Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nice Pecs

Last weekend we headed to the coast and the birding and air quality were so bad that we took only a single photo.
 The "view" from Cascade Head

This weekend we stuck closer to home and went looking for shorebirds at Tualatin River NWR. The nice thing about birding somewhere that isn't tidally influenced is that you can eat coffeecake for breakfast first and take your time getting there.

The ponds had much more water in them than we'd seen in recent years, but with a nice ring of mud at the edges.

We scanned the ponds, finding lots of waterfowl, phalaropes, and a few peeps, before finally setting eyes on our target bird: Pectoral Sandpiper. These shorebirds look like a bigger, chunkier Least Sandpiper, but move more like a yellowlegs, covering a lot of ground while actively feeding. They favor the drier mud up into the vegetation, which is exactly where we found this one and its buddy.

Photo taken with Celestron scope and iPhone adapter.

The refuge was surprisingly birdy for late August, and before we left we had great fly-bys from both an American Bittern and a Peregrine Falcon. As we walked the dike back to the Visitor Center, I gazed wistfully into a duckweedy canal and said to Max: "Looks a great place for a Green Heron." Then I turned to look at the other side of the canal and saw this little guy scrambling down the culvert.
                           Green Heron photo taken with iPhone

Once we got a better look, we realized this was a juvenile Green Heron, which might be why it tucked up a foot and chilled out instead of flying away. The spotting on the wings is a good fieldmark for telling the ages apart.

Green Heron photo taken with Celestron scope and iPhone adapter

You can see why I'm happier with our new photography setup every time we go out. You can even make out the duckweed on its stubby little leg! Hoping for more photos of this quality in the future.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Young birds everywhere

Last Saturday was forecast to be the coolest day in a long time, and it delivered with fresh breezes and our first chance to use the windshield wipers in months. We took advantage and headed down to check out late summer birds at a few refuges. We found a lot of young birds of all kinds.

 We brought along both our old scope and our shiny new Celestron one. (Thanks again, Celestron!) After some initial sibling rivalry, they're getting along quite well.

At Ankeny NWR, Eagle Marsh was full of Canada Geese and brown ducks. A few distant shorebirds were puttering around, but the backlighting was awful.

 Some stripy, young Pied-billed Grebes were diving in the marsh. I still get excited to have breeding grebes in northwestern Oregon, since most of them are on the east side of the state.

 This splotchy, immature Bald Eagle sat in this tree the whole time we were there, but the other birds just ignored it.

 Wood Ducks, living up to their name.

Swallows were everywhere! These young tree swallows seemed to enjoy constantly displacing each other from their perches.

We headed north to Baskett Slough in search of closer birds. Along the way we drove through rain showers and stopped in Independence, OR for snacks at the Ovenbird Bakery

Black-necked Stilts are regular breeders at Baskett Slough, and they were all over the place. This one must have a very strong core. It seemed to defy gravity on one impossibly skinny leg.

This stilt hunkered down on its ankles for awhile before lowering down to the mud for a short rest. More stilts kept flying in and riling everyone up, so no one stayed in one place for long.

The young bird party continued with a busy pair of Wilson's Phalaropes. This shot can't really capture their nonstop motion.

The last bird to show up was a little Semipalmated Plover. It posed cooperatively for a plover comparison shot with a Killdeer.

The cloudy coolness was a nice break from the broiler-like weather we've been having, but the dark skies didn't make for great phone-scope photography, at least that's my excuse. Can't wait to bring our Celestron gear out for more "fall" shorebirding.