Posted by: atowhee | March 19, 2015

GREAT AND GRAY AT END OF DAY

Gray was the color this evening.  Another birder and I ventured up into the sub-tropical Cascades where flowers are blooming and mosquitoes are buzzing already.  And gray was the color…Gray Jay, Sandhill Cranes truly gray beneath their mud-daubed feathers, Mountain Chickadees with gray shoulders, and our Great Gray.  The big owl was a lifer for the other birder.  And then there was our oddity of the day: a paint-splattered Canada Goose.  Here is all the evidence.GGO SIDE

OWLFLY2 OWLFLY1 OWL FLY3 It was great to see the logo of our Mountain Bird Festival in action, hunting his meadow.  Light levels very low as it was after 6PM and the sun was long gone from the meadow.  We watched for 45 minutes and the owl used a variety of listening posts around the meadow. LSTN POST2This owl treated us to a long series of low-pitched hoots, sounding very much like a Cascades chimpanzee: hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.  My working theory now is that these birds will breed early this year.  The warm, rainy winter will encourage their prey to breed early while the plants are growing rapidly, thus perhaps triggering early breeding by the predator.  Vole anyone? LSTN POSTOur bespattered honker: LEUCO-GOOSE2 LEUCO GOOSE1m-c up closeChicakdee checks us oukt.  Below Jay in the shade does the same. gry-jay  crane downNote one of the cranes is lying in the grass–rest or nest?  I do not know. Below is second pair in spearate meadow a quarter mile away.  Both at Howard Prairie.

P2360681 P2360682 (1280x960)

TO SEE THE FIELD TRIPS AVAILABLE AT THE MOUNTAIN BIRD FESTIVAL AT THE END OF MAY, CLICK HERE.MTBF COLOR LOGO

Posted by: atowhee | March 18, 2015

AFTERNOON ROUND THE POND

ACORN-HOLEAcorn Woodpecker at hole.  Below: Fox Sparrow watches. fox sp (1280x960) fox sp2 (1280x960) HENBIT (1280x960)Henbit,  a wild mint native to the Old World.  Oregon grape in bloom, the Oregon state flower. ore grp (1280x960) TRSW OVR WTR (1280x960)Tree Swallows at the pond. TRSW RESTBelow, the swallow has just splashed onto the surface for an insect.TRSW SPALSH (1280x960) YRW-Y2 (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | March 18, 2015

BUBBLING KETTLE

One kettle of Turkey Vultures bubbled over this morning in the bright sun.   They were over central Ashland. At least two dozen Turkey Vultures circled and rose and as they reached the desired height (don’t we allow that TVs have desires?) individuals peeled off and headed north along Interstate 5.  I would love to know if the TVs follow along the freeway. I would assume the Interstate 5 corridor is a rich linear smorgasbord of roadkill just ripe for the plucking.KETTLE BLUR KETTLE BLUR2 KETTLE UPP1Male Anna’s who is dependable about protecting his section of brush at one end of Ashland Pond.  An alert and aggressive sentinel. MR ANNA P2360489 (1280x960)Golden-crowned Sparrow can’t get enough of those tasty plum blossoms. PLUM EATZ (1280x960)One of the migrating Tree Swallow, takes a short rest stop. TRSW-SLEEKIn the afternoon I got shots of Tree swallows nabbing insects off the pond;s surface. Click here for those images. WTSP IN SUNWhite-throated Sparrow sitting in bright sun, showing off his feathery finery.  Ashland Pond where they winter annually. WTSP LIMB1

MOLT IS NOT A PRETTY PROCESS

This photo was taken in her garden by Emmalisa Whalley.GDFINCH IN MOLTThis is an adult male American Goldfinch part-way through his spring molt.  My guess is he won’t be attracting a female mate until he gets his plumage straight. Whaddaya think?

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 18, 2015 ; AM and PM visits
33 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  16
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  25
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  3
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  13
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  11
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  4
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  4
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  25
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  3
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  2
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)  1

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X     singing
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X     singing
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  X     singing
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  XView this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22411873

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (/content/nw)

 

MOUNTAIN BIRD FESTIVAL REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN, CLICK HERE FOR LINK.  Interested in seeing Great Gray Owl?  White-headed Woodpecker?  Calliope Hummingbird?  White-tailed Kite? Lewis’s Woodpecker?  Black Tern?MTBF COLOR LOGO

Posted by: atowhee | March 16, 2015

RAINS OF MARCH

The rain continues and it is clear there will be no snow in Ashland this season.  We’re above normal in precipitation but there will be little or no snowpack which means reservoirs will be empty before the end of summer.  This is not quite what Villon meant when he questioned, “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”
Could be worse…perhaps.  Down in California they have a single year’s supply of water in their state’s entire reservoir system.  May be time to astroturf those golf courses, and stoop growing rice in the desert.
All this warm weather and rain means an earlier blooming season here in southern Oregon.  We already have iris, Oregon grape, pear and azalea in bloom…in mid-March!

