Posted by: atowhee | May 4, 2009

Gnatcatchers, flycatchers and birdcatcher

Cold and wet and gray.  The weather’s been so dismal, we’re thinking of moving to Seattle for the sunshine.  Just a jest.  But it was hyrdoplaning weather on the highway as I sped to my Sunday morning birdwalk at Lower Table Rock.  This unique geological remnant is administered by BLM and Nature Conservancy.  It was the BLM’s annual spring bird walk for visitors.  In the weather, there were ZERO visitors, but I did have some determined bird walkers, bo bird walk we did.  In the cold.  In the rain.

There were three young biologists from the Klamath Bird Obswervatory, all working on the KBO bird-banding program this spring.  One was a young man from Belize who had just arrived in the U.S.  This morning would start his North American life list.  The fourth birder was a young woman who leads school kids on hikes to Table Rock.  She knew the plants.  She was here for more information.  “I tell the kids to listen to the birdsong and then say, ‘There are a lot of birds here’.”  End of Ornithology lesson for today.

We persevered and the rain gave out.  Our reward was a pretty fair bird list, including recent California emigres like Wrentit, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and California Towhee.  All birds becoming more comon in this southwesterncorner of Oregon.  We saw G-catcher latter both on the lower loop trail and atop the mesa.  Also near the parking lot: California Towhee.  Our flycatchers for the day: innumerable Ash-throated in the oak treetops, a couple Pac-slope in the dense woods about halfway up the slope (800 feet in nelevation gain, the BLM lady said).  Unseen but heard was a Wood-Pewee as well.  And the pair of Kingbirds ruling the grassy patch next to the parking and trailhead.

On my way south after the walk I stopped at the boat ramp area of Touvelle Park along the Rogue River.  A Cooper’s Hawk was calling as it flew in and oyut of its nest in a tall riverside cottonwood.  My first accipiter nest of the year.  And my birdcatchers for the day.

The day’s mammals: a couple jackrabbits at Table Rock, one ground squirrel at Touvelle.  Fine wildflowers at Table Rock including Rockcress(at least two species), meadowfoam of more than one kind, desert parsley, hound’s tongue, larkspur, woodland and prairie star, manzanita, madrone, camas, ookow, pussy-ear (lily) and blue-eyed Mary.   The largest vernal poll on top of Table Rock The Lower was cock full of tadpoles for the Pacific tree frog.  Good news for amphibian futures.

THere were both Lewis’s and Acorn Woodpeckers at Table Rock.  Here you can see the close-ups I got eaerlier this week at a KBO banding staton in Ashland.  Both of Oregon’s Melanerpes species.

Location:     Lower Table Rock
Observation date:     5/3/09
Notes:     One Gnatcatcher near parking, two in brush atop the plateau, Wrentit on plateau, Cal Towhee near parking lot.
Number of species:     49

Canada Goose     2
Mallard     2
California Quail     1
Great Blue Heron     2
Turkey Vulture     15
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Mourning Dove     4
Lewis’s Woodpecker     3
Acorn Woodpecker     6
Western Wood-Pewee     1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher     2
Ash-throated Flycatcher     4
Western Kingbird     2
Warbling Vireo     3
Western Scrub-Jay     6
Common Raven     3
Tree Swallow     50
Violet-green Swallow     20
Cliff Swallow     12
Barn Swallow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     1
Oak Titmouse     1
White-breasted Nuthatch     2
Bewick’s Wren     2
House Wren     4
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     3
Western Bluebird     8
Wrentit     1

European Starling     4
Orange-crowned Warbler     3
Nashville Warbler     4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)     2
Wilson’s Warbler     2
Western Tanager     1
Spotted Towhee     8
California Towhee     1
Chipping Sparrow     15
Lark Sparrow     10
Song Sparrow     2
White-crowned Sparrow     1
Golden-crowned Sparrow     4
Red-winged Blackbird     1
Western Meadowlark     7
Brewer’s Blackbird     3
Purple Finch     8
House Finch     2
Pine Siskin     1
Lesser Goldfinch     5
American Goldfinch     20

Location:     Tou Velle SP
Observation date:     5/4/09
Number of species:     16

Canada Goose     1
Great Blue Heron     1
Osprey     2
Cooper’s Hawk     2
Vaux’s Swift     1
Western Scrub-Jay     2
Tree Swallow     6
Cliff Swallow     10
Barn Swallow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     1
American Robin     3
European Starling     2
Spotted Towhee     2
Song Sparrow     1
Black-headed Grosbeak     1
Lesser Goldfinch     4


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