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.

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

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

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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

September 29, 2018

Seeing more than 300 bird species in Oregon in a calendar year is really only feasible if the birder is willing to go on a pelagic birding tour.

Pelagic = related to the open sea.

Because my target was 300 bird species, earlier this year I signed up for an 8-hour pelagic tour that was part of the Oregon Birding Association’s AGM in Garibaldi, Oregon.

I have a strong history of motion sickness, but Dramamine usually does the trick. Yes, it makes me drowsy, affects my breathing and heart rate, and generally gives me a case of the pending malaise, but I can usually power through it if I’m occupied.

Well occupied I was! For the first three hours of the tour, we birded and birded, and as we got further out to sea, the waves got bigger and bigger. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, but it was such fun. So many birds, and countable looks at Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmar, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Red Phalarope, Pomarine Jaeger, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Mew Gull. I remember thinking at one point that I would most certainly do many other pelagic tours because, great heavens, wasn’t this fun?!

UNTIL IT WAS NOT FUN ANYMORE. Until the waves shot a strong middle finger to the Dramamine, and the feeling of death came on strong. From that point, I either forced myself to stay outside staring with great intent at the horizon (and holding on for dear life as the boat went up and down several feet) or dashing into the cabin and rapidly putting my head down on the table and holding onto a pole so I wouldn’t get thrown about. This went on for hours.

One hour before the tour ended, as we were heading back to shore, the surf became calm, and my sickness passed. I felt alive again and it felt incredible to surface onto the deck, use words out loud, and look at other things but the horizon.

Looking back, I may sign up for another pelagic tour, but not for 8 hours. Maybe 5. Maybe.

New Birds for 2018: 8
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 243

 

July 22, 2018

On July 22, 2018, we ventured to the Elliott State Forest where we met up with other members of the Oregon Birding Association as well as a group call Coast Range Forest Watch, a volunteer-based group who surveys for the Marbled Murrelet, a federally threatened species.

We got started very early in the morning, hiking into the forest, and watching and listening, overhead, to the murrelets fly roundtrip between the ocean to their nests. This was exceptional.

Our forest hike yielded a few new species for my big year:

Marbled Murrelet
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Wrentit

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Early morning Marbled Murrelet viewing; Elliott State Forest; Coos County, Oregon; July 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt (there are no murrelets in this photo, but this giant white patch of sky is where we watched their roundtrip flights).

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Sifting for other birds with the OBA; Elliott State Forest; Coos County, Oregon; July 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

 

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Sifting for other birds with the OBA; Elliott State Forest; Coos County, Oregon; July 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

After, we headed out to Cape Arago State Park, hoping to see the murrelets on the ocean. The weather was initially windy and misty, making visibility of the ocean pretty difficult. Within the hour, it cleared up, and I saw an additional four species:

Pacific Loon
Clark’s Grebe
Surfbird
California Gull

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Pacific Loon; Cape Arago State Park (Simpson Reef/Shell Island Viewpoint); Coos County, Oregon; July 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Pacific Loons and Clark’s Grebes; Cape Arago State Park (Simpson Reef/Shell Island Viewpoint); Coos County, Oregon; July 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Cape Arago State Park (Simpson Reef/Shell Island Viewpoint); Coos County, Oregon; July 22, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

 

New Birds for 2018: 7
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 212