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Posted by: atowhee | May 20, 2018

SHERWOOD- A BLANK SPOT ON THE EBIRD MAP?

May 19will-rvr

Yesterday afternoon the dog and I birded for an hour at the Parrett Access point on the Willamette River Greenway. It is on Wilsonville Road, across the river from Champoeg State Park.  It’s a bit closer to Wilsonville than to Newberg. Also just over Ladd Hill from Sherwood which was our ultimate destination.  Parrett is just inside Yamhill County.

I was a little shocked and more surprised when I input sightings into eBird and discovered that there were no previous records for that site.  It is now listed as a hotspot.  I doubt there are rarities often though there is access to the river itself in a couple of perilous descents from the riverside trail. In that brief visit we saw a pair of Osprey, a pair of Red-tails, Brown Creeper, Northern Rough-winged Swallow and thousands of tufts from the seed-spewing cottonwood trees. My favorite was a loud- mouthed family of Steller’s Jays who followed us along the trail for a ways, telling us to go back where we came from.  Sound familiar? There were three jays and I finally got a good look at one—fuzzy, with a crest just forming and almost no tail yet.  It was a recently fledged youngster.

The forest is a rich mix of natives—bigleaf maple, cottonwood, ash, willow Doug-fir and cedar—with exotics like hazelnut, walnut and spruce.  In addition to the line of riparian forest there is a three-acre meadow, once a farm field. Here the grasses and wildflowers are festooned with spittlebug bubbles. One picnic table, two trails and a dry toilet building complete the facilities. The undergrowth is dense: blackberry and thimbleberry, bracken six feet high, blooming red osier dogwood, manroot vines entangled with brush and tree trunks.

Later we drove up Ladd Hill Road to Sherwood.  At the top of Ladd Hill a pair of Western Bluebirds flew across the road.  There does not appear to be much for-profit agriculture in the area.  Mostly hobby farms or horse stables. That always brings to mind the bumper sticker “Driver carries no cash, I own a horse.”  We saw a single winery.  The bluebirds are there because the use of pesticides would be less than you find in the valley fields where profit and poisons are tightly wedded.

At the end of the afternoon we looked around Sherwood. EBird had no locations marked for the entire town, not even Olson Park which looks like promising forest habitat.  Only the Tualatin River NWR at the north end of town along Hwy 99. I put in a few sightings: there was a California ground squirrel and a Vaux’s Swift within a block of the city library.  My guess: few birders in Sherwood’s forests.osp-limbosp-limb3rht pairdrht paird3ss hidnstj-parrett

HERE COMES THE FUZZfuzz fallingIMG_8444IMG_8445IMG_8452IMG_8453

Parrett Mountain Access, Yamhill, Oregon, US
May 19, 2018 1:30 PM – 2:20 PM. 15 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Steller’s Jay (Coastal) (Cyanocitta stelleri [stelleri Group])  3
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  5
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  5
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X

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“We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the twentieth century: our tools are better than we are. And grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides.  But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”                                       –Aldo Leopold

“Like winds and sunset, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them.  Now we face the question of whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its costs in things natural wild, and free.”                                 –Leopold

“Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit—in a world that is limited.  Ruin is the destruction toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons.”      –Garret Hardin

I am still disgusted with so much commercial human activity.  For two days I watched airplanes spraying poison over the rice paddies of central California.  Here in the Willamette Valley we see masked workers with heavy spray cannisters on their backs, walking the fields.  It is no wonder I rarely see a butterfly or dragonfly and bees are a source of marvel.

Birds are feeding young now, plants are reaching for the sky.  Growth is all around us, like the earth has bought into market capitalism. But in nature all this is seasonal.  The earth and its non-humans know there are limits.

