Sunday, January 25, 2015

White River Wildlfe Management Area

One thing I enjoy about birding is finding out what birds are in an area at a particular time of the year.  I like to know there is a Black-and-white Warbler a few miles from my house, but I would rather spend my time where no one else birds.  I look at eBird and select an easy species like Dark-eyed Junco or Red-tailed Hawk, then I search an area that has no eBird reports.  One of those areas is the White River Wildlife Management Area.  There are many reports from the roads that border this 30,000 acre parcel in Wasco County.  But very few reports from the heart of the refuge.  Either no one goes there or no birds live there. Well on January 24, 2015  very few birds were there. :)  I was hoping the transition area from pines to grassland would be a good spot on this warm winter day.

Cutting directly from the website the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has for the area :

"White River Wildlife Area was established in 1953. Located along the east slope of the Cascade Mountains in the north central part of Oregon, the wildlife area encompasses 29,480 acres. An additional 1,280 acres of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is managed by the ODFW bringing the total acres managed by the department to 30,760. The primary purpose of White River Wildlife Area is to provide winter range habitat for black-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk and to minimize big game damage to adjacent private agricultural lands."

I hiked in two areas, one off Badger Creek Road  (pink stars) to see what was in the large meadows there (and to find the Redpolls spotted there on the CBC).  In the afternoon I went to the area accessed from J Hix Road in the NE part of the unit (orange stars) .  The red stars are where I hiked for the 2014 CBC with Joe B.

The unit is roughly bordered by Badger Creek Road to the south, FR 27 to the west, Friend Road to the north and Hwy 197 to the east.  Yesterday I was able to drive all the way around the area, though FR 27 had rock slides to navigate.

The first area off Badger Creek is marked by meadows and plowed fields.  Yesterday the weather was t-shirt warm, so I had hopes  birds would be out and about.  I was wondering if the huge flocks of Horned Larks in the county would use these closed in fields.  Large as the fields are, the larks seem to like the wide open farm land farther east.  I think this is the field the Redpolls were spotted in during the CBC...when it was 10 degrees out, not the 60 degrees it was yesterday.  I wandered the fields  hoping to  spot something, all quiet except for Western Meadowlarks.

I should add the WRWMA does require a parking permit from the ODFW, however if you purchase a permit for other ODFW sites. like Sauvie Island, it is the same permit. 

Birds seen here:

Canada Goose  5
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Rough-legged Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  2
Black-billed Magpie  2
Common Raven  3
Mountain Chickadee  13
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  3
Pacific Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
American Robin  5
Dark-eyed Junco  11
Western Meadowlark  5

After this area I drove out to FR 27 then went north then east on Friend Rd to J Hix Road.  I parked at the closed gate on Hix and hiked along the road.  It cuts across the fields out towards Postage Stamp Butte . I was hoping to find some longspurs.

This is a shot of the gate, my car is parked just on the other side.  There is a farm house just down the road that has a nice collection of sparrows living in the area.  If you have a car I would not drive up to gate, park in front of house and walk the short distance. The road is in very poor shape the last 100 yards or so to the gate.  My all-wheel drive had no problems going up the mess.

This Prairie Falcon was on a phone pole along Dix Road.

Birds seen and or heard along this road were Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks.

This first-winter Northern Shrike was along the road.  For a summary on shrike ID, try HERE

A quiz for you:

Rough-legged Hawk. The "rough legs" are visible and a good clue. :)

Birds seen in this area:

California Quail  20
Northern Harrier  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Rough-legged Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Northern Flicker  2
Prairie Falcon  1
Northern Shrike  1
Black-billed Magpie  4
Common Raven  3
Horned Lark  24
American Robin  12
European Starling  20
White-crowned Sparrow  3
Golden-crowned Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Western Meadowlark  30

Overall a very fun but unbirdy day.  The day I was here on a CBC we had a bit better luck.  I will need to plan a day in the spring to return.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Netarts Spit at Cape Lookout St Pk

I have never noticed that Cape Lookout State Park also includes a nice sand spit that extends north from the cape.  It is the sand barrier that creates Netarts Bay.  Not sure why I never noticed this area before, probably because I always go to the Bayocean Spit just to the north up at Tillamook Bay.  There is a $5 parking fee.  Since there seemed to be very few ebird reports from the spit itself  I decided to explore this beach on Saturday, January 10, 2015. There was a heavy mist when I started my hike at about 8:20 am but it soon stopped and it turned into a nice cloudy day.  The mist returned right before I got back to my car at 3:15 pm.

