Posted by: atowhee | August 16, 2019


CLICK here for some fine adventure on the St. Croix River.  That’s one I canoed on in days of yore…black from the tamarack pitch in the North Woods. Never saw a swimmin’ eagle.

Posted by: atowhee | August 15, 2019


You can now spot local Canada Geese in flight, this year’s goslings fully feathered and in the air with mom, dad, aunts and uncles.  A young junco shows up in our garden.  He was born at least a half mile from our house–Rotary Park is the nearest forest.  The American Goldfinches are losing their bright yellow plumage now, will depart next month.  Bushtits are back in their bunches of 20-30 and won’t break up into pairs until next year’s breeding season.  Flocks of swallows hang out on wires and roof edges.  Soon they will be departing southward.  Bird calls can still be heard but little song.

In our garden we hear the collared-doves cooing,  a Red-breasted Nuthatch honking from a conifer, sometimes the scrub-jay speeds in accompanied by his raucous screams, goldfinches make their “potato-chip” calls are they fly overhead.  Only the sharp call of the flicker, none of his longer rattle call.  Robins don’t deign to sing, nor the House Finches.

Here is half of the pair of Pacific Wrens who scolded me for walking through their territory in the hillside forest at the Trappist Abbey north of Lafayette:PW PRFT (2)PW PRFT2 (2)

My favorite garden birds are now the trio nuthatches.  They are busily caching seeds for cold weather, using our fence, a trellis, tree bark, what have you.  And then they amuse by hanging upside down.

At the abbey there were Acorn Woodpeckers in the open oak woodlands.  In out garden now we have both species of lowland chickadee; each species sticks to its own.  Bushtits like the bird baths almost as much as the chickadees and nuthatches.  The pewee was hunting two days in a row from the top of the tallest riverside ash tree at the north end of Joe Dancer Park.  I saw a Willow Flycatcher and a Western Tanager there as well one evening this week.

Young red-tail above the abbey:

Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey trails, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 13, 2019
11 species

Mourning Dove  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Acorn Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
Barn Swallow  20
House Wren  2
Pacific Wren  2
Dark-eyed Junco  8
White-crowned Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  3

Posted by: atowhee | August 14, 2019


These swimmers were giant penguins.  I once saw the tiny Blue Penguins in New Zealand in Bay of Isles,  but these guys might’ve swamped [click here for link] our little boat.

The little blues, BTW, were faster than our mail boat, swimming circles around us then speeding off toward the horizon as puttered along.

Little blues are the smallest penguin living today.  Click here for some info on them.little_blue

Posted by: atowhee | August 13, 2019


Two wren species and neither was a Bewick’s.  Plenty of juvie juncos on the edge of the woods, ground feeding like typical sparrows.  White-crowned, but no Chipping, in the open oak woodlands.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey trails, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 13, 2019
11 species

Mourning Dove  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Acorn Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
Barn Swallow  20
House Wren  2
Pacific Wren  2
Dark-eyed Junco  8
White-crowned Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  3

Posted by: atowhee | August 11, 2019


Click here for video and update on California’s only known wolf pack, descended from one in southwestern Oregon presumably.

Posted by: atowhee | August 10, 2019


Nora the dog took me for a walk at Joe Dancer Park this morning.  It turned into a birding trip, not just an amble where she could sniff every bush base or scuffed pile of leaves.  Migrants!
A flock of White-crowned Sparrows that included many of this summer’s fledglings, some still sporting their speckled vests. They were not there a couple days ago. In the riverside trees: warblers.  There were my first orange-crowned, black-throated gray and Nashville of the season.  I don’t think any of them bred at the park this summer; I last saw them around McMinnville in May.

One of the adult white-crowns in his bounteous apple tree:WCS-JDP (2)

Hummer and two of the downys.

Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 10, 2019
21 species

Anna’s Hummingbird  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Barn Swallow  8
Bushtit  25
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  4
Cedar Waxwing  1
House Sparrow  X
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  4
White-crowned Sparrow  30
Song Sparrow  5
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Nashville Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Black-throated Gray Warbler  2

Posted by: atowhee | August 9, 2019


Don’t be gulled into giving up–stare ’em down.  That’s the science.

Posted by: atowhee | August 9, 2019


I was driving north along Westside Road this morning.  We were headed out of McMinnville for Nora’s morning walk.  Our goal was Yamhill Sewer Ponds to count shorebirds.  Just after passing Rotary Park I noticed a goat feeding along the highway, outside the fence.  Not good, I thought vaguely.  Having been a goat farmer I knew they were usually cautious and less often run over than say dogs or squirrels, but traffic on Westside is always at or above the speed limit which is 45 MPH right where we were.
Then we zipped past the “goat”and it didn’t look right.  It was a splotchy deer, mostly white.  Perhaps related to Alba whom I’ve seen previously at Rotary Park, even her daughter?


Todayspotty-heads up (2)

Today’s odd deer was near the driveway of 3354 Westside Road.  Browsing contentedly until I stopped and it got nervous.  Previously I had seen and photographed another whitish female deer.  She was mostly white except head and rump, not nearly as splotchy as the one today.  Click here for a previous blog on the first whitish deer I dubbed “Alba.”

