July 16, 2018

I heard there were Peregrine Falcons nesting under the Marion Street Bridge in Salem.  I heard this earlier this year, I think. This did not stop me from insisting, yesterday, that we stop just south of Cannon Beach  at Cape Meares to see the Peregrine Falcons that nest on the cliffs there. I still had not seen this species, and it was troubling me. We did not make it to Cape Meares for reasons I will not discuss here.

The next day, I remembered hearing that there were Peregrine Falcons nesting under the Marion Street Bridge in Salem. This is less than 2 miles from my house. I went over and saw one of the falcons almost immediately, under the bridge. I easily could have gotten this species months ago.

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Marion Street Bridge; Salem, Oregon; July 16, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Peregrine Falcon; Marion Street Bridge; Salem, Oregon; July 16, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 205

July 15, 2018 (with a bonus track)

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon, July 15, 2018

The Tufted Puffin is a seabird that nests on sea cliffs and sea rocks along the Pacific Coast at varying densities from northern California up to near-northern Alaska. It also nests along the coast of northern Asia. They are the largest puffin species! One reliable and accessible breeding spot in Oregon is Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. When visiting Haystack Rock in late-June and early July, the adults make roundtrips between the ocean and their nests to feed their chick. Seeing them in flight is best because they typically disappear into their burrows once making contact with the ground. Low tide is also best, and so is early morning before the summer crowds arrive (for many good reasons, Cannon Beach is a very popular beach town spot on the Oregon Coast; arrive after noon and you will not find parking in this town).

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Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon; July 15, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt.

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Woodthrush (me) at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon; July 15, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt.

Although most visitors to Cannon Beach are not interested in the puffins, and many are not even aware of them (I enthusiastically told the bartender at the local pub that I had “just seen the puffins,” and I’m pretty sure he had no idea what I was talking about), the town itself does give a lot of foxes about their puffins. The City of Cannon Beach Haystack Awareness Program, which through things like stewardship and education, promotes the preservation of Haystack Rock and the fauna that depend on it. Also, because Haystack Rock is a designated Marine Garden and National Wildlife Refuge, protections are in place to prevent people from messin’ about in ways that might negatively affect the flora and fauna on the rock (no climbing, collecting, or harassing).

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Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon; July 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Tufted Puffin; Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon; July 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt. Photo take with my IPhone through my scope.

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Brown Pelicans; Cannon Beach, Oregon; July 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Pigeon Guillemots; Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon; July 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

The Tufted Puffin broke me out of my stuck-at-200-species rut. I also saw three additional new species at Haystack Rock that day: Pigeon Guillemots, Brown Pelicans, and Heermann’s Gull. After a month of beings stuck at 200, I was back in the game.

New Birds for 2018: 4
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 204!

It also didn’t help that I was out of Oregon for almost half of July in the Canadian Maritimes. Cue the Atlantic Puffin! Yes, I saw TWO puffin species in July! That’s 50% of the world’s puffin species (my Dad informed me of this!).

BONUS TRACK: Bird Islands IBA; Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada; July 2, 2018

We flew out to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in late June, for a 1.5-week Maritimes trip with my family from Ontario, Canada. I think I heard White-throated Sparrows at every place we stopped in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI. “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.” I also reacquainted myself with my eastern warbler pals, e.g., the Northern Parula and American Restart. The highlight was the puffins, though. I managed to convince a few of my family members to accompany me on a pelagic trip out to Bird Islands, off the coast of Cape Breton, to see the Atlantic Puffins. This was my first pelagic trip, and it was wonderful. There are a few companies that offer these short pelagic trips to see the puffins, and I’m sure they are all awesome. We chose Donelda’s Puffin Tour, and I highly recommend it. Also, contrary to the Tufted Puffin, the Atlantic Puffin is the smallest puffin species!

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One of the islands in the Bird Islands IBA; Nova Scotia; July 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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A seabird party comprising Razorbills, Atlantic Puffins, and Black Guillemots; Bird Islands IBA; Nova Scotia; July 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Atlantic Puffins; Bird Islands IBA; Nova Scotia; July 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Razorbills; Bird Islands; Nova Scotia; July 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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My Dad and Clint birding in the Bird Islands IBA; Nova Scotia; July 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Bird Islands IBA; Nova Scotia; July 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2018

When you are about to start your weekend with a very deserving happy hour, but you find out a Common Loon has been spotted at the “local” sewage ponds, you trade beers for birds and you hit the road.

