Nesting season continues to progress. While some songbirds have already fledged a batch of babies, other species are just getting under way. This Pied-billed Grebe was sitting on a nest at Commonwealth Lake.
Blue-winged Teal can be hard to find in the Willamette Valley at any time, so it was nice to see a pair at Fernhill Wetlands.
female Blue-winged Teal
Eurasian Collared-Doves continue to expand their range and numbers in Oregon. It wasn’t all that long ago that these birds were first found in the state, or maybe I am just old. This bird was singing at Fernhill.
Song Sparrow at Fernhill, living up to his name
A few Purple Martins have returned to the nest boxes at Fernhill. They are still a treat to see here.
While most of the Tundra Swans that winter in Oregon left for the breeding grounds long ago, this individual continues to hang out at Fernhill. A few observers have reported this bird as a Trumpeter Swan, but the straight feathering across the forehead (as opposed to the widow’s peak on a Trumpeter) is consistent with Tundra.
For the second week in a row, I chased a vagrant to add to my life and Oregon lists. A Lawrence’s Goldfinch turned up in a back yard in Sherwood. Since this species is hard enough to find in its normal range (southern California), when one appeared a half-hour’s drive from home, I was compelled to chase.
It was a dark rainy morning, so the bird was a bit bedraggled and a decent photo was impossible, at least with my camera. But a lifer is a lifer. This was a twitch, a quick look to identify the bird so it can be added to the list and then move on. Someday perhaps I will see a flock of Lawrence’s Goldfinches in their proper range and habitat and enjoy extended views to study plumages and behavior. But for Oregon, a damp bird at a backyard feeder is still a pretty sweet deal.
The finch appeared soon after we arrived (there was a group of nine of us that descended on this yard) then moved on. While we waited for the bird to return, we enjoyed a pair of Eurasian Collared Doves.
Anna’s Hummingbird, singing in the rain
I know that two events do not make a pattern, but it would be nice if this run of a new bird each week would continue. I won’t hold my breath.
Wetlands in the Willamette Valley are very birdy in winter, so those areas tend to get most of the birding efforts this time of year. Of course, given the amount of rain we have had the past few weeks, it is hard to find any place that isn’t a wetland.
My recent waterfowl class was supposed to bird Jackson Bottom, but since that site was flooded we went to Dawson Creek behind the Hillsboro library. We found three Eurasian Wigeons, including this male.
Most of the Cackling Geese we saw were flying over, but this Taverner’s Cackling Goose posed nicely for us.
Smith and Bybee Wetlands hosted a large flock of Eurasian Collared Doves. Here are four feeding along the railroad track with two Mourning Doves in the foreground.
This Red-shouldered Hawk is a regular at Smith and Bybee, but seldom sits out in the open.
This male Ruddy Duck was on Force Lake. It seems odd to me that Ruddies don’t molt into breeding plumage until late spring.
A flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows were hanging out in the blackberries by Force Lake. I’ll have to start scouting sparrow patches soon for my Little Brown Birds class in March. Hopefully the rain will taper off by then.
I led a couple of tours for the Birding and Blues Festival last weekend. The weather was dry and reasonably warm, despite rather vicious afternoon winds on the beach.
North winds brought good numbers of migrating shorebirds close to land. Shorebirds often bypass Oregon beaches on their way to Grays Harbor in Washington, so it was nice to find a big flock feeding right across from our hotel.
The flock was mostly Dunlins and Western Sandpipers, but their were a couple of Semipalmated Plovers in mix. (but not in this photo)
These Red-breasted Mergansers were at Clay Meyers State Natural Area.
Bufflehead at Clay Meyers
White-crowned Sparrows were conspicuous and vocal everywhere.
Eurasian Collared Doves are pretty easy to find in Tillamook County. This one was singing behind the community center in Pacific City.
The view from Cape Lookout. It is unusual to see the ocean looking blue instead of steely gray.
There are big changes underway at Fernhill Wetlands. The main lake has been drained, and the two impoundments to the south are completely gone. This is all to make way for large emergent wetlands that will replace the ponds. This should greatly increase the bird diversity at the site when work is completed.
There weren’t any shorebirds on these newly exposed flats, but I would imagine this area would be pretty appealing to a passing plover or Baird’s Sandpiper.
This American Goldfinch was enjoying the water.
Eurasian Collared Dove
At Jackson Bottom, swallows were everywhere, with young birds out of the nest and waiting around for parents to feed them. Tree and Barn were the two species I noticed.
Baby Barn Swallows
There were lots of Least Sandpipers about. These are birds that either didn’t make it all the way to the Arctic, or had failed nesting attempts and headed back south. Shorebird migration will really pick up in about two weeks.
