Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A walk around my town...

Yesterday my car went to the repair shop - the "Check Engine" light was on and the mechanics were calling.  Before I left home, I had mapped out my day - starting at D River Open Space - one of my favorite spots, and it was only a mile south of the repair shop.  So, I hauled my gear to the shop, declined a ride home, and set out for a four-hour adventure - a walk around my town.

Walking past one of the local espresso kiosks, I was joined by a young man with a coffee cup in hand.  He accompanied me with a barrage of incessant conversation, pausing only for the occasional sip of Caramel Latte.  On his way to high school on the south end of town, he had missed his bus, his mother's car wasn't driveable (oil-leak or something), they had just moved, he couldn't sneak onto the bus, he didn't like his own bus because the driver takes roll at every stop, he was going to be late - probably miss first period but that's ok because they were having a test and he wasn't prepared...  All the way to D River, where I said goodbye and crossed the highway.

Sun through the fog at D River Open Space
Walking back to the campground, I found the trailhead and was almost immediately immersed in early morning quiet - some bird sounds, some faint stirrings in the campground - but mostly, blissful quiet.  All around me there was dew clinging to leaves and grass, and evidence of skillful spiders building artistic snares.
Spiders at work, D River Open Space

Yellow-rumped Warbler

As I neared the gravel parking area, the sounds of birds increased and finally I could see some movement - a flock of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. 
Fox Sparrow

Steller's Jay

Spotted Towhee

Black-capped Chickadee

Walking around the parking lot, I added FOX and SONG SPARROWS, SPOTTED TOWHEES, CHESNUT-BACKED and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and more to my morning list. 

I moved across the bridge toward the river, where four AMERICAN COOTS were paddling around near a pair of MALLARDS.  A GREAT BLUE HERON cronked loudly and took off over the water.
Great Blue Heron
I could see the ocean under the highway - hundreds of gulls were using the fresh water from D River, so I decided to walk under the road to see if I could sort them out. 
Gulls in D River

There were CALIFORNIA, WESTERN and HEERMANN'S, possibly some MEW GULLS.  Not my area of expertise, but fun to try!

Heading back, I added a Douglas Squirrel, several Northern Flickers as well as some GOLD- and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS to my growing list.
Douglas Squirrel

Chesnut-backed Chickadee

Northern Flicker

This NORTHERN FLICKER was guarding the boardwalk as I returned through the park.

Back at the park entrance, I turned up NE 6th Street, where more flocks of small birds were busy in autumn foliage.
Townsend's Warbler

I was lucky to find a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER in some bushes along the road. 
NE 6th Street
Checking my map, I zig-zagged through the neighborhoods, climbing the hills as I worked my way toward Spring Lake Open Space, another personal favorite spot. Along the way, I spotted someone's mail in the weeds by the road - I retrieved it and walked back down the hill to find the address.  He wasn't home, but I told his neighbors what I'd found so he would know why he had damp mail in his mailbox!

Finally, I reached Port Avenue and the Port-Lake trailhead - where I was immediately greeted by a calling HERMIT THRUSH.
Hermit Thrush

Port-Lake Trail
Again, I was enveloped in utter stillness - what a rich blessing!  I could barely hear the call of chickadees and kinglets in the tops of the tall firs, and there was no wind to add to their soft whisper.

Autumn at Spring Lake

At the bottom of the hill, I wandered along the lake edges, enjoying the beauty. Autumn colors were vivid, and the reflections stunning.

My favorite bench

Across the lake, I located the trail that would take me to the water tower at the top of the hill.
Trail to water tower
Harmless looking, isn't it?  About half-way up, my calves were sobbing - I'm just not in good enough shape to wander effortlessly up hills -- I have to confess that I was too tired and sore to enjoy the quiet!  I was elated to finally reach the top!

Dark-eyed Junco

From there, it was all downhill (she sighs with relief, remembering...)!  I walked down Surf Street to NE 22nd - stopping to enjoy the sparrows and juncos in the yards.

I had thought about checking out Kiltsis Park, but the time was 11:50am and I was due back at the shop at noon, so I left that for another day. 
Abe Lincoln

At the bottom of the hill, Abe Lincoln greeted me, along with large flocks of AMERICAN CROWS and ROCK PIGEONS.

I reached the repair shop at 12:05 - my car was ready to go home, and so was I!
Car Care Specialists

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Out and About - Edwin B Forsythe NWR

Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Reserve was amazing - could have spent several days there!  Here are some pix I shot of a fledgling TERN (Forster's, I believe) being fed...
Begging youngster

Parent Arrives

Successful exchange

I was fortunate to have run into some birders who were happy to tell me about the shorebirds, terns, gulls and other birds I was seeing!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Out and About -- Atlantic City

Here in Mount Laurel, New Jersey because of my husband's work, the first day we went to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and visit the historic district.

Then we drove down to Atlantic City to visit the boardwalk and stick our toes in the Atlantic, just to say we had done it :o) The first thing I noticed were the many, many LAUGHING GULLS - yes, they really do laugh.  There were lots of juveniles being fed by parents - they hang around people like our Western Gulls do back home.
Laughing Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Next to them, the GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS looked huge!  There were a few HERRING GULLS around as well.


