Tuesday, November 19, 2019

10-year challenge: IUTHB edition

An article about the 10-year challenge popped up while I was trying to think of ideas for a 10-year blog anniversary post.  The premise is simple: post a photo of yourself from 10 years ago next to a current photo of yourself.  Perfect.  Here is the bird blog version. 

Birding in 2009...  The main difference between then and now is that then I didn't know I was birding.  Yes, I was going out and taking lots of photos of birds and yes, I started this blog specifically to keep track of what I was seeing (and share it all with my mom who loves birds).  But I didn't know birding was a thing.  I had no idea what a life list was, or a county list, or eBird or OBOL or any of that. 

Also, I ignored small birds for the most part.

Fall 2009, Jackson Bottom Wetlands

When I did venture a guess at a small bird I was wrong.  I called this a Savannah Sparrow.  

Bird ID in 2009...  I would open up my Peterson's Guide and make my best guess, throw it on my blog, and wait to see if one of my two initial readers (Laura and Michele) would correct me.

Fall 2009, Ridgefield NWR

I did not misidentify this bittern though.  I wrote, "here is an american bittern... i had never seen one before and i thought he was cool looking."  Capital letters were something I did not appreciate back then.


Fall 2009, Ridgefield NWR

I called this Rough-legged Hawk a Bald Eagle.  Because, you know, white on top.  Laura Whittemore left me a very kind comment: "Your Bald Eagle is actually a very nifty Rough-legged Hawk - a tundra dweller that resides here in the winter. From a distance it looks like a vanilla ice cream cone - dark cone and white scoop on top. Great find! Also, they really like to perch on skinny branches just like in the photo."

She is so helpful!

Where I birded in 2009...  I was of the mindset that to find interesting birds I had to visit wildlife refuges and parks.  Most of my birding time was spent driving the Ridgefield NWR auto tour, visiting various refuges and preserves I found through google or other people's blogs, and walking my dog at local parks, especially Thousand Acres (aka Sandy River Delta pre-parking lot) and Kelley Point Park.  My photos were mostly of dogs with an occasional bird thrown in.

 My weekend dog crew at 1k Acres:  Josie, Charlie, Jake, Mays (Summer 2009)

Green Heron, Thousand Acres, Summer 2009

I visited Tualatin River NWR and someone showed me a Western Screech-Owl.  That same week I drove a couple hours up to Nisqually NWR and someone showed me a Short-eared Owl through a scope.  Owls must only exist at wildlife refuges, right?

That blob on the left on the grass is the Nisqually SEOW, Fall 2009

Keeping track of birds in 2009... This blog was my only means of tracking sightings.  I mean, that was why I started it.  I could easily tell you if I had seen or not seen a particular species because I had seen so few.  It wasn't until 2011 that I bought a notebook at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod and tried keeping lists of birds.

"Kingfisher (Belted?)"

Photographing birds in 2009...  I took a photo of every bird I saw that I thought I could identify.  I have very few sparrow photos from the early days but hundreds of herons, ducks, eagles, hawks, and geese.  I was using a little Canon Powershot I had bought the previous winter and thought my photos were pretty good.  They were not but that is ok. 

 Red-tailed Hawk, Ridgefield NWR, Fall 2009

Bald Eagle, Kelley Point Park, Fall 2009

I remember being very happy with these photos back then.  I don't think they would make the cut today.

2009... As I'm going through my old hard drive with my 2009 folder it's been fun to see how my photos changed throughout that year.  Photos of friends and dogs (I still worked at the doggie daycare) and sometimes scenery evolved into mostly bird photos, lots of dog photos and some friends and family shots. 

My life was drastically different:  I lived in an apartment just off Interstate Ave, I was single, I worked at the doggie daycare full time, my friends were starting to all move away and I made no effort to replace them.  Instead I reveled in the fact that I was no longer expected to be at a bar or a show till last call and spent my weekends exploring with Jake. 

Now for 2019.  If you read my blog you probably already know how things have changed, but here we go.

Birding in 2019...  I definitely know I'm birding now.  Even when I say I'm not.  My stepson recently admitted he does not enjoy birding (we go too slow) but he loves hiking so last weekend we took him on a hike at Cascade Head in the future 5MR.  Of course, we were still birding but we moved quickly enough he didn't notice as much.

Finally saw some future 5MR Northern Harriers

Bird ID in 2019... Identifying birds has never been easier or harder!  At least now I know what I'm looking at the majority of the time.  I no longer rely on a Peterson's Guide but rather a combo of the Sibley app (love the comparison feature) and eBird photos.  If I get tripped up by something I can still throw it on the blog and hope someone will point me in the right direction.   For example, this accipiter from Cascade Head:


I'm pretty sure this is a Cooper's Hawk, but willing to be convinced otherwise. 


Where I bird in 2019... IN MY FREAKIN 5MR!  I've done some traveling this year, but my focus has been my cluster of birding patches in my 5MR (and my future 5MR).  Not wildlife refuges.  Some parks.  A lot of random places I made into eBird hotspots. 

