Saturday, April 25, 2015

Clatsop County

I ventured down to the mouth of the Columbia River today to look for shorebirds.  At Wireless Road there were hundreds of Whimbrel.  I looked for birds with orange tails, and pale rumps. Looking for Bristle-thighed Curlew, none found.  I would have taken any other Asian curlew as well :).

One of the Whimbrels had enough of a Marbled Godwit.

Peace eventually won out.

Lots of Black-bellied Plover flying around.

After Wireless Road I went over to Warrenton to check out the linear path.  No mudflats were seen but a few birds were in the area.

I went out to Parking Lots C and D with little luck.  After that I drove out onto the beach at Sunset Dr.  There were thousands upon thousands of peeps on the beach.  Just about all were Western.

A great many Sanderlings were in there as well.  Each looked unique.

Took me awhile, but I finally found some Least.

The beach was also covered in Velella Velella.  They covered the sides of my car,  I needed to run it through a carwash when I got home.  Stink!

Semipalmated Plover were there in small numbers.

No rain, sunny skies and a fun day.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mt Talbert Nature Park

Today, April 18th 2015, I went over to Mt Talbert Nature Park.  I can see it gets some activity on eBird but it deserves much more attention.  Mt Talbert is off I-205 and Sunnybrook Rd (next road south of Sunnyside Rd).  Head one block east on Sunnybrook, turn south on 97th Ave and follow it around until it turns into Mather Road.  Parking area is on the north side of road. METRO has a link about Mt Talbert , click here.

It is site H-12 on the Heritage Loop of the Oregon Birding Guide.  The link for that site is here.

This is a fantastic birding area.  I am kicking myself for not visiting it sooner.

Below is a shot of the parking area off Mather.  I arrived at 8 am and was the only car in lot.  I left at around 11:30 am when I took this picture.

Only the very talented will get lost, the area is well marked.  Trails are dirt but easy to hike. I hiked up  the Summit Loop, the inner loop on this guide.  I went clockwise, it  was about 2 miles or so.  The hill is a bit higher than the far-more-birded Mt Tabor.  If you can get up Tabor, you will have no problem here. 

The area is a mix of Douglas-fir, oak and maples.  Most of it is forested.  But there are openings and gaps in the trees to see the birds.

This is the first opening I came to.  It was full of warblers and siskins.  The birds were working their way across the sunny spots in the trees.

A view looking back down from where I came. 

Most of the warblers were Yellow-rumped.  I did see many Black-throated Gray  and Orange-crowned.  A number of Nashvilles were there as well.

Nashville Warbler.

Bird song quiz:

The answer:

Up at the top is a hardwood forest.  Warblers were flying everywhere.

Looking for warblers is hard on the neck.

Another gap in the trees and more warblers flying through.

The fine pointed spike like  bill of an Orange-crowned Warbler.  Helpful when looking straight up at a back-lit bird in the tree-tops.

There were two, maybe just one, Cassin's Vireos in the trees.

No shortage of nesting chickadees.

Another promising section of the trail.

I have been trying to practice seeing the width of the primaries on Anna's, in case I ever stumble across an Archilochus.  On Black-chinned and Ruby-throated, primaries P6 on in are narrower.  The even width of the primaries and long tail show it is Anna's, assuming no rufous on bird.

No dogs are allowed, it is a METRO site just like Smith-Bybee.  

I was surprised I did not hear any goldfinch, they may have been there but my concentration was elsewhere.  I was happy with the lack of House Finch.  Purple Finch were in every corner.  

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Mourning Dove  1
Anna's Hummingbird  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Cassin's Vireo  2
Hutton's Vireo  3
Steller's Jay  4
Black-capped Chickadee  20
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  6
Red-breasted Nuthatch  15
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Pacific Wren  5
Bewick's Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  5
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  6
Orange-crowned Warbler  15
Nashville Warbler  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  150
Black-throated Gray Warbler  40
Townsend's Warbler  3
Hermit Warbler  1     bold white wing bars with a  clean white flank all white tail, saw a flash of yellow in head. About all I saw, high in trees behind leaves.
Wilson's Warbler  1
Spotted Towhee  14
Song Sparrow  7
Dark-eyed Junco  20
House Finch  5
Purple Finch  10
Pine Siskin  40

The closed forest prevented me from seeing any hawks and the lack of clearings kept the sparrow sightings down.  Thought I heard a flycatcher once or twice but only one sound each time. A very birdy spot.  Well worth the visit.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eastern Edge of Mt Hood National Forest

My third attempt to find owls in the Cascades was on the night of April 11th and the morning of April 12th. I searched the Cold Springs Road area.  This road connects Dufur Mill Road (Forest Road 44-FR 44) to the North-South Road (FR 27).  There are a few spur roads that you can take to up over 5000 feet in elevation.  

