Posted by: atowhee | November 16, 2017


And they did.  Dozens of Indonesians showed up to help get beached sperm whales back into the sea.

Posted by: atowhee | November 15, 2017


My generation, and yours, whatever your age, will see more and more species go extinct.  That is a result of what our “civilization” and resource exploitation has done to Earth.  Today we have a promising note, and a dirge.

A salamander not seen in over forty years has been relocated.  Bravo.

Meanwhile, last September, unmourned and largely unnoticed, another amphibian quietly died it its cage, ending another species’ presence on this planet.

Oh well, only a frog.  At least his death didn’t hurt the stock market or bother the fossil fuel industry or the makers of pesticides or despoilers of rain forest.

Posted by: atowhee | November 15, 2017


Thousands of scientists from around the globe are warning us to pay attention and change our ways.  This isn’t about some promise of heaven in the by-and-by.  This is a warning about hell here on earth, man-made.   Now that the U.S. is the only nation on earth not pledged to deal with climate change, there is some faint glimmer of hope.  But in the 25 years since the first such communal warning from science most trends have been negative.  Too many people, habitat destruction is rampant, fresh water depleted.  The nations of the earth did deal with ozone depletion, but that was a problem that didn’t threaten oil companies, coal mining, global shipping, airplane travel, fracking or use of pesticides by industrial agriculture.  In a word, it was fairly simple: don’t use that chemical, use this one.  We can’t even keep from poisoning one another with sugared drinks and opioids, how are we seriously going to stop population growth, chemical-based food production and depletion of forest and ocean?

Extinction does not make exceptions.

Posted by: atowhee | November 14, 2017


The siskin count in our garden topped a dozen today after a couple weeks of single digits.  They are a tight-knit little group.  Their siskinship makes them confident and even aggressive around other birds. Only a passing squirrel can scare them into fluttering beyond reach. On the patio pavement, siskins are next to House Sparrows; the sparrows comes off as plump and over-stuffed.  Of all our western finches the siskin is both the smallest and carries the tiniest beak.  Better for fine eating.SISKNext to this gargantuan member of the sparrow family, the siskin is a mere slip of a bird.SISK1SISK2SISK3MY TRAY TRESTHREE IN TRAYPut lone Black-cap:BCC HANGZ

Here we get a glint of winter sun.  After days of rain and gray any glint is golden.  This is along the South Yamhill in Joe Dancer.  Later in the morning there were thin slivers of quartz crystal, a-glint in the sky against clouds and pale blue sky.  It was a small flock of Glaucous-winged Gulls, their pale plumage gleaming from the thin shafts of sunlight finding its way through gaps in the cumulus.GLINT

Posted by: atowhee | November 14, 2017


This is not about American or British politics, it’s a fish story.  A living fossil was found recently in the Atlantic off Portugal–a frilled shark about five feet long.  Check out its 25 rows of shark teeth.

Posted by: atowhee | November 13, 2017


swn1swn2swn3swn4swn5swn6swn7swn8swn10swn11swn12swn14All photos by Kirk Gooding in Siskiyou County, CA.  Tundra Swans, then Prairie Falcon with observer…two birds

Posted by: atowhee | November 12, 2017


IMG_7228IMG_7229These images were gathered by two friends of mine who travel a lot…they especially like Latin America, and this fellow was in Argentina.  This falcon was along the banks of the Rio de la Plata at a nature reserve in Buenos Aires

He is a Southern Crested Caracara.  He has similar cousins that you may have seen in Texas or Costa Rica or Mexico or Panama.
Here’s more info on this species.

Thanks to Fritz Lichty for sharing these pictures.  Safe travel, friends.

Posted by: atowhee | November 11, 2017


It was raining despite the forecast.  It was soggy and foggy and water abounding.  It was Sauvie Island at her most tempting, taunting and tantalizing.  It was cranes and swans and geese and falcons and OH BOY, LOOK AT THAT!  We three birders arrived mid-morning and reluctantly left to climb back up Germantown Road in late afternoon.  In fall and winter it is impossible to get a surfeit of Sauvie, whether or no, weather or no.

