This is April?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think we had more snow in April than we did in December. It has been cold and wet most of the month, and while I am very grateful for the rain and the added mountain snowpack, the weather has seemed to delay the onset of spring. Migrants have been few, and resident species a just starting to get revved up for the season. This Pacific Wren was trying out his song at Tualatin River NWR.

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The Townsend’s Chipmunks are out and about. I think the two lumps in this one’s ear are ticks.

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Hermit Thrushes, which are considered a winter species here in the Willamette Valley, are still around.

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This Virginia Rail put on a nice show at Commonwealth Lake Park.

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If we can’t have spring migrants yet, we might as well enjoy the local residents. Spotted Towhees never fail to impress.

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On a recent semi-birdless outing, I noticed a nice flight of these, Western White-ribboned Carpet Moth. These are tiny, with a wingspan of about an inch and a stunning pattern. It is always great to learn a new species.

So, colorful migrant birds and will show up any minute. Right? 

Happy Spring

Commonwealth Lake

When time is limited or weather is sketchy, I appreciate having Commonwealth Lake close to home for a quick birding fix.

Early in the morning, River Otters will often visit the lake to fill up on fish. There were three otters present on this visit, but they stayed out in the middle of the lake most of the time.

This Belted Kingfisher called from the tangled branches that overhang the water.

Male Common Mergansers lent a splash of color with their red bills.

This female Hooded Merganser kept to the far shore.

Some of the dogwoods still had a few berries, and this Hermit Thrush was taking advantage of this seasonal food.
It was a treat to see this species sitting out in the open, rather than skulking in the undergrowth.

So nothing too exciting this trip, but it is enough to ward off insanity/crankiness until the next outing.

Happy Autumn

Random Images

Here are a few photos from recent ramblings.

kestrel 2After delivering some books to Tualatin River NWR, I took a quick walk on the path that leads through some newly planted oaks and along the river. This male American Kestrel had just captured a shrew.

waterfowlThese Western Canada Geese (and the Common Merganser on the log in the foreground) were napping at the Sandy River Delta.

beaver chewThe Beavers are really enjoying the young trees at Sandy River Delta.

IMG_6001This old American Robin nest was tucked into a crevice of a tree.

pileatedPileated Woodpeckers are fairly easy to find at Sandy River Delta. This one was perfectly hidden behind a branch.

peregrine 2Peregrine Falcon, Sandy River Delta

hermit thrushThis Hermit Thrush was chasing another outside my bedroom window early in the morning.

Maine, 6-2011


I spent just over a week along the coast of Maine, visiting sites between Ellsworth and Cutler. It is always fun to get reacquainted with eastern bird species and to hike in the boreal forest.


I saw 14 species of warblers on this trip. The vast majority of birds I saw were male, presumably because the females were on nests. Their small size, active habits, and dense habitat take them beyond the realm of point-and-shoot photography, but I managed to capture useuable images of two species. Black-throated Green Warblers were by far the most common species.


Ovenbird


This Spruce Grouse was at Petit Manan NWR. She had several downy chicks with her. The chicks are actually capable of flight, and flew into dense cover when startled. The adult remained on foot, keeping an eye on me and making contact calls to keep her brood together.


Blue-headed Vireo


White-throated Sparrow


Common Loon


Hermit Thrush, calling with a bill full of food for nestlings.


Red Squirrels were common and noisy in wooded areas.


This White-tailed Deer fawn was well-hidden in the woods. I only located her because she got up to take a stretch just as I was looking in that direction.


Moose tracks


Green Frog


This Eastern Garter spent much of the day basking beneath a compost bin.


Rugged shoreline near Cutler.

Pittock Mansion 4-21-11


The grounds around Pittock Mansion in northwest Portland are a favorite spot for spring migrants. Most people visit this park to tour the ostentatious limestone house, but birders prefer the brushy hillsides and the woods around the parking lot.

Since we are still locked into a cold, damp weather pattern, most of the spring migrants have not yet arrived, but good numbers of winter residents were flocking and ready to move out.


Fox Sparrow


Pine Siskin


Several species of thrush were common today. Here is a blurry Hermit Thrush.


an equally blurry male Varied Thrush


female Varied Thrush


American Robin


Varied Thrush and American Robin feeding together


Chestnut-backed Chickadee