Cow parsnip and poison hemlock plants now reach over six feet.  Blackberry canes now arch over twelve feet high. Manroot pushes its macho way into paths and trails and its tendrils even climb tree trunks. Hawthorn and chokecherry are in bloom.  The hawthorn bears white blooms along entire drooping limbs.  The conical cluster of chokecherry’s white petals decorate the end of most thin, new twigs.  Thimbleberries and blackberries are blooming as well.  That’s promising a good late summer for our berry-eating birds.  BTW, I saw my first Cedar Waxwings of the year in Oregon on our Linfield campus walk on Wednesday.

CCH BLOOMSCOWPADEEP GRASSHAWTIMG_8261IMG_8266Images above: chokecherry; cow parsnip; deep grass; hawthorn; camas lilies putting on seed pods; manroots now ten foot up a tree.

We heard swifts in our chimney this week.  They would not have babies yet, perhaps just a real estate appraisal or maybe working on a nest. Many resident species do have babies. Our Bewick;s Wrens fledge dover week ago.  There are young starlings all around now.  At Yamhill Sewer Ponds I saw three Canada Goose families.  Two had six gawky teenagers each.  The third pair had only three—tiny fuzzballs newly out of the egg.

At No Name Pond the coots will have chicks soon.  They will come out of the egg ready to swim and bearing that orange fuzz on their heads.  The male coot does much of the night-time incubation, his mate takes the day shift.  Both parents help feed and guard the young after they hatch, unlike all those male Mallards and Wood Ducks I saw loafing at Yamhill Sewer Ponds.  These male ducks have nothing to do with eggs or young.  That’s one reason why Canada Geese are such successful parents, both birds are in attendance all through the mating and family-rearing process and both are very aggressively protective.  Given a vote I’m sure parental Canada Geese would ban guns from all their ponds and precincts.GOOS FAMGoose family above, goose flight below.GOOSELINESSUREBURDSYamhill Sewer Ponds. Above: two Brewer’s Blackbirds and Spotted Sandpiper, shorebirds all.  Tree Swallow:TS SOUKNDS4DUKSDicks from left: Woodie male, two Gadwalls, Mallard fermale.  Below: distant grosbeak.BHG AFARMale coot at No Name Pond:COOT MALE

Posted by: atowhee | May 16, 2018

SACRAMENTO VALLEY GALLERY–A DAY IN MAY

Ash-throated Flycatchers:ATF IN TREEatf on wireYoung night-heron:BCNH YNG IN CAnalCowbirds, acting un-cowed:BHC ON FNCbo-grylodOriole above, at Gray Lodge.  Male Cinnamon Teal, below.hansumibis aglowBPH-ROADBlack Phoebe doing road work.  Below, Black Terns hawking insects above Thermolito Forebay southeast of Chico.bt-abt-bbt-dCLIFF SWALLOWS GALOREcs frenzycs nestrowcs-bridg2Canada Geese flying in line:goose line-ChicoSnow Geese at Colusa NWR, with coots behind.sno in mayGlossy swallow commonly known ats “Tree Swallow.”ts-brightKingbird:WEKI-WIREyhb in airYellow-heaxed Blackbird at Delevan NWR.yhb2yhb3Snowy Egret at Colusa NWR:sno ghrtTRTLE-FLATTwegr1Western Grebe at Thermolitowegr2Meadowlark:WEME BACKWhimbrel:WHIM2Curlew, in same marsh as whimbrel, along Hwy 162, west of Hwy 99.LBCk--deerLong-billed Dowitchers at Delevan plus sleeping beauty.lbdLEAD AMMOLZRDMocker:moc1TRTLE-FLATTWild Turkey come down to the marsh for a drink:WT IN MARSHGBH WITH PLUMESHARR-LOMale harrier, Colusa NWR.HARR-LO2House Finch, Thermalito:hofi on wire

