June 15, 2018

When you are about to start your weekend with a very deserving happy hour, but you find out a Common Loon has been spotted at the “local” sewage ponds, you trade beers for birds and you hit the road.

I have not seen a Common Loon since I lived in Ontario, Canada, so I was pretty excited to see this old friend. Common Loons are not typically this far south right now, so this was a rare chance for me to see one and add it to my 2018 Oregon list.

Common Loons are gorgeous. I was counting on the bird to be easy to find considering the ponds are pretty empty (bird life) at this time of the year. The eBird posts also mentioned that the loon was in the south pond.

Much like my Pacific Golden-Plover luck, I saw the loon almost immediately. We should have brought some beer with us, though I’m sure the City of Philomath frowns upon people partying at their sewage ponds.

And … the Common Loon is BIRD #200!!

One species, bird #200. This is how it’s going to be for the rest of the year. One new bird here, two new bird there. Any pelagic tours I take will yield a small handful, but this big year has formally shifted to deliberation and strategy.

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Common Loon; Philomath Sewage Ponds; June 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Common Loon; Philomath Sewage Ponds; June 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Philomath Sewage Ponds; June 15, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

May 2, 2018

May 2, 2018, was my birthday, and I took the day off work. I went birding.

My first stop was Witham Hill Natural Area just northwest or Corvallis. I didn’t get any new birds here, but it was a lovely walk in the woods and a great early way to start my birthday.

My next stop was Mary’s River Park in Philomath. I got three new 2018 birds here: Rufous Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler, and Warbling Vireo. The park appears to function mostly as a dog park and Frisbee golf destinations, but I found a few wooded trails, including one that took me to the river’s edge. I stayed here for an hour by myself.

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Mary’s River Park; Philomath, Oregon; May 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

I continued on to Finley, and got an additional three species: Sora, Western Kingbird, and Cassin’s Vireo. Among other secretive marsh birds, at the very very end of the Vimeo video at the end of this post, you can hear the Sora.

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Camassia quamash (camas) in bloom in Finley’s wet prairie habitat; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; May 2, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

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Western Kingbird; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; May 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Oregon Ash riparian hardwood forest; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; May 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Oregon Ash riparian hardwood forest; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; May 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Cassin’s Vireo; William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge; May 2, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Listen to Finley marsh birds here –> https://vimeo.com/268320144

New Birds for 2018: 6
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 155

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

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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

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

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

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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