Posted by: atowhee | December 14, 2019


Tim Johnson tells me our Red-breasted Merganser was the first reported in the Salem Count since 1998, the only other time they’ve  been seen.  The count is 57 years old.  We had an even better day than I thought at the time.

Today was the Christmas Bird Count in the Salem circle.  Our team of three had an area in southeast Salem between Turner Road and south Lancaster.
Waterfowl.  Weatherfair.

I began the day before dawn at the lake next to Lowe’s Hardware across from the airport.  In the near-dark I could see thousands of birds on the water.  41 degrees, fog, cold.  No wind.  Before 7AM the gulls began flying out.  There were four gul species: California, Herring (1), Glaucous-winged, Ring-billed.  At least 2000 Cackling Geese snoozing.  Coots, Hooded Mergansers (the only ones I saw all day), shovelers, and more.  Not a single land bird.  By 725AM I was at nearby Gateway Park.  First land bird, a robin, then soon a flicker at 738.  The large pond there had hundreds of waterfowl.

At 8AM I met the rest of my team and we were off.  With me today were Vivienne Torgeson and Flo Hall.  Back to Gateway Park after a quick check of Lowe’s Lake…and Gateway came through big-time.  BC Chickadees, both goldfinches, both kinglets, three hummers, Greater White-fronted Goose, Pacific Wren, MERLIN, Cooper’s Hawk, downy, kingfisher.  Aso Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks adding to our growing list of waterfowl which already included most of the expected dabblers, Cacklers and Canada Geese.  Best of all–here we scored only our two shorebirds of the day at small pond–two Greater Yellowlegs.  That’s right, no snipe and NO KILLDEER

South on Turner Road, the private marsh on the west side of River Band gravel works:  100  or more GW Teal, first kestrel, first red-tail, our only two Mourning Doves. Here our second kingfisher.  Driving along the edge of the River Bend property we saw our only Bald Eagle of the day in our of their taller trees.

Thence to Mill Creek Industrial Park and designated open space.  Over 2000 Cackling Geese.  On Mill Creek Road SE a friendly Rough-legged Hawk who insisted I photograph him repeatedly.  Meadowlarks, Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows, more kestrel, two Marsh Wrens.

Then to the lake east of I-5 and south of Home Depot, just ducky.  Added Canvasbacks, more Ruddy Ducks, three Redheads (not common hereabouts).  Yes, more coots, too.

Back south on Lancaster we stopped at the berm overlooking the two lakes at front entrance of River Bend gravel works.  More ruddy, more co#ts, one RED-BREASTED MERGANSER trying to swallow a fish that was more than a mouthful.

Corban University helped fill out our checklist: Varied Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrows, lots of Song Sparrows, both kinglets again, WB Nuthatch and Brown Creeper, Steller’s Jays.  We’d been seeing scrubbers and crows in numerous locations.

There were some domestic geese at Gateway including a couple Graylags.  The mix of Mallard X domestic ducks was across the spectrum from all-back to latte colored.

Over sixty-five species for the day. No warblers, no KILLDEER.  The only Peregrine was one that flew over my car as I drove home across the bridge between the two Salems.


Varied Thrush, White-front, Rough-legged…


Gateway Merlin:MRL-GATE2 (2)SALEM CBC AREA #1, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 14, 2019 6:55 AM – 3:35 PM

66 species (+1 other taxa)

Greater White-fronted Goose  1     Gateway Park
Cackling Goose  4000
Canada Goose  300
Northern Shoveler  X
Gadwall  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Mallard (Domestic type)  X
Green-winged Teal  100
Canvasback  X     Lake east of I-5 and south of Home Depot
Redhead  X     Lake east of I-5 and south of Home Depot
Ring-necked Duck  30
Lesser Scaup  5
Bufflehead  X
Hooded Merganser  30
Common Merganser  X
Red-breasted Merganser  1     south lake at entrance to River Bend Gravel on south Lancaster
Ruddy Duck  X
Pied-billed Grebe  X
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  35
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Mourning Dove  2     Mill Creek Industrial Park
Anna’s Hummingbird  3
American Coot  X
Greater Yellowlegs  2     Gateway Park
Ring-billed Gull  X
California Gull  X
Herring Gull  1
Glaucous-winged Gull  X
Double-crested Cormorant  X
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  2
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1     River Bend Gravel works
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Rough-legged Hawk  1     Lake east of I-5 and south of Home Depot
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  X
American Kestrel  X
Merlin  1     Gateway Park
Steller’s Jay  1     Corban Univ.
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  X
Golden-crowned Kinglet  X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  X
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
Pacific Wren  1     Gateway Park
Marsh Wren  2     Mill Creek Industrial Park
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  X
Varied Thrush  X     Corban Univ.
Hermit Thrush  1     Corban Univ.
American Robin  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
American Goldfinch  X
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  X
White-crowned Sparrow  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Savannah Sparrow  X     Mill Creek Industrial Park
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  X
Western Meadowlark  X     Mill Creek Industrial Park
Red-winged Blackbird  X

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