Posted by: atowhee | May 16, 2018

A ROAD’S GALLERY–FROM FREEWAY BIRDING ALONG I-5

bhg bellyBlack-headed Grosbeak looks down on me, Ankeny NWR.bhg belly2cgs alertcgs feedsCinnamon Teal.C-TWO-BgbhuntsLS2-ANKAbove, Lesser Scaup at Ankney.  Below: Pied-billed Grebe.pbg ln pondqwail-roadQuail at Ankeny, above.  Below: Weed Rest Area.rbg at restrbg signrbgs at restwood-twoCHICO CANYONBPBlack Phoebe turns its back on me.  California buckeye, below, in California!buckeyeCEAN AVEElderberry above.  Dry forest of digger pine and oaks, below:FORSTGRASS1GRASS2GRASS3GRASS4GRASS5GRASS6grass7grass8IMG_7187IMG_7188IMG_7198IMG_7199WEKI ON FENCKingbird above.  Below: vernal pool with Cliff Swallow in attendance.VENL POOL2SPOTTD2Spotted Sandpiper replete with his breeding season spots.SPOTTDQSee the titmouse?OT HIDDNbluu

NUTTALL’S NAMESAKENUTTIENUTTIE2NUTTIE3NUTTIE4NUTTIE5

CAR OF A TRUE TREE-HUGGERJFRY PNE

Posted by: atowhee | May 15, 2018

FREEWAY BIRDING: OSPREY NEST CENSUS

 

I recently drove from Yamhill County to Chico, CA and back.  Most of that driving was along our beloved I-5.  It is a round trip of over 900 miles.   Not only did I play the music loud enough to drown out the car air conditioner’s noise, l but I did an informal census of Osprey nest sites along the way.  I only found one platform not in use.

Here’s what I found, and you can find them, too, even if you don’t own my Freeway Birding book.

There were two active nests in Marion County.  One is on the east bank of the Willamette River where the Wheatland Ferry crosses, just north of Willamette Mission State Park.  The second one is a half mile east of there where the ferry access road terminates at Wheatland Road NE.   Here a heron passes over the nest at the ferry landing:OSP--WHTLND

The next nest I noted is south of the I-5 bridge over the McKenzie River.  This is at the north edge of Eugene’s urban sprawl, around MP 197.  It is east of the freeway and is a large pile of sticks that has been built over several nesting seasons.  It is also on a pole that is twice as tall as any other noted platform along this route.

Further south there is a nest north of Milepost 171, west of I-5.  This is south of Cottage Grove but still in Lane County and the Willamette drainage system.

In southern Douglas County the freeway closely parallels the South Umpqua River on and off for some miles.  West of I-5 there is a lumber mill just north of Milepost 113, and the Ospreys nest on a pole near the mill entrance and alongside the river.  Then less than two miles further south there is another Osprey nest east of I-5.  It is south of the freeway river bridge just beyond Milepost 112.

Then in Canyonville you can exit for the best Rest Area along I-5 in Oregon, and then drive north on Stanton Park Road.  About a half-mile north of the park itself there is a nest east of the road near the river, still the South Umpqua.  The freeway is elevated above the flood plain here and I have not succeeded in seeing this nest while on I-5 itself.  Coning from the north you can use Exit 101 and then take Stanton Park Road south on the east side of the freeway.  Here is the Stanton Park Road nest:OSP STANTON RD

I have not found any freeway accessible Osprey nests in the Rogue Valley.

In northern California there are two freeway-side nests in Shasta County.  Northbound traffic has a vista pull-out around Milepost 696.  It affords the camera-ready views of Mt. Shasta.  The Osprey nest here is on an electric line pylon due north of the pull-out and high above the Sacramento River at the bottom of the gorge.  It is not visible from the southbound lanes which are far up the hill and separate from the northbound lanes.

At Milepost 690 there is an exit for the Shasta Resort.  On the east side of the freeway there is an Osprey nest up the steep mountainside.  It is most easily viewed as you take the exit off-ramp northbound.

All the nests I noted used man-made platforms.  If you exit I-5 hear Hornbrook, CA, and drive east up the Klamath River gorge toward Irongate Lake you will note a number of platforms and many will be in use in spring…by Canada Geese.  At least one spring Jackson County birders noted a long-time Osprey nest platform near Emigrant Lake southeast of Ashland had been commandeered by a p[air of Great Horned Owls.

