Three Days, 40 Pounds And A Full Thermos…Birding Humboldt Refuge

Arcata Marsh Bird List February 11, 2015

Arcata Marsh Bird List
February 11, 2015

With fresh coffee in the thermos, dog in car and the GPS pointing toward Arcata Marsh, California, we headed out.  This marsh was one of the best places to bird on the west coast, and you can very well bet I was ready to see a lot of birds and a lot of strange things I’ve never seen before…

Arcata Marsh is just north of Eureka, and luckily for me, just 15 minutes from my kabin.  I arrived at 8:23 a.m. and proceeded to get my equipment together.  This was to be the first time I field tested my new heavy-duty tripod.  So, with backpack on the back, digital camera with 200mm lens around my neck, 20×80 binoculars securely on the new tripod and the tripod resting on my shoulder, small binos in my pocket (dog in car, sorry Joey), and coffee cup in the remaining free hand, I headed for the trail.  If you are new to birding – remember, NEVER leave any equipment behind that may cost you a bird!  When in doubt, bring it!  This includes food, because if you’re hungry, you’ll be impatient, and you can never be in a hurry when birding. Continue reading

In The Land Of Redwoods And Scoters, The Big Year Continues…

This is how far this little scoter is from home: 5,278 miles.  He is from Holland and he took a very wrong turn.CommonScoter CrescentCity3

Needless to say, I had to go see this bird.  It is the first ever sighting of the Common Scoter in the United States.  Ever.  I left Scappoose, Oregon on February 10, 2015 very early in the morning and arrived at Crescent City, California at about 3pm.  The ten hour drive down Interstate 5 was like my backyard, but once I turned right at Grants Pass, I saw something I’ve never seen before.  The Redwoods National Park is something everyone should see – I mean everyone.  These trees were so big that I couldn’t even photograph one in the frame.  You seriously need to back up a long ways, but you can’t because there are these monstrously beautiful trees everywhere. Continue reading

Birding Petaluma

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Driving into Petaluma at sunset.

After the driving rain came the warm California sun and the promise of expanding Big Year list.  The eleven hours of driving down Interstate 5 and then west on the 505 to San Francisco brought me to the KOA kabin in Petaluma.  I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, except for the swans and wigeon dancing in my head.

The first stop was the famed hot spot of Shollenberger Park from 8am till 10am.  The walk around the lake and marshes was slow and thorough.  I expected to see more people toting around tripods, spotting scopes, backpacks and cameras but instead there were nice joggers, moms with strollers, an occasional man with lifted eyebrows, and solitary quiet walkers enjoying (perhaps) the surroundings as much as I.

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Signs Of Spring

20150128_192150_Browns Landing CtThe morning light seemed brighter when looking out over the Multnomah Channel early this day.  Right away a Double-crested Cormorant eyed me as I opened the hatch to my sailboat.  Over in the large oak tree sat a beautiful Bald Eagle, proudly looking over it’s vast countryside.  This was going to be a good birding day, because well, they are all good birding days.

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In Search of Two Lifers

January 27, 2015 Bird List

January 27, 2015 Bird List

After my San Francisco Rustic Bunting trip was scrubbed this morning, I decided to head out and find a couple of more local lifers. The weather was cloudy but pleasant, it stayed in the 40’s all day, rained some, some fog, some mist but no wind. I arrived at Marine Park in Vancouver just after 11:30 (with chestnut praline latte in hand). The first bird of interest was the rare and mysterious Tufted Duck. It is a common and friendly bird of the United Kingdom and surrounding countries, but not so common over here in Oregon! Below are photos of my findings. This duck was photographed at quite a distance, but I managed to capture him here. Continue reading

Birding in Scappoose

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There was an old man with a beard, Who said: ‘It is just as I feared! Two owls and a hen, Four larks and a wren Have all built their nests in my beard  Edward Lear

This morning while Joey was at the groomer, I walked down Crown-Zellarbach Trail for about ninety minutes.  With coffee, camera, binoculars (and other essentials in my EDC), I headed out in the billowing fog.

I first discovered the ducks.  They were the usual suspects of mallards, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, and American Wigeon.  I tried desperately to turn one into a Eurasian Wigeon but the color wasn’t there.  They all seemed to be quite vocal this morning – and except for the mallards, I don’t even think any of them noticed me. Continue reading

Birding Tillamook

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
Robert Lynd

There are few things I enjoy more than birding, except perhaps, writing down the birds I’ve seen with a favorite fountain pen.  I saw some amazing birds in the Tillamook area and I took over 200 photographs on January 12, 2015.  There are just a few here because when I returned home, I realized a setting on my camera had been bumped and most of the photos were not useable.  It happens to everyone eventually I guess.  Lesson learned.  Regardless, my list for the day topped out at 44 species, bringing my Big Year total to 69 species so far.  I have a good start on the year, that’s for sure.

The stars of today included the Tundra Bean-goose (from Russia), a few Common Loon’s, a female Ruddy Duck, a couple of Lesser Scaups, Canvasbacks, a Cooper’s Hawk  and a Western Grebe.  I had amazing views of a Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, and of course the goose. Continue reading

January Birding

It was lovely summer weather in the country, and the golden corn, the green oats, and the haystacks piled up in the meadows looked beautiful.  The Ugly Duckling, by Han Christian Anderson.

As most mornings do, this particular morning promised me an adventure.  This day I was to explore the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant park that had a paved trail that wrapped around trees, ponds, and fields.  The wintery Oregon weather was typical, clouds, mist, temperatures not cold but certainly not warm.  I challenged my birding chances by heading out at the worst time of day to see any birding activity.  I was going to squeeze as many birds as I could from this park – and squeeze I did.  It took me about three hours to walk the three miles or so that I did to feel satisfied that I’ve done my very best.  Yes, this year is about getting as many bird species as I can on my list, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy watching the birds any less than I typically do.   Continue reading

In Search Of The Tundra Bean-Goose

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
Robert Lynd

There are few things I enjoy more than birding, besides perhaps writing down my birds with my fountain pen.  I saw some amazing birds in the Tillamook area and I took over 200 photographs.  There are just a few here because when I returned home, I realized a setting on my camera had been bumped and most of the photos were not useable.  It happens to everyone eventually I guess.  Lesson learned.  Regardless, my list for the day topped out at 44 species, bring my Big Year total to 69 species so far.  I have a good start on the year, that’s for sure. Continue reading

Birding This Week

I stepped out into the fog earlier this week with my camera – ready to capture what I could see in the misty soup.  I saw the usual suspects, with the bird of the day being a Savannah Sparrow.  Joey and I walked along the Multnomah Channel in the morning, about a mile from the marina where I reside.  It was a quick trip, there and back on Tuesday.

This morning, Friday, we went over to what is commonly called Scappoose Bottoms – a paved road/trail by the airport here.  I believe it to be one of the better birding hotspots in the state – and only a couple of miles from me.  Here I saw 36 species of birds – which included new ones for the year:  Rough-legged Hawk, Fox Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a very cute Chestnut-backed Chickadee.  My camera battery died right after I arrived, but I did get some shots of the hawks and a few ducks.  Here it is January 9, 2015, and I’m at 52 species for the year.  It’s a good start.

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Double-crested Cormorant

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Common Merganser

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Savannah Sparrow

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Joey ~ he enjoys going birding too.

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Rough-legged Hawk

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Red-tailed Hawk

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Northern Harrier in front of Mt. Saint Helens

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American Wigeon

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Dark-eyed Junco

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