I have not seen a Common Loon since I lived in Ontario, Canada, so I was pretty excited to see this old friend. Common Loons are not typically this far south right now, so this was a rare chance for me to see one and add it to my 2018 Oregon list.

Common Loons are gorgeous. I was counting on the bird to be easy to find considering the ponds are pretty empty (bird life) at this time of the year. The eBird posts also mentioned that the loon was in the south pond.

Much like my Pacific Golden-Plover luck, I saw the loon almost immediately. We should have brought some beer with us, though I’m sure the City of Philomath frowns upon people partying at their sewage ponds.

And … the Common Loon is BIRD #200!!

One species, bird #200. This is how it’s going to be for the rest of the year. One new bird here, two new bird there. Any pelagic tours I take will yield a small handful, but this big year has formally shifted to deliberation and strategy.

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Common Loon; Philomath Sewage Ponds; June 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Common Loon; Philomath Sewage Ponds; June 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Philomath Sewage Ponds; June 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

June 8–10, 2018 (2 of 2)

Read Part 1 first!

All species mentioned are new 2018 Oregon bird species.

June 10, 2018: Idelwild Campground; Malheur National Forest

White-headed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Dusky Flycatcher

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Wood Thrush (me); Idelwild Campground; Malheur National Forest; June 10, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt.

June 10, 2018: Sagehen Rest Area; Harvey County, Oregon

Ash-throated Flycatcher
Mountain Bluebird
Brewer’s Sparrow

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Sagehen Rest Area; Sagehen Nature Trail; 18 miles west of Burns, Oregon; June 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Cassin’s Finch; Sagehen Rest Area Area; Sagehen Nature Trail; 18 miles west of Burns, Oregon; June 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

MTBB

Mountain Bluebird; Sagehen Rest Area; Sagehen Nature Trail; 18 miles west of Burns, Oregon; June 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Ash-throated Flycatcher!!!; Sagehen Rest Area; Sagehen Nature Trail; 18 miles west of Burns, Oregon; June 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Sagehen Rest Area; Sagehen Nature Trail; 18 miles west of Burns, Oregon; June 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Brewer’s Sparrow; Sagehen Rest Area; Sagehen Nature Trail; 18 miles west of Burns, Oregon; June 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 14
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 199!!!

June 8–10, 2018 (1 of 2)

This past weekend’s trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harvey County, Oregon, was nothing short of windy and cold, but it was rich in bird species. Having spent the week prior out in Salt Lake where it was 90 degrees every day, we had not anticipated (nor had we packed for) cold temperatures.

I am 1 species away from 200. I still have a ways to go, but 200 seems like a bit of a milestone. I’m hell bent on getting one more species tomorrow to reach 200. Seriously.

Here’s a recap of this past weekend. All species in bold are new 2018 Oregon bird species.

June 8, 2018; Crystal Crane Hot Springs; Crane, Oregon

Common Nighthawk (zipping around “peenting” as we got out of the car)
Willet (hanging on the shore of the north pond and calling to another Willet)

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Common Nighthawks; Crystal Crane Hot Springs; Crane, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Brewer’s Blackbird (female); Crystal Crane Hot Springs; Crane, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Willet; Crystal Crane Hot Springs; Crane, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Yellow-headed Blackbird; Crystal Crane Hot Springs; Crane, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

June 9, 2018; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Black Tern
Forester’s Tern
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
White-faced Ibis (so many!)
Trumpeter Swan (flew in right before we left; ting!)
Burrowing Owl

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White-faced Ibis (sadly my “best” shot even though they were E V E R Y W H E R E); Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harvey County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

BLOR

Bullock’s Oriole; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harney County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

TRSW

Tree Swallow; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harney County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

BLTN

Black Tern; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harney County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

TRSWAN

Trumpeter Swan; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harney County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harney County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Burrowing Owl; Near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; Harney County, Oregon; June 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

–> GO TO PART TWO !

May 22, 2018

Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge

May 22, 2018: Post-work and post-gym, I set off in a sweaty, hot mess to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge to find a Pacific Golden-Plover that was reported on eBird the day before. I pulled up to what local birders call “the narrows,” parked, got out of my car with my bins, and looked up at a random spot in Cackler Marsh right at the Pacific Golden-Plover (#184). Beyond this luck, the weather was beautiful and cool and was the perfect respite after warming up considerably from earlier activities. The sun was also near setting, and it was incredibly quiet except for the calls of the birds, specifically the flying Black-Necked Stilts. I also saw a second new bird—Wilson’s Phalarope (#185). The water was too low, so there was no spinning involved.

