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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

February 17, 2018

The Winter Wings Festival, a fantastic yearly birding festival in Klamath Falls, Oregon, yielded me 26 new species for my 2018 Oregon list! We birded all day this past Saturday, as part of the festival, with some local experts who I believe knew how to summon specific species.

Tour leader: “We often see Ferruginous Hawks in this area. I’m sure we’ll see one today.”

a few minutes later …

Tour leader: “Look, a Ferruginous Hawk.”

The bus quickly slows to a stop, and said hawk lands on the ground for us, and we are able to admire its distinguishing features.

This happened with a few more species, including a Loggerhead Shrike (on the California side of the show, so I can’t count it toward my formal 2018 Oregon list).

We planned on birding this past Sunday, too, as part of the festival, but winter decided to finally visit Oregon, so we hit the road early Sunday morning so that we could get to Salem before dark. We did, but what took us 4 hours on Friday took us nearly 7 on Sunday.

Back to Saturday, and the details of which are as follows (I’ll let the bullets and photos speak for themselves; y’all aren’t actually reading any of this anyway):

What: Big Day Birding Field Trip, Winter Wings Festival, Klamath Falls, Oregon

When: Saturday, February 17, 2018, 7am to 4pm

Where: Lake Ewauna, Putnam’s Point, and Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls, Oregon; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills, Oregon; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, California

Why: To bird with local experts and to bag some southern Oregon bird species

Species Total: 71
*New Birds for 2018: 29
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 115

These numbers include the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I saw near Beaverton, Oregon, earlier in the week; see end of post)

*List of New Birds for 2018 from the Winter Wings Festival

Greater White-fronted Goose
Cackling Goose
Canvasback
Barrow’s Goldeneye
Black-crowned Night-heron
Rough-legged Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Golden Eagle
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Acorn Woodpecker
Prairie Falcon
Say’s Phoebe
Black-billed Magpie
Tree Swallow
Mountain Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Pygmy Nuthatch
Marsh Wren
Townsend’s Solitaire
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Tricolored Blackbird
Red Crossbill
Evening Grosbeak 

BRGE

Barrow’s Goldeneye; Running Y Ranch; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Black-crowned Night-Heron roost (total individuals estimated at 104!); Klamath River, just north of Lake Ewauna; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Barred Owl; Running Y Ranch; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Canvasback; Running Y Ranch; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Hermit Thrush; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge visitors’ center; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt. I can’t count this species because I saw it in California, but look at this guy!

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Loggerhead Shrike; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt. I can’t count this species because I saw it in California, but it’s a Loggerhead Shrike!!

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Prairie Falcon; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Birding Pals; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills; February 17, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt

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Me and my K. Falls Birding Pals; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills; February 17, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt

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Our drive back to Salem, Oregon, somewhere along Highway 58 near Crescent Lake; February 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

Earlier that week:

Also, as planned, I stopped by Commonwealth Lake Park this past Tuesday to see if I could find the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker again. I did, or rather some other birders did already, so this was rather effortless.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Commonwealth Lake Park; Beaverton, Oregon; February 13, 2018.

 

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Commonwealth Lake Park; Beaverton, Oregon; February 13, 2018.

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2018

This past Saturday, February 10, 2018, C and I headed over to William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge just south of Corvallis to bird for the day and to specifically find the *Lewis’s Woodpecker, a striking western woodpecker who flycatches insects rather than excavated insects from a tree. The Lewis’s Woodpecker nests in tree snags and prefers open woodlands. Because of fire suppression and urban and agriculture encroachment, this habitat is not as common as it once was. To add insult to injury, the European Starling also nests in tree snags and is outcompeting the Lewis’s Woodpecker. For all these reasons, this species is in decline and is rarely found in the Willamette Valley.

After arriving to the refuge, we parked at the Ray Benton overlook, where the woodpecker was being regularly seen hanging out and flycatching in the oaks. Once we arrived, a group from Portland said that they briefly saw him, but that they lost him. They left and drove off, but then they stopped soon after! They stopped and got out of their van. They got out of their van and started looking through their binoculars. Then, somebody busted out their scope. I ran down the street, while they were motioning for me to run toward them. Gosh, I love my fellow birders (where were you in Fort Stevens State Park the other day?!!?).

They found the woodpecker and had him scoped by the time I got there, out of breath. Effortless. I’ve got to admit this was pretty nice after my X3 crossbill failure this past week. I was even able to get a documentable but awful photo of the woodpecker. We also got the woodpecker in our scope and was able to help others spot him much like the Portland group did for us.

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Lewis’s Woodpecker; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; February 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt (through a nice scope).

