March 11, 2018

This past Sunday, I set out to hike and bird Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in Oregon’s Coast Range. I planned on hiking the 6-or-so mile hike up through the forest, up up up, back and forth, to the peak. I’ve done this before. It’s a beautiful hike. I knew there would be snow up there, but it’s been so warm that I figured that at least the road would be ok. The road was NOT ok. The drive up the mountain started out fine, but eventually the warm wet road turned into a one-lane snowy-slush road. I was still at least 1 mile from my parking lot, and honestly, I probably could have made it, but considering I could not turn my car around as it was, I grudgingly made the right decision, backed up out of the snowy road, turned around when it was safe to do so, and drove down the mountain, feeling a bit defeated. I really didn’t want to have to be rescued again while birding this year.

I don’t like driving, and I especially don’t like superfluous driving. I don’t mean that I’m not a safe driver or that I’m not comfortable driving; I just find it monotonous. We should seriously be able to apparate by now.

So what was my Plan B? The Philomath Sewage Ponds were tempting, but I really wanted to move (that is, hike). Using my All Trails app, I made a quick decision to bird the Mulkey Creek Trail.

While driving to the trailhead, I saw bird #117: Turkey Vulture! Ok, driving can be tolerable sometimes, even though I continued to see TVs throughout the day as well as today in Salem. They are back folks!

Mulkey Creek Trail is a 4.6-mile out-and-back trail near Corvallis. From what I can tell, it’s partially in the Bald Hill Natural Area, which is managed by the City of Corvallis, and partially on the Bald Hill Farm property, which is managed by the Greenbelt Land Trust. The first mile of trail starts out in an open, bucolic setting but eventually climbs into a Doug-fir forest near the creek and then eventually up into a forest of moss-covered oaks and lovely views.

The birding was quality, as follows. I don’t always include full lists, but as soon as new species begin to show up, I think a comprehensive list is worthwhile.

Turkey Vulture*
Bald Eagle
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestral
Steller’s Jay
California Scrub-Jay
American Crow
Common Raven (building a nest, or up to no good while flying around with sticks)
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Pacific Wren (providing the soundtrack to most of my hike)
Ruby-crowed Kinglet
Western Bluebird*
American Robin
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
House Finch

*New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 118

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Mulkey Creek Trail; northwest of Corvallis, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Mulkey Creek Trail; northwest of Corvallis, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Mulkey Creek Trail; northwest of Corvallis, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Mulkey Creek Trail, facing the Three Sisters (I think?); northwest of Corvallis, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Western Bluebird (bird #118!); Mulkey Creek Trail; northwest of Corvallis, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Bluebird box; Mulkey Creek Trail; northwest of Corvallis, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Waning crescent moon this morning during coffee; Salem, Oregon; March 12, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

 

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