Posted by: atowhee | December 7, 2019


DEC. 7, 2019.    Philippe Pessereau and I birded the Hwy 99 corridor in northern Polk County today.  Our first notable bird of the day was the Rough-legged Hawk.  As usual he was in the lone, bare deciduous tree on the rise just south of Bethel Road and along the east edge of the highway.  The photo is execrable because it was raining and the light was twilight dim.rlh-polk (2)

We headed west from 99 along Smithfield Road.  Almost immediately there were sparrows, robins, birds out in the rain.  At the first woods a Steller’s Jay flew over the road.  At one point Smithfield squeezed  between two overgrown hedges as we entered the first patch of the wildlife refuge. bs sign There we saw a Fox Sparrow—a first of the year for me, a lifer for Philippe.  There were Song Sparrows, juncos, more robins—a veritable flutter of bird life.  A Mourning Dove sped past. Rain persisted. We saw not a single raincoat, no umbrellas either.  Foxy here, wet but willing:fosp--smith (2)

North on Livermore Road we walked onto the refuge land, unmarked.  In one impounded marsh, with little water as yet, we saw both Say’s and Black Phoebe.  This was east of the road.  GW Teal, Mallards, sparrows and juncos galore, Spotted Towhee, flicker and Bewick’s Wren—busy place.

About 1.5 miles north of Smithfield we checked out some ponds on private land—not open to the public.  Three river otters cavorting—another lifer for Philippe as was the Say’s Phoebe. They were far away, quick and mostly under water:

In that area we saw Gadwalls, flying Snow Geese (about ten), kestrel and wet-tailed (red-tail) hawks, harrier, also two blue herons.  A meadowlark sang despite the drizzly day.
Here is one of the several wet-tailed hawks we saw and the last, silent pair of meadowlarks:

Back on Smithfield we found a field full of Killdeer with robins across the road in the vineyards and trees along the road.  A farm pond is next to the road where the Van Duzer Vineyard lane goes uphill.  There were pour first Ring-necked Ducks of the day.  Further south Smithfield climbs to the top of a crest and we looked into the valley eastward where at least thirty Tundra Swans swam in the lake on refuge land.  Ducks there includes shoveler, pintail, wigeon, g-w teal, Bufflehead.

Finally on Coville Road we stopped at the pond on the north side; many dabblers, Cackling and Canada Geese, our close-up of a nutria.  Poor substitute for the speedy, playful otters.  Along the Road we found two damp meadowlarks, Bald Eagle, peregrine, more swans in the lake to the north, long skeins of Cacklers across the sky.

Back at Hwy 99 we headed north and stopped to check the pond at Left Coast Cellar (road not open until noon).  Hooded Merganser flock included breeding plumage males, many Bufflehead, another flock of ring-necks, Mallards (of course), wigeon.  While we were mudding around the scope along the lane an adult Bald Eagle flew over.  Good day had by birders and waterfowl alike.  Wet and cold, Philippe and I were smiling, amply rewarded.

Our one worthwhile stop in Yamhill was the quarry pond on Fox Ridge Lane: one Hooded Merganser, flock of Common, Buffleheads, a male Green-winged Teal in among the divers.


Above: swans, one of many kestrels we saw.

Ducks at Left Coast Cellars pond: female Hooded Mergansers lower right and part of the Bufflehead flock in upper left-hand corner:lc ducks (2)The eagle passing over as we stood by this pond:be-passing_LI

Along Coville Road:

Salamanders, dead and alive.  The deceased had been flattened by a car. Rough-skinned newt, don’t touch as it has neuro-toxins it can exude through its skin to protect it from most predators more sensitive than a car.

In case you thought I was kidding about the rain:

We saw over forty species of bird, one amphibian, two mammals and lots of raindrops.
Fox Ridge Rd., Yamhill, Oregon, US
Dec 7, 2019
Checklist Comments:     in the quarry in the rain
4 species

Green-winged Teal  1
Bufflehead  1
Hooded Merganser  1
Common Merganser  6

Hwy 99, Polk County, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 7, 2019
3 species

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Rough-legged Hawk  1     south of Bethel Road intersection; this bird seen here repeatedly
American Kestrel  3

Smithfield Road, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 7, 2019
14 species

Ring-necked Duck  12
Killdeer  100
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Northern Flicker  X
American Kestrel  X
Steller’s Jay  1
Black-capped Chickadee  X
Red-breasted Nuthatch  X
American Robin  X
Fox Sparrow  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  X

Livermore Road, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 7, 2019
Checklist Comments:     some refuge land, mostly private land
21 species

Snow Goose  10
Gadwall  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Mourning Dove  X
Great Blue Heron  2
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Northern Flicker  X
American Kestrel  X
Black Phoebe  1
Say’s Phoebe  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
White-crowned Sparrow  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  X
Western Meadowlark  1     singing in the rain

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 7, 2019
18 species

Cackling Goose  2000
Canada Goose  X
Tundra Swan  40
Northern Shoveler  X
Gadwall  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Bufflehead  X
American Coot  X
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  X
American Kestrel  10
Peregrine Falcon  1
American Crow  X
Western Meadowlark  2
Red-winged Blackbird  X

Stevenson Road seasonal slough, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 7, 2019
6 species

Canada Goose  X
Tundra Swan  16
Mallard  X
Great Blue Heron  2
Red-tailed Hawk  X
American Kestrel  X

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