 

We saw 31 species at Finley yesterday, which warranted a nice, worthy eBird post. I got an additional two 2018 birds, too: *Wood Duck and a *Lincoln’s Sparrow.

We ended the day at the Philomath Sewage Ponds where we watched the sunset and looked for Cinnamon Teals (negative).

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Lincoln’s Sparrow being stubborn; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; February 10, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Wood Thrush ;); Philomath Sewage Ponds; February 10, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt.

*New Birds for 2018: 3
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 86

February 11, 2018

My birding since Ms. Eider has comprised fits and starts, mostly, but has garnered me a few more species for my list.

This post isn’t very excited, so let’s begin with the full moon on January 31. I was hoping to see the lunar eclipse, which was supposed to be ideal in the west. I woke up at 4:30 AM, walked around my house peering out the windows, and I’m pretty sure it was cloudy, and I went back to bed.

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Full moon; Salem, Oregon; January 31, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

On Sunday, February 4, we headed to Astoria, Oregon, because C had a work conference. En-route, we stopped near Cedar Mill, Oregon, at Commonwealth Lake Park where a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was being seen regularly. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers don’t really occur in the western U.S. I’m pretty sure I caught a quick glimpse of said sapsucker, but then I lost him. I’ll try again this upcoming Tuesday when I’m back up in that area for an eye appointment. I did, however, get two 2018 new birds at this park: a *Red-breasted Sapsucker (lifer!) and a *Redhead duck.

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Red-breasted Sapsucker; Commonwealth Lake Park; Cedar Mill, Oregon; February 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Redhead; Commonwealth Lake Park; Cedar Mill, Oregon; February 4, 2018;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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American Wigeon; Commonwealth Lake Park; Cedar Mill, Oregon; February 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

While in Astoria, I was determined to find the White-Winged Crossbills that are being seen almost daily at Fort Steven State Park hanging with a larger flock of Red Crossbills. The first two times were failures. The third time, I’m almost positive I saw (from a distance) and heard the crossbill flock fly away from one tree and disappear into another dimension. I’m certain of this. Their calls were loud sounded like they were coming from all directions until they just stopped. We sifted and sifted, but no crossbills. Different dimension. Who knew this about crossbills? Fort Stevens State Park did, however, yield me a two new 2018 species: *Raven and *Sanderlings.

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Raven; Fort Stevens State Park; February 7, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Sanderlings and Dunlin; Fort Stevens State Park; February 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Ring-necked Ducks; Astoria, Oregon; February 8, 2018;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

While at the hotel in Astoria, I got three new species for 2018: *Glaucous-Winged Gull, *Western Gull, and *Western Grebe.

*New Birds for 2018: 7
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 84

January 14, 2018

Part of a Big Year involves looking for rare birds or finding rare birds that other birders have found. Once found, rare birds often pop up on various forms of rare bird alerts (e.g., emails, texts, etc.). Heading out to find a reported rare bird is usually a last-minute decision and involves a quick change of plans, driving, and a near full day of not eating well. Because of this, I’ve decided to put together a Rare Birds Bag. Similar in idea (and maybe contents?) to the hospital bag women pack for when they go into labor, this bag will include, at a minimum, the following:

  1. Non-perishable, filling, snacky food items that I’ll actually eat (grabbing a banana on the way out is a sure fire way to make my car smell for days because I will never eat said banana).
  2. Filled water bottle
  3. Bird field guide (I have so many, I’ll throw one in this bag)
  4. Rain jacket (my back-up obnoxiously coloured pink jacket)
  5. Layers (warm tops, toque, gloves)
  6. Extra socks (for when I’ll inventible step took close and then into some type of inundated area)

Other obvious items I’ll take with me are my optics—bins, scope, and camera–and my staple field guides, but they are always near the door and ready to go.

January 14 was a rare birds day, sort of. A Lesser Yellowlegs had been seen at a local conservation easement property, and I wanted to try again to see the Tri-Colored Blackbirds that had been reported at the Philomath Sewage Lagoons. Also, the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge was sort of on the way (“on the way” = a debatable term in the world of birding), so I decided to stop there, too, for my first time to see what I could find. It was an overly ambitious plan. I grabbed a banana.

Stop #1: Conservation Easement Property just south of Turner, Oregon

I left Salem and immediately descended into fog shortly before arriving at the conservation easement property. Peering through the dense fog, I found moving, shorebird-shaped items far out in what appeared to be a ponded area. I put my scope on them and immediately saw the large shorebirds, which turned out to be Greater Yellowlegs. These larger birds were accompanied by mini versions of themselves, and I was hoping these were the Lesser Yellowlegs.  The fog finally started to lift, and after watching these birds for more than 1 hour and after watching them in flight a few times, it became obvious that these were definitely not Lesser Yellowlegs but were instead Dunlin. Still a new bird for 2018 and a delight to watch for so long.

