Posted by: atowhee | November 10, 2020


The dog and I went looking for the reported Gyrfalcon in northern Polk. County. We did not find it. There was sporadic cold rain. There was a road crew stopping traffic along Livermore Road. The odds were bad to begin with.

Then we drove past two facing fields along Livermore Road, three miles north of Smithfield Road. There we hit the bare field trifecta!
West of Livermore the earth sloped upward, a bare field with fine stubble strewn about the surface, one closer look I could see fresh dicotyledons sprouting. On the east side a more level field of fescue, Birds were flitting back and forth between the two menus. Some landed along the edge of the road’s gravel. Further out I could see birds circling and chasing and larking about. That was my clue–Horned Larks. Along the road–Savannah Sparrows. In the grass near the road edge–pipits. Three for three, and not a single Killdeer in sight.

If I had all day and no impatient dog in the back seat I might have out-waited the larks until one or more came close to the road. They were far more car-shy than the sparrows and pipits. I did note that in this covid era the larks were wearing their masks outdoors.

South of the pipit-place along Livermore was a large starling flock, larking about as well. When they lifted off and did their murmuration act I could not get them all into a single frame:

On our way back on Smithfield Road there was a love triangle on the shoulder–one female, two male pheasant. They were non-plussed that I would interrupt their intimate negotiations. I had to take these shots through a partially steamed up window:

Some more of the birds around Baskett Slough. I particularly appreciate the expression on the face of the Song Sparrow–“Hey whatcha doin’ around my thicket?”

Looking up is always important around Baskett Slough–swans and Cacklers:

Baskett Slough NWR–Smithfield Rd., Polk, Oregon, US
Nov 10, 2020
Checklist Comments:     RAINY, trails closed
14 species

Cackling Goose  500
Ring-necked Pheasant  3
Killdeer  40
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
European Starling  X
American Robin  20
Fox Sparrow  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow  20
Song Sparrow  4
Spotted Towhee  3
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

Livermore Rd., Polk, Oregon, US
Nov 10, 2020
13 species

Cackling Goose  300
Tundra Swan  9     fly over, heading northward
Mourning Dove  12
Great Egret  1
Red-tailed Hawk  5
Northern Flicker  2
American Kestrel  4
American Crow  X
Horned Lark  40     in facing fields with sparrows and larks three miles north of Smithfield Road
European Starling  500
American Pipit  100
Savannah Sparrow  75     in facing fields with pipits and larks three miles north of Smithfield Road
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

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