This past weekend and again today I found more than a single White-crowned Sparrow at Ashland Pond.  They must be on move.  It is not the sort of habitat where they would over-winter and I rarely saw even a single White-crown there all winter.  And a new song was heard around the pond this morning.  At least four different Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing.  It was the first time for their song this year.  At least a dozen Turkey Vultures were kettling over Ashland around 1030AM, having just crossed over the Siskiyou Pass, their highest barrier on the northward migration from California and points south.  The Wild Turkeys have been hard at it for three weeks now–mind the euphemism. I expect the Juncos and Varied Thrush to sing any day now. The finches: Purple, Lesser Gold and siskins are all singing merrily each morning now. Many of our resident birds are now in pairs, like the Flickers who never seem to shut up these days–“ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-cacacacaca.”

FLKR PAIR GCS EATS PLMThe Golden-crowned Sparrows may be so bloated with plum blossom they won’t be able to migrate.  Today I saw one of the White-crowns in the same plums at Ashland Pond. GCS IN PLM mshrmsThese mushrooms are among my favorite spring sights, up from the duff after the latest warm rains.  Here are two of the TVs in the morning kettle.  “North to Alaska.” tV-sThis is the epitome of full-throated song.  Western Meadowlark fills the grasslands with his lilting, optimistic song.  There will be a spring, and then more meadowlarks. Who could argue?full throatedBelow: Red-tail on nest.  This is the second one I;lve located right next to Dead Indian Road,  This one is across the road from entrance to 2120 Dead Indian.RTH INCUBT OR BUTTERCUPOregon buttercup, in bloom at 4500 feet.  Below Tree Swallows checking out the local real estate at Howard Prairie.  Look closely; there’s also a single Mountain Bluebird on this dead snag.  In years past it has also been used by two other cavity nesters:kestrel and starling.  Don’t cut down your dead trees, please. NEST TREEBelow the same meadow that holds the dead snag sheds much of the rain from the latest storm.   Meanwhile Howard Prairie Reservoir is still far from full.  Cranes now forage across the land that is usually lakebed.   At least the water stands a couple inches deep in low spots and higher tufts and mounds are soft and easily spaded by a crane’s large beak.HP DRAINCRANE DNC7dig (1280x1142)

There’s still plenty of room at the Mountain Bird Festival coming at the end of May. Click here for registration site and list of all the field trips.MTBF COLOR LOGO

 

Posted by: atowhee | March 15, 2015

TWO PAIR

I had two pair today.  That would be a poker hand worth drawing to.  For a couple hours of birding it was a surfeit. And they were big pairs.  There was a pair of Oregon’s tallest bird, and a pair of our most powerful raptor.  Both were along Dead Indian Memorial Road before the afternoon rains kicked in.

CRANE DNC4 CRANE DNC7 CRANE DNC8

“Our appreciation of cranes grows with the slow unraveling of earthly history. His tribe, we now know, stems out of the remote Eocene. The other members of the fauna in which he originated are long since entombed within the hills. When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of the incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.” –Aldo Leopold

The cranes were bugling and dancing, making it clear to me and the Canada Geese in the background that this was going to be their meadow this year.CRANE DNC1 CRANE DNC2 P2360253

“There are now only two seasons in my personal calendar—crane season and the rest of the year… I would far rather see and listen to cranes than gaze once more on Arizona’s magnificent Grand Canyon, or listen to a concert performed by the finest of the world’s choirs…” Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, Paul Johnsgard [an ornithologist in Nebraska who has written as well and lovingly of the Sandhill Crane as any man who ever lived. Johnsgard himself is tall and crane-like.]

“High horns, low horns, silence, and finally pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks, and cries that almost shakes the bog with its nearness, but without yet disclosing whence it comes. At last a glint of sun reveals the approach of a great echelon of birds. On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day had begun on the crane marsh.
Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold

UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE AGAINdoubl eagleDOUBL EAGLE2These two Golden Eagles were flying in tandem high up above a ridge top and far away around Milepost 6 on Dead Indian Memorial Road.  Same place where I had a pair perched side by die in an oak last month.  Here is post at end of February when I was much closer to an eagle pair, perhaps this one.  It was along this same stretch of road.

Posted by: atowhee | March 14, 2015

IDES OF MARCH- A GALLERY

What was it some oracle whispered to Julies Caeser…enjoy the Ides of March, wasn’t it?BBRD ON RKWestern Bluebird rocks, or at least sits on a rock.

Below, Mrs. GH Owl sits on her nest, probably with owlets beneath as she is sitting so much higher than a couple weeks ago.GHO MOM ASLEEP GHO MOM IN NST1 OAKS AND mt.aLooking past the oak savanna to Mt. Ashland.