Travel note: Collier Rest Area on I-5 in Siskiyou County, CA, is closed…but you can still bird the area from across the Klamath River.  It will not re-open until late August but the Lewis’s Woodpeckers are there, nesting as they do every year.

shy shastaSHAST PEAK PEEKSHASTA GLORYON MT. SHASTA

Mt. Shasta is the most stunning creature on earth.  You can have your Fuji, your Vesuvius, your Volcan Cotopaxi, your Pike’s Peak or Mont Blanc or any Himalayan mighty mountain or even Kilimanjaro.  For sheer moody beauty, for outstanding in its surroundings, for killer attractiveness (climb me if you dare), I will take Shasta.  Generations and various cultures have imbued this volcano with grander, more mystical powers.  I say its rock-hard reality is plenty to contemplate.  It may look serene and shy behind a cloud shroud, or glow brightly as its peak peeks through swirling gray puffs.  Yet deep inside its living molten heart bubbles the next mountain manifesto.  In her own good time Shasta will explode with her own inimitable truths that nobody alive at that moment can contradict.  While her seven glaciers now keep things cool to the eye, to the foot, they, too, will melt away leaving Shasta’s great strength and intentions.  Her music will be the original rock and roll of the earth’s own core. Behold and be humble, ye passers-by.  You pass at Shasta’s pleasure, or simply her indifference.

 

Posted by: atowhee | May 13, 2018

FREEWAY BIRDING THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY

SUNDAY, May 13

Today Dylan, my eldest son, and I birded several spots south of Chico.  Our first hotspot was the Thermolito Forebay in the Oroville Wildlife Management Area, just east of Hwy 99 between Chico and Gridley.  The highlight there was a small flock of Black Terns feeding over the water.  There we also found a pair of Killdeer nesting near a parking area, and we found an egg after going right when the adult birds tried to decoy us into following then toward the left.  But it was not the speckled Killdeer, egg what was it? Perhaps a Red-winged or Brewer’s Blackbird, as it was right color and some of their eggs have little black speckling like the one we found, and left there on the ground.B-BIRD EGGhansumSure the Cinnamon Teal male has some nice sun glow, but then look at the iridescent White-faced Ibis:ibis aglowBut who could possible outshine a Tree Swallow in full sun…maybe a hummingbird?ts-bright

Along Hwy 162 we found a raven’s nest on a power pole.ravnestravnest2

Next it was south to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area where we found a desert bird that loves water—a Phainopepla feeding from atop a small dead tree in the middle of a nearly dried-up marsh pond.  This area is near the northern edge of their breeding range which reaches another forty miles north to Red Bluff. PHAIN-APHAIN-BPHAIN-C

There were three very busy flycatcher species: Western Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Black Phoebe.  One phoebe we watched feeding a fledgling along the edge of a pond (which was getting water pumped into it).  The turtles there must have been grateful.  All around it marshes were drying up.

From there we drove past the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area and found several shorebirds: a half dozen Long-billed Curlews and a single Whimbrel.  Also, here we found our first White-faced Ibis of the day and a Common Gallinule.

Onward to the auto tour route of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, much of it dry or drying.  There we got our first harrier of the day, a male.  And our only Swainson’s Hawk, far up in the sky, harassed even there by blackbirds.  There were both pheasant and Wild Turkey there and our only night-heron of the day.  Thence to Delevan NWR to find—and we did—our Yellow-headed Blackbird.yhb3

We had three Long-billed Dowitchers at Colusa, then five more at Delevan. The most abundant bird of the day must have been Cliff Swallows, nesting in colonies under almost every bridge we crossed or drove past. Just a handful of the many Cliff Swallows swarming around a single bridge, and their condo nests below the roadbed:cs frenzycs nestrowNot a single avocet or stilt all day.  No kite, no shrike, no eagles.  One deer, one jackrabbit and countless Turkey Vultures.  Death must be doing well.

