Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cape Meares nests

Cape Meares is a great place to view birds that are nesting on the Oregon Coast but, as you will see below, it is not the best place to photograph them. When we visited on Friday, interpretive volunteers pointed out a Peregrine Falcon nest above a grassy ledge north of the lighthouse.

 The lone nestling was covered in white down and flailed wildly when an adult arrived with lunch. 

In addition to falcons, there were two Black Oystercatcher nests visible from the viewing platform. Both would have been hard to spot were it not for the bright orange bills on the incubating adults.

We spent the next two days in Pacific City, where we walked along the beach and watched fishermen land their dories. The weather was cloudy but dry and we could not ask for a better weekend. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

NOPO morning

We birded north Portland on Monday morning, starting at St. John's Prairie, where we conducted volunteer bird counts for Metro (our tri-county regional government). This site was once known as St. John's Landfill and has since been capped and seeded with native plants.

It now hosts what must be the largest nesting colony of Savannah Sparrows in the Portland metro area. You can hear the little brown sparrows singing and chipping in every direction. When traveling from point to point, we stick to the paths cut by maintenance crews, so as not to step on and squish a sparrow nest. That would ruin your day.

After finishing the counts, we drove out to Vanport Wetlands, one of the few places to find Yellow-headed Blackbirds in the Portland area.

The wetlands were full of birds, but the parking and viewing area was far from the action. We managed to see the blackbirds, along with a Redhead and a Male Ruddy Duck, all in splendid breeding plumage, but too far for a photo op.

The only birds that came in close were swifts and swallows, swooping into the clouds of midges that hung around our heads.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Sandy River Delta milestone

Oregon's weather has been nothing short of spectacular in June. Much better than in previous years when we wondered if we'd see the sun before August. We recently spent a sunny morning at the Sandy River Delta, lust east of Portland, to let the dog wander the off-leash area while we listened to a cornucopia of bird song coming from the trees and shrubs.

The target of our walk was a huge utility line tower that is the singing perch of an Eastern Kingbird. Sure enough, the flycatcher was singing near the top of the structure.

He eventually flew down to what is clearly a much-loved perch.

The delta is the only place in western Oregon where this species regularly nests, so it is always worth a trip out there to find one.

We found two more birds that are hard find in our area: a Red-eyed Vireo and a Yellow-breasted Chat. These species prefer to be seen, not heard, so we did not get a picture.
In January, we set a goal of finding at least 250 bird species in Oregon this year. We are happy to report that the kingbird and vireo brought our total to 250! Now it's on to 275.