Just getting there required a careful drive, Hwy 26 and Hwy 35 were an icy mess after the snow had moved through.  The winds were gusty until after 9:30 pm or so.  Temperatures were about 26 degrees.  Skies clear.  I stopped every quarter mile or so in areas I thought would be good for my target, Boreal Owls.

A sample of the roads:

I started my hunt near a few dry meadows I knew of north of Eightmile Creek.  I think I heard one toot of a Great Horned Owl and maybe one of a Northern Saw-whet Owl.  Both vocalized only once.  My night went by fast and silent, by 12:30 I was tired and decided to head down Cold Springs Road towards FR 27.  The snow had not reached down that far and it was 30 degrees rather than 25.  As I entered the Ponderosa Pines I heard my first owl , a Northern Saw-whet.

My dog , Huck, and I spent the cold night in the car.  Not sure if he was cold, I threw my jacket over him.  He wagged his tail in thanks.  My sleeping bag was fine and by 4:45 I was awake and ready to move on.  I decided to backtrack and cover much of the same area I hit earlier that night.

. At around 6:30 or so I heard two Great Horned Owls.  I also heard a Northern Spotted Owl.  All owls were at a great distance, none were able to be recorded. A mixed Larch and true fir forest at sunrise:

I was hoping to find more owls, but a fun adventure all the same.

Once the sun was up I decided to go over to FR 27 and hike the School Canyon Trail to see what birds were there.  It is one of my favorite hikes in the Mt Hood Forest. I posted a Birdfellow report on it last May.  Here is the link if you want to know how to reach the area from Portland: School Canyon.

The drive in the Ponderosa Pine/Oak Forest can be good for birds.  Birds seen along the way:

Wild Turkey  
Northern Flicker  
Steller's Jay  
Common Raven  
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  
Red-breasted Nuthatch  
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  
Townsend's Solitaire  
Yellow-rumped Warbler  
Cassin's Finch  

View of Jefferson from School Canyon Trail.

Three Sisters:

A deer kept its eyes on us as Huck and I climbed up to the saddle on an opposite ridge.  This area is usually packed with Lewis's Woodpeckers in the spring.  I heard or saw none.  The same with Mountain Bluebirds, they have yet to arrive.  Nashville Warblers will be here soon as well.

The area will have pockets of birds all along the trail.  Birds found:

Sooty Grouse  6
Turkey Vulture  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk  2
Bald Eagle  1
Williamson's Sapsucker  2
Downy Woodpecker  3
Hairy Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker  12
Steller's Jay  8
Common Raven  2
Mountain Chickadee  4
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  12
Red-breasted Nuthatch  19
Brown Creeper  3
Golden-crowned Kinglet  12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  10
Western Bluebird  10
Townsend's Solitaire  4
American Robin  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  19
Song Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  30
Cassin's Finch  7

Very beautiful area.

Huckleberry blooms were out everywhere...I think.

Sure you can drive along a road until you happen to see a Sooty Grouse on the side of the road, get out of car, take picture and move on.  But it is a whole bunch more fun to quietly stalk a hooting grouse until you see it under a tree before it sees you.

After this picture I put my camera down to see it through my binoculars, it was about 30 feet away. It saw me and got into an alert position. I tried to reach back for my camera, but it had enough and  walked away.  Very cool time, and my wonderful dog cooperated, he realized I was stalking something so he sat quietly back under a tree.

Funny that Eastern Bluebirds were mentioned on OBOL yesterday.  The first moment I saw this Western Bluebird I  saw a bright clean white belly.  Something you see on an Eastern , but once it landed I saw it was a Western with the blue under chin and orange on the back.  There is blue on the belly, just not very obvious.

The canyon to the left was full of Sooty Grouse booming , Townsend's Solitaire singing,  and Cassin's Finch calling.