This male Wilson’s Phalarope was reported with three downy chicks earlier in the week, but I did not see any young when I was there. Hopefully the little ones were off hiding somewhere.
Fernhill Wetlands, south of Forest Grove, is a great place to see the onset of autumn. Water levels on the main lake are still very low, but the recent rains will soon change that.
Migrant shorebirds, like these Western Sandpipers, are enjoying the mudflats. Shorebird numbers are starting to thin out.
This Pectoral Sandpiper was checking out the new vegetation on the lake bed.
The first Cackling Geese have arrived. They will soon be joined by a few thousand more.
This Common Merganser was resting on an exposed mud bar. I don’t get to see mergansers out of the water very often.
American White Pelicans, once considered rare in the Willamette Valley, are now an expected species in late summer.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are another species that are increasingly common in the area.
The annual Fernhill Wetlands Birds and Brew Festival will be held on October 12. I will be leading the 8:00 tour for that. Here is a link for more info.
We were visiting family in Ulysses, KS, the past week. The town is swarming with doves. This Mourning Dove was sitting on a nest over my mother-in-law’s driveway.
This nest with two young Mourning Doves was about 20 feet away from the nest pictured above.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are now much more common than Mourning Doves in town.
After the two species of doves, the most conspicuous birds in Ulysses are Mississippi Kites. They are constantly flying over town, hunting dragonflies and cicadas.
Here is a rare look at a Mississippi Kite sitting still in the open.
It has been a good summer for Red-headed Woodpeckers. I saw several families with young (note the young bird below and to the right of the adult above).
This is surely the most beautiful woodpecker in North America.
I led trips for the Birding and Blues Festival in Pacific City, OR, last weekend. The weather was cool with scattered showers, so photo ops were not abundant.
The Three Capes Tour on Friday was actually very good for mammals, with charismatic mega-fauna such as Gray Whale, Steller’s Sea Lion and Roosevelt Elk. Only slightly less charismatic was this California Ground Squirrel.
This Peregrine Falcon posed nicely on the cliff at Cape Meares. The rich colors of the rocks and plants, compared the overexposed image of the falcon show that I have obviously still not mastered my new camera.
There is a large flock of Eurasian Collared Doves in Pacific City. Ten years ago, this species would have been a huge deal, but they are very well established now. Despite their abundance, this flock was very shy.
The avian stars of Pacific City are these Aleutian Cackling Geese. This particular population breeds on the Semidi Islands and winters at Pacific City, spending the nights on Haystack Rock offshore and days in this cow pasture at the north end of town.
About 14 miles south of Lakeview, Goose Lake State Park is always worth a quick stop for riparian birds and waterfowl. Goose Lake is large (8 miles wide, 20 miles long) and shallow (average 4 ft.), making it ideal for Western and Clark’s Grebes, dabbling ducks such as Gadwalls and Cinnamon Teal, and marsh species along the shores. Most of the lake lies in California, but a few miles of it extend into Oregon. During migration, large numbers of migrant waterfowl can be seen here, although I think it would be more pleasant to avoid waterfowl hunting season.
I think this Killdeer must have had a nest in this patch of gravel, because she stood her ground as I walked by. While their abundance, along with their persistently loud obnoxious calling, makes it easy to not appreciate Killdeer, they really are stunning shorebirds.
The brushy riparian habitat in the state park attracts a nice variety of birds. The site gained notoriety a few years ago when it hosted a White-eyed Vireo. I didn’t find any great rarities during my recent visit, but I always enjoy seeing Black-billed Magpies.
It is hard to believe that ten years ago, Eurasian Collared Doves were very rare in Oregon. They are now well established throughout much of the state.
In the large lawn near the picnic area, the resident ground squirrels have created a web of rodent runways through the grass.
Less than a mile from the California border, the Winchuck River empties into the Pacific Ocean. Along with a lovely beach area, the site has a nice visitor center (bathroom!) with information about the surrounding National Forest.
Brown Pelicans were feeding just offshore.
Two Long-billed Curlews were feeding near the river mouth, probing their long bills into the sand. The crisp pattern on the wing coverts (dark stripes with no cross bars) identifies this individual as a juvenile.
This Double-crested Cormorant fished in the river while other fished offshore.
Eurasian Collared-Doves can be expected just about anywhere in Oregon after a massive range expansion over the past few years.
Western Fence Lizards were basking on the abundant driftwood. This one has recently shed, evidenced by the little patch of dead skin left on the tail. The one below has a less dramatic pattern, but with little blue flecks.