Posted by: atowhee | May 12, 2018

BIRDING CHICO CANYON

My eldest son and I birded Upper Bidwell Park and into Chico Canyon today.  The park goes from oak chaparral in the lowlands up into riparian canyon and semi-arid foothills habitat.  At the lower elevation you get willows, live and valley oak and scattered digger pine, higher up the pine dominate along with scrubby live oak and California buckeye, now in bloom.   Other plants include poison oak, invasive blackberry, manroot, redbud, ash, cottonwood, feral fig trees (thanks to the birds spreading seeds), invasive vetch, bigleaf maple, wild grape.  In the dried grasslands there are lingering wildflowers including California poppy.  A couple vernal pools stl had some water and that attracted Cliff Swallows from a large colony under one footbridge across Chico Creek. Among the oaks the Acorn Woodpeckers are plentiful. trumpeting and laughing repeatedly.  They were also fly-catching.  Watching through the grass and vetch I would set off a wave of insects scattering before me, both grasshoppers and various flying critters. There were also three species of butterfly on the wing, including swallowtails and an occasional dragonfly along the creek.

The chat chattered and seemed to impugn our dignity as we sat next to the creek and ate lunch in the shade…temp climbed above 85 today. Summer is already here.  I have passed hayfields where the mowing is done, the hay already bailed.

ACORN GALLERY

The Acorn Woodpecker is a marvelous respite from modern people and their woes.  First, they do not pollute the atmosphere beyond tiny quantities of methane.  Second, the are not capitalists, they are communitarians.  Each colony of Acorn Woodpeckers is organized for the greater good.  All the females lay all their eggs in a single nest.  Then the females take turns incubating all the eggs.  Once hatched the whole colony of adults help feed the young.  No “mine” or “yours,” it is all “ours.”

There are dozens of these woodpeckers at Upper Bidwell Park here in Chico so I spent some quality time with these communist neighbors of ours.  First, you might take this as an ordinary wooden building  (people hereabouts think of it as the rod & gun club).  I listened to some of the long-time locals (acorn woodpeckers) and they assure me it is a peerless granery:AC-BLDG2AC-BLDG4_LIAC-BLDG3ac-bldgACRN BOLD2ACRN BOLDDACRN-AI mentioned all the insects about.  The woodpeckers were fly-catching, grasshoppers and woodpeckers alike were hopping.ACRN-BMy son and I found an active nest hole.  Here’s a sequence showing the adults delivering food to what must be tiny nestlings as it begins with an adult stuffed into the nest, doing nursery duty, waiting for relief from the next grown-up nthe schedule.Acrn holeAcrn hole3acrn hole4acrn hole5acrn hole6acrn hole7Finally the next adult arrives, replete with caterpillars in its beak, first bird leaves.acrn hole8acrn hole9acrn hole10This bird goes to nest hole and eventually goes head-first down to the nestlingsacrn hole11acrn hole12acrn hole13acrn hole14acrn hole15Later another tasty insect pizza is delivered…no telling how many different adults we saw while we watched the procession, rarely more than a minute passed without an adult arriving and delivering…acrn hole18acrn hole19acrn hole21acrn hole22And then we realized that one flight up there was a starling family using the apartment upstairs:twonests_LIstarl-1

It’s great seeing Spotted Sandpipers when they’re actually be-spotted and not their nondescript post-breeding selves:SPOTTDSPOTTD2

 

Bidwell Park–upper, Butte, California, US
May 12, 2018.  31 species

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  2
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  12
California Quail (Callipepla californica)  4
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  6
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)  1–first for the year
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  20
Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)  1
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  4
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  8
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  1
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  60
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  3
Bushtit (Pacific) (Psaltriparus minimus [minimus Group])  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata/alexandrae)  1
Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  X
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)  X
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)  1–first for year
Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged) (Agelaius phoeniceus [phoeniceus Group])  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  2

Posted by: atowhee | May 11, 2018

ANKENY MORNING, WRENTIT IN MY FACE

I was on my way to Chico this morning.  An early start got me to Ankeny NWR by 8AM.  The surprising bird of the visit was a Common Yellowthroat… only because it was a female.  She was picking bugs off the branch-ends of low-growing shrubs, until a male Song Sparrow stopped singing long enough to drive her off.  Time for an #avianmetoo movement I think.