Below: Red-tailed Hawk on its nest…easily seen from Dead Indian, just to the right of the first bridge as you head into the Cascades.  You see this tall cottonwood before you come to the airport entrance.  Look immediately above the mobile home surrounded by RVs.RTH IN NST1 (1280x1132)ACWO-WINGZ (1280x960)Note the heavily worn wing feathers on this bird.  That indicates it is a bird born last summer as they do not molt their initial flight feathers until this coming summer.ACWO WORN WINGS ACWO-WINGZ (1280x960)

Below: pond turtle, North Mountain Park. P2350798 (1280x960) P2350799 (1280x960)Half of a paro of Song Sparrows working the edge of Ashland Pond. sosp at pond (1280x960)COKOT CUTECoot reflecting on the day’s activities, at Ashland Pond.  Pair of Common Mergansers, not all that common along Bear Creek, but enjoying the pre-spring sunshine and warmth. COMERG PAIR cora-rth3 (1280x960) Two Ravens harrying a Red-tailed hawk. RAV2RT1PUFI MALEThis bright male Purple Finch was singing his sweet lilt in the bare trees around Ashland Pond.

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 13, 2015 10:45 AM – 12:45 PM
34 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  15
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  X     fly over
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  6
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  5
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  2     in Bear Creek
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)  1
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  5
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  3
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  12
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  7
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  4
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  5
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  2
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  5
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  X

Posted by: atowhee | March 14, 2015

RIDGETOP HARRIER

GCKI1 (1280x914)See that tiny little bird in the center?  Golden-crowned Kinglet in the clearing beneath a power pylon along Shale City Road. Then, here’s the ridgetop Harrier, soaring above Dead Indian Memorial Road around Milepost 6.  RIDGTP HARRHARR SOAR  RBN FLAP  RBN UPHIGH Red-breasted Nuthatch against the rainy sky with low light.RBN LAUNCHD VOLCANO VIEWA distant view of the Siskiyous tallest peak, Mt. Ashland. WEM BACKJust one of the singing male Western Meadowlarks. Their sweet music carried across field and hillside. WEME RIGHT WEME SING LEFT WEME SINGS MORE LEFT WEME TAILOne of several wildflowers in bloom.P2360003Both ceanothus and manzanita are now in bloom along Shale City Road above 4000 feet elevation:CEAN BLUM (1280x960)Yes, our common species of ceanothus in the Sikiyous and cascades here is cream-colored, unlike the purplish ones in lowland California. MANZ BLUM (1280x960)I worry about what nectar the Calliope Hummingbird will find when he returns a month from now.  Such will be the stresses and tribulations of climate change, especially hard on migrants.  The Calliope is down in central Mexico.  He has no news reports to tell him that is favorite flowering bushes are a month early this year.

Dead Indian Mem. Rd., Jackson, US-OR
Mar 14, 2015 10:45 AM – 12:25 PM.   15 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  3     one sitting on nest
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  1     female on nest
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  3
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  3
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  5
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  15
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  5
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  1

Shale City Road, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 14, 2015 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM.  12 species

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  2
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  X
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  15
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  12

Posted by: atowhee | March 12, 2015

TALE OF A PALE TAIL

There is one pale tail in this tale but no manner of pail.

As I was about to have breakfast this morning, the phone rang.  It was fellow birder, Lee French.  He and his wife had just spotted, and scoped, a pale Red-tail.  Up the hill I sped and here are the photos.  A pair of Red-tailed Hawks taking the soft morning sun.  One of them almost white below the chin but with a normal dark head.  PALE! PALE2 PALE3It seems  likely that this pair has a nest not far away on this steep, wooded hillside west of Lithia Park.  Through the scope you could discern the slightest hint of a few streaks of color on the pale bird’s chest.  Not a belly band but more like a few crumbs from a flaking croissant.  It’s breakfast time so I think in terms of pastry.  There was no hint of color in the pale bird’s tail.

Through the scope we thought the upper, pale bird looked smaller and was the male.  That bird is more fluffed out but also shorter than the more normally colored bird below.

Posted by: atowhee | March 10, 2015

OUR ANCIENT CARNIVORE LIVES…AND LIVES WELL, IT SEEMS

fish eat7 fish eat8 fish eat9 fish eata fish eatb fish eatc fish-eat4  otter logg ottr logg2 ottr logg3 ottr logg4OTR-TALE (1280x960)so long OTR-TALE2 (1280x960)

“The otter, for all its “youthful” frivolity,  is one of the oldest living carnivore species.  It has existed in its present forms for some thirty million years and inhabits rivers over most of the planet.” 

The Klamath Knot by David Raines Wallace

Posted by: atowhee | March 10, 2015

ASHLAND GALLERY FOR EARLY MARCH

AH-COLOR2Male Anna’s, very much on territory and on alert.  AH-COLOR1CROW ALOFTCrow atop his arc.  Below, I found myself watching daytime TV…again. DAYTIME TV FLKR UPP Flicker, male.HOE REFLXThis sequence I call “On the Beach.” ON THE BEACH ON THE BEACH2 PUFI JUVPurple Finch. PUFI JUV2 WCS-CLEARWhite-crowned Sparrow.  All birds above were at Ashland Pond.  Singers today were Flicker, Meadow Lark, Red-winged Blackbird and Purple Finch.

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 10, 2015 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  5
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  4
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  5
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  5
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  5
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  20
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  4
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X     singing
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  2     singing
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  5     singing
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  X
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

 

243 Granite Street, Ashland, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 10, 2015 8:30 AM
14 species

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)  19
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  12
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  20
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  20
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  4
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  2

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