For the first time this month there were Western Sandpipers at Yamhill Sewer Ponds.  They were feeding in pasture north of the ponds.  Their little cousins, the Leasts, continue to feed along the margins of the ponds themselves running along the black plastic pond lining.


Kestrel keeping posted:AK AT YSP (2)

The Willow Flycatcher at Wennerberg this morning was my first of the season.  They don’t seem to breed in the park but show up in late summer after breeding is done for the year and prior to migration.

The Acorn Woodpecker was near the oak grove at icheobook and 13th in McMinnville.  The goldfinch and nuthatch, two birds on two feeders, were in our garden.

There are three Bushtits in this image from Yamhill Sewer Ponds, the creekside forest.  Can you find them?  One is but a blur.ysp-btpair2 (2)

The Blues: scrub-jay and juvenile Western Bluebird, the latter at Champoeg, one of the few places you can still find bluebirds in the Willamette Valley.

Next to Yamhill Sewer ponds are two small cow pastures, dense with Angus cows and that means lotsa cow flop and that means lots of insects intensely interested and that means plenty of swallows…even today, in the rain.  This image is from a sunnier day earlier this week:cow-swallo3 (2)

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 9, 2019
13 species

Mallard  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Killdeer  2
Least Sandpiper  10
Western Sandpiper  7
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Great Blue Heron  1
American Kestrel  1
Western Wood-Pewee  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
Barn Swallow  100
European Starling  X
American Robin  20

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 9, 2019
9 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Mourning Dove  1
Western Wood-Pewee  1
Willow Flycatcher  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
Barn Swallow  X
House Finch  1
Chipping Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  1

Posted by: atowhee | August 8, 2019


The U.S. Department of Agriculture will kill for agriculture, can’t have some coyote or wolf interfering with the drive for more profits.  So our taxes are back to supplying cyanide land mines.  Be aware as you step out of the parking lot…

I went to Tualatin River NWR this afternoon.  Glaring sunlight on the water, and there was very little of that…water I mean.  I expected lousy birding and worse camera luck. Here are three shots of what is normally marsh where now narrow threads of warm muddy water cross the baked mudflats:


I was prepared for disappointment. The air was criss-crossed by swallows–barn and cliff, with the latter dominating by about a three to one ratio. And there were dozens of herons and egrets, a gang of crows parading on the mudflats, numerous Turkey Vulture both on the flats and circling overhead.  As I lingered longer and walked a bit on the path that goes west from Hwy 99, I began to realize the narrow water channels meant many animals were confined to narrow quarters.  Further, they were sulky but willing to put up with me so they could keep feeding on the remaining mud or in the small pools that persist.  So some shots surprised me and must’ve given my little point’n’shoot camera a big ego boost.

MOST LEASTS  I had my most Least Sandpipers of the year.  First 18 at Yamhill Sewer Ponds this morning, then a six-pack at Tualatin River, less than 20 feet off the trail. I don’t expect to ever get that close again to an untamed sandpiper. Note the fine edging on this bird’s feathers.lesa back (2)lesa lean (2)lesa lean2 (2)See how muddy the legs are but the toes show yellow as they were just in shallow water.lesa lean3 (2)

lesa-two (2)

In the same trailside channel as the peeps, this adult Great Blue (click on an image to see full screen):


gbh landing (2)Not all herons were mudding about:perch (2)

There were three male Wood Ducks in eclipse plumage.  Isn’t this the time of year when they molt and temporarily cannot fly?  Being grounded might explain why they were out in a narrow muddy channel without a bush or willow within a hundred yards, no place to hide.  This tie of year I normally see this bird’s tail as he disappears into a watery thicket.  No waterside thickets available at Tualatin right now.


ALL GORE, NOT AL GORE      Young Pied-billed Grebe swallows it whole.  I couldn’t figure out what “it” was.  One shot, even though I was aimed straight toward the sun and sun-glare, shows the zebra-stripes on the youngster’s face.  In the second shot he had temporarily lost the prey back into the water.  In two shots the bird’s head is turned on its side so you see the pale chin behind the beak.


KESTREL, complete with fly-by swallow.


CROW FLATcroz (2)

NUTRIO–that would be three nutria in a wad.  Adult and two young.  Then later one of the young and the same adult pulled up on the mud next to a heron.  I just imagined the heron assuming an Oxbridge accent and sniffing impolitely:


Tualatin River NWR, Washington, Oregon, US
Aug 7, 2019
19 species

Canada Goose  8
Wood Duck  3
Gadwall  X
Mallard  X
Pied-billed Grebe  4
California Gull 2 –both first year birds
Killdeer  3
Least Sandpiper  6
Lesser Yellowlegs  1–my first this season
Great Blue Heron  21
Great Egret  14
Turkey Vulture  33
American Kestrel  1
American Crow  30
Barn Swallow  100
Cliff Swallow  300
European Starling  X
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  5

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