Posted by: atowhee | November 23, 2019


Phillipe Pessereau and I headed to Tualatin River NWR early this morning.  The heavy fog and cold and lack of rain induced us to re-think our destination.  We realized Champoeg State Park might be a better bet.  It was, you betcha!

We saw a passel of Varied Thrush.  Watching them in oaks, in and out of mistletoe clusters, across the sky, we fully understood why Sibley has one in flight on the cover of his western bird field guide.  The eastern state may have their plethora of color-imbued warblers.  Out here we got Mountain Bluebird, Lewis’s Woodpecker with avian pink…and Varied Thrush.
Adult male in good light, finally:vath prfect (2)Most of the time this is what we faced…can you find the Varied Thrush in this image?vath-hiding (2)Here he sits, in a blown up portion of the above image, left hand side…vatrh-hiding2 (2)

It was still cold (below 40 degrees) and foggy when we arrived at the visitors’ center.  Many birds were still hunkered down.  Scrub-jays were about and our one and only yellow-rump (Audubon’s),  moving slowly as if half-frozen.yrwa-chmp (2)  A flicker flicked past, starlings huddled in a sunny treetop, down along a small creek we saw our first sparrow (song), then a trio of White-breasted Nuthatches. wbnu-chmp (2) We heard what we took for Bewick’s Wren fussing but never saw one.   Before we left for the river floodplain below, Phillipe had our best sighting of the day: a bright Townsend’s Warbler high in a Doug-fir.

Also at the visitors’ center we also saw our only flying mammal of the day:

I guess you could call this a motorized hang-glider?  Gossamer lighter than air craft? Wing with a prayer?

Groundlings included five deer (three wading the Willamette’s shallows), ground squirrel, two chipmunks, red and gray tree squirrels.

We headed along the road toward east end of the park.  Acorn Woodpeckers adorned some oaks along the way.

Down along the river at the east end of the park, birding picked up.  Only a single bird on the river–Eared Grebe.  Crossing an unmowed field we watched geese flocks pass over, sounding off as usual. Cacklers aloft:cacline (2)

Eight bluebirds flew over in one direction and then in the opposite.  A Song Sparrow watched us from the top of a grass stem. In willows on the field edge Black-capped Chickadees were busy gleaning. Far off a red-tail was hunched over near the top of a bare tree, probably a cottonwood.

Then among the mature oaks and the berry thickets: busy flocks.  Varied Thrush demanded our attention. Then in rapid succession: junco flock, several Steller’s Jays, towhee, downy, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, nuthatch again, creeper, flickers.

Later we moved on to the west end of the park where we found another wintering flock—more Varied Thrush, both jays, both nuthatch species, both kinglets.  The Golden-crowned Kinglet flock was a first for Phillipe and they came down into small, bare deciduous trees to give us a real look.

Gallery below: Doug-firs at old town site; Downy (2 views); across the Willamette; Steller’s Jay annoyed at our existence in his forest.  Click on any image for full screen view.

btw–Sunday, Nov. 23, Noon-4pm I will be at Portland Audubon’s Wild Arts Festival peddling books, talkin’ birds, especially Malheurian.  Stop by.

Champoeg SP, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 23, 2019
28 species

Cackling Goose  200
Canada Goose  80
Eared Grebe  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Acorn Woodpecker  4
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  10
American Kestrel  2
Steller’s Jay  7
California Scrub-Jay  13
American Crow  5
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Golden-crowned Kinglet  10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
Brown Creeper  2
European Starling  X
Western Bluebird  8
Varied Thrush  35
American Robin  X
Dark-eyed Junco  30
White-crowned Sparrow  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  10
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Townsend’s Warbler  1

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