Friday, March 29, 2013

Birthday birds

 On Thursday Sarah and I celebrated the completion of my 35th year with a trip to southeast Portland. We started by visiting Reed Canyon. The sun was out and the canyon was full of plant and animal activity.

Wrens were singing, skunk cabbage was blooming, and a Canada Goose was excavating a nest site in an old stump.

I expect that, when she is satisfied with the dimensions of the depression, she will line it with her down feathers and lay some eggs.

Our next stop was Westmoreland Park, where we found the best bird of the day.

This large, pale Peregrine Falcon was ripping into the carcass of a female American Wigeon, inches away from the walking trail.

We found it funny that dozens of ducks and geese casually went about their business while while the falcon was dining on a fellow waterfowl.

Among the surviving ducks was this male Eurasian Wigeon who was nice enough to swim toward us for a decent picture. Thanks to great birds, weather, and company, I could not ask for a better way to spend a birthday afternoon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Birding in the Desert and the Rain

Last week I visited the rivers and canyons of southwest Colorado and southeast Utah.

The scenery was amazing, but birds were pretty scarce, at least by western Oregon standards.

It has been a dry and cold winter here, and I suspect that there is less food for the birds than in the mild Northwest.

I did see a few birds here and there, including a pair of Red-tailed Hawks engaged in a courtship flight.

The day after I returned to Portland, Sarah and I drove to the coast to look for some winter visitors. We found more species of birds during a couple hours of birding Tillamook County than I had in four days on the Colorado Plateau.

The highlight of the day was an adorable Snow Bunting working the edge of the parking lot at Barview Jetty.

A day later, we visited Newport to view the congregation of ducks that had gathered to feast on recently spawned herring eggs near the South Jetty of Yaquina Bay. Most of the ducks were Surf Scoters and Greater Scaup, but we managed to spot a smudgy Long-tailed Duck before the flock dispersed. We also spotted several Harlequin Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Black Scoters in the bunch. As is often the case in Newport, the rain was pouring down, so we returned to the beach house to dry out and watch Rufous Hummingbirds at the feeder.

Three feisty males jockeyed for feeder supremacy. They granted a female Anna's Hummingbird access to te feeder, but chased away the male Anna's as soon as he appeared. Spring is coming!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The search for phoebes continues

 After returning from our trip to Wallowa County (above), Sarah and I continued our search for a western Oregon Black Phoebe. Our blog friends suggested Whitaker Ponds and Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge as places we should look.

We were in North Portland last Saturday so we stopped by Whitaker Ponds and the Columbia Slough. As usual, we failed to find any phoebes, but we did see plenty of ducks and songbirds, including our first Cedar Waxwings of the year.

On Friday we took the morning off (easy to do when you work at home) and drove out to Ankeny. The skies were clear and the birds were active. We stopped at the Eagle Marsh viewing platform to look at waterfowl.

Eventually, I saw a small bird at the top of a tree (marked by the arrow above) and, after getting it in the scope, determined that it was a Black Phoebe. Celebrations ensued. It was too far away to get a decent photo, even with our digiscoping apparatus, so you'll have to take my word for it. Now that the phoebe is taken care of, we can move on to other bird pursuits. Three-toed Woodpecker, you're next!