Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Birding under blue skies





Here in western Oregon, we are approaching a record for consecutive dry days in May. Sarah and I have been taking advantage of this serendipitous stretch by birding as many areas as possible when we have the time. We added dozens of species to our Clackamas and Clatsop county lists (yes, we are county listers now). Next week, we'll move on to the letter D when we visit Deschutes and Douglas Counties.

Here are some memorable sights from the previous week:
Boulders, camas lillies, and oaks at Camasia Preserve.

McLoughlin Bridge and Clackamas River in Oregon City


Birding Haystack Rock, one of our many stops during Saturday's Birdathon fundraiser for the Audubon Society of Portland.


Barn Swallows, the only birds I managed to photograph during our Birdathon Day


Birdathon participants watching the last species of the day, an American Dipper (this one's for Bill).

We have five more rain-free days in the forecast. Plenty of time to get outside and find more birds!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Springtime for birders


This week Sarah and I have been gearing up for upcoming birding trips by looking at and listening to birds at our local natural areas. It is prime time for arriving migrants and nesting residents, so there was plenty to see and hear at each site.


Last Wednesday, we started out at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland. The best find was a handful of Hammond's Flycatchers, a species I had yet to successfully identify. Flycatchers are some of my favorite birds, so I have been anticipating the arrival of this small, cryptic species for several months.


Next, we visited the Sandy River Delta hoping to find a Western Kingbird, another great flycatcher species. We missed them at this stop, but no worries, we'll get plenty of them on future trip to central Oregon and Central Washington. We did see plenty of Rufous Hummingbirds, another favorite of mine, at the delta,.

Clear blue skies  finally arrived on Sunday and we drove south to Champoeg State Park in the Willamette Valley to find nesting bluebirds.

 We had no trouble spotting a pair using this nest box next to a parking lot.

The fields were full of blooming camas lilies.

 And this Bushtit nest was hanging right above a trail to the Willamette River.

This monument marks the spot where settlers who had reached the end of the Oregon trail voted to form a local government, putting Oregon statehood into motion.


Our last stop on Sunday was Minto Brown Island Park in Salem. We hiked through a dense riparian forest and listened to a variety of warblers and our first Black-headed Grosbeak songs of the year.

 My favorite plants at the park were giant black cottonwood trees that towered above the ashes and shrubs.

We are now counting down the days until we begin our big summer of birding excursions. Stay tuned!