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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20181017_222007295_iOS

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

IMG_7140

Dickcissel; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

IMG_7142

Dickcissel; Philomath Sewage Pond; October 17, 2018.

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

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.

marys park

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.

camus

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

WSKB1

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

Finley5

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

Finley4

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

CSVR

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

April 29, 2018

William-Finley National Wildlife Refuge =
the gem of all birding places in the Willamette Valley

We headed to Finley on April 29, 2018, and focused on the west side of the refuge where it is largely forested (oak woodland mixed with some Douglas-fir). It rained on us a lot, and I could not get any photos of actual birds. I did, however, get a video and three new Oregon 2018 species (two of which you can hear in the video): Hutton’s Vireo, Black-throated Grey Warbler, and Wilson’s Warbler.

finley6

Oak Woodlands; William-Finley National Wildlife Refuge; April 29, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

finley

Oak Savannah; William-Finley National Wildlife Refuge; April 29, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

finley1

Oak Savannah; William-Finley National Wildlife Refuge; April 29, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Click here to see the video: https://vimeo.com/268218882

After Finley, we visited the Timberhill Natural Area in Corvallis, and I got a bird #149 Chipping Sparrow.

IMG_5087

Timberhill Natural Area; Corvallis, Oregon; August 29, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 4
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 149

 

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.

Lewis

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).

LISP

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

MEIMG_8504

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

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

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

CE1

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

CE2

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

CE3

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

fog1

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

fog2

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

SNSP

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

BLBR

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.

Finley

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)