Sunday, November 29, 2015

Early winter in the White River WMA

On Saturday, Nov. 28,  I decided to go back to the east side of Mt Hood for one last trip this year before the forest roads are closed. There has been snow out there already, but the past few days have been nice and sunny.  Forest Road 48 will be closed anytime now, it is not plowed.  The drive out FR 48 had its share of icy stretches and frozen clumps of slush.  It was 14 degrees when I arrived at my parking area.  I doubt it got much above 20.  My purpose was to see if I could detect any Pine Grosbeak in the woods that line the creeks in the Wildlife Management Area.  

I decided to try to find a nice loop through the western side of the WMA.  I found just that by starting off on a road I went down in June (June Trip)  and simply kept turning left when I had the option.  I started off at the lower star on the map and went counter-clockwise.  I found myself back on the paved FR 27 at the top star.  From there back to the car down the left side of my loop is all paved.  7 miles in all.

There is a lack of variety of birds in these woods this time of year, but the birds you do see are in groups that are fun to discover and hunt through. The birds all seem to be in fresh plumage.

For a more general map of the White River WMA, try this one.  I have updated it with other bird hikes I have done on area.

Woodpeckers were a common species seen.  This Williamson's Sapsucker triggered a rare bird alert in eBird, I found it right before I returned to my car along FR 27.  I would assume only due to lack of effort, but eBird has only two records of this species in this area of the  county between Sept-Mar, 8 records for the entire county during this period.

Hairy Woodpeckers were the most common woodpecker found.

This Black-backed Woodpecker was up near where the dirt road I hiked hooked up with FR 27.

Not all Mountain Chickadees are in Western Oregon now.  Beautiful birds.

I have tried to pay more attention to the subspecies of White-breasted Nuthatch. These were all chattering with a rapid call.  A feature of the tenuissima subspecies (lumped with nelsoni in Sibley's  Interior West bird), the subspecies which should be found in Eastern Oregon. 

Interior West birds have narrower black crowns than the Pacific group,  and they lack a black mark behind the eye which can sometimes be found on the Pacific group.

Compared to the Pacific group the Interior West birds have darker but not black centers to the greater coverts, they are shown here as the dark dashes on the gray background.  The Pacific group supposedly has paler, less contrasting centers on the greater coverts.

The flanks are supposedly darker gray, rarely suffused with buff, the Pacific birds are paler on the flanks and can be suffused with buff.

Taken with my iphone, most of the hike was on bare ground or patchy snow.  This dark canyon is where Tygh Creek crosses FR 27. It was 2 pm, the area was still dark and cold, no winter sun reaches this area.

This is Tygh Creek down in the WMA, just as dark and cold.  I spent some time searching the grove for owls.  

This Mule Deer ( I think)  was on FR 27, it was a beautiful beast, it just stood there and watched me walk towards it. Black-tailed Deer are subspecies of the Mule Deer.  Mule Deer are larger and have big mule-like ears. They also have a larger white rump and a smaller black tipped tail compared to smaller white rumped and larger, solid black (dorsal surface) tail on the Black-tailed.   Black-tailed Deer are a western Oregon species but I understand they do occur on eastside of Mt Hood.

This print in the snow was the size of my hand.  Tons of animal tracks were seen, of all sizes and shapes.

Gobble gobble

Mt Hood glowing in the late afternoon sun.

eBird list:

White River WMA Loop, Wasco, Oregon, US
Nov 28, 2015 9:15 AM - 1:15 PM
Protocol: Traveling
7.0 mile(s)
Comments:     temps 14-22 degrees F, no wind clear skies.  Went to see if any Pine Grosbeak or Redpolls had shown up in area.  No juncos.
16 species

Wild Turkey  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Williamson's Sapsucker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  5
Black-backed Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  4
Steller's Jay  8
Common Raven  4
Mountain Chickadee  23
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  14
Red-breasted Nuthatch  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
Pacific Wren  4
Golden-crowned Kinglet  30
Varied Thrush  5
Red Crossbill  9

Thanks for the visit

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Newport Pelagic 11/21/15

I have not erred on the date, 25 people did go out on a pelagic trip on the 21st day of November.  We went out with Oregon Pelagic Tours 31 miles into the North Pacific.  A few of the birders were on their first pelagic trip.  The hard east winds created a bumpy chop on our first stop. but the winds faded farther off shore and it was a relatively dry run back home for a boat trip off Newport .  It turned out to be a great day.