I saw a Sora creeping through the reeds…before he saw me.  Then he froze, and finally decided I was a predator too close…and flew, giving me my best image as a reflection on the water, upside down.SORANK4SORSOARSORSOAR3

Much later at Valley of the Rogue State Park a male Wrentit decided I was in his territory and came up to give me a severe looking over.wt-acewt-xwt-bye

Beauteous birds, these Cinnamon Teal at Ankeny, one of several pairs:C-TWO-BThe #1 beauty of the day, was, of course, old Mt. Shasta (is she jealous of her fellow volcano in Hawaii?)…today this shape-shifter was shy Shasta, hidden behind a mask of her own home-made clouds.IMG_6682Ankeny NWR, Marion, Oregon, US
May 11, 2018.  31 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  4
Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)  10
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  2
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  4
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  X
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  6
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  2
California Quail (Callipepla californica)  3
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  X
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) (Ardea herodias [herodias Group])  1
Sora (Porzana carolina)  1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  X
Downy Woodpecker (Pacific) (Picoides pubescens gairdnerii/turati)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X
American Goldfinch  2

Valley of the Rogue SP, Jackson, Oregon, US
May 11, 2018.  11 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  X–first of year for  me
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  X
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)  1–singing and challenging my very being
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | May 10, 2018

QUIET DAYS AROUND THE OLD FEEDERS

I see very few birds in our garden right now.  The wintering birds are all gone.  The young Bewick’s Wrens have fledged and the family absconded.  Others that are around must be staying close to the nest–Bushtits, Spotted Towhee, House Sparrows.  Finches today were represented by a single siskin and a single male American Goldfinch.  The siskin numbers have been dwindling precipitously over the past week–from five dozen to a loner. The towhee hasn’t even made a visit and I know the pair must be nesting somewhere on our block.  I never see them fly across the streets around here. THey are thicket-stickers.

And why should they be attracted to nine-month old sunflower seeds or suet?  There are flowers and pollen and nectar wherever you look. Hummers hereabouts must be drunk with surfeit.  Insects are now plentiful.  Today I pulled my first dragonfly from the pool and dried him off.  They only start to appeared when there is plenty of prey, smaller flying insects.  I moved some compost into a garden bed this week–earthworms bigger around than a drinking straw and six inches long when relaxed.  If robins ever needed a big meal… The compost was full of life: sowbugs (which aren’t sows or bugs), beetles, a centipede.  Nature is just one big restaurant, thank you, Woody Allen.

The Linfield Wednesday morning birdwalk turned up one new species for the year for me, the little, shy Pac-slope Flycatcher.  And there was a singing Swainson’s Thrush along Cozune Creek.  The season is passing so quickly the camas lilies are already beginning to droop and fade.BHG-LINFLAbove, male grosbeak at Linfield, below one of the male yellowthroats:CY HIDDENThe big drummer boy, this flicker was using the street lamp as a sounding board, and it was sounding pretty loud.nOFL DRUMSISK CHEWSiskins in garden, earlier this were wen there were still four of them around,SISK-BATHE

Linfield College campus, Yamhill, Oregon, US

May 9, 2018.  26 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  X
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  X
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  X
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  X     male drumming and calling
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata/alexandrae)  1
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  X
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  X
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  4
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | May 10, 2018

HERE IT COMES

Higher seas, more wildlife contagions, more CO2 into the atmosphere.  Have we evolved behaviors that will cause us to self-destruct as a species?

Click here for the homepage about my book, San Francisco’s Natural History:  Sand Dunes to Streetcars. 

 

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