Monday, August 12, 2013

More fun with shorebirds

2013 has been the best year for shorebirding that either of us can remember. I'm not sure if it's because more of these migrants have been passing through Oregon than in previous years or if we've just been looking harder for them. Perhaps it is a combination of two factors.

Our latest stop on the shorebird trail was Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, west of Salem. We spent about two hours at a hotspot there known as The Narrows.

Black-necked Stilts kept busy by walking around a shallow pond, taking occasional breaks for preening. Usually, we need to drive several hours to the east to see these long-legged beauties. On Sunday, however, they were only an hour to the south.

In addition to the stilts, we found, Greater (left) and Lesser (right) Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Baird's Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, and a Wilson's Phalarope.

Among the non-shore birds  was a stretched-outed Great Blue Heron,

a Great Egret strutting for the photographers,

and a magnificent Yellow-headed Blackbird. Can't wait to see what shows up next!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Birding the Breadbasket

Sherman County, located in northcentral Oregon, is dryland wheat country bookended by the Deschutes and John Day Rivers. On Friday we took a day trip to the county because it is the nearest location to Portland where Canyon Wrens are regularly reported. During our previous trips to Oregon's Dry Side, we had missed this species, a fact that was starting to bug us. 

We started the day at the Deschutes State Recreation Area. We walked a trail above the river until we heard some harsh beet calls coming from a spot below the trail.

We narrowed in on the calls until we found a couple wrens with white throats and cinnamon tails. From a nice shady spot, we watched the small Canyon Wren  family creep along rocks and sagebrush trunks for several minutes. The trip was already a success!

On our way back to the car, we found this fence lizard sunning itself on the perfect rock, one of several used to anchor a barbed wire fence. 

For our last stop of the day, we visited the Columbia River below the John Day Dam.

Here, we found a great gathering of fish-eating birds. Double-crested Cormorants, White Pelicans, Great-blue Herons, California Gulls, and Caspian Terns were roosting or looking for a meal.

In between these stops, we drove past miles and miles of wheat fields.

The birding was slow, but we enjoyed some nice views from the car. As usual, we missed a few species we'd hoped for, so we are looking forward to our next visit.