February 11, 2018

My birding since Ms. Eider has comprised fits and starts, mostly, but has garnered me a few more species for my list.

This post isn’t very excited, so let’s begin with the full moon on January 31. I was hoping to see the lunar eclipse, which was supposed to be ideal in the west. I woke up at 4:30 AM, walked around my house peering out the windows, and I’m pretty sure it was cloudy, and I went back to bed.

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Full moon; Salem, Oregon; January 31, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

On Sunday, February 4, we headed to Astoria, Oregon, because C had a work conference. En-route, we stopped near Cedar Mill, Oregon, at Commonwealth Lake Park where a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was being seen regularly. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers don’t really occur in the western U.S. I’m pretty sure I caught a quick glimpse of said sapsucker, but then I lost him. I’ll try again this upcoming Tuesday when I’m back up in that area for an eye appointment. I did, however, get two 2018 new birds at this park: a *Red-breasted Sapsucker (lifer!) and a *Redhead duck.

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Red-breasted Sapsucker; Commonwealth Lake Park; Cedar Mill, Oregon; February 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Redhead; Commonwealth Lake Park; Cedar Mill, Oregon; February 4, 2018;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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American Wigeon; Commonwealth Lake Park; Cedar Mill, Oregon; February 4, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

While in Astoria, I was determined to find the White-Winged Crossbills that are being seen almost daily at Fort Steven State Park hanging with a larger flock of Red Crossbills. The first two times were failures. The third time, I’m almost positive I saw (from a distance) and heard the crossbill flock fly away from one tree and disappear into another dimension. I’m certain of this. Their calls were loud sounded like they were coming from all directions until they just stopped. We sifted and sifted, but no crossbills. Different dimension. Who knew this about crossbills? Fort Stevens State Park did, however, yield me a two new 2018 species: *Raven and *Sanderlings.

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Raven; Fort Stevens State Park; February 7, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Sanderlings and Dunlin; Fort Stevens State Park; February 8, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Ring-necked Ducks; Astoria, Oregon; February 8, 2018;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

While at the hotel in Astoria, I got three new species for 2018: *Glaucous-Winged Gull, *Western Gull, and *Western Grebe.

*New Birds for 2018: 7
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 84

January 1, 2018

Happy New Years! Day 1 is off to a pretty good start. We woke up in Sisters, Oregon, after having spent December 31 skiing up at Hoodoo Ski Resort.

First bird of 2018: the American Robin. The robins were seen in trees surrounding a gas station in Sisters, Oregon.

From the parking lot of the gas station, at the top of a pine tree, was my second bird of 2018: Cooper’s Hawk.  Of course, I had to take a few grainy zoomed-in photos of this guy, because I wasn’t 100% sure if I was looking at a Sharpie or a Cooper’s, but judging from the somewhere rounded tail, I’m going with Cooper’s. Somebody tell me if I’m way off. Raptors are not my forte!

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Cooper’s Hawk, Sisters, Oregon, January 1, 2018, Photograph by Linda Burfitt

The day proceeded with a bit of road travel, and we ended up at Belknap Hot Springs where C was going to soak and I was going to bird. These hot springs are along the Mackenzie River in the middle of nowhere, Oregon, near a town called Mackenzie Bridge, on Oregon Route 126. I love visiting these hot springs because of the river-adjacent hiking trails and because I see American Dippers every time I visit. Dippers are very animated little semi-aquatic birds. What they lack in colour and other visual features, they make up for tremendously in their behavior. First, they dip. Up and down like they’re doing the squats. They are usually found on the shore of a river, on something prominent (like a boulder). They jump in and out of the cold water, sometimes diving under and popping back up, and feed on aquatic insects and other “live bits” in the water. I adore dippers.

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American Dipper at Belknap Hot Springs, January 1, 2018, Photograph by Linda Burfitt

My Belknap Hot Springs list DID include a dipper, but just one. My comprehensive Belknap Hot Springs finds are as follows:

American Dipper
Black-capped Chickadee
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Pileated Woodpecker
Song Sparrow
Stellar’s Jay

Oddly enough, that was it. It wasn’t too birdy at Belknap today. So, we left the springs and drove west down 126 until we reached the Leaburg Dam, where the City of Eugene has impounded and diverted the Mackenzie River for hydropower and created a small reservoir (Leaburg “Lake”) adjacent to Lloyd Knox Park. In addition to me and C, other visitors to  Leaburg Lake were as follows:

American Dipper
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Double-Crested Cormorant
Hooded Merganser
Ring-Necked Duck

We spent a good 45 minutes scoping all of these birds while freezing to death, so after getting great looks at all of these (both males and females of most of these species), we decided to head back home to the Salem area before it got dark.

Of course, birding doesn’t stop just because you’re driving. Here’s what we saw along the way:

American Crow
American Kestrel

Bald Eagle
Canada Goose
Great Egret
Red-Tailed Hawk (lost count of how many were perched along I-5)

That concludes Day 1. I was hoping we’d get home before dark so I could add some late-day feeder birds to my Day 1 count, but they’ll be there tomorrow.

End of Day Tally:
19 species
2018 Year-to-Date Talley:
19 species