This was a family of four, the adults being on far right and third from right.  Most crane families adhere to a one child per year policy.  This is an unusual quartet.CRAIN FOURYou may sometimes hear somebody claim “we haven’t the foggiest.”   Well, today we three had the foggiest but the crane didn’t mind, so we played along.CRAIN1CRAIN2CRAIN3There were few minutes when we were outside that we couldn’t hear the bugling of cranes.  Often when we could actually see the buglers, up in the clouds or over behind a shielding row of trees or beyond the next rise.CRAIN7The foreground cranes were roadside when we first stopped.  As ever they nonchalantly showed their backs and ambled away from us.  Note the numerous cranes at the far side of this field, just in front of the unharvested corn.  We saw scenes like this in over a dozen locations.CRANE AWAYNO GOOSE LIKE SNOW GOOSESNOLONEWhen we first saw this lone Snow Goose among his cackling friends, we were excited.  Is he the last left on the island?  The others off to California…SNOLONE2Then no many miles down the road we spotted snow drift.  So did a Peregrine who flew some sorties causing lift-off.  We have all seen snowfall, today we witnessed snowrise.  And it includes a great deal of goose noise.  The nearby cranes ignored the whole affair, a mere Peregrine not worthy of their notice.SNOW RISESNOW RISE2SNOW RISE4SNOW RISE5TRUMPETERS
We saw five Trumpeters overhead, first a trio, then a duo.SWAN DUOSWAN DUO2SWAN TRIOPEREGUD1Peregrine in Columbia County, above.  Some of the score of snipe at Wapato Marsh, below.SNIPSS2We were standing atop the levee in Columbia County along the self-same river and seeing gulls, cormorants, a perched Bald Eagle in Washington State, Western Grebes.  Then a male harrier came cruising toward us along the levee top, he swerved away to avoid passing over us and then came back above the levee and quickly landed.  When he lifted off he clutched a small mammal.  Thence the harrier coasted down to the beach along the river and dined al fresco, enjoying his rodent tartare.HARREAT

Sauvie Island–Multnomah, Multnomah, Oregon, US
Nov 11, 2017.  37 species

Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)  2000
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  5000
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  X
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  X
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  X
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  X
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  X
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  X
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  X
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  4
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  40
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  4, Great Egret  2
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  3
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)  600
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  20
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  50
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  3
Herring Gull (American) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)  1
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  X
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  8
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)  1
Steller’s Jay (Coastal) (Cyanocitta stelleri [stelleri Group])  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  50
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  40
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X

Sauvie’s Island Lower–Columbia Cty, Columbia, Oregon, US
Nov 11, 2017.  32 species (+1 other taxa)

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  500
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)  5
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  X
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  6
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  X
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  X
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  X
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)  20
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  2
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  1
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  4
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  4
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  6
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  X
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  X
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  X
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  2
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  X
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  X
American Coot (Fulica americana)  50
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  X
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  X
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid) (Larus occidentalis x glaucescens)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  30
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | November 10, 2017


They found a cougar in central San Francisco…and they DID not kill it.  A step forward for mankind.

Posted by: atowhee | November 10, 2017


I saw two different accipiters at the Yamhill Sewer Ponds today and I believe each was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Maybe a wave of migrants has just arrived or is passing through.  That spot is not a place I’d expect a Sharpie to settle in for the winter, but it’s a good spot for a hungry traveler to grab a quick snack.  There are juncos and other songbirds

Along a distant fence line I could see a harrier, and it was an adult male.In one field there were dozens of Killdeer and a pair of snipe lifted out of a water-logged pasture with shallow pools of water. kill-fielddown-xBig finch, little finch–House Finch and siskin.fnch-ak8ller lvs

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 10, 2017 10:00 AM – 10:40 AM.  20 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  1
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  75
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  4
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  50
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  2
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  60
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  4
Downy Woodpecker (Pacific) (Picoides pubescens gairdnerii/turati)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  3
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  15
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  40
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  25

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