The first good bird seen was this female Long-tailed Duck just west of the bridge.

At the very tip of the south jetty was a group of Harlequin Ducks.

They were hugging the north jetty on the way home.

Other than the hope for the rare pelagic bird, I was looking forward to studying the winter alcids. As we wandered south of the jetty we saw a few Marbled Murrelets, and we also got great views of two basic plumaged Pigeon Guillemots.  I wasn't sure if the one on right was a juvenile or not.  It appeared to be darker than its pal.  I was not sure if they were still molting into basic plumage or not.  I decided not a juvenile.

Showing their other cheek.

Watching alcids on the ocean is tough.  These were close enough that they were easy to keep in the binoculars, but still they go down into a wave...

And then they are back up on top of a wave.

Rhinoceros Auklets were seen,  as well as many Common Murres and a few Ancient Murrelets.  It was fun searching murre flocks for a black backed, and more black headed Thick-billed Murre, none seen.  We saw Cassin's Auklets, looked for but saw no other auklets.  But it was a very fun hunt.

Once we got offshore we spotted a large flock of feeding shearwater, gulls and Rhinoceros Auklets.  There was a large school of bait fish just under the surface, Humpback Whales were in the area as well.  Once we got closer to the swirling flock of shearwater, we discovered many were Short-tailed Shearwater.  They are certainly expected offshore this time of year, but it was great to see a mixed flock of Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters to study since it is often impossible to separate these two species.

The percentage of the flock we thought were Short-tailed climbed the more we studied the birds.

Most of these birds were identified as Short-tailed.

They were once called Slender-billed Shearwater, a more slender bill  is one way to separate them from Sooty.

 Another photo of the same flock.  The bird I cropped and lightened up in above photo is the one on bottom left.

They also have a very steep forehead when compared to a Sooty.  When I got back to shore I could not believe I did not think about shooting a video of their flight styles. Many were flying side-by-side, I was too busy trying to compare the birds. 

After a  bumpy look at the Short-tailed flock we headed off shore to 31 miles out, our chum spot out there gathered a nice group of Northern Fulmars.  The east winds did not reach this far out, it was a nice ocean.   Below is a flock of fulmars in our chum while a Herring Gull flies off with a treat.

I thought the one on bottom was a Thayer's Gull.

I have always seen albatross on these pelagic trips, we were darn near skunked on this trip.  This one Black-footed saved the day.

Lots of Black-legged Kittiwakes were seen.  This first-year bird put on a nice show around the boat.

Typical of my pelagic photos, I get something in focus but I cut the wing off.  Getting birds in focus is tough out on the water!

A different kittiwake growing out a primary.

A nice sight after a day at sea.

Horned Grebes were common between the jetties.

As were Red-necked Grebes.

This California Sea Lion had a bit of his fur missing off the top of his head.  We saw two groups of dolphin (probably Pacific White-sided) and a number of Humpback Whales  (maybe a total of 5-7) offshore.

 Thanks to Misty, her crew, Tim, Dave, Russ, Jim and Shawneen for a great trip.  I will add a plug for Misty: as far as  twin engine diesel charter boats go, she is quiet. A great boat for a bird trip.

Thanks for the visit!  I'll add the ebird lists when the leaders share them with me.

To see the Oregon Pelagic Tours 2016 schedule click on link at top right of my blog.

