Quarantine Yard List Tally

In light of recent events keeping us at or close to home, starting on March 24, 2020, I started a quarantine yard list as part of a challenge kicked off by 5MR Jen. Even though no cloud of any sort has truly lifted (e.g., we are still staying close to home), that yard challenge ended yesterday, April 30, 2020.

I ended with 62 species of birds on my quarantine yard list and a total ongoing yard count of 80 species. I even managed to summon a Western Tanager yesterday morning, species #80 for my yard and my final species for this yard challenge! I found it in the lower part of the canopy in one of our Doug-fir trees.

This was a rewarding time of the year to participate in this challenge because bird species are coming and going. During this window of time, I said goodbye to the Dark-eyed Juncos and Varied Thrushes and hello to the Black-headed Grosbeaks, Ospreys, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

What follows are some yard bird photos from this final week. My quarantine yard list is at the end of this blog post. The ongoing yard list continues though! And May 9 is the eBird Global Big Day!

Chipping Sparrow. Camas, WA. April 2020.
I couldn’t help but shoot a video of this individual: https://youtu.be/zV_xhGGjVFw
Anna’s Hummingbird. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Rufous Hummingbird. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Black-headed Grosbeak. Camas, WA. April 2020.
American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. Camas, WA. April 2020.
American Goldfinches dominated my yard on the last day.
https://youtu.be/3dix7ykXzBo
Red-breasted Sapsucker. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Spotted Sandpiper. Lacamas Creek. Camas, WA. April 2020. Note: this photo was taken off of our property but looking up toward our property. I have seen (and heard) this species from our yard a handful of times these past couple of weeks, but I was able to get a much better photo from down below.
And how could I not shoot a video: https://youtu.be/08bZC_6fsVU

Quarantine Yard List March 24–April 30, 2020

#Species Name (taxonomic order)
1Canada Goose – Branta canadensis
2Wood Duck – Aix sponsa
3Hooded Merganser – Lophodytes cucullatus
4Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos
5Common Merganser – Mergus merganser
6Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
7Vaux’s Swift – Chaetura vauxi
8Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna
9Rufous Hummingbird – Selasphorus rufus
10Spotted Sandpiper – Actitis macularius
11Greater Yellowlegs – Tringa melanoleuca
12Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
13Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
14Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
15Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
16Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
17Great Horned Owl – Bubo virginianus
18Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
19Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
20Red-breasted Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus ruber
21Downy Woodpecker – Dryobates pubescens
22Hairy Woodpecker – Dryobates villosus
23Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
24Steller’s Jay – Cyanocitta stelleri
25California Scrub-Jay – Aphelocoma californica
26American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
27Black-capped Chickadee – Poecile atricapillus
28Chestnut-backed Chickadee – Poecile rufescens
29Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
30Violet-green Swallow – Tachycineta thalassina
31Bushtit – Psaltriparus minimus
32Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula
33Red-breasted Nuthatch – Sitta canadensis
34White-breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis
35Brown Creeper – Certhia americana
36Pacific Wren – Troglodytes pacificus
37Bewick’s Wren – Thryomanes bewickii
38European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris
39Varied Thrush – Ixoreus naevius
40American Robin – Turdus migratorius
41House Sparrow – Passer domesticus
42House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus
43Purple Finch – Haemorhous purpureus
44Pine Siskin – Spinus pinus
45Lesser Goldfinch – Spinus psaltria
46American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis
47Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
48Fox Sparrow – Passerella iliaca
49Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis
50White-crowned Sparrow – Zonotrichia leucophrys
51Golden-crowned Sparrow – Zonotrichia atricapilla
52Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia
53Lincoln’s Sparrow – Melospiza lincolnii
54Spotted Towhee – Pipilo maculatus
55Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
56Brown-headed Cowbird – Molothrus ater
57Orange-crowned Warbler – Leiothlypis celata
58Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
59Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
60Townsend’s Warbler – Setophaga townsendi
61Western Tanager – Piranga ludoviciana
62Black-headed Grosbeak – Pheucticus melanocephalus

The Endless Big Sit

Our yard continues to yield new “quarantine” bird species almost every day. A few of these have been new yard species, too. We have been at this location for almost 1 year.

Yesterday on the way back from my daily morning coffee walk around my neighborhood, I saw a Chipping Sparrow in our next-door neighbour’s flowering dogwood tree. I slowly walked past the tree and onto our driveway. Chipper was still in the tree! Bam! Yard bird #78! Sadly I have no photograph of Chipper because I don’t bring such luxuries as a camera on my morning coffee walk. I’m fresh out of bed and usually in my PJs.

Last weekend, a new and quite surprising yard bird, a Greater Yellowlegs, flew along Lacamas Creek and wadded around long enough for me to get a few terrible photos from my office window.

Other highlights from this past week included my yard’s second Lincoln’s Sparrow and yard’s first Brown-headed Cowbird.

As of yesterday, my total yard count is at 79 species and my quarantine list is at 58 species.

Here is a photo blog update of some of the birdy highlights, new and old, from our yard over the past week and a half.

