Birdathon 2018

First, a big THANK YOU to my donators! I couldn’t raise money for the Audubon Society of Portland without you. This year I joined two teams, The Murre the Merrier and Brewery Blackbirds. The Murre the Merrier, led by Sarah Swanson and Max Smith was a 12-hour day, starting from the Pittock Mansion in Portland, continuing at the coast in the afternoon, and ending back at Dawson Creek in Hillsboro.

Colleen McMeadowlark

Birdathons are intense! We try to see as many species possible in a day and this time was no different. Some of the highlights included Purple Finch, Western Tanager, Wilson’s Warbler, and a FOY Western Wood-Pewee at Pittock Mansion.

Best view in the house

We stopped at Smith Homestead in the Tillamook Forest along Hwy 6 for Hermit Warbler, American Dipper, excellent sounds of Evening Grosbeak, and even better looks at perched Violet-green Swallows.

At the coast we visited Sitka Sedge State Natural Area, Oregon’s newest state park, that has an excellent trail through a saltwater marsh. We found Marsh Wren, Spotted Sandpiper, and two Black-bellied Plovers decked out in breeding plumage. We missed a normally reliable Wrentit, and instead got lovely looks at a Rufous Hummingbird that flashed us his golden gorget.

The perfect topper

We stopped for lunch at Sarah’s family beach house in Pacific City as we scoped Tufted Puffins on Cape Kiwanda’s Haystack Rock and watched a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese fly by.

We picked up a few other coastal species including Pigeon Guillemot and we made a special stop to add Common Murre (The Murre the Merrier!). While scoping birds a woman asked us what we were doing, and she was rewarded by having to take our group photo. So nice of her.

Back inland, after seeing no woodpeckers all day it was decided we’d end at Dawson Creek where Acorn Woodpeckers were a sure bet. And they were, along with Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler, Bewick’s Wren, and a FOY Olive-sided Flycatcher that brought our total species count for the day to 101! Great job team!

Saturday’s Brewery Blackbird Birdathon trip, led by Colleen McDaniel, was spent at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. This was a great day. The park promised baby Virginia Rails and it actually delivered!

Soak it in. Because it’ll never be seen out in the open again.

Other highlights included Lazuli Bunting, Black-headed Grosbeak, a singing Swainson’s Thrush, Willow Flycatcher, and the most cooperative Yellow-breasted Chat.

We saw Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, and Green-winged Teal (teal slam!), and a Bald Eagle defy gravity while battling a Red-tailed Hawk. Quite the display.

Along the forest trail, Sarah spotted a Great Horned Owl surprisingly perched on an open maple branch. And another highlight was this Wood Duck family on a log.

Quite a handful!

After four hours we ended with 74 species. But because we’re good birders, we added a House Finch outside Stickman Brewery after pizza and beer bringing our total to 75.

Such good birders

Is May the best month for birding? It sure feels like it. So many great birds seen with great people! All for a great cause.

For the birds.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Dawson Creek Park

Today I graduated from the waterfowl ID for beginners class at Audubon. Life beyond mallards is good.

I’m still a novice birder, but some tricks are beginning to stick like, where’s the white on the duck? How big is the bill in relation to the head? Is the duck dabbling or diving? What habitat is the bird in? I asked myself these questions as we birded in the rain at Dawson Creek Park.

Watching Wood Ducks on a log

Watching Wood Ducks on a log

What a beautiful couple

What a beautiful couple

Green-winged Teal- note the white vertical line on the shoulder.

Green-winged Teal- note the vertical white line on the shoulder.

Mutt Ducks, what they lack in pedigree, they make up for in personality.

Mutt Ducks, what they lack in pedigree, they make up for in personality.

American Wigeon- dainty blue-gray black-tipped bill, buffy stripe on top of head; horizontal line at the folded wing (visible here, but not always); white and black rump.

American Wigeon- dainty blue-gray black-tipped bill, buffy stripe on top of head; horizontal line at the folded wing (visible here, but not always); white and black rump. Female lacks the white stripe on forehead, but shares the dainty bluish bill.

We also saw not-ducks!

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

fluffed up Brewer's Blackbird (Beer Bird?)- new bird! male, distinctive yellow eye, long thin black bill

Brewer’s Blackbird (Beer Bird?)- new bird! male, distinctive yellow eye, long thin black bill

Female Brewer's Blackbird; unmarked, drab gray-brown, dark eye.

Female Brewer’s Blackbird; unmarked, drab gray-brown, dark eye.

Red-winged Blackbirds have become my photo-buddies.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

A special treat on this trip was a visit to the resident Acorn Woodpecker granary tree. And with the tree came Acorn Woodpeckers! Another new bird! And what a fun, curious bird with such a complex social structure.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

I could watch them all day.

But there are more birds to bird!

Audrey

P.S. Birder-lingo I learned today: Dip– to miss out on finding a bird you were looking for; as in, we dipped at seeing a Northern Shoveler today.