Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

Musings about birds, nature, and our meanderings on the Central Oregon Coast

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas in Las Vegas - 2011

While in Las Vegas for Christmas we visited two birding areas, Springs Preserve and Wetlands Park.  I didn't take my binoculars or camera, so the photos below are all taken with my little Fujifilm Finepix XP with 5x Optical zoom.  Hmmmm - not the best for birding, but it did better than I had hoped, so here we are.

Springs Preserve is a historical site, still in the process of restoration.  There is an entry fee, but much to see, including a Museum and Native Gardens.

But we were after the trails - about 2 miles of them - to see the habitat and hopefully a bird or two.  This art structure, 3 over-sized binoculars, promised birds, hares, and amphibians.

The first birds we saw were together in a bush - I think they were all WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS but we were looking into the sun (and no bins!).
Tree of Sparrows
There were waterfowl on a far pond but no public access (and no bins) - we did get good looks at a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and a COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRD.

Northern Mockingbird
Costa's Hummingbird

Wetlands Park (next day) was a real treat - it is laid out beautifully! 

While also still undergoing some development (new paths, new public buildings, etc), the series of trails that loop through the wetlands is easy to use and provides great birding!  There is currently no fee to use the park

This boardwalk crosses one of the water restoration ponds.

American Coot
Say's Phoebe (really!)

Familiar AMERICAN COOT floated on the water, along with a smaller COMMON GALLINULE.

We took the outer paved loop, with a few little meanders off on the gravel trails.  Our list of birds is in our field report on

A WESTERN MEADOWLARK was running along the rocks on the side here - a little ways up my daughter spotted a GREATER ROADRUNNER off on a dirt trail. 

American Coot and Snowy Egret (no, really)

I was snapping photos of these AMERICAN COOTS in the middle pond when my hubby asked what that white spot in the tree was -- our first SNOWY EGRET!

Snowy Egret
Some of the more familiar birds included a GREAT BLUE HERON and an ORANGE CROWNED WARBLER seen in two different sections of the park. 

Black Phoebe

This BLACK PHOEBE was one of the last birds we saw as we were winding our way to the parking lot. 

Well, hopefully you'll forgive my blurs and enjoy the treats we found in the most unlikely of places!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Salishan Nature Trail, 12-09-2011

This has been a fun week of gallivanting, both in Lincoln City and down the coast.  But a visit to my favorite spot yielded the most birds per site - 30 varieties on a less-than-half-mile trail.  Pretty fun!

Golden-Crowned Sparrow

It was freezing cold, with frost and ice on the path and edges of the water.  A handful of YELLOW and WHITE CROWNED SPARROWS boldly dug in the grass next to the path, only moving when I stopped to take pictures.

Varied Thrush

I was surprised to see many VARIED THRUSH in the area - I don't recall seeing them there before.  I've seen many more of them this year than ever before!

Townsend's Warbler


Great Blue Heron

The GREAT BLUE HERON was in his usual spot where the trail splits --you can see the frost on the grass, there was also a bit of ice on the water near him.


Out on the water, MALLARDS were looking pretty with their green heads glowing in the winter sun.

More ducks are coming in every week, hundreds and hundreds of them, all kinds.  What a treat! 
American Wigeon
Heading back toward the parking lot, I stopped to visit with a gentleman who was peering up into the trees at one of the VARIED THRUSH.  You don't happen to be Dawn? he asked.  He went on to say that he enjoyed reading my posts on OBOL.  I gotta tell you, it was just so cool!  I am not an expert and sometimes make "serious" gaffs and get discouraged, so it was just fun to have someone say something positive.  As I said, just too cool!

As I reached the head of the trail, a little movement at the base of a tree caught my eye - I glimpsed a PACIFIC WREN.  You gotta know that Wrens are among my favorite birds -- all of them!  So I snuck around hoping to get better views and, wow, there were two of the little guys!  One of them decided I was no threat, and after a brief scolding, hopped out onto the tree trunk for a nice photo shoot!
Pacific Wren - the Scolding

Pacific Wren - Photo Shoot 1
Pacific Wren - Photo Shoot 2

A couple of poses... then he was done.

Pacific Wren - Done Posing!
If you haven't visited the Salishan Nature Trail, you really should stop by sometime when you're over here on the coast.  Great mix of habitats, even with the marsh trail temporarily closed.  If you continue past the end of the trail, there's a path to the beach for even more fun!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December Already!

Wow, is it December already?  Apparently I didn't get out as much last month, and I definitely was not motivated when it came to logging my treks (or gallivants, as I like to call them).  Not going to try to catch up November, but will try harder to stay motivated in December! 

Thursday (12/1/2011) I stopped by Salishan to walk the nature trail that runs along Siletz Bay.  They had quite a bit of damage from last week's storm.  The main trail apparently had been closed for a bit, but was open when I was there - obvious debris from trees and limbs along each side. 

My favorite path, a narrow dike between marsh and bay, had tumbled partway into the bay and was closed.  (The plastic bags are there to shore it up until repairs can be done.)

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

There were loads of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS - love watching them fly-catch from the trees.  Also enjoyed the RUBY-CROWNED and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS mixed in with the CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES.

The bay itself was full of waterfowl - even with the low tide, I could pick out hundreds of AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHERN SHOVELER and some GREEN WINGED TEAL along with the MALLARDS.

Red-Tailed Hawk

On the way home I drove up Millport Slough Road to look for raptors -- saw this gorgeous fellow on my way back out.

