Posted by: atowhee | November 30, 2016

BIRDING KLAMATH IN LATE FALL

A pair of birders had contacted me and other OBOLers some weeks ago about birding either Malheur or Klamath over Thanksgiving weekend…I opined there was a single choice: Klamath if you INCLUDED Butte Valley raptor run:  they did.  Click here to see link to some of their better photos.

Stats for the Butte Valley raptor run:

Northern Harrier: 7
Bald Eagle: 8 (adults)
Golden Eagle: 1
Rough-legged Hawk: 3
Ferruginous Hawk: 21
Red-tailed Hawk: 75
American Kestrel: 15
Prairie Falcon: 1
Peregrine Falcon: 1
Oak Titmouse: 1 (not really a raptor, but a lifer for both of us 😊)

After reading their report, here’s my reply “so glad you did Butte Valley, only ‘we locals’ really know that area but it is so rich in wintering raptors…I have had some of my best birding days just driving those farm roads south of Dorris but then I’m a sucker for Golden Eagles and it is the richest spot I know for Ferruginous…maybe parts of Colorado are as good…”

Looking at good images of Ferruginous you see why it is Buteo regalis, a royal looking bird indeed.

For Oregon birders heading south, Butte Valley is in Siskiyou County, CA.

Posted by: atowhee | November 28, 2016

NESKOWINNERS

No wild bird is a loser, but some are winners.  Today I had some winter winners in a brief visit to Neskowin with some tolerant non-birders.  Red Phalarope, most on the golf course turned into a season slough, two others at mouth of Neskowin Creek.  The Bonaparte’s Gulls were all at the golf course along Hawk Road parallel to Hawk Creek.

Surfbirds and Black Turnstones were on base of Proposal Rock on side facing the mainland.

Neskowin Area, Tillamook, Oregon, US
Nov 28, 2016 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM.  19 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  20
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  40
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  15
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  5
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  3
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)  1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  1     overlooking Neskowin Gold Course
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)  10
Surfbird (Calidris virgata)  2
Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)  20     two at mouth of Neskowin Creek, the rest over flooded golf course
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)  6
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  X
California Gull (Larus californicus)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  X
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  20
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  1

Posted by: atowhee | November 27, 2016

NON-VIOLENT ATTACK

This morning I heard, then saw a circling Crow cawing loudly.  It was calling in four-four time, and every few measures it would stop for a vocal rest.  The whole time it was circling in flight.  No other Crow answered the caw.

The target was a circling Cooper’s Hawk. A dozen times the Crow dived down at the hawk, never once coming within two feet of the raptor’s unprotected back. Unhurt the Coop finally spiraled off to the northeast left the territory the Crow had designated as its very own.  A basketball cliche applies: “no harm, no foul”…no harm, two fowl.

McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 27, 2016 10:45 AM
Protocol: Incidental
13 species

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  X
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  7
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20–all around one very fruity hawthorn
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  15
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  10

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 27, 2016 7:30 AM.  10 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  20
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | November 26, 2016

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Posted by: atowhee | November 26, 2016

FLOODED FIELDS

I drove from McMinnville to Summit and back today.  Most creeks are over their banks and water is splayed out across low-lying floodplains.  At Baskett Slough there are over a hundred acres of open water.  Those flooded lowlands make one great watery smorgasbord for the dabblers.  In north Polk County there was a Rough-legged Hawk along Hwy 99W, south of Bethel Road intersection.

Even in the more rugged terrain around Summit, lowlands were under water and ducks were on that water.

Hwy 99, Polk County, Polk, Oregon, US
Nov 26, 2016 11:00 AM.  13 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  X
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Nov 26, 2016 11:30 AM.  20 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  4
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  X
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  X
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  X
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  40
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  4
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
California Gull (Larus californicus)  1
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  X

Summit, Benton, Oregon, US
Nov 26, 2016 12:20 PM.  6 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  5
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  2
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  2

Posted by: atowhee | November 25, 2016

TODAY’S MAGIC WORD: DAPHNIA

For now the rain has abated but yesterday alone we got over three inches here in McMinnville.  We’ve had over seventeen inches since October 1st.

Right now ducks are celebrating a great Thanksgiving weekend hre in the Willamette Valley.  The heavy rain has creeks over their banks.  Low-lying fields are now shallow seasonal ponds.  Water, water, everywhere. At Yamhill Sewer Ponds most of the Shovelers were on one of those pasture ponds. During the first floods of fall the feeding is rich.  Everything that floats or can swim is at or near the surface or sloshing across the field to higher ground.  Insects, spiders, spiders’ eggs, seeds, crustaceans, worms, voles and moles, mice and shrews.  So the diners were present: a couple hundred Shovelers on the water.  A couple dozen crows and a couple thousand starlings on higher ground.  Even a Ring-billed Gull settled onto the pond to check out the action.

Today’s magic word: Daphnia.  I asked the Yamhill sanitation engineer who was busy dealing with pumps and valves, “What are the small animals in these ponds that duck s will eat.”
“Daphnia,” He answered.

He went on to explain the Daphnia especially like the southeastern pond where the fresh sewage enters, loaded with bits of carrot, potato and other goodies from the local restaurants.