Looking south upon our future 5MR: Salmon River Estuary, God's Thumb, the Roads End tide pools, Devils Lake, the Siuslaw National Forest, and Lincoln City

Birds are everywhere, even owls. 

Keeping track of birds in 2019... eBird eBird eBird!  Lists lists lists!  eBird! eBird! eBird!  Lists! Lists! Lists!  Yard lists, county lists, patch lists, 5MR lists, state lists, DAY BIRDS FTW!  I love all lists. 

Photographing birds in 2019...  It's still a big part of birding for me though I often go birding without my camera.  That said I've upgraded my gear several times over the decade and now use a Canon 80d with a 100-400mm lens. My pictures are better but I'm not trying to be a professional photographer.

Kingfisher (Belted?), East Devils Lake, last weekend

2019... A lot has changed in the last decade.  I acquired another dog, bought a house,  quit working with dogs and started working at the Backyard Bird Shop, went on tons and tons of adventures, got better at birding, got better at blogging, started Birds and Beers with Sarah, made up a thing called a 5MR, met my husband, sold my house, started a world-wide 5MR challenge, got married, bought a house at the coast, and here we are now in Vancouver, Washington. 

It hasn't all been smooth and easy but when I look back these ten years I don't dwell on the bad stuff.  The good stuff has been way too amazing.  GOOD TIMES!!!!!

Me in 2009:


Me in 2019:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Lincoln City/County recently

Time to catch up on birds and things out at the coast, starting with our local lake of devils.  There are several main access points to the lake:  Holmes Road Park (close to our house), Regatta Park, East Devils Lake State Recreation Area, Sand Point Park, Devils Lake Campground, and D River Open Space.  Every time we visit the birds are different which keeps things interesting. 

Weird birds, East Devils Lake (10/4/19)

Clark's Grebe, Holmes Road Park (10/4/19)



 Long-tailed Duck with scaup, Devils Lake Campground (10/13/19)



 Black Phoebe on someone's back porch, Holmes Road Park (10/26/19)

The dogs like the lake too. 

A few weeks ago we went up to the clearcuts in our future 5MR and found some good birds, starting with my county Canada Jays. 


 A small herd of elk crossed the logging road in front of us.

Elk butts disappearing into the trees

A Sharpie appeared, keeping all the birds out of sight.


 A couple of county Wilson's Snipes started flying around which felt real weird in a clearcut.


At the top of a ridge we flushed a 5MR Lapland Longspur that had been on the edge of the road in the grass.  Goose migration was in full swing at this time and a flock of Cackling Geese was followed by a flock of county Snow Geese.


The filter for Snow Goose on eBird is set to 7 or something really low here and these birds have still not been confirmed.

This weekend I went out to Lincoln City to work on our sunroom walls, adding texture to hopefully conceal the weird lattice pattern left behind when Jacob tore the actual lattice off the walls.


Since it takes 24 hours to dry I had plenty of time to bird.  At the sewage ponds I picked up Peregrine Falcon for the 5MR and Gadwall for the county.


Oh yeah, and that was the day eBird was down which was embarrassingly aggravating.


I made more stops at Schooner Creek, D River Open Space, and the 15th Street beach access.

My second future 5MR Barred Owl

 It did not care about me.

Back at the house the weather was gorgeous and I decided to walk each dog individually.  On my walk with Rexi I noticed some sparrows under a bush, including my 5MR White-throated Sparrow!  Not the easiest Lincoln County sparrow.

Digi-binned record shot

The next morning I was able to paint the walls though while the paint was wet it made the lattice pattern stand out even more.  We do not understand why that happened, but it mostly disappeared once dry.


On Saturday we planned a big birding morning down in Newport, starting with a search for the Snow Buntings that had been seen earlier in the week at the North Jetty.


 This is a really fun area for birding because many birds in the water are fairly close, and there are far fewer people to deal with than on the South Jetty. 

 Common Loon

Harlequin Ducks

 Random Common Yellowthroat popped up when I pished

As we passed an opening in the grass with a view of the rocks below a flash of white alerted us to two Snow Buntings.  So easy!




This was a lifer for Jacob and a county bird for me.  It was awesome to be able to sit with them for a bit and have them not care much.  Along the jetty more birds were easy to look at.

 Pacific Loon

 Rhino Auklet

Mew Gull

 Weird bird, part two

Surf Scoter

After the jetty we picked up some snacks and headed to Hatfield Marine Science Center, stopping for some Greater White-fronted Geese and their Cackling friend.




At the science center nature trail I was happy to get decent looks at a White-winged Scoter.





Counting ducks is not a thing I enjoy. 


 But I try to do it anyway because eBird does not let you enter "shit tons."

Brandt's Cormorants

We made a couple of quick stops at the South Jetty and the fishing pier before heading back to Lincoln City.  My favorite thing was these Common and Barrow's Goldeneyes hanging out together.




It's been awesome spending so much time in Lincoln County and my future Lincoln City 5MR is shaping up well.  I have seen almost as many birds in it this year as my regular 5MR, which is crazy but not really.

Good times!!! 

And in case you're wondering, the sunroom walls look great now.