I keep thinking back to this evening and this particulate spot. I always enjoyed Baskett Slough, but there was something incredibly comforting and clarifying about being there that evening. This may sound hyperbolic, but there was no other place I should have been at that moment. I’m not sure I can replicate that evening, and I think I’m ok with that.

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Pacific Golden-Plover (female in breeding plumage); Baskett Slough National Wildlife Area; May 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Wilson’s Phalarope; Baskett Slough National Wildlife Area; May 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Black-necked Stilt; Baskett Slough National Wildlife Area; May 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 185

 

 

May 18–20, 2018

May 18–20, 2018: Where Linda visits the La Grande, Oregon, area for the Ladd Marsh Birding Festival, and determines that eastern Oregon does have many virtues (Ok, I knew that but had yet to experience that). Even the town of La Grande is a fine place to spend a few hours and grab dinner. There’s a birding store called The Bobolink, which we did not stop at because we were literally on a mission to find … Bobolinks.

The play-by-play of what was a fabulous weekend:

On Friday, May 18, we drove from Salem to La Grande just in time to grab a bite at Side A Brewing in La Grande, check into our Grande Hot Springs yurt, and go and find two new 2018 Oregon birds: Bobolinks and a Eastern Kingbird. I also happened to notice that our hot springs were surrounded by a glorious marsh, which turned out to be THE Ladd Marsh. A fine start to the trip. The love was just beginning.

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Dobbs Lane, southeast of La Grande, Oregon; May 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Bobolink; Dobbs Lane, southeast of La Grande, Oregon; May 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Dobbs Lane, southeast of La Grande, Oregon; May 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Savannah Sparrow, loving the camera once again; Dobbs Lane, southeast of La Grande; May 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Waxing Crescent; Grande Hot Springs; May 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

On Saturday, May 19, we had not signed up for a tour so we birded on our own in the area. Our first stop was to the area around the La Grande airstrip to find Short-Eared Owls (reported the day before on eBird), with much success. We then checked into one of the birding “stops” the festival had set up and met and chatted with a handful of other enthusiastic birders. Everyone was so excited about the birds. The contagious and animated energy we all exchanged I’m sure made us look like looked like a bunch of twittering bushtits. We got some great tips and continued on our way and ended the day with an additional three 2018 birds: Vesper Sparrow, Ring-Necked Pheasant, and Horned Lark.

SEOW

Short-eared Owl (a little creepy looking IMO); Airport Lane; La Grande, Oregon; May 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

BLOR

Bullock’s Oriole; Grande Hot Springs; La Grande, Oregon; May 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Thief Valley Road; southeast of La Grande, Oregon; May 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Thief Valley Road; southeast of La Grande, Oregon; May 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Northern Flicker; Grande Hot Springs; La Grande, Oregon; May 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

On Sunday, May 20, we birded with a formal festival tour in and around Ladd Marsh and up Rhinehart Canyon just north of La Grande. Birding and the fact that I’m getting older are lending themselves to early mornings, which I admittedly love. Getting up early to go birding while I was in my 20s was painful, but I did it frequently. Waking up at 6 or even 5:30 AM now doesn’t really phase me, so this morning’s alarm of 4 AM wasn’t awful. In fact, once we arrived to our meeting spot, a number of cars were leaving, having just birded pretty much in the middle of the night, listening to secretive marsh birds. Apparently we got to sleep in.

This day kicked off with new birds around every corner, with the great great help of our tour guide Trent Bray, who also happens to be the owner of The Bobolink biding store in La Grande. New 2018 Oregon birds this day comprised 10 species: Snow Goose, Gray Partridge, Ruffed Grouse, American Bittern, Wilson’s Snipe, Calliope Hummingbird, Canyon Wren, Veery, Gray Catbird, and MacGillivray’s Warbler.

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Morning birding along Wilkinson Lane; Hot Lake, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Snow Geese; Wilkinson Lane; Hot Lake, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Grande Ronde River; Rhinehart Canyon; Elgin, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Car-now-pedestrian bridge over Grande Ronde River; Rhinehart Canyon; Elgin, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Rhinehart Canyon; Elgin, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Eastern Kingbird; Rhinehart Canyon; Elgin, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

WWPW

Western Wood-Pewee; Rhinehart Canyon; Elgin, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Rhinehart Canyon; Elgin, Oregon; May 20, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 16
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 183