Posted by: atowhee | July 9, 2018


July 9, 2018

Last evening we were at the Youngberg Hill Winery to hear some young opera singers perform.  We were on the hilltop lawn looking south over the foothills of the Coast Range southwest of McMinnville.  From 5 to 7PM I counted over sixty ravens flying back to their evening roost somewhere in those hills. They were coming up a valley from the east, heading west into higher elevations. They had evidently spent the day feeding out in the Willamette Valley, perhaps some were at the landfill along Hwy. 18.  The ravens soared, rode the wind, circled, sometimes folded wings and plunged downward before riding an updraft.  They came in pairs, small loose groups, relaxed and at ease, perhaps contented after a day of bountiful scavenging.  The whole time the ravens were actually below where we sat. I could look down on their backs which glistened in the evening sun. Nary a croak was heard, the only sound of their passing would have been wind over feathers could you glide along beside one or two.

A couple evenings ago I approached our driveway about 630pm and a Cooper’s Hawk sped across the street about twenty feet above the ground.  He zoomed toward a small pine tree from which two collared-doves fled, flying fast. By the time I could get out of the car the Coop had moved on, to try again.  There is repeated evidence around town that collared-doves have become a staple in the Cooper’s Hawk diet hereabouts.

One morning this past week the cumulus sailed slowly across the sky, tufts of cotton on a cerulean sea.  The air—mostly still but for an occasional movement of vibrating leaves. Nora the dog and I walked past suburban lawns and gardens, hearing the sounds of somnolent summer day.  The inescapable traffic, far off a lawnmower grinding on, the endless coo-coo of the collared-dives.  Bending down near a bunch of lavender bushes I hear the soft buzzzz of buszy bees.  A happy sound in this era of diminishing insects.  So pathetic is our poisoning of the planet that I now smile just to hear a mosquito buzz. In some parts of the planet the current insect population is estimated to be less than half of what it would have been fifty years ago.  I grew up in southern Missouri where a warm July night and an outdoor light could produce a screen door covered with numerous and varied insects.  My favorites were always the tightly clinging June bugs, rhinoceros beetles and the huge Dobson flies.  All were perfectly harmless but they were a miniature menagerie of exotic creatures seen only at night.

At the end of Merlot Drive on Friday morning I saw a female Harrier coursing the playing fields.  Red-wings were calling from the cattails that clog the small pond.  Siskins were moving to and fro at the feeders.  A pair of orioles appeared, first the male, then the female.  Their sunny yellow puts dandelions to shame. Later I could look down over the marsh from a bluff along Pinot Noir Drive—there was single Vaux’s Swift zig-zagging just above the tops of the cattails.  I rarely see swifts flying that close to the ground.  There may have been an especially rich hatch of insects that morning at that spot.

Other notes: a pair of adult Bald Eagles were above the North Yamhill River south of Carlton  one evening last week.  I am now seeing wood-pewees in treetops at various locations including Ed Grenfell and Wennerberg Parks.

Below: heron at farm pond in Clackamas County, wood-pewee at same location.  TV in field along Baker Creek Road.GBH ON LOGtv fieldWWPW-BARNCan you see the female harrier in this shot?  Look at the smaller image below (enarge it by clicking on it)…there she is.HARR-FEM2 - CopyHARR-FEM2HARR-FEM3HARR-FEM4HARR-FEM5Below: terrible blurred image of Mrs. Oriole at the nectar bottle.MRS OVarious pewees at various locations around Yamhill County:pw concealpw preenpw uppRed-tail, outstanding in his field…this one along Baker Creek Road.  Below, crossbar hawk along Westside Road.rt afieldRTH CLEARThis fledgling Song Sparrow was mesmerized  by the sight of the dog and me.  Perhaps we were his first experience with large mammals.SOSP JUVIEBird box at Ed Grenfell Park becomes bee box.BEE BOXBEE BOX3 (1)The buck stopped here, along the north edge of McMinnville.  Mostly I see only does and fawns in town. His new grown antlers still coated with fuzz.BUCK UPWhat are those white zig-zags over Baker Creek?  The images captured by my camera of gnats vibrating in the sun.GNATSYoungberg Hill Road & Winery, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 8, 2018. 7 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  60     heading to evening roost between 5 and 7pm, just south of the winery; all flying from valley westward into Coast Range; I suspect many had been at the landfill along Hwy 18 during the day; they passed by in pairs or small groups
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
Purple Finch (Western) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus)  X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  X

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 8, 2018. 10 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  6
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  2
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  8
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  4
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

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