Posted by: atowhee | January 13, 2017


Despite recent cold, last night below 20 degrees, Henry Hagg Lake in southern Washington County is open water.  Plenty of waterbirds to be found. Side roads very icy so I had to park my dainty Prius along the main road.

EBird was surprised at the Western Grebes and I had to coax it to accept the two Barn Swallows…but after the Salem CBC I sorta expect the swallows to be hanging around open water on very cold days.

Some of the many mergansers cruising the lake:c-m-fleet2fml-comer

I was most interested in the small land birds feeding on the snow, and got a nice sequence of the usually secretive Hermit Thrush right out in plain view:h-t-on-rokIn cropping these shots I kept the lake visible in the near backround.  I now think of this guy as an honorary shorebird.h-t-on-rok2h-t-on-rok3h-t-on-rok4h-t-on-rok5h-t-on-rok6This Hermit Thrush was keeping his feet warm, hunting just off the edge of the snow:h-t-edge2

This kingle3t’s ancestors must’ve been super during the last ice age, ’cause he’s got the moves.  Climbing icy slopes, leaping 8-inch crevasses in a single bound, finding balance and perches on iced surfaces…all the while finding something to eat. Behold the “snow king-let:”r-k-sno1r-k-sno2r-k-sno3r-k-sno-gor-k-sno-go2

Henry Hagg Lake Park–Eagle Point Recreation Area, Washington, Oregon, US
Jan 13, 2017 2:25 PM – 3:05 PM  Comments:     lake not frozen
23 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  120
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  200
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  1
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  X
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  200
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  X
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  40
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  2
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  30
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  14
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
California Gull (Larus californicus)  8
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  2
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  15
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  2

Posted by: atowhee | January 12, 2017


“Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
It’s all right, it’s all right”   –Paul McCartney

January 12, Thursday.

A Red-tailed Hawk passes through our neighborhood on an early morning cruise. A nearby golf course could be attractive place for that bird to hunt.  Two of our local crows take umbrage at the Red-tail’s presence in their realm. The Crows caw and curse in the strongest terms.  One makes a few sweeping sorties against the perched buteo.  That soon sends the Red-tail on his way.  Peace restored.

Starlings approach for landing:


Our recent weather has produced a sequence of conditions most beauteous.  On Tuesday there was wet snow—about five inches.  It covered the ground, the grass, sidewalks, the conifers, bare tree limbs.  Then Wednesday brought solar warmth leaking through thin winter clouds. Melt water resulted.  Then Wednesday night the temperature under a clear sky dropped well below freezing, in the mid-20s.  That froze every drop of water, every bit of soaked bark, every cluster of slush on a tree branch.   Thursday dawned with a bright blue sky but still well below freezing.  By 9 AM the sun was over the rooftops and torching every south facing wall, tree trunk and patch of sidewalk.  The light beamed through bushes and branches, the stalactites of ice on fences and roof edges.  There was a bright glow coming through the clear ice on twigs, dangling tassels on our dawn redwoods, every surface iced over. The gleam of sun through ice was pristine, even though we know it must contain color frequencies from across the spectrum.  It was as if each drooping bud of ice, each layer of icing on each twig had its own light source and its own energy.  Each bit of ice was a lens magnifying and concentrating the sunlight.  The light passing through the ice was sharp and brilliantly clear.  There was no hint of sunny yellow or even white.  The clarity is as if the purest water has been converted directly into light.  The effect is both bright and invisible at the same time.  As Monet showed us with his magpie painting* on such a day the only color to be found was in conifer needles and the secret colors to be discovered in the shadows and snow crevices.  Above it all is the unperturbed blue of a winter sky unbothered by crows, winds or worries of human affairs.jan12-ajan12-bjan12-djan12-ejan12-fjan12-gjan12-hjan12-j

Black-capped Chickadee action:

bc-flizzbc-in-magnbc-in-mag2hofi-cu1hofi-trioToday we had eight House Finches in our garden.  Usually there are four, or fewer.

At Wortman Park the ground is mostly snow covered  but Robins, Flickers and Starlings had found the few spots where grass and mud were bto be found.


Posted by: atowhee | January 11, 2017


I’m glad I’m not a parent of a small child…schools were closed due to snow..again.  Kids hereabouts may still be going to school in July…they’ve missed several days already. For us oldsters it means snow fun, snow shovels and snow news is good news. Snow is sure more fun and beautiful than all the politics stewing back on the East Coast.

Can you believe that in a few months there’ll be hundreds of berries on these blueberry bushes?blueberriesconi-snoAmerican Goldfinch in our garden:img_3847Lesser Goldfinch a few blocks from our house:lego-icedAcorn Woodpecker grove of oaks, 13th and Michelbook, McM.oakzst-femlOur garden towhees, male up, female of the readers of this blog have become fond of War-war, the killer Yellow-rump.  Yes, he was around today but light and chance didn’t let me get a picture.  Mid-morning, all the birds vanished…before I accidentally flushed a Merlin from our garden…then they returned with alacrity and…hunger.

McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 11, 2017. 8 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  X
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  6

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 11, 2017.  13 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Merlin (Falco columbarius)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  25
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X


Posted by: atowhee | January 10, 2017


Trying to beat the next rain/snow storm the dog and I headed out this morning into the sulking fog and cold dampness.  The annual winter convention of gulls was gathered at the Riverbend Landfill south of McM…and across the road where gull manure will fertilize next year’s crop.  From trash to humus [please, not hummus] in just a few short hours.  (Do you imagine our next Pres can sort hummus from humus?)  Most of the gulls were of the Glaucous-winged variety and there were probably many of some hybrid varieties, what Puget Sound birders call “Olympic Gulls.”gll-1gll-2gll-3

The Sheridan Sewer Ponds were largely frozen so the duck population was greatly reduced, but dense enough to attract a trip of Bald Eagles sitting together in trees at north end of South Side Park.bff-maleegles-tresMale Lesser Scaup, that jaunty little angle at the back of his crown is a crucial field mark. That exact field mark helped me find a Lesser Scaup on a loch in northern Scotland and it turned out to be a first record for that county.  The normally get only Greater Scaup with the round head.l-s-malesher-pnds-froz

Best birding came when a whim seized me to check out Delashmutt Road (which had no previous eBird designation!). I’ve seen Paul Sullivan’s posts from there. Almost immediately a Peregrine flew into a bare oak at the intersection with Hwy 18. A couple miles south there was this buteo up in a treetop, another Red-tail was the impulse…but I stopped…and the bird said “Look me over, bud.”  The tail was not right for Red-tail and then the buteo soared slowly over the car and into a tree with its back to me…look closer, dummy, he seemed to say.per-coldper-cold3rlh-backrlh-back2rlh-tail2rlh-tail3

Hwy 18, South Yamhill County, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 10, 2017.  11 species

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  4
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  2
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  X
California Gull (Larus californicus)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  40; California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  1000     near Riverbend landfill
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  6
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X

Sheridan South Side Park and Fishing Pond, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 10, 2017 10:50 AM – 11:20 AM
Comments:     upper pond partially open water, lower pond frozen solid
20 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  3
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  4
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  1
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  1
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  6
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  4
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  1
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  3
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  3
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  4
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  X

Sheridan WTP Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 10, 2017 10:50.  Comments:     much of the water surface is frozen over; dense gathering of ducks around inflow pipe in southwest corner of southern pond

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  X
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  X
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  X
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  X
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  X

Delashmutt Lane SW, Yamhill County, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 10, 2017 11:30 AM – 11:55 AM.  9 species

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)  1     about 2 miles south of Hwy 18
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  50
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  3
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)  1     right near intersection with Hwy 18
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  X

Posted by: atowhee | January 9, 2017


I was back at Wortman Park this afternoon.  More rain, of course.  The Acorn Woodpeckers were busy next to the east end parking lot.  And the resident hummer was on guard.  He sits just over a private fence from the parking area, protecting a back garden feeder I presume.  A second hummer came in for a drink with the usual resulting kerfuffle.acwo-wortmnanhu-on-grdanhu-on-grd2Water just hanging around.drip1drip2

Posted by: atowhee | January 9, 2017


From “Forbes” magazine.

Posted by: atowhee | January 9, 2017


Any government that wants total control and compliance must control information.  China regularly bans or censors many kinds of websites and methods of digital communication.  In North Korea a cell phone could be a capital offense depending on what you do with it.  Here in the U.S. we should expect a digital book burning: federal websites that deal with climate change will likely be expunged and then we’ll be told they didn’t really exist to begin with…or they were part of a Chinese or Mexican plot.

Well, here are some that I have found in easy google searches. Be interesting to see how long before these URLs become broken links.














If you think this purge is difficult go to Florida’s state government website.  Search “climate change” and get zero hits.  Next door Georgia’s sta5e government has not done the purge and you get several pages of URLs for the same search.

UPDATE: A public affairs person at the NRDC assures me that scientists across the nation are currently working to archive all the information now contained on government websites.




Posted by: atowhee | January 8, 2017


icedThe icicle on the square birth bath has doubled in length in the past day.iced2War-war in his war paint, all his bright yellow patches shining brightly in the morning dusk.war-war-in-sno“Don’t go near my suet log, I’m warnin’ ya.”war-war2Downy up:dowo-poledSPARROW FAMILY MEMBERS
Golden-crowned adult, then juvie, then male Spotted Towhee.gcs-facinggcs-indufmr-towheeA tidbit from the chaff…Song
WATER GAMESbth1bth2bth3bth4bth5bth6bth7bth8Everybody in the pool…bth9bth10bth11bth14

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 8, 2017.  14 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  25
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  4
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | January 8, 2017


One thing about having a big, energetic dog.  You get out for walks in all kinds of weather. It has been raining all day, ice or slush cover nearly every surface.  The temp never got above 34. Smart people with contented dogs are inside with a book to read.  Cat people can eschew all mandatory walks. The residue of the population today is in front of some football game on the big screen.  Even the stores are nearly empty.  But I was out in Wortman Park in mid-afternoon after an emergency run to the grocery.  I expected no birds…but binocs–never leave home without ’em.  Rain was persistent, cold, just adding water to an already flooded ice field.  While still in the slush-choked parking lot I looked out the car window and saw an Anna’s Hummingbird perusing the bark of a nearby conifer, hoping for spider’s eggs perhaps.

Dog and I walked about twenty yards and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flew past to land on an iced limb.  Down by the small creek, which is at near flood stage but still only three feet wide, first one and then another Wilson’s Snipe lifted off from the narrow border of green grass along the stream edge.   With most marsh land frozen over right now this is the second time in three days I have found snipe along a small stream. They need thawed mud to feed with their probing beak.

Wortman Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 8, 2017 2:40 PM – 2:55 PM
Comments:     rain and cold. 4 species

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X

Posted by: atowhee | January 8, 2017


One young born on New Year’s Eve! Live feeds.

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