White-crowned Sparrow. I believe this is the Gambel’s subspecies because of its pale lore. If this is correct, I suspect most of the WCSPs in my yard right now are Gambel’s. Camas, WA. April 2020.
My second yard Lincoln’s Sparrow. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s), probably a female. New yard bird #74. I’ve had little flocks of 12 to 30 pass through our yard this past week. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s), probably a female. I’ve had little flocks of 12 to 30 pass through our yard this past week. New yard bird #74. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Greater Yellowlegs, taken from my office window. New yard bird #78. Lacamas Creek. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Greater Yellowlegs, taken from my office window. New yard bird #78. Lacamas Creek. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Steller’s Jay, after sending a pile of American Goldfinches off into the trees. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Fox Sparrow. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Fox Sparrow. Camas, WA. April 2020.
Brown-headed Cowbird. New yard bird #77. Camas, WA. April 2020.
The yard! Camas, WA. April 2020.

A Mid-Day Skirmish

January 8, 2020, and a new yard bird—#73—makes a dramatic appearance in the backyard.

#73 is a Sharp-shinned hawk.

#73 flew in quickly today, snatched a specimen belonging to #16 (Spotted Towhee), and settled down in the grass for a few minutes (very-still towhee in talons) before flying off. I noticed this skirmish after hearing a small but loud cry (poor towhee) then looked over to see the latter half of the scene.

Wild! I feel awful for the towhee. I bait towhees with delicious seed and inadvertently baited a sharpie with a delicious towhee. I have a lot of towhees, so I suppose I can spare a few? I still feel a bit awful. RIP towhee. I think you went quickly.

Sharpie spent maybe 2 minutes sitting here, and I quickly took a few shots through my office window. I was tempted to open the window, but sharpie would have certainly flown off.
I alternated between taking photographs and viewing this scene through my binoculars. It appears that the towhee went quickly. The time between the sharp, small cry of the towhee and a very-still towhee was less than 1 minute.
RIP towhee. Nice work sharpie. He then flew off with his chunky red-eyed lunch.

January 5, 2020

It’s a blog revival! Since you were last here, the blog has appropriately changed from Oregon Big Year to Sauntering Birder, and I have changed locations. I’m still in the Pacific Northwest, but we moved up to southwest Washington in June 2019. Moving is all consuming, and the months that followed were made up of many highs and and one real low. Nevertheless, the blog was unintentionally put to sleep for a bit.

I haven’t stopped birding of course, and I haven’t stopped taking photos. So, consider this a long photo-based catch up of the birds and birding locations I’ve enjoyed these past several months in my new backyard and 5-mile radius (5MR).

My office window,  January 2020. You can see my feeders at the bottom left, Lacamas Creek, and to the top right, the Washougal River. I do get work done, I promise.

My new 5MR is HOT. Let me tell you about it right now.

As you can see, our backyard overlooks some great habitat and is thus exceptionally birdy. This may have been a key factor in deciding on this exact location. Since we moved here in June, my yard list is at 72. On eBird my yard is called “Lacamas Creek-Washougal River Confluence Area (and backyard feeders)”.

My daily fall-winter yard visitor, the Golden-crowned Sparrow, January 2020.
My daily summer yard visitor, the Black-headed Grosbeak (female), July 2019.
My daily all-season visitor, the Spotted Towhee, fall 2019.

Beyond our backyard is a series of walking paths (some paved, some not) that make up the Washougal River Greenway Trail. I can see part of the unpaved trail from my yard. The unpaved trail winds through a floodplain comprising mainly Oregon Ash. The paved portion follows the Washougal River, crosses the river, and passes through and by a young riparian forest and some old quarry ponds.

Bridge on the Washougal River Greenway Trail, summer 2019.
Me and my Dad in November 2019 on the Washougal River Greenway Trail.
Quarry pond along the Washougal River Greenway Trail, fall 2019.
Queue the Twin Peaks theme song, it’s the Pacific Northwest classic, the Varied Thrush! In December 2019 and now in January 2020, there is one very reliable spot for this species along the Washougal trail.
My Mom in June 2019 on the Washougal River Greenway Trail.

Down the street and a 2-minute walk from our house is the trailhead to Lacamas Creek Park. The approximately 40-acre park is in a dense Douglas-fir forest (some old-growth) and has myriad unpaved trails and three waterfalls. The main trail follows Lacamas Creek, whose flow is controlled from a dam upstream at Round Lake. Round Lake is also part of the park and provides added habitat diversity and superb flatwater kayaking.

Lacamas Creek Park, November 2019.
Lacamas Creek Park, Woodburn Falls, and Clint, December 2019.
Lacamas Creek Park, January 2020.
Lacamas Creek, Lacamas Creek Park, January 2020.
Who is that over there?! It’s an American Dipper! I’ve seen these in December 2019 and again in January 2020. Lacamas Creek, January 2020.
The dipper flew in closer and had a partner! This was the best shot I could get, but I was thrilled. Lacamas Creek, January 2020.

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge is just barely within our 5MR. The refuge features riparian forests, wetted fields, and ponds. It’s currently undoing a massive makeover, the Steigerwald Floodplain Restoration Project. The project will eventually connect the refuge and Gibbons Creek Watershed to the Columbia River and restore approximately 900 acres of Columbia River floodplain habitat.

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge with Mount Hood in the background, January 2020.
Nesting Purple Martins, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, August 2019.
American Kestrals in some Mountain Ash, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, August 2019.
Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, August 2019.
Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, August 2019.