April 8, 2018

Yes, April 8 was nearly a month ago. I’m catching up.

On our way back from Burns, Oregon, last month, on April 8, 2018, we caught wind of some Red-Necked Phalaropes at the Philomath Sewage Ponds. This species is a relatively common migrant in Oregon on or nearshore, but is rarely seen inland in Oregon. We decided to take a small detour to get this species on our way back to Salem. We arrived to the ponds about 1 hour before sunset, saw the phalaropes spin around on the water*, had great conversations with some birders from Corvallis, and watched the sunset from the ponds.

*Phalaropes spin around on the water to “kick up” tasty bites. The “Spinning Phalaropes” would make a great band name.

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Watching Red-Necked Phalaropes spin around on the water; Philomath Sewage Ponds; Philomath, Oregon; April 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Red-Necked Phalaropes spinning around on the water (I should have taken a video; it’s very amusing); Philomath Sewage Ponds; Philomath, Oregon; April 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Sunset from the Sewage Ponds (don’t knock it ’till you try it!); Philomath Sewage Ponds; Philomath, Oregon; April 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Later on during the week of April 8, I got three additional 2018 Oregon species: Violet-Green Swallow and Common Yellowthroat in Minto Conservation Area in Salem, Oregon, as well as a singing Lazuli Bunting in my backyard in Salem, Oregon.

New Birds for 2018: 4
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 140

 

March 2 and 4, 2018

To two younger birders yesterday, I described the male Ring-Necked Ducks at Minto Conservation Area as looking so dapper and so dressed up and put together that it looked like they were  ready to go somewhere special. Oscar-quality red carpet ducks, indeed. I love ducks.

Ring-Necked Ducks; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

Ring-Necked Ducks; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Before this weekend, I was holding steady at 115 Oregon birds species until Friday when I saw (finally) a Hairy Woodpecker*. And, not that it was needed, but a Downy flew in and joined the Hairy, and for the first time, I got to see both species side by side. Did I get a photo? I did not. It was a busy place full of excitement and nobody was staying still for that long.

Today, I saw a second Hairy Woodpecker and was able to get one decent photograph.

So where was I this past weekend? I birded in Minto-Brown Island Park on Friday and at Minto Conservation Area on Sunday. The weather hollered “spring!” and I called back by spending as much time outside as possible.

*New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 116

Hairy Woodpecker; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

Hairy Woodpecker; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Minto-Brown Island Park; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

White-Crowned Sparrow; Minto-Island Brown Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

White-Crowned Sparrow; Minto-Island Brown Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Song Sparrow; Minto-Island Brown Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

Song Sparrow; Minto-Island Brown Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Brown Creeper; Minto-Brown Island Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

Brown Creeper; Minto-Brown Island Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Golden-crowned Sparrows; Minto-Brown Island Park; Salem, Oregon; March 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Western Grebe; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

Western Grebe; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Spotted Towee; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

Spotted Towee; Minto Conservation Area; Salem, Oregon; March 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

January 7, 2018

I do not get Varied Thrushes in my yard yet (insert High Fidelity reference here), and because my friends Jim and Diana do get Varied Thrushes in their West Salem yard right now (along with Townsend’s Warblers, etc.), I started my Sunday birding day at their house to check out their feathered visitors. Jim also made pancakes with real maple syrup, so one could say the morning and day in general were being set up in a damn fine fashion. I had already had coffee at home, obviously.

Jim and Diana’s January 7, 2018 morning Top 5 yard list (yes, another High Fidelity ref):

Anna’s Hummingbird*
Downy Woodpecker*
Northern Flicker (red-shafted)
Townsend’s Warbler*
Varied Thrush*

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Townsend’s Warbler; January 7, 2018; West Salem, Oregon; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

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Varied Thrush; January 7, 2018; West Salem, Oregon; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

After not too many pancakes and a few new 2018 bird species, Diana and I headed over to the conservation area just past Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge in downtown Salem to hunt down a Harris Sparrow that I caught wind of on Saturday¥. Although we did not find the Harris Sparrow, we did find the following highlights in or near the river, ponded areas, and adjacent, drier areas.

California Quail*
California Scrub-Jay
Common Merganser
Fox Sparrow*
Great Blue Heron
Mourning Dove*
Northern Shoveler
Pied-Billed Grebe*
Ring-Necked Duck
Song Sparrow

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California Quail; Minto Conservation Area January 7, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt. Apologies for the branch in front of him. This was taken with full 50X optical zoom.

 

That afternoon, after a quick trip home for lunch and to check out my feeders (the usual fare of visitors were there, plus a Downy Woodpecker), Clint and I headed over to the quarry ponds just northwest of Minto-Brown Island Park. My goal was to find the RedThroated Loon I found on December 30 (but was, of course, not countable for my 2018 big year). This individual was still there, albeit in the one of the larger ponds this time. Highlights from my quarry pond trip (in or near the ponds):

American Coot
American Wigeon
Bald Eagle
Belted Kingfisher
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Double-Crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Green-Winged Teal
Hooded Merganser
Mallard
Red-Throated Loon*
Song Sparrow
White-Crowned Sparrow*

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Red-Throated Loon; Quarry Pond NW of Minto-Brown Island Park; a January 7, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

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Red-Throated Loon; Quarry Pond NW of Minto-Brown Island Park; a January 7, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

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Red-Throated Loon; Quarry Pond NW of Minto-Brown Island Park; a January 7, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

En-route in between places: Rock Pigeon* and Ring-Billed Gull*

¥ I attended the TEDx Salem event on Saturday and Noah Strycker was one of the speakers. I actually had no idea who the list of speakers was before I went, so this was a pretty awesome surprise for me. Noah did a world Big Year in 2015 and saw more than 6,000 bird species of birds. They had his book, Birding Without Borders, and he was kind enough to sign it and chat with me for a good 20 minutes or so about birding, his talk, and the Harris Sparrow he spotted earlier in that conservation area.

*New Birds for 2018: 12 species
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 55 species