Last week, Sarah and I waited for the snow to melt and the roads to thaw so we could return to the southern Willamette Valley to see some owls.
We stopped at a field outside of Corvallis where several Short-eared Owls had been seen a week earlier. We arrived just in time to see one flying away. It was the first, and is still, the only Short-eared we have seen in the state.
We next drove along Brandon Road, which is occasionally home to a burrowing owl. We cruised along slowly and, sure enough, there was one perched on top of a culvert.
This was a bird worth celebrating, because (a) Burrowing Owls are awesome and (b) this was Sarah’s 300th species seen in Oregon this year. It was only my 298th because, earlier in the year, Sarah saw a Solitary Sandpiper when I was out of town and, at Summer Lake, she heard a Sora and I did not. No hard feelings, I swear.
After leaving the owl, we continued south to Alvadore, home to a wintering Northern Mockingbird.We walked up to a holly tree where the bird is usually seen and found the fellow perched on the top. 301 for Sarah and 299 for me!
A day later, we drove to the coast to get my 300th species. We looked for Palm Warblers near Astoria, but a steady rain kept the birds inactive and our patience short. With daylight fading, we stopped by Tillamook Bay to look for Black-bellied Plovers, a winter resident shorebird that had somehow escaped us this year. We pulled into Goose Pointe, near Bay City and hurried to the water's edge.
The mudflat was full of shorebirds, including a bunch of Black-bellied Plovers. With at least 300 species for each of us, it has been a wonderful year of Oregon birding. Who knows what will show up in the next two weeks?