Bird list:

Newport pelagic--Yaquina Bay, Lincoln, Oregon, USNov 21, 2015 8:05 AM - 8:25 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty. Mammals: harbor seal (5), California sea lion (10).
23 species

Harlequin Duck  6
Surf Scoter  35
Long-tailed Duck  1
Bufflehead  12
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Red-throated Loon  1
Pacific Loon  1
Common Loon  8
Horned Grebe  10
Red-necked Grebe  8
Eared Grebe  1
Western Grebe  4
Brandt's Cormorant  8
Double-crested Cormorant  6
Pelagic Cormorant  50
Brown Pelican  65
Great Blue Heron  1
Black Turnstone  6
Mew Gull  6
Western Gull  16
California Gull  40
Glaucous-winged Gull  2
American Crow  4

Newport pelagic--southwest route 0-5 miles offshore, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2015 8:25 AM - 9:08 AM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s)
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty.  Clear weather, good ocean conditions. Mammals: humpback whale (2).
19 species (+1 other taxa)

Surf Scoter  125
White-winged Scoter  6
Red-breasted Merganser  3
Red-throated Loon  3
Pacific Loon  80
Common Loon  25
Western Grebe  12
Brandt's Cormorant  50
Pelagic Cormorant  5
Brown Pelican  6
Common Murre  150
Pigeon Guillemot  12     Medium-sized,  thin and long-billed alcid.  Most individuals in basic plumage or finishing transition to basic plumage. Grayish-white body, on most individuals white wing patches obvious.
Marbled Murrelet  8
Black-legged Kittiwake  3
Mew Gull  5
Western Gull  4
California Gull  25
Herring Gull  1
Glaucous-winged Gull  2
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  40

5-30 miles NW Newport, Bird Guide pelagic, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2015 9:08 AM - 12:08 PM
Protocol: Traveling
26.0 mile(s)
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty. Clear weather, good ocean conditions.  5 to 31 miles (approx 200 fathoms) offshore; includes chum stop at feeding flock nine miles offshore at 44.6213 N, 124. 27135 W.  Other fauna: humpback whale (1), northern fur seal (2), ocean sunfish (3).
10 species (+2 other taxa)

Pacific Loon  75
Northern Fulmar  40
Sooty Shearwater  75
Short-tailed Shearwater  60     A number of photos taken by passengers. Rounded head, thinner thin than Sooties, less white on underwings, sometimes saw feet extending behind tail.
Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater  65
Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger  1     1 distant bird in feeding flock nine miles out.  Dark above, showed some white at base of primaries, white below.
Ancient Murrelet  1     Seen by some.
Cassin's Auklet  20
Rhinoceros Auklet  10
Black-legged Kittiwake  30
Bonaparte's Gull  36
Herring Gull  25

100-300 fathoms, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2015 12:08 PM - 12:44 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty. Clear weather, excellent conditions. Chum spot at 44.57844 N, 124.78309 W.
8 species

Black-footed Albatross  1     Only one.  Came in to slick.
Northern Fulmar  71
Rhinoceros Auklet  1
Black-legged Kittiwake  20
California Gull  15
Herring Gull  25
Thayer's Gull  1
Glaucous-winged Gull  2

Newport pelagic--5-30 miles offshore, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2015 12:44 PM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
26.0 mile(s)
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty. Return to five miles offshore.  Mammals: humpback whale (2), Dall's porpoise (3), northern fur seal (2).
12 species

Pacific Loon  25
Northern Fulmar  3
Sooty Shearwater  1
Short-tailed Shearwater  4
Common Murre  40
Ancient Murrelet  9
Cassin's Auklet  2
Black-legged Kittiwake  3
Bonaparte's Gull  16
California Gull  10
Herring Gull  10
Glaucous-winged Gull  5

5 miles offshore to Yaquina Bay, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2015 3:00 PM - 3:25 PM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty. Return to mouth of Yaquina Bay.  Mammals: Steller's sea lion (4).
8 species

Pacific Loon  11
Common Loon  2
Red-necked Grebe  1
Western Grebe  5
Brandt's Cormorant  5
Common Murre  20
Marbled Murrelet  2     Seen by few.
California Gull  15