Yesterday (12/2/2011) I spent a couple of hours at Cutler City Wetlands nature trail - the trails were open, but there were four trees down across the trail in various locations.  In addition to the CHICKADEES and YELLOW-RUMPS, I spotted a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER - always a treat to see those beautiful black and yellow birds.  
Red-Breasted Sapsucker

My favorite for this gallivant was a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER who gave me great looks as he pecked and chattered around this tree. 

Fox Sparrow

The FOX SPARROWS were numerous and friendly - this one was quite bold as he checked me out. 

Great Egret (No, Really!)

After lunch, I headed over to D River Open Space to see who was about.  This curious GREAT EGRET peered through the reeds at me as I got out of the car.  He stuck around for a couple of close-ups before heading off.  Gorgeous bird, one of my favorites.

Great Egret
Western Grebe

Two PIED-BILLED GREBES and two WESTERN GREBES were among the waterfowl in the river.   The Westerns looked like they were fly-catching, snapping at things in the air in front of them.  Really interesting (should've taken a video).  High in the air, two RED-TAILED HAWKS were being harassed by the gulls.

My last stop of the day was Spring Lake Open Space where I was greeted by a PACIFIC WREN (too shy for pix).  He was about the only bird I saw the whole trek.  Stopped about half-way and snapped this photo of my little Subaru across the lake.

So today I worked my jigsaw puzzles and listened to Christmas music, just enjoying the day.   The sea lions were floating out in the ocean, accompanied by the various SCOTERS and Gulls.  What a life!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eckman Lake and Alsea Bay in November

The GREEN HERON is gone, but masses of waterfowl have arrived along with the residents.  Eckman Lake, just east of Waldport by Alsea Bay, is always full of fun surprises.  

Great Egret

We stopped at the Walter Nelson wayside first, where a GREAT EGRET was fishing so intently we were able to get within yards of him before he flew to another spot -- still only yards away from us.
Great Egret
Ameriacan Coot

Among the hundreds of ducks was a flock of AMERICAN COOT - probably the most I've seen in one spot on the coast.  Here's a small group of them.

Pied Billed Grebe

Two PIED-BILLED GREBES (my first ever) were among the ducks - I got a pretty bad photo of one, but am just so glad to finally see the cute little birds!

A couple of BELTED KINGFISHERS noisly hunted the water on both sides of the road.  We usually see a raptor or two, but none were around.

Yellowlegs with Dowitchers
Short-Billed Dowitcher

On the Alsea Bay side of the highway, there were about 30 DOWITCHERS in the mud, along with a couple of GREATER YELLOWLEGS. 
(I thought they were Long-Billed Dowitchers, but am told more likely to be Short-Billed in these numbers this time of year)
Greater Yellowlegs


I didn't realize that Yellowlegs could swim!

A lone GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was resting near the Dowitchers.  One of the GREAT EGRETS flew over his head, expressing his opinion perhaps?  Hmmm.

Driving back on Highway 34, we pulled off to watch two GREAT BLUE HERONS performing some sort of ritual.  Turns out that it is a way of defending their territory - very fascinating to watch.  Rick Leinen had a similar experience about this time last year.

Horned Grebe

A bonus for this extra stop included a COMMON LOON, a HORNED GREBE and  RED-NECKED GREBE as well as some WESTERN GREBES, making it a 4-Grebe day!

Looking forward to more treks over the long weekend!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great Blue Herons and Life on the Coast

Finally escaped a week full of work, flu and rain for a couple of hours of walking around.  It was a weekend of Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles.  The herons were much more accommodating about photos, my eagle pictures all came out blurry and not at all the graceful, powerful images that represent these fabulous birds of prey.  So into the recycle bin they went (sigh).  But the Herons have their own graceful majesty, so here are a few that we've seen recently.

Most of these were taken at D River Open Space.

This was taken from Salishan Nature Trail - where the trail splits, you can almost always find a Great Blue Heron fishing - rarely disturbed by those of us walking on the nearby path.

Look closely and you can see the one that got away -- actually, the one in the bill got away also!

And we end with one of the many that we saw high in the fir trees at both Salishan and Whalen Island.  One sat high on a branch overhanging the path while a couple strolled underneath, oblivious.  I wonder how many Great Blue Herons I have walked under, unknowing, before I started paying attention.

Good birding, everyone!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's Wrong with "The Big Year"? --- SPOILER --

After seeing the movie then reading the mediocre reviews, I had to ask myself "What's wrong with The Big Year?"  
 Here's what I figured out...
Hanging Out

No shooting
   no one died

The wives didn't sleep around
   the husbands didn't sleep around

No one dropped the F bomb - or any other bombs

There were no chase scenes
   and no bloodshed


Preaching to the Choir

It was "nice"
  People were being people --
    eccentric, avid, curious, suspicious, manipulative, funny and sometimes cruel

Just being a bird

And birds were just being, well, birds

Maybe not the "right" birds in the "right" place
   but beautiful and diverse


We can watch the movie and laugh, 
    smiling wryly as we recognize ourselves
        and sigh in relief that we're not quite that obsessive after all

I'm not an expert - 
     didn't read the book, 
don't know the real men who had this adventure, 
     don't know how much was real and how much was imagined.  
But I do know that 

The Big Year was a good movie. 
    I would watch it again.
 I would take my grandaughter.
    I would recommend it to my friends. 
What's wrong with The Big Year?  Not a thing.