Fumbled with my camera trying to get the turkey in focus before it vanished.  Failed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The New Fernhill

I had heard of all the changes at Fernhill Wetlands but had yet to visit the site since the trails had reopened.  I took a drive out there today after wandering around a cloudy and foggy Mt Tabor earlier in the morning.

The Fernhill site is owned by Clean Water Services.  They are trying to improve the water treatment site.  The idea is to use a natural process to clean and cool waste water before it enters the Tualatin River.   It is called a Natural Treatment System (NTS).  Their site is here

For directions on how to get to Fernhill, check out the Oregon Birding Trails Tualatin Loop.

Below is a view south from the parking lot which is located at the northern end of the complex. The phone poles along the right side are on Fern Hill Road.

Next is shot from same spot looking to the east.

This little Killdeer was not pleased with me passing by its nesting area along the trail.  With the stronger black in the face and the bright red orbital ring, I think this is a male. Females would have less contrasting black and more of an orange-red orbital ring

I went counter-clockwise around the site, so down Fern Hill Road first. This picture is of the next pond down the path. I am standing in the small observation deck.  All the ponds are set up in a similar fashion.  They did leave one flooded, the one over in the NE corner.  They will use that water to flood these other ponds every few weeks or so and then let them dry out. This is to get the vegetation off to a good start.

I was happy to see so many American Pipits in the muddy areas. I scanned all that I could, no oddballs.

A beautiful light gray Peregrine Falcon zoomed over the flats, it scared all the pipits up into the air.  A flock of Least Sandpipers took flight and then dove for cover in the mud.  Least Sandpipers can vanish in a mud flat if they want to.  How many can you find?

I have now crossed the area on the lower dike.  I am now looking north toward the parking lot. In front of me is the lake they will use to flood the other areas.

These Cacklers were a enjoying a lunch of grass along the lake, until I tried to slip by on the trail.

A  Song Sparrow is nice bird to enjoy when it is sitting out in the sun.

Which three North American warblers sport a bright yellow rump?

Yellow-rumped, Magnolia and Cape May

Dabbler Marsh is much the same as always, as is the area on the east side of the site.  I did hear an Indigo Bunting singing down the trail. I took off on a run to get a picture.  I stopped after a few steps, I realized I had just been fooled by a Lesser Goldfinch.

Which bird is this?  Long thin wings, held in a M shape.


A view looking south with the sun out.

Up behind the restrooms you have access to two small ponds.  They are fenced off but it looks like a trail goes down the south side.  Below is a shot looking east at the two ponds.

There were 27 Greater Yellowlegs and two Green-winged Teal on the ponds.

Greater Yellowlegs look larger headed than Lesser, they have more barring on the flanks in alternate plumage and their bills are thicker looking. And at the right angle they look knobby kneed.

Birds seen inside the NTS boundary (the new mudflats):

Snow Goose  1
Cackling Goose  1000
Canada Goose  15
Gadwall  6
American Wigeon  4
Mallard  11
Green-winged Teal  21
Bufflehead  3
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1
Killdeer  6
Least Sandpiper  20
Belted Kingfisher  2
Peregrine Falcon  1
Tree Swallow  75
Violet-green Swallow  15
Barn Swallow  5
Cliff Swallow  3
American Pipit  40
Song Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Brewer's Blackbird  6
House Finch  4

Birds seen outside the NTS (everything else that was not changed up to middle of dikes):

Cackling Goose  1100
Canada Goose  25
Gadwall  8
American Wigeon  4
Mallard  7
Cinnamon Teal  4
Northern Shoveler  8
Northern Pintail  6
Green-winged Teal  25
Canvasback  5
Bufflehead  3
Common Merganser  3
Ruddy Duck  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  1
Turkey Vulture  1
American Coot  25
Killdeer  2
Greater Yellowlegs  27
Mourning Dove  2
Anna's Hummingbird  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Western Scrub-Jay  3
American Crow  1
Tree Swallow  20
Violet-green Swallow  5
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Bewick's Wren  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  6
European Starling  11
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  9
Fox Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  14
Golden-crowned Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  2
Red-winged Blackbird  7
Brewer's Blackbird  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
House Finch  7

I am looking forward to see how this area develops.  Thanks for visiting.

Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Cape May