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!!!!

Comments

  1. Holy mackerel, that is a start! In the Midwest there is a thing called the "January 100" where people try to hit 100 year birds in-state by the end of the month, and it appears as though you would smash that. Is the winter birding out west really that good, or are you just killing it, or both?

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    1. Yeah, it's really not hard to get to 100 here in January. Last January when it was actually cold (it's been mild this year) someone got 200 in January in Washington. I imagine more birds are year-round here than in the midwest so that helps.

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    2. What a great start you have going. Glad you got that Johnson Lake in your 5 MR.

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  2. Wow, looks like a great start. Any week with a Barn Owl is a good week! Mine has been... much slower. But this makes me excited to visit the Portland area.

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  3. Good job on the Cinnamon Teal - we haven't gotten as much birding in as we would have liked (colds be damned) but we did pick up a few species that had been troublesome in the past. Satisfyingly, we picked up some Ruddy Ducks, when the only place we've had them in our 5MR before is considered "trespassing" now (boo). I can't wait to see what turns up when we're feeling 100% again.

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    1. Oof, hope you guys are feeling better soon. Bummer on the trespassing change, that can be so freakin frustrating.

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  4. Way to lead from the front Jen! 74 seems super strong, and it’s so relieving to get those transient and tricky birds quickly.
    A week with big numbers, now you’ll probably find a rarity.

    I’ve still only seen two living Barn Owls (3 dead) so that seems indeed only special to have a stakeout!

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    1. It does seem strong, though I just perused the patch numbers in eBird and I see many many 5MR's ahead of me. Of course, that makes me happy too.

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  5. Greg M. Winter birding on the temperate (towards Pacific Ocean) of the Cascades Range is a whole lot different than the winter birding in the Midwest. With a little planning and some effort it's possible to get over 100 species in western Oregon any day of the year and may be easier during midwinter than it is during other months because there are so many species of waterfowl and raptors that are possible. If you include the outer coast 110+ is very doable. The northeastern most sector of the Portland CBC circle (along the Columbia River) routinely gets about 110 species from the collective efforts of multiple teams. I used to live in northern and central Indiana and central Illinois and it took a pretty miraculous day for entire counts to get to 70 species and even in the southern and warmer reaches of those states (where there is a lot more open water) any CBC that hit 90 species was really doing well. My wife and got 74 species on day one (1/1/19) in our 5MR circle to the west of Portland. Our circle is well away from both the Willamette and Columbia rivers and doesn't have that much wide open space.

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