  My Canon camera decided not to turn on while I was doing the hike.  I did a quick google search upon my return home, and I hope it is just a bad battery.  It went dead after I tried to switch lenses.  It seems they can be picky if you leave the camera on by accident while doing this.  That might also be an issue. but I am hoping for a bad battery.  All these pictures are from my iphone.

The spit is a typical for Oregon.  It is covered by dunes with grass on ocean side with thick spruce and pine in the middle mixed in with wet bogs, the bay side has marsh grass and piles of seaweed..  This spit differs than Bayocean in the amount of erosion.  Numerous trees have been pulled over by the waters on both ocean and bay sides.  I walked the 5.1 miles north to the entrance to Netarts Bay. I was hoping to find a way back to the parking lot or at least to cut back to the ocean side by coming back down south on the bay side.  All I ran into was thick wet forest and wet smelly bogs.  I was forced to turn around and head back to the northern tip and return via the beach.  I figure I slogged through 13 miles of hard sand, soft sand, bay grass, washed up piles of seaweed and thick pine woods over the course of my hike. The  dog and I were very tired at the end of it all!

The beach had large numbers of Least Sandpipers and Sanderlings.  I also found two Western Sandpipers and a few Dunlin.  I spent most of the time scanning for any longspurs or Snowy Plovers.  It is such an isolated spot, I would think plovers would like it. But none found.

Due to the thick woods, the birds were hard to find.  Walking along the matted grasses on the bay side I found Song Sparrows, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Pacific and Marsh Wrens.  The tide was out, many Harbor Seals were on the sand bars and many  Western Gulls were flying about.  Below is a photo of an access road that heads out from the overnight camping area.  This was a very birdy spot.  I think the camping area and this access road would be well worth exploring more.  I took this photo as I was returning, the mist had settled in obscuring the woods in the distance.

Since my camera was dead and I was having a hard time getting to where the passerines would be, I decided to document all the dead birds I found on my hike on the beach.  See if you can figure them out based on the bills, answers at bottom:

Bird 1:

Bird 2:


A hint:

Bird 3:

A hint


Bird 4:  

Bird 5:

Bird 6:

Bird 7:

Bird 8

Answers as I see them and numbers seen:

1) Western Grebe 1
2) Pelagic Cormorant 1
3) Brandt's Cormorant 2
4) Rhinoceros Auklet 1
5) Northern Fulmar 1
6) Cassin's Auklet 45
7) Common Loon 1
8) Scripps's Murrelet???  1

Bird #8 had long bluish legs. All the Cassin's Auklets I found had short little dark legs.  I think the long blue legs belong to the Synthliboramphus murrelets (Scripps's, Guadalupe, and Craveri's) .  There was not much left of the bird, but it did have white on underside of wings. Craveri's have dark under the wing and Guadalupe is the far southern version of the old Xantus's Murrelet.  So Scripps's would be the more likely.

UPDATE on 1/12/15:  Well I do not think it was a Scripps's Murrelet.  Cassin's Auklets, when alive, also have blue legs.  Marbled Murrelets have black legs.  The bill also looks like the Cassin's Auklet.  

I am sure I could have spotted more ducks and passerines had I not spent most of the day scanning the high tide mark for plover or longspurs.  However, a fun day all in the same exploring a new spot.  My ebird list:

Brant  2
Cackling Goose  25
American Wigeon  7
Mallard  45
Northern Pintail  55
Green-winged Teal  8
Greater Scaup  23
Surf Scoter  23
Black Scoter  9
scoter sp.  12
Common Goldeneye  5
Red-breasted Merganser  13
duck sp.  23
Common Loon  3
loon sp.  6
Western Grebe  3
Brandt's Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  2
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  3
Sanderling  75
Dunlin  14
Least Sandpiper  100
Western Sandpiper  2
Mew Gull  1
Western Gull  45
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull  4
gull sp.  120
Northern Flicker  4
American Crow  2
Common Raven  4
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  17
Bushtit  5
Red-breasted Nuthatch  3
Brown Creeper  5
Pacific Wren  6
Marsh Wren  7
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Wrentit  4
American Robin  3
Varied Thrush  7
European Starling  5
Song Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Red-winged Blackbird  6

Happiness is a wet dog with a sandy nose.

I found this cool spoiler for a blog, I'll use it to hide answers on tests in future. Just testing it now. I need to figure out how to stick a picture in here.
Another test to see if two work
A different code I found, easier to put two in same blog