The daphnia is called a “freshwater flea.”  This does not mean they are six-legged insects. They are, in fact, planktonic crustaceans.  They can be up to .2 inch long and live in a wide variety of aquatic habitats.  Daphnia can reproduce in two ways, asexually or sexually, and one female can produce up to forty generations of new females in a warm season. They swim by use of two feathery extensions from the mouth-end.  Their thin carapace is often transparent which makes them a favorite in biology class because all the innards are visible through a microscope while the animal is still alive.  No dissection required.  Click here for more on the world of Daphnia. duk-pondsho-pondrbg-on-pool

treedStarlings overlooking the pond, then murmurating like mad, note one Crow caught up in the flurry of wings.  The flock was so large is sounded like a bus engine.st-mrmr3st-mrmr2st-mrmrsqrl-in-roundThankful squirrels in our garden.sqrl-flat

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 25, 2016 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.3 mile(s)
17 species

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  300
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  2
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  6
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  16
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  25
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  2000
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  3
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  3
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  8     on a backyard feeder northwest of the ponds

 

Posted by: atowhee | November 24, 2016

TWO FRIENDS MEET FOR THANSKGIVING MORNING

Birder, Mel Clements, met with a Great Gray Owl in the snowy fields of the southern Cascades east of Ashland this morning.  His note:

“Happy Thanksgiving everyone

 A very understanding wife let me sneak out of the house early this morning. I made an initial check of the usual meadows without any luck. On my second time around, I stopped at a meadow to sit and check the area with binoculars. I was there about 20 minutes when a Thanksgiving GGO flew into a tree near the meadow.
I had to reposition my vehicle in the snow and then walked back to the meadow. I spotted the GGO just leaving the tree and it flew to a fence post. I started shooting right away. Within five minutes the GGO made its first grounding without success. It repositioned and within another couple of minutes made a successful grounding. Shortly after returning to its perch, it then grounded again and was successful. The GGO flew to a listening post again.
After about six minutes it flew to a listening post within 10 feet of me. During the time It was there, it didn’t look my direction at all. I hadn’t moved and was just watching with my eyes (too close for my camera to focus). A few minutes later it flew to a listening post about 25 feet away. It made a grounding right in front of me again (no success). All this activity provided for some very nice photos – once the clouds settled down and left a somewhat consistent light level.
As it moved away from me, I took the opportunity to sneak away.
It is unlikely your Thanksgiving will be better than mine this year but I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!”  t-day-ggoNote those feathers covering legs and even talons.  Thus is this bird equipped to withstand some of the coldest temperatures on Earth.  Plus all that plush plumage helps dampen any hint of sound when this stealth hunter moves through the air.

 

Posted by: atowhee | November 22, 2016

BETWEEN RAINS, WET AND WONDERFUL

come-fh1Fernhill in the rain: Common Mergansers above.  Gull gaggle below, the flock which contains the problematic Icecous/Glauland Gull.  gullzRotary Park, McMinnville: mosses are now in their happiest hours, wet, wet, wet and frost-free.hanbgin-mossRuler of all he surveys:img_1557North Yamhill River, turgid, brown and rushing to meet the other Yamhill River.img_1560Licorice ferns’ fronds fond of the humidity.lic-frnsThree pale mushrooms rising from the leaves of yesterday.litl-mroomsNest built by one of nature’s great materials engineers, a Robin.  This nest will weather the winter weather.rbn-nestA side channel of the seasonal Heron Pond at Rotary Park.  The small streams flow into the pond from north and west, then other outlets exit from south and west carrying the water into Baker Creek and thence it flows into the Yamhill River.rtory-park

IN THE GARDEN, TIME FOR FOOD AND BATHING2-hangrs2hangrs-b2hangrs-ccagoingstarl1starl2starl3starl4starl5

 

Posted by: atowhee | November 22, 2016

ROYALTY IN THE GARDEN

We commoners rarely have to deal with royalty.  We’re unlikely to ever encounter any titled and entitled personage from Denmark, Bhutan, Britain or even Saudi Arabia. As birders we do come across summering kingbirds, those compact tyrants of fence row and field. Now in fall and winter here in the Oregon lowlands we can find ourselves facing Regulus in precisely the right places…trees required.  In the past two days I have met with  both Regulus calendula and Regulus satrapa. The former is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, the latter is the Golden-crowned.  “Crowned” not crested, headed, pated, scalped or other synonym, but definitely “crowned” as befits a “Regulus.”

“Calendula”  apparently refers go this bird’s seasonal appearance and then disappearance, as dependably as a date on a calendar.  The Goldebn-crowned is not only Regulus but also a satrap or Persian ruler.  King of kings if you will.  Kinglets rule.  You obey.

The Ru by-crowned is a winter loner, not sharing territory with his fellow Ruby-crowns.  He will often forage with other gleaners: chickadees, Bushtits, Juncos, nuthatches, woodpeckers and wrens.  The Golden-crown is more gregarious, usually traveling in small nomadic flocks outside of breeding season.

Just yesterday at Wennerberg Park the dog and I were soundly scolded by Calendula. We’re simple commoners, bot even owning enough casinos to be President. The kinglet’s harsh notes alerted us to his presence.  He lets us know we peons were not welcomed near his bush.  Her shooed us along without even having to show his royal ruby crown.

Just a little further along our walk we found a busy little flock of Golden-crowns.  They were far above us, in every sense.  I followed with my commoner’s lens and managed to capture one royal flutter:gcki-in-flit1gcki-in-flit2

Our garden at 820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 22, 2016 7:15 AM. 15 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  20
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2016 10:05 AM – 10:50 AM.  14 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  30
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1

Posted by: atowhee | November 21, 2016

REINDEER DYING, ARCTIC WARMING

Right now the Arctic Ice cover is the lowest on record for this date.  There is almost no sunlight that far north this time of year, yet temperatures remain nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit above average!

There was a freak warm storm in Siberia, killing thousands of feindeer by cutting them off from food.

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