December 16 and 17, 2018

We birded the Union, Oregon, area for the Union County Christmas bird count. It might have been the windiest day I’ve ever experienced willingly. Our area yielded a total of 24 species, including a Barn Owl. The following day, we birded north of La Grande, Oregon, and I got a few American Tree Sparrows.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 260!

 

December 1 and 2, 2018

When I grow up, I’m going to establish a local bird “seed area” just outside my town. Here, I’ll regularly distribute high-quality bird seed, and birders will frequent this area and can even bird from their car if they wish (helpful in Oregon when it’s raining). Rare sparrows will visit, and my seed area will become a birding hot spot. Non-birding locals will assume we are up to no good, and that will make us birders feel a little badass for once, outside our birding circle. Nevermind that we are all in Subarus or Priuses.

One of these established seed area hot spots “near” me is in Lane County near the Eugene airport.

After our failed attempt to re-locate the Tundra Bean-Goose at Finley, my birding sister took me to this seed area on December 1, 2018, to see if we could get the recently recorded Harris’s Sparrow. We birded the area for a good 2 hours, and the Harris’s Sparrow did not pop out from the “brambles” (invasive blackberries). My very wonderful consolation prize, though, was a fetching White-throated Sparrow, another “oh you’ll get that species eventually, don’t worry” bird.

Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!

IMG_1776

The Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7425

A White-throated Sparrow and friends (blurry junco and a white-crowned); the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7442

White-crowned Sparrows and a Golden-crowned Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7460

Oh sweet White-throated Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7494

Song Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_1782

Amazon Creek near the Bond Road seed  area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_1785

Amazon Creek near the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_1773

Badass birders at the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 2 (including a Sharp-shined Hawk)
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 257

I re-located the Tundra Bean-Goose at Finley the next day, December 2! No photos. I got too excited, shared my scope with other birders, and then a Bald Eagle flew in and shuffled the deck.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 258

 

November 28, 2018

If you look at the Eastern Bluebird’s range map on eBird, you’ll see lots and lots of purple generally west of Colorado. You’ll now see a little purple square on Oregon, as of November 26, 2018. Two (!) Eastern Bluebirds were first reported by Portland birder Eric Carlson at the Dharma Rain Zen Center in east Portland. As of yesterday (December 25), the pair is still there and being visited almost daily.

I visited them in the pouring rain on November 28, 2018, in their famous Yellow Tree. Prepare your eyes for a feast of EABL photos taken with my phone, through my scope (which was precariously propped up on my car’s passenger seat), through my car’s open window. Did I mention it was pouring rain, too?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 255

November 23, 2018

A failed chase to find a reported Yellow-billed Loon north of Garibaldi, Oregon, finally yielded me a Bonaparte’s Gull and Red-Breasted Merganser (one of the “oh you’ll get that species eventually, don’t worry” birds). I had been worried.

IMG_7393v2

Red-breasted Merganser; Nehalem Bay, Tillamook, Oregon; November 23, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_1687

Birders looking for the Yellow-billed Loon; Nehalem Bay, Tillamook, Oregon; November 23, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 254

November 19, 2018

Tufted Duck take two!

The Tufted Duck was still being seen at “The Hook” in Hood River, so on Monday, November 19, I last-minute asked for the afternoon off, checked in on all of my projects to make sure I could work on them later on that evening, and off I went back up to Hood River with my birding sister Lindsay.

We got to The Hook at around 2:30 pm and knew we had ~2 hours to bird before the lighting would get tricky. We spent nearly those entire 2 hours sifting through hundreds of mostly Lesser Scaups in a few discrete rafts.

20181119_234739218_iOS

Sifting through hundreds of Lesser Scaup looking for the one Tufted Duck; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Lindsay Willrick.

IMG_1620

A beautiful, cold afternoon at The Hook in Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Tufted Ducks look similar to Lesser Scaups. There are important distinctions of course, but both species are sharp-looking black and white ducks. I focused on looking for the one duck with a black back instead of a grey-ish back. I was also looking for the head tuft. Mixed in with these ducks was also a handful of Ring-necked Ducks, too. Ring-necked Ducks are ALSO sharp-looking black and white ducks, and they have black backs! To make matters even trickier, the duck rafts kept shifting, merging, flying, and re-sorting. It was getting cold. We were hungry. Beer and burgers were down the street. We were ready to give up until we decided to take one final look, with our binoculars, at a smaller raft that flew in near shore.

Why not, right?

AND THERE HE WAS!

IMG_7360-cropped

Tufted Duck and Lesser Scaups; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7342-cropped

Tufted Duck; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

After 2 hours of eye-straining scoping, we saw him with our frigging binoculars, and then we proceeded to celebrate by jumping up and down and cheering. We called this our happy Tufted Duck dance. We even included this in our eBird notes. Unfortunately these shenanigans of ours scared all of the ducks away.

IMG_7374

Lesser Scaups not putting up with our Tufted Duck dance; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Thankfully, this little nearshore raft came back. I ran to get my camera out of the car while Lindsay relocated Tufty, and as luck would have it, I actually got some shots.

