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Coastal Oregon

Amazingly, we encountered beautiful and sunny weather while we were in the Portland area. It did rain on one of the five days we were there but who can complain when we were there for the only days it didn’t rain in the past two months?

Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast

Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls were overly abundant along the coast. Didn’t find any Thayer’s Gulls the first day but did find a single Eurasian Wigeon on a golf course pond.

Western Gull
Western Gull

The second day we checked out Westmoreland Park near SE Portland and found several adult Thayer’s Gulls in addition to 1st cycle Thayer’s, a flock of 12+ (minima) Cackling Geese, Eurasian Wigeon and many Wood Ducks.

Cackling Goose
Cackling Goose (B.h. minima)

Wood Duck
Wood Duck

Eurasian Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon

Thayer's Gull
Thayer’s Gull (adult)

Thayer's Gull
Thayer’s Gull (adult)

Thayer's Gull
Thayer’s Gull (1st cycle)

We ended the trip with a beautiful stay in the Willamette Valley wine country. We’ve been up to the area several times before but the beautiful weather in the middle of December was a lovely treat.

Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley

 

Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Photography Adventures

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Salton Sea

It started off a promising day at the Salton Sea this past saturday. A comfortable 75F, relatively low humidity, partly cloudy skies and a 10-20 mph breeze. As the day progressed the clouds thickened and winds started gusting up to 30-45 mph. This proved not only challenging trying to maintain focus on moving subjects but also created bad lighting conditions on some of the high contrast subject I was trying to photograph (ie. Gull-billed Terns).

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

There were amazing numbers of alternate plumaged Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers, Long-billed Dowitcher and massive flocks of Western Sandpipers. I encountered a few Brant around Unit #1 and was lucky enough to be there at the same time they were banding Clapper Rails – which I got lots of photos of.

Clapper Rail
Clapper Rail

Clapper Rail
Clapper Rail

Click here to see more of the Clapper Rail banding.

Brant
Brant

Black-bellied Plover
Black-bellied Plover

Gull-billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern

Of particular interest was a Glaucous-winged Gull I found at the intersection of Crummer and Grubel Rd. Typically a “coastal” species every now and then one will wander toward the Salton Sea. Everything else I encountered at the Sea that day was to be expected. I did find a very large fish that recently washed ashore. Not sure the type of fish but it was about 2′ long.

Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull

Salton Sea Fish
Salton Sea Fish

 

Posted by on May 4, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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South Coast Botanic Garden

I visited the South Coast Botanic Garden early Thursday morning with Patrick Santinello. Our mission was to find the Thick-billed Kingbird that has been wintering here along with the Varied Thrushes recently seen in the pines of Yarrow Rd. We arrived just after 7AM to find out that the garden does not actually open to the public until 9AM! Fortunately a very nice ranger graciously allowed us to enter before everyone else. Her remarks as we left were, “You’ve got the whole place to yourselves!” We went straight to the lake where the Thick-billed Kingbird was being regularly seen. We spent 20 minutes listening and looking for the TBKI but no luck. We had a juv. Sharp-shinned Hawk fly by while we were observing a Fox Sparrow on the ground.

We decided to head over to the pines to find the Varied Thrushes. Again, after 30-45 minutes of searching we found nothing. 🙁 We did however stumble upon a female Purple Finch! They are irregular but sometimes come down from the mountains in winter, along the coast. Lots of Warbler activity, mostly Yellow-rumped (with the males starting to get their beautiful breeding colours). Also had a few Townsend’s, Orange-crowned, Yellow and lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Feeling a bit bummed that we still hadn’t found any of our target birds we decided to try our luck for the Kingbird back at the lake. After a few minutes, lo’ and behold I heard the definite call of the TBKI! I turned around and saw it flying up in the air and landing back in a nearby tree. We rushed over there and spent 15 minutes watching and photographing it. A little later we heard the cry of 3-4 Red-shouldered Hawks playfully circling over the trees above us. A juv. Cooper’s hawk and Red-tailed Hawk were also in the mix with a couple of American Crows that were not happy at all they were treading on their “turf”.

Thick-billed Kingbird
Thick-billed Kingbird

Gadwall
Gadwall

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

Oh, and before I forget. Some images from Wednesday afternoon…Dick Barth located a Brant at the Ballona Creek mouth that morning. I’ve been trying to get better photos of Brant for quite a while now so I decided to go look for it. No such luck. The US Coast Guard/Army were in the middle of dredging the sand out of the channel. So much for any hopes of finding a Brant there!! I did find a very nice adult Glaucous-winged Gull along with a 1st year bird with no manners!


Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull

Another treat was a Brandt’s Cormorant that was practically following me around. I kept moving backward since I couldn’t fit the entire bird in my lens, only to have it continue walking toward me. This went on until a large poodle decided to try and make friends with him. The Brandt’s Cormorant did not oblige and after a couple of snaps the poodle continued along it’s way (unleashed by it’s owner, of course). The Cormorant didn’t seem to mind that much though.


Brandt's Cormorant
Brandt’s Cormorant

 

Posted by on February 20, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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San Gabriel Mtns

Yesterday I took visiting birder, Phil Swanson, from Papillion, Nebraska up to the San Gabriel Mountains in search of Mountain Quail, White-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker and anything else we were fortunate enough to find. We immediately located a female White-headed Woodpecker, soon joined by a male and yet another female while at Chilao Campground. Farther down the road we had an additional male White-headed Woodpecker.


White-headed Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker

No signs of Mountain Quail, so we headed over to the Chilao Visitor Center. Snuck up on a flock of Band-tailed Pigeons. Lots of Oak Titmouse, Mountain Chickadee’s and Dark-eyed Juncos working through the oaks. Still no signs of Mountain Quail but on the way out we encountered yet another White-headed Woodpecker. Probably the most I’ve seen in one day!


Band-tailed Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon

We decided to drive up the dirt road to the observatory across the highway from the Chilao campground. About 3/4 of a mile down the road I saw a single Mountain Quail run across the road and up the hill. We stopped and waited 20 minutes hoping the rest of the covey would slowly meander out. No such luck, so we continued onward. Since the gate up to the observatory was locked we decided to park and hike it by foot. On the way up, we had a pair of Wrentit’s and some Spotted Towhee’s.

By now the wind was starting to pick up pretty good and the clouds were rolling in so we decided to throw in the towel and head back to my place. Later in the afternoon we checked out Ballona to try for a late Wandering Tattler. We finally found one at the end of the middle jetty along with many Surfbirds, a Black Turnstone and a Ruddy Turnstone.

Also found a nice adult Glaucous-winged Gull along with a presumable hybrid Western x Glaucous-winged Gull:


Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull

Glaucous-winged x Western Gull
Glaucous-winged x Western Gull

 

Posted by on November 25, 2008 in Photography Adventures

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