January was a good month of birding. Outside my 5MR Philip Kline spotted a Harlequin Duck near Eagle Creek Fish Hatchery in the Gorge, it would be a county bird for me and I thought it would make a great mini-adventure for Tomas and I.
Most of the trails and roads are still closed in the Columbia River Gorge thanks to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire (started by a teenager setting off fireworks during a burn ban). The highway exit to the fish hatchery is closed but I did some research and found that portions of the bike trail bordering the highway in the gorge are open giving us an easy 3 mile ride from Cascade Locks to Eagle Creek.
Once at Eagle Creek It didn’t take long to spot the lovely brown Harlequin Duck diving near a bend in the river.
It was such a nice time. I spent two hours wedged between some rocks by the river watching the harlequin, goldeneyes, and a pair of American Dippers singing, bobbing, and displaying to one another.
I lucked out with a good gull mix at the Downtown Waterfront Park including Ring-billed, California, and a nice Western Gull, slightly more challenging to find away from the coast.
Another foggy morning I finally made it to Tabor Park this year where I found a Barred Owl hidden deep in the cedar trees.
I texted my friend Eric who biked over to share in the fun. He and I have a good deal of 5MR overlap that can be very convenient. I shared the owl and he returned the favor by finding a nicely perched magical Merlin. Win-win.
We birded by bike together another day, exploring our friendly neighborhood sloughs and found Hermit Thrush, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Hairy Woodpecker that was an excellent and unexpected 5MR bird for us.
A few 5MR parks in Vancouver overlap with Jen’s radius, and she’s been lucky enough to see an American Dipper twice at Biddle Lake inspiring me to cross over and check it out. I’ve yet to refind the 5MR dipper but I did find a nice Pacific Wren.
And my FOY Orange-crowned Warbler! Always a warm winter sight.
Along the Washington side of the Columbia River at Marine Park I saw a nice group of Barrow’s Goldeneye.
And the best was refinding a rare Tufted Duck this past weekend originally found by Jim Danzenbaker at Wintler Park.
On a return trip from Washington I detoured towards Broughton Beach to look for Short-eared Owls but I didn’t need to go far because as I drove by the airport boundary fence along Marine Drive I did a double-take. Short-eared Owl!
So many good 5MR birds! I’m currently up to 100 species so far this year which sounds like a lot, but it’s still just 69% of the total species seen in Multnomah County.
Bird #100 was a Wilson’s Snipe that Eric and I flushed from the grass at Whitaker Ponds. Unfortunately, it happened too fast for photos. So instead, here’s bird #85 a Townsend’s Warbler that showed up to the yard after I put out homemade suet.
I’m having a lot of fun with mini-adventures in my 5MR, I’ve biked more than I have in a long time and I’ve only had a few pangs of FOMO (fear of missing out). I’m trying to do things differently this year, not that I’m done chasing everything, but I’m pulling back some (until I buy that Prius) (kidding not kidding).
Good 5MR birding.
Tweets and chirps,