barely scratched the surface of eastern WA. At this point I would say I'm more excited about birding WA, mainly because so much of it is new to me.

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  6. Getting pretty good at picking out rarities! Finding an inland Brant is a fantasy of mine.

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