Mount Margaret Backcountry

In an attempt to escape the city for a weekend, my boyfriend and I headed to Mount Margaret Backcountry, a rugged and gorgeous setting north of Mt St Helens in the Blast Zone of the 1980 eruption.

Mt St Helens

We hiked 6 miles in to Panhandle Lake.

Panhandle Lake

It was here at our campsite that I was spoiled with an entire weekend of just the sounds of nature. One of the songsters that stood out was the Yellow Warbler! Yay! I was thrilled to spend more quality time with this one.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Another vocal singer I heard long before I spotted it on the treetops was the Slate-colored Fox Sparrow. The “chevrons” on the chest helped me narrow it down to Fox Sparrow, and the greyish upperparts and unique song helped me distinguish it from the four subspecies of Fox Sparrows.

Slate-colored Fox Sparrow Slate-colored Fox Sparrow IMG_9002

Many Flycatchers perched and sang near the campsite, including Olive-sided and Willow Flycatchers.

Olive-sided Flycatcher Olive-sided Flycatcher Willow Flycatcher

Near the lake I got up-close views of a Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper Spotted Sandpiper

And the millions of tadpoles in the lake. I’m glad we brought the water filter.

Tadpoles Tadpoles

And finally, one of the more common fellas, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, was fluttering around the branches and snapping up delicious insects.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

What a fun trip! And a great getaway. Some more pics:

Chipmunk

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Sauvie Island Summer

I met the coolest bird on this trip.

I arose early. Before sunrise, I went to Oak Road on Sauvie Island in the hopes of finding summer birds. I also wanted to take advantage of “the golden hour.”

Sunrise

It was more like “the golden hour of the cow.”

Savannah Sparrows showed me their good sides.

Blue Steel

Blue Steel

Savannah Sparrow

Ferrari

Magnum

Magnum

And I came across a few other sweet birds, including a pair of California Quail on the trail that hopped into the nearby trees for cover.

California Quail

California Quail

Just before this, I had probably the geekiest conversation I’ve ever had. Returning from the end of the Oak Road trail, I saw another birder walking towards me. Binoculars in hand, beige safari outfit, I can spot a fellow tribe member from a mile away. He asks, “Have you seen a Vesper Sparrow?” “No, I’m sorry I haven’t,” I replied. “I’m looking for the Yellow-breasted Chat,” I told him.

He then proceeded to give me directions to the chat, as he’d heard it singing on his way toward Oak Road. “Good luck with the sparrow!” I told him. He said that it probably hadn’t arrived yet, and I made a mental note to revisit the site in the future to look for vespers.

I followed his directions and voilà, that is how I met the coolest bird ever, the Yellow-breasted Chat. Its “song” sounds more like monkey chatter. I would love to be in a forest surrounded by a chorus of chats and I hope to spend more time with them in the field.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Here’s a pretty decent video of just the bird’s song. And below is a video of the bird singing from a tree while the wind whips the branches around. An American Robin tries to steal the show in the background. Not the easiest environment to take a presentable video, but worth sharing.

Coolest bird I’ve met to date.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Ridgefield NWR

Here are some highlights from a recent summer trip I took to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. I saw two new species!

One, a Blue-winged Teal. If I’d realized at the time, I would have attempted better pictures.

Blue-winged Teal

And Two. This barely recognizable silhouette that looks more like a deflated balloon torpedoing away, is none other than a Wilson’s Snipe. The unusual winnowing flight sound of their tail “hu-hu-hu” cracks me up for some reason.

I know I’m not supposed to care about European Starlings because they’re introduced and invasive, but they are here, and their nestlings look like muppets, so…

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

The Red-winged Blackbirds posed nicely.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

I also got a good look at a handsome Cinnamon Teal couple.

Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal

It was easy to recognize the Steller’s Jay crest.

Steller's Jay

I don’t know why, but I love when birds sit on signs. Like Savannah Sparrows often do.

Savannah Sparrow

And finally, tree swallows were zipping around in the forest, except when they were perched and looking over their shoulders.

Tree Swallow

It’s hot out there folks!

Stay cool.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey