Posted by: atowhee | December 8, 2009

Birds grounded by cold

I birded several locations in the northwestern corner of Oregon today.  Even passed over a few sand dunes once encountered by the Lewis & Clark Expedition.  But songbirds feeding on the ground brought my best finds.

It was late afternoon, dark under the towering evergreens.  But there were a dozen Varied Thrush feeding on the verge of the road at the entrance to Fort Clatsop Park.  My camera kept asking me to use a flash but the birds were too far away.  This is my only recognizable image.

Fort Clatsop is where L&C spent their winter in Oregon, southwest of Astoria.  The latter is the oldest American-founded settlement west of the Rockies.  The Astor fur trading company came here in 1811. 

The sub-freezing clold must make it hard for insect eaters to find food.  So I found Ruby-crowned Kinglets feeding in the grass, warmed slightly by the sun.

As I watched this fellow, I got this lucky shot:

And out onthe lawn for the limited warmth was this bird, usually a denizen of shaded spots, Hermit Thrush:

I’ll be showing some visiting birders around this corner of Oregon next month.  They’ll be happy to see this guy, the chickadee showing off his chestnut-colored back.  This image shows he’s well-named.  This one was at Coffeeberry Lake in Fort Stevens Park.

The lake was sheltered from the wind so there was plenty going on.  This is a Douglas squirrel I believe.  Much smaller than the gray squirrel.

This guy is smaller yet:

A Winter Wren staring me down after I played the wren’s song on my iPod.  The Winter Wrens were abundant in the spruce and Douglas fir forest at Coffeeberry Lake.  I saw one Bewick’s Wren there as well.  Ducks included Gadwall, Hooded Merganser and the ubiquitous Bufflehead.

This Bufflehead was in a channel at Seaside, Oregon, right off Hiway 101.  And so was this male Common Goldeneye, larger cousin of the Bufflehead.

More photos and checklists posted tomorrow if I have the energy.  Another long day in the car and in the field as I head from Astoria toward Puget Sound at dawn.


  1. Thank you very much for this excellent bird travelog. I’ll be joining your group on January 22, starting in Portland and heading up to the Olympic Peninsula etc. Chuck has me as one of the drivers on this venture, with my 4-Runner. It will be my first experience with PIB, and I can hardly wait.

    Your materials are outstanding, and although a beginner at these activities, I’ll enjoy every moment.
    Loran Olsen

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