Saturday, July 18, 2015

Christmas in July

Just as Timber Press promised us, writing a book has led to some wonderful opportunities over the last couple years. We've given talks everywhere from Bellingham to Othello, and Charleston to Sisters. We went out on a day cruise as naturalists. We've used our minor celebrity to raise money for Portland Audubon and its important work. Then, a few months ago, things took an even more exciting turn. 

I sent the following (mostly joking) tweet to Celestron, not really expecting a result.Yes, that's electrical tape.
By delightful coincidence, the person in charge of the Celestron Twitter account was none other than John Riutta, fellow Oregonian and (positive) reviewer of our book for Birdwatcher's Digest. He had an idea for a partnership with Celestron, which is known for its telescopes, but makes a large range of optics. Fast forward to this week, when Max's sad binos were joined by this good-looking Granite 10x50 and a 10x42 for me. To state the obvious, these new binoculars are a huge improvement and we love them.

We also got a Regal M2 scope with an iPhone adapter that we took out into the field at our very first opportunity. So far, we like the dual focus knobs and the case that can stay on while you use it. We hope to increase the quality of our bird phone-scoping and frequency of our blogging, while showing how much wonderful birding there is to be found in this corner of the world.
And now for some birds found at Jackson Bottoms:

Long-billed Dowitchers were our first targets. So pumpkiny. All photo fuzziness is my fault, not Celestron's.

Shorebird migration season quickly approaches. We found some Least Sandpipers contemplating their handsome reflections in shallow water. You can even see the pale legs on this one.

A Greater Yellowlegs represented the large end of the shorebird spectrum.

Ah, brown duck time is here. A Cinnamon Teal family flashes tell-tale blue wing patches.

These Ospreys (baby on the right) excitedly greeted the other parent.

The only thing cooler than a Lazuli Bunting...

is a Lazuli Bunting singing with a grasshopper in its mouth.

Definitely an improvement over our previous birding and photography set up. Can't wait to get out again, especially when it isn't blazing hot.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A hot time in Central Oregon

Last weekend, for the sake of our somewhat sensitive dog, we escaped the high temperatures and fireworks of Portland for the high temperatures and no fireworks of Central Oregon.

During previous Fourth of July weekends, we birded as much of the area around Sisters as possible, maximizing our species list. This year, our top priority was to prevent heat exhaustion.

Upon our Friday arrival, we realized it was too hot to hike through wildfire sites in search of woodpeckers, so instead we birded from the porch of the house we borrowed from our friends.

We waited until after sunset to bird the wildfire sites. The Common Poorwills we'd hoped to hear were keeping quiet, but Common Nighthawks flew inches from our faces, we found a rubber boa, and we managed to avoid hitting a deer. A very successful nighttime cruise! 

Saturday was not as hot as Friday, but we still played it safe by birding in places with cold water in sight. We cooled our heels in the chilly waters of Cold Springs while trying to spot the Dusky Flycatchers and MacGillivray's Warblers that were hiding in the shrubs. 

The water in the Metolius River is always cold and the air felt about ten degrees cooler when we stood on the shore. Among the many birds also enjoying the river were a pair of adolescent Common Mergansers, Western Wood Pewees with a nest, and an especially brilliant Western Tanager.
It was hot again on Sunday, so by lunchtime we weren't birding with a lot of motivation. With a little luck, however, we found the best bird of the trip. While driving through Sisters, we saw a single Pinyon Jay flying overhead.

We followed it as best we could from our car and eventually heard some quail-like calls coming from a large ponderosa pine.

It was a Pinyon Jay fledgling perched low in the tree! Its parents occasionally came down to feed it while we watched. It had been several years since we'd seen one of these birds and we'd never seen one so young, so we were happy to call it a day and retreat indoors.

Before returning home on Monday morning, we were treated to one more local specialty. A White-headed Woodpecker, never a guarantee around here, was picking arthropods from the bark of pines just steps away from the house. We could hear it claw its way around the trunk and gently tap into the bark to access ants or other invertebrates.

We captured it in a typically bad photo. That's the bird on the lower left side of the tree. We're looking forward to an upcoming optics and digiscoping upgrade. More details to come.