Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 5MR Highlights

January is almost over and 5MR mania is starting to mellow out a bit.  Several folks have even dropped out of the 2019 challenge, though there are still 199 going strong.  It's been fun to find some new and old bird blogs talking about the idea so I'm sharing those with you here.  If I missed any let me know!

Hutton's Vireo, David Douglas Park

 Let's start with the local Portland metro area birding scene.  Eric, the bluebird guy, has taken on his 5MR by bike only.  Read about his adventures here and here.

Red-winged Blackbird with floof, Meadowbrook Marsh

Portlander Audrey has also been killing it with her 5MR.

Nobody wants a 5MR nutria, Columbia Springs Fish Hatchery

The east coast is being represented by several 5MR birder bloggers including Laurence and Jamie in North Carolina, and Sondra in South Carolina.

Everybody wants a 5MR ensatina!  Columbia Springs Fish Hatchery

California 5MR coverage has been strong since the beginning, especially with the endorsement of Seagull Steve.

Fox Sparrow, Evergreen Highway ponds

The 5MR has midwest blog representation in Indiana thanks to Greg who is currently knitting a sweater for the screech-owl in his yard.  Or so I hope.

Varied Thrush, David Douglas Park

There's also a Wisconsin blogger trying out a 5MR by bike only.  Though probably not during the polar vortex.

Wormy and Ring-billed Gull, Wy'east Middle School

 Back to Oregon, 5MRs have stretched down the Willamette Valley where another bird blogger has you covered.

Lady Green-winged and Cinnamon Teals attached at the butt, Meadowbrook Marsh

Of course, the 5MR that really makes every single other 5MR birder at least mildly jealous is Emma's in Australia.  Plus it's summer there now and everyone else is cold.

Yard Sharpie

That about covers all things 5MR for now.  Oh except the January Bar Chart Challenge!  I've been having so much fun with it that I'm probably going to work on bar charts all year.  The February Challenge will be announced in Friday's email so stay tuned.

Good times and happy 5MR-ing!!

***Since posting this blog I have learned of a ton more so I'm adding them below***

Kyle in New Hampshire/Massachusetts

Carol in California

Devon in California

Louise in Rhode Island

Forest in Washington D.C.

Josh in California

 Happy blogging!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Vancouver Lake

Jacob and I went birding outside our 5MR (gasp!) this week on a chilly sunny morning.  The temperature at our house when we left was 42 but by the time we got to Vancouver Lake it had dropped to 29.

We had heard from a local birder that a certain owl was using the same roost it had used last winter and Jacob wanted to check it out.  First we walked down to the water for the mountain views and to check out the ducks and whatnot.

Frost on the sand

While I was crouched down trying to get macro shots of the frost I heard a familiar tweet: a Black Phoebe!  This was a bird we had dipped on several times the previous winter here so it was nice to see it actually exists.

Good start to the morning!  Next we checked for the owl but found a squirrel camped out right above its hole.  Grr..

 No owl.

We lingered for a bit but the squirrel did not budge.  Eventually we made our way up the trail to see what else was around.

Hairy Woodpecker!  A new one for us at Vancouver Lake.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

White-breasted Nuthatch

Bald Eagle (did ya see it?)

We walked to the end of the trail where it pops out on the water again and found a few Sandhill Cranes mingling with the herons and egrets.

We picked up Hooded and Common Mergansers, Mallards, wigeons, pintails, Green-winged Teals,  Mew and Ring-billed Gulls, and more Bald Eagles at this spot. 

Frosty leaves

We headed back down the trail and this time the Western Screech-Owl was out enjoying the sunshine, no squirrel in sight.

So cute.

We wanted to check the area around the parking lot for sparrows now that the leaf blowers there earlier had moved on.  A guy had just scattered a bunch of millet and peanuts around so the bird activity was decent.

White-throated Sparrow

It was a solid outing with tons of year birds!  We finished off the morning with lunch and beers at a brewery downtown.

Good times!!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2019: The first week.

The first day of the year is always exciting with every bird being a year bird and wondering what will be Bird Number One.  This year Jacob and I decided to head to my newish patch along the Burnt Bridge Creek before sunrise to try for the Barn Owl we had last time.  Jacob remembered how loud the Mallards were in the dark and to prevent them from being Bird Number One we drove around with the windows rolled up. 

After about thirty minutes of cruising the roads around this area Jacob spotted the owl!  It flew across the cow field right in front of us for amazing views.  Good start!  We rolled the windows down and immediately heard a Killdeer.  Phew, that would have been terrible. 

This spot has a fantastic view to the east so we decided to see if the sunrise did anything special.

American Wigeons
Heck yeah it was a good one.  We added some more birds to the year list here including a hooting Great Horned Owl, a Cooper's Hawk, Red-winged Blackbirds, and the ever vocal Mallards.

We went home to warm up with some French toast and coffee then went out to my patch, Meadowbrook Marsh.  Year birds were around every corner including a surprising Cinnamon Teal.

 This was a bird I only saw once in my 5MR last year and it was at this location also.  It felt good to get it out of the way now!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

In the afternoon we did a little more birding with his kids including a stop at our newly reliable Barn Owl. 

 We stopped by the local duck pond with some cracked corn to see if we could lure in any interesting ducks and indeed some Wood Ducks showed as well as the female pintail.

Long after the cracked corn was gone a squirrel showed up to beg. 

Anything for me?

Much of the rest of the week I was thinking about the January Bar Chart Challenge and birded some places that aren't birded much.  I started with the fish hatchery hoping for the dipper I had the week before, but no luck.

 Brown Creeper

I did find one nice surprise on the edge of East Biddle Lake: a Virginia Rail!  This seems like a weird spot for one but maybe it's not weird at all.

I've had rails in my 5MR a few times but they are far from reliable and usually heard-only.  This was cool.

I returned to David Douglas Park to change its gray bar green (and now I have Ned's Atomic Dustbin's Grey Cell Green in my head).  It was a mellow outing with a few year birds including a Merlin again!  Now I'm wondering if it spends all winter here. 

Jacob and I made an outing to Multnomah County to try for some 5MR year birds at Broughton Beach. 

We easily found a flock of American Pipits and a lone Savannah Sparrow on the rocks.

Western Grebes were hanging out close to shore.

We also picked up Horned Grebe, Mew Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and Rock Pigeon for the year.  From there we headed to the Columbia Slough trail to look for the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that has been around since December.  I had actually thought this spot wasn't in our 5MR so had never gone to look for the bird when it was first reported, but a close look at the edge showed me it was just inside our circle.  When the bird was refound by Adrian Hinkle and Audrey last week I knew I had to go see it!

 Close call

It took awhile to find as it wasn't vocalizing much and was moving nonstop through low grass and brush.  Finally we got eyes on it. 

It followed the slough shoreline for a bit then flew across the trail to the shrubs by the chainlink fence.

Yay!  I'm kind of glad it took us so long to find it because the area was super birdy with chickadees, kinglets, a Townsend's Warbler, Downy Woodpeckers, creepers, a Varied Thrush and a Hermit Thrush.  The Hermit moved around a bit and ended up on a log in the slough, snatching insects from the green muck. 

King of the slough 

Overall it's been a great first week of the year!  I'm up to 74 5MR birds and I turned 5 gray bars green.  Good times!!!!