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!

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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 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.

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

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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

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!).

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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Dickcissel; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

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Dickcissel; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

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

October 1, 2018

Today, my nephew turned 1 and one Palm Warbler showed up at the OSU campus in Corvallis. Common in the east, the Palm Warbler, at least the “western” variety, has a small population in southern Oregon near the coast. The western variety is also less yellow and more white than the eastern “yellow” variety. Assuming this little guy was heading south and was pit stopping at OSU for a snack.

Palm Warblers are unique in that they tend to hang near the ground (whereas most other warblers are found higher up in trees). Palm Warblers also bob (wag) their tail a lot.

I met my friend Lindsey to see the Palm Warbler (who graciously stuck around until I was finished work) and to celebrate with beer and pizza.

 

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New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 244

 

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

 

September 1, 2018

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Greater Area

Diamond Loop Road

New species: Loggerhead Shrike and Sage Thrasher (not great photos)

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Loggerhead Shrike; Diamond Loop Road; Harney County, Oregon; September 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Somewhere along Diamond Loop Road; Harney County, Oregon; September 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Sage Thrasher; Diamond Loop Road; Harney County, Oregon; September 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Rockford Lane

New species: Sagebrush Sparrow (no photo)

Benson Pond (full eBird list here)

New species: Long-billed Dowitcher

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Mostly America Avocets transitioning into their winter plumage; Benson Pond; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; September 1, 2018.

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Great Egrets; Benson Pond; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; September 1, 2018.

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Long-billed Dowitchers and American Wigeons; Benson Pond; Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; September 1, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 4
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 222

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2018

Cabin Lake, Lake County, Oregon

Cabin Lake is a birding hotspot that is maintained by the Eastern Cascades Audubon Society (ECAS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). In the middle of nowhere, in a sea of ponderosa pine, juniper, and sagebrush, the ECAS (and/or the USFS?) built two bird blinds and installed two cisterns to attract birds. They did this for birders. #bless. Thankfully I did not pack my swimsuit because the lake at Cabin Lake has been dry for more than a century.

I took a lot of photos, and it’s easier (i.e., quicker) for this post to omit captions for now. I’ll revisit soon and update them! What follows is my full list of bird species from this site.

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White-headed Woodpecker
Clark’s Nutcracker
Mountain Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Red Crossbill
Green-tailed Towhee (new species!)
Yellow-rumped Warbler

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 218

August 25, 2018

Crater Lake National Park

Garfield Peak Trail

Olive-sided Flycatcher (great views, finally!!)
Clark’s Nutcracker

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Crater Lake, looking so dreary and awful; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Hiking up to Garfield Peak; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Clark’s Nutcracker feeding on white pine; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Olive-sided Flycatcher; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Olive-sided Flycatcher; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

 

Cleetwood Trail

Canada Jay (seen while trying to find parking; hence, no photos)

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Hiking down the Cleetwood Trail to go swimming in the lake; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Hiking down the Cleetwood Trail to go swimming in the lake; Crater Lake National Park; Klamath County, Oregon; August 25, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 3
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 217