On a soggy morning in the farmlands of Washington County, we searched for a Clay-colored Sparrow in a foggy blackberry patch.
As soon as we arrived, we started seeing dozens of sparrows among the blackberry canes. Amidst the dozens of Golden-crowns and White-crowns was the Clay-colored were after. It was a rare bird easily found in a beautiful location! The perfect note on which to end the birding year.
We had many great experiences during our travels through Oregon in 2014. Here's a look back at a few:
In January, we traveled to Newport to see a female King Eider that was wintering with a flock of Surf Scoters and Black Scoters.
We pulled into a sketchy little parking spot and found her in the waves before we left the car.
In March we stopped at a field near Tangent in the Willamette Valley hoping to see some Short-eared Owls. We were far from disappointed.
As the sun set over Mary's Peak, one owl after another flew in to hunt the field. A few minutes later, several began calling to one another and performing their courtship display: a rapid in-flight wing clap that we had never seen or heard before and we will never forget.
In April we traveled to Bend and viewed a Greater Sage-Grouse lek for the first time in Oregon. So worth getting up before sunrise!
We also found a cooperative pair of Sagebrush Sparrows.
In June we made a trip to Union County to look for Great Gray Owls and other birds.
We missed the owls, but we did see a young black bear in the Blue Mountains and our state-first Veery and Gray Catbird in Rhinehardt Canyon.
In October and November, two completely unexpected species showed up at the coast.
First, a Brown Booby perched and foraged for all to see from the Bayfront in Newport.
A week later, a Tundra Bean-Goose was spotted at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The goose became an instant celebrity and has attracted birders from as far away as Massachusetts and Georgia.
It's hard to top a Bean-Goose, but here's to great birding in 2015!