Newport pelagic--Yaquina Bay, Lincoln, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2015 3:25 PM - 3:40 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     7 hour Oregon Pelagic Tours trip aboard FV Misty. Mammals: California sea lion (10), harbor seal (4).
23 species

Harlequin Duck  2
Surf Scoter  35
Bufflehead  14
Common Goldeneye  7
Red-breasted Merganser  6
Red-throated Loon  1
Common Loon  8
Horned Grebe  15
Red-necked Grebe  12
Eared Grebe  1
Western Grebe  6
Brandt's Cormorant  8
Double-crested Cormorant  6
Pelagic Cormorant  40
Brown Pelican  65
Great Blue Heron  1
Black Turnstone  2
Surfbird  1
Mew Gull  1
Western Gull  20
California Gull  25
Glaucous-winged Gull  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  5

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sandy River Winter Passerines

On Wednesday and then again today (11/14/15) Huck and  I went out to hunt through my favorite patch of winter passerine habitat in the Portland area.  It is a patch of weeds, trees, and blackberries along the Columbia River at the Sandy River Delta.

Here is a map I created a few years ago for the area. A link is available on the Birding Oregon web site under Multnomah County, Sandy River Delta.

The area I like for winter passerines is the orange rectangle on the east side of meadows.

If you go to the Sandy River, be sure to go all the way out to the east side.

 I spotted a nice Merlin flying over the open meadows.

From a distance, Merlin might be confused with Sharp-shinned Hawks, but note the long wings coming down almost to the tail. Simply noting the short wings of an accipiter will eliminate most other raptors.

They have been redesigning the wetlands out on the east side of the delta.  They also planted trees in some areas.  This ditch was enlarged to provide better drainage.

This is the upriver end of my passerine hunt, I walk back down through this brush on an old trail, heading down river to the observation deck area.  I cut out to the river across from Gary Island where I can to check for ducks and if any birds are in the willows.

This little ditch was packed with Song Sparrows, Lincoln Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

It is easy to pish out a few Fox Sparrows, actually I do not pish them I give a little click like their contact call and that brings them right out to the top of the brush.

A small flock of Lesser Goldfinch were in the area. I had some flyover American as well.

A noisy flock of Pine Siskins were feasting on the same seeds as the goldfinch.

First-winter White-crowned Sparrow (pugetensis)

Lots of Golden-crowned in area.

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-winged  Blackbird

Very tough getting a shot of a Golden-crowned Kinglet out in the open.

This is the Red-tailed Hawk  that posed for Sibley's book cover.

I'll find a good bird along this area sometime soon.

Birds seen on Wednesday:

Cackling Goose  15
Canada Goose  5
Mallard  3
Hooded Merganser  3
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Blue Heron  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
gull sp.  25     seen on bar far out in river, probably mix of Cals and Mews
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Merlin  1
Black-capped Chickadee  6
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  3
Bushtit  8
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Pacific Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
Varied Thrush  1
European Starling  1000
Fox Sparrow  5
Dark-eyed Junco  25
White-crowned Sparrow  8
Golden-crowned Sparrow  8
Savannah Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  9
Lincoln's Sparrow  3
Spotted Towhee  4
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Western Meadowlark  20
House Finch  7

Birds seen on Saturday:

Cackling/Canada Goose  30
Green-winged Teal  3
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Horned Grebe  2
Double-crested Cormorant  50
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Coot  1
California Gull  3
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  3
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2

Merlin 1
Black-capped Chickadee  30
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  5
Bushtit  25
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
Brown Creeper  10
Pacific Wren  3
Golden-crowned Kinglet  14
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  7
Varied Thrush  2
European Starling  25
Fox Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco  35
White-crowned Sparrow  5
Golden-crowned Sparrow  29
Song Sparrow  20
Lincoln's Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  7
Red-winged Blackbird  4
House Finch  6
Pine Siskin  40
Lesser Goldfinch  20

Thanks for visiting and Vive la France.