Herring Gull

I was amazed to see SANDERLING chasing the waves right in among the crowds of people on the beach.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Two soaking wet eagles, nine vultures and a very large salmon carcass

Stopped off at Little Nestucca River boat launch a few days ago - in a tree across the river, an adult BALD EAGLE was drying itself. 
This guy is soaking wet!
Some movement caught my eye - oh my, there were seven TURKEY VULTURES in the neighboring trees.
Can you find all seven Vultures?
But, I said "Nine vultures" right?  As I walked closer to the bank, two Turkey Vultures flushed from below me.  Hmmmm.  Wonder what they were feasting on?  So I edged nearer and found a HUGE salmon carcass.

Scanning the opposite bank, I spotted the other adult Bald Eagle, also soaking wet, drying himself on another snag.  So I put the story together like this - one adult Bald Eagle spies a big Salmon in the river - looks like lunch is here!  So he dives in, only to find that the Salmon is TOO BIG.  But help is on the way - his mate arrives, dives in beside him, eager to assist. 

They struggle, half-swimming, and pull the Salmon up onto the bank.  Lunch time! 

Having sated themselves, they retire to the opposite bank to dry themselves off.  No sooner had they abandoned their repast (perhaps even while they were munching), the Turkey Vultures arrive - one by one. Each of them is able to eat their fill and move over to the opposite shore to rest.  And more vultures arrive.  Soon there are nine of them.  And not much is left of the carcass.

Wish I'd gotten  there sooner :o)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 Dancing Grebe Trip - Day 7

On Thursday the 30th, we headed out of Klamath Falls on our way to Bend - the final leg of our journey.  There were a couple of places enroute that I wanted to visit. First stop was Wood River Wetland, on the north tip of Agency Lake.

When we stepped out of the car, we were overwhelmed by the sounds - songbirds, marsh birds, waterfowl...  It was incredible.
Orange-crowned Warbler

We immediately saw several Yellow Warblers, followed closely by foraging Wilson's and Orange-crowned Warblers. Tree Swallows were guarding nests, Black-headed Grosbeaks foraging on the ground.

Tree Swallow near nest
Black-headed Grosbeak

As we walked down the trail, the trees and brush initially hid the water from our view - but not the sound.  "Sensory overload!" I commented, smiling.

 Coming out of the shaded portion of the trail, we had a nice view of the wetlands - and a greeter...
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Garter Snake

There were several snakes - mostly Garter Snakes - either sunning on the path, or curled up in the nearby grasses. 

Western Grebe

Although we now had clearer views of the water, it seemed that most of the waterfowl were back in areas that were hidden from view - there were a few that we could see well...
Green Heron

... and we were excited to see both a Green and a Black-crowned Night Heron.
The next stop was to have been Collier State Park, but it was packed with people so we moved on to the last site - Klamath Marsh NWR.
Western Kingbird and Mountain Bluebird

Heading up Silver Lake Road, we noticed a bird atop a leafless bush -- we stopped to see him better, and enjoyed watching a pair of Mountain Bluebird join him, taking turns hunting in the bush.  After a few minutes, a Green-tailed Towhee popped up from below, only to be chased away by the female Bluebird.
The marsh was full of Red-winged, Yellow-headed and Tricolored Blackbirds. From the many waysides along the road, we spotted a number of Common Yellowthroat and Marsh Wrens. A soaring Red-tailed Hawk was chased by two Northern Harriers - we probably never would have seen the Harriers if the Red-tail hadn't caused them to rise up out of the tall grass and give chase. 

Following the suggestion in the Klamath Basin Birding Guide, we drove back on Forest Road 690 along the edge of the marsh.  We were hoping to see some Woodpeckers, but it was very quiet - a few warblers and a Mountain Chickadee. Returning to the main road, we decided to continue on our journey rather than seeing more of the Marsh. 
Canada Geese

We waited to let families of Canada Geese cross the road (this happened a couple of times), then we were on our way to Bend. 
I had been a little dubious about staying at a hotel that was right on Highway 97 Business, but The Riverhouse was great - our room overlooked the river, complete with a bridge housing a family of American Dippers!  Worn out and with my hubby finally succumbing to the cold he had been fighting, we settled in for a couple of nice, restful days before heading home. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

2013 Dancing Grebe Trip - Day 6

Wednesday, May 29th was day 6 of our trip.  We were both tired from our previous day's adventures, and so we decided to take in a couple of auto tours - Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake.  Our first stop was the intersection of Highway 39 and State Line Road, where the fields on both sides of State Line were full of birds - White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Franklin's Gulls (and others) and Black-necked Stilt.
American Avocet

Black-necked Stilts

Our first Black-necked Stilt was a proud parent of at least two fledglings.

Black-necked Stilt Fledgling
Lower Klamath Basin

Lower Klamath Basin lived up to its fine reputation - we saw lots and lots of birds along the route - and a few mosquitos.

Cliff Swallows

The kiosk was being put to good use.
American White Pelicans
White-faced Ibis

Much prettier "live" than in photos.
Canada Geese families
Next, we headed down to Tule Lake, stopping first at the Tule Lake headquarters -- definitely worth the stop!
Yellow-bellied Marmot

We enjoyed walking the short trail around Discovery Marsh... a Yellow-bellied Marmot was our first sighting.  We got some nice close-up views of shorebirds...
American Avocet
Marsh Wren

... and marsh birds.

Back in the car, we resumed the auto tour - but by then, it was mid-afternoon and we had both pretty much exhausted our energy.  We saw quite a few waterfowl, although the masses of wintering ducks and geese were long gone. I hadn't realized until just now that I didn't take any photos at the lake itself.  So, that's going to have to be another trip - perhaps earlier in the season!