And, finally, we got to celebrate this fine sighting with mugs of hot water followed by beer and burgers at pFriem Brewery.

7EBA88D6-52F2-4F7E-B9D8-46CEE8EB6D0E

Lindsay and Linda post-Tufted Duck dance; pFriem Brewery, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 252

 

 

November 17, 2018

The Oregon Birding Association holds a handful of high-quality field trips throughout the year. I attended one on November 17 in and near The Dalles, Oregon, birding in Wasco County and part of Sherman County.

Our birding began at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, an interpretive center and history museum about the Columbia River Gorge. The center’s grounds have some ponds and shrubby areas, making it a pretty birdy spot. I got bird 251 here, a Swamp Sparrow. Unfortunately he was too quick for my point-and-shoot camera, so instead, here are photos from the day of the Swamp Sparrow’s pond, a fetching and cooperative Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Horned Grebe and some coots.

IMG_1590

The Swamp Sparrow’s pond; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7271v2

Golden-crowned Sparrow; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

IMG_7296

Horned Grebe and American Coots; November 17, 2018; Celilo Park, Wasco County, Oregon, photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Before heading back to Salem, we headed to “The Hook” in Hood River, Oregon, to see if we could find the Tufted Duck that had been seen for a few consecutive days. We sifted through the hundreds of Lesser Scaups before we finally had to call it a day because it was getting dark out. I would love to have seen this duck 😦

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 251

October 28, 2018

Oregon gets snow buntings, but they are not common and I think always trigger a rare bird alert. In fact, right now (November 29), there’s a whole pile of snow buntings on the on Del Rey Beach, Clatsop County. I’m not there right now chasing them because a) it’s dark out, and b) I got a snow bunting on October 28, 2018, on Marys Peak in Benton County!

Admittedly, I would love to have chased this pile of buntings today. My time and energy though, at least until December 31, must be reserved to finish this big year strong.

My snow bunting on Marys Peak on October 28  stuck around for a few days, allowing me to get up there with my friend Lindsey on the weekend. The bunting was just hanging out there on the gravel road next to the weather station. The wing flicks were spectacular. My photos are not unfortunately. The lighting was low and fog was around us.

IMG_7208IMG_7216IMG_7218IMG_7242

After a quick trip to the Philomath Sewage Ponds to stalk the seeded sparrow area (hoping for a white-throated sparrow), we called it a day and headed back to our meeting spot in Corvallis. BUT FIRST …. turkeys in a field of the side of the road! Bird 250. Please don’t ask me why it’s take me so long to see wild turkeys. Just don’t.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 250

October 20–21, 2018

Despite knowing we really couldn’t beat the sewage pond experience from a few days ago, we took my Dad to the Oregon Coast. Ho hum ;(

On Saturday, October 20, we hiked Cascade Head just north of Lincoln City. I wasn’t expecting to get any new species during this hike, but a Hermit Thrush surprised me! Did you know there’s a Canadian band called Thursh Hermit? Now you do. I saw them a few times way back in the late 90s when I was running around chasing bands instead of birds (actually, I did both!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day, my Dad opted for a solo visit to the Newport aquarium, and Clint and I birded the area around the aquarium, specifically the South Jetty, to see if the Great Pacific Ocean could grant me a new species or two. It did! I saw four Red-necked Grebes. I also saw a a handful of Common Loons, a species I didn’t think I’d even see this year but have seen a handful of times.

20181021_201910234_iOS

The Clailborne Pell Bridge (aka the Newport Bridge); east of the South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

IMG_7147

Common Loon; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

IMG_7160

Common Loon; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

IMG_7149

Red-necked Grebe; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

IMG_7159

Red-necked Grebes; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 248

 

 

October 17, 2018

My Dad was in town visiting last month. My Dad is not a birder, but he likes hiking. So a day of “hiking” was planned.

Our schedule for the day included the following:

  1. Hiking Alsea Falls Trail and Green Peak Falls, Trail near Alsea, Oregon.
  2. Stopping by Finley to look for White-tailed Kites.
  3. Stopping by the Philomath Sewage Ponds because who doesn’t take their Dad to the local sewage treatment facility when he visits?

Alsea and Green Peak Falls were beautiful, but the birding was quiet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finley delivered as always. We saw TWO White-tailed Kites  from the Prairie Overlook. While at Finley, I checked my email to see if there were any recent rare bird alerts for Oregon in our area. A Dickcissel had been spotted at the Philomath Sewage Ponds earlier that morning! Record scratch! The Dickcissel is not a western bird at all. We cut our Finley visit short and headed straight to the poo ponds to see the Dickcissel. It took a good hour before she popped out of the grasses, but my Dad, I, and another group of birders got great looks at this little beauty.

20181017_222007295_iOS

My dad, Tom, taking over scope duty; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

IMG_7140

Dickcissel; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

IMG_7142

Dickcissel; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 246