Stop #1’s list:

Canada Goose
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
*Killdeer
*Dunlin
*Greater Yellowlegs
European Starling
Song Sparrow
*Western Meadowlark
*Red-winged Blackbird

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Conservation Easement property near Turner, Oregon, post–dense fog; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Conservation Easement property near Turner, Oregon, post–dense fog; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Conservation Easement property near Turner, Oregon, post-fog; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Greater Yellowlegs and Dunlin at Conservation Easement property near Turner, Oregon; dense fog shortly after arriving; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Greater Yellowlegs and Dunlin at Conservation Easement property near Turner, Oregon, post-fog; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Song Sparrow; Conservation Easement property near Turner, Oregon; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

Stop #2: Middle of Nowhere, Willamette Valley

After birding at the conservation easement, I was off to some random country farm road corner between Corvallis and Eugene to look for another rare bird, a Say’s Pheobe, that I did not find. I did, however, find hundreds of very loud Brewer’s Blackbirds—a new 2018 bird for me.

Stop #2’s list:

Rock Pigeon
*Brewer’s Blackbird
Song Sparrow

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Brewer’s Blackbirds; Somewhere between Corvallis and Eugene; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

Stop #3: William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge

As planned, I stopped in at Finley on my way to the sewage ponds. I arrived later than I wished (having wandering around too long looking for the phoebe), so my plan was to simply do a drive-through reconnaissance before heading to the ponds. At one point though, I realized that I was exceptional tired of being in the car for so long. I stopped and parked the car at a trailhead, deciding that perhaps this was my last stop for the day and that I would do my legs a favour and go for a birding walk.

For reasons that include a somewhat faulty driver’s side door and the fact that I had not eaten anything yet that day (no, not even the  banana), I locked myself out of my car. Thankfully I had my binoculars around my neck, but all other important items (e.g., cell phone) were in the car. Also thankfully, this rad lady Rachel was there, too; lent me her cell phone to deal with my adulting failure; and waited with me until a tow-truck/locksmith arrived to opened my car for me. By the time my car was “free” it was near 4:30pm, and it was time to head home. So yea, Step #4 was home, and the banana went into the freezer where it ultimately belongs.

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William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, moments before I parked and locked myself out of my car; January 14, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

*New Birds for 2018: 6 species
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 68 species (this includes a House Sparrow that showed up in my yard that morning and a Northern Harrier I saw while I was driving)

January 13, 2018

One of the reasons why I’ve always loved birding is that it essentially brings me to some of my favourite places, namely forests and wetlands. This is also a fair assumption by folks who find out you’re a birder:

birder = a person who spends time outdoors in beautiful, natural places looking for birds

While this is often the case, on Saturday, January 13, I headed out to one of my area’s seriously birdy Hot Spots: the Philomath Sewage Ponds.

The Philomath Sewage Ponds are just south of the town of Philomath. They comprise three lagoon cells (i.e., ponds). After passing through the facility’s headworks, raw sewage is stored in these three ponds, which are designed to kick-off the treatment of raw sewage by “storage under conditions that favor natural biological treatment and accompanying bacterial reduction.”1 The water from these ponds is treated further when it is eventually pumped to what’s called a chlorine contact chamber. Eventually it is either discharged to the Mary’s River or is used for irrigation, depending on the season.

Anyway, these sewage ponds did not let me down. I found myself going from pond to pond, as if I were opening up Christmas gifts of birds to myself. After feeling pretty comfortable with the ponds, I moved onto the adjacent shrubby-wooded area to the south of the ponds where I saw a new-to-2018 species and lifer, a Black Phoebe.

Breaking the rest down for you here:

Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
*Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
*Black Phoebe (lifer!)
American Crow
European Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
*Savannah Sparrow

BLPH

Black Pheobe; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Black Pheobe; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Northern Shoveler; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Northern Shovelers; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

RTHA

Red-tailed Hawk; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

SVSP

Savannah Sparrow; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

AMKS
American Kestrel; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

*New Birds for 2018: 3 species
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 60 species (this includes two additional 2018 species I saw earlier in the week on January 10—*Gadwall and *Green Heron—both of which were at the Koll Center Wetlands Park near my eye doctor in Beaverton, Oregon. I stopped there for a few minutes before I went back to work).

  1. Westech Engineering, Inc. 2017. Wastewater System Facilities Plan. Philomath, Oregon. Available at: http://www.ci.philomath.or.us/vertical/sites/%7B2CFF016E-1592-4DB3-9E2B-444FA3EFC736%7D/uploads/PhilomathFacilitiesPlanV3.pdf