Posted by: atowhee | January 2, 2020


First of Year (FOY) sightings are legion now.  FOYs just cascade around me.  Today: first mushrooms, first bloom (a purple primrose in our garden), first Bufflehead, first Mockingbird (he was even a county first for me).  The Mocker in Yamhill town is my 172nd bird for Yamhill County.  Still to come: my first hummer of the year, first chorus frog calling, first mosquito (some time off I hope), first returning Osprey (next month perhaps).

The Northern Mockingbird was right where Paul Sullivan has been seeing it.  On its sentinel post atop an apple tree overlooking a holly with berries.  On east Main in downtown Yamhill town, just south of the terminus of Larch Street on the west edge of the garden surrounding the large yellow Victorian home there.  The coveted holly is actually in the neighbor’s yard.  Herewith my FOY Mockingbird shots:

Here is the bird’s guard station, tiny line above the wire shows where he is perched.  This is viewed from sidewalk along south side of Main Street.IMG_0903 (2)_LI

The Mockingbird is one of those species that can thrive in manmade habitat, especially where we plant exotics that bear berries.  The mockingbird has been expanding its range across the continent but especially here in the west where man has created mocker-friendly habitat wherever he goes at low elevation.  Hollies, hawthorns, pyracantha–yum.
The mockers were as far north as Chico by the 1920s.  In 1932 the first one was noted in the city of San Francisco by Joseph Mailliard, ornithology curator at the California Academy of Science.  In 1944 Joseph Grinnell noted the species was found in most of lowland California and had been expanding northward for four decades.  It now breeds in a portion of Jackson County, Oregon, and appears irregularly but in breeding season in the Willamette Valley.

Once a bird of the Confederacy in the eastern U.S. with its grey plumage, the Northern Mockingbird has moved north in there  as well.  It now sings every spring in Central Park.  A long-time New Yorker transplanted to London assured me he heard one in Dulwich.  I had to shatter his hopes–it was the European mimic, not a mimidae, the Song Thrush.  The mimidae family does not dwell east of the Atlantic.
I once got to watch one of his cousins on the Galapagos, riding the back of a giant tortoise.


Here we have the subtle avian fashionista: boldly striped tail flagging over the back.  Earth tones on that back and pale gray below.  A bold eyebrow which requires no mascara.  A sharp, delicately curved beak.  Dark eye that stares you down.  Very fine edging strikes along the wings.  Wow, whatta bird!  I used to say I wanted to have the earthy tweed of a male Gadwall, byt maybe I should reconsider…


Mushrooms, the fruiting bodies pushed up through the turf from the living fungus under ground:


There wasn’t a lot of sunlight today.   Walking the creek at Yamhill Sewer Ponds a glowing bright flashed before my eyes.  It was small, rounded–a spiderweb in a tree wound, filled with water and glowing greenish-gold, apparently pollen or some other plant dust had made the web impervious to water.  The glowing sac of water was about one inch across:IMG_0924 (2)_LI

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