Showing posts from December, 2019

The Future (is) 5MR

A year ago I was encouraging my fellow birders to join a challenge with no even playing field and no prizes.  I was expecting maybe 20 people to take on the 2019 5MR Challenge, but ended up with over 200.  As the year progressed many dropped out though a few new ones joined up, even into fall.  The final-ish list stands at 164 participants, mostly from the United States but also Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and Bangladesh. 
I must admit, my goal was never to be competitive about it but it seemed like the best way to get birders to try a 5MR list.  The amazing thing is that it worked.  A lot of people chose to bird close to home this year, to drive less and explore more, to choose to bird nearby locations rather than the most visited hotspots in the county. 

It turns out 5MR birding is also an excellent way to get to know a new area as Jacob and I have discovered with our new house in Lincoln City.  There are a few hotspots around that I was familiar with but so many more areas …

Assorted Washington birds.

Let's start with the most popular Washington bird recently, the Rustic Bunting at Cape Disappointment State Park.  In the past Rustic Bunting sightings have either been too brief (I was thirty minutes too late at Mount Tabor) or too far (like Neah Bay).   This bird was around for 11 days though and was only two hours and four minutes from home!

Well.  Two hours and four minutes of driving followed by an hour and a half of wandering around a campground.  There were a lot of birds around though so I was easily entertained.

There were mixed flocks all over the place of Townsend's Warblers, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, and Dark-eyed Juncos, all feeding on the ground.  Very distracting. 

Hermit Thrush 

Finally I encountered a bunch of birders pointing their cameras and binoculars at something and indeed, the Rustic Bunting was poking around under a picnic table.

My photos are all terrible from that encounter but that's okay. 

It was a sweet …

NoPo Winter Raptor Survey #1

This week I completed my first winter raptor survey for the season in Portland.  It's not as flashy as my old Gilliam County routes with their Golden Eagles and abundance of Roughies, but I don't even have to leave my 5MR to start!  Plus it takes me to so many places I used to bird A LOT, starting with my old patch, Mays Lake. 

Normally I just scan the trees here but on this day I decided to see what the duck scene was like.  I'm so glad I did because my 5MR year bird #154 was in there!


It was a good start even though it was not a raptor.  I drove the route down Airport Way to 82nd to Alderwood to Cornfoot.  I pulled over to check the slough at NE 55th and my first Cooper's Hawk of the day was perched in a tree.

After checking Airtrans Way I stopped at Whitaker Ponds and did a quick stationary count that included my first Bald Eagle of the day.

One of the best areas of my survey is along Marine Drive by the airport, but there is nowhere to pull over so I'…