5MR Updates

With only a month and a half of this year left, looking back I think I’ve done a pretty good job finding birds in my 5 mile radius. I haven’t done the best job of updating, but so far I’ve seen 143 species.

The most recent additions were found at Broughton Beach, including winter visitors like this Dunlin.

I added a couple of species while looking through bad photos, like these barely identifiable Greater White-fronted Geese.

Sometimes I have to take what I can get, like fly-by Surf Scoters.

Then other times I get lucky with a fly-by Short-eared Owl!

Aw, man I love those owls, they’re the best.

This past weekend, also at Broughton were fly-over Tundra Swans.

A confident addition of an Iceland Gull (formerly known as Thayer’s Gull); pink legs, medium-pale mantle, black primaries, dark iris.

So easy to identify

And a couple of uncommon visitors, including a Pacific Loon.

And a trio of Red-breasted Mergansers, that differ from Common with a longer, thinner bill, a shaggy crest, and no white chin patch.

Hello ladies

Not all the birds come from Broughton, one evening I got a lucky brief look of a hawk flying over Mt Tabor that surprisingly wasn’t a Red-tailed Hawk.

Pale head, dark belly, white underside of primaries – and no patagial marks – a Rough-legged Hawk! I was at the right place at the right time for my 199th Multnomah County bird!

What was #198? I’m so glad you asked. My best 5MR bird to-date showed up at my friend Casey Cunningham’s house just 4.1 miles away. He’d reported a Virginia’s Warbler occasionally visiting his suet feeder, and many other birders and I spent quality time in the cold, rain (questioning life choices) while staking out his yard hoping for a look.

Warbler at the end of the rainbow? Nope.

But most, including myself struck out on too many occasions. Right place, wrong times. That was until this weekend, while happily out birding with friends, we immediately detoured over to Casey’s yard after seeing an encouraging warbler report. It’s so hard to know when to take the gamble, but this time it truly paid off.
Virginia’s Warbler – YES!

It might not look like much, but this subdued gray warbler with a yellow undertail is normally found far away in southwest deserts and is often difficult to observe in it’s own brushy chaparral habitat. But here was one in NE Portland, wagging its tail, chowing down on suet.

Black-capped Chickadee meet Virginia

Oh you want to come out and perch in the sunshine? Okay, then. *gushes*

The crowd cheered and applauded as the warbler put on a great show, it was an unforgettable moment shared with great friends.

The crowd goes wild

The 5MR has been helpful for keeping FOMO (a fear of missing out) at bay. It’s still challenging when new temptation lands every day, but there are always birds close to home keeping things interesting. This week I’ll say goodbye to my 5MR and local birds as I travel back to Florida for a family visit. I have much to be grateful for near and far.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks and chirps,

Audrey

Short-eared Owls Part II

I read recently that Nature Nut Notes saw these owls the same week! We must have just missed each other. There was one other gentleman present on Monday with a GIANT camera lens, I would love to see those pictures!

I had such a fun adventure on Monday, I wanted to share the experience with my boyfriend, Tomas. After work Thursday, we made the journey across town to see the Short-eared Owls.

I am beginning the painful process of weaning myself off the automatic setting on my camera. Ouch. Over-exposed, but I still kind of like it. 

Short-eared Owl

Here are some other better-ish pictures.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Pretty sweet.

We even saw the famed Horned Lark! He blends in so well with the grass.

Horned Lark

My favorite part of this trip was meeting two birders who arrived shortly after us. Cassandra and James recently moved to Oregon and were there to experience one of the great things about Oregon – owls. Too cool! I am thrilled there are others out there who feel similarly about birding.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Short-eared Owls

By the end of my work day Monday I felt twitchy.

After birding last weekend I was eager to be outside again, but by the time I leave my desk-job it’s nearly 5pm and long past ideal birding time…but perhaps it is a good time to see owls. For fun, I checked the BirdsEye app.

I’m still on the fence about using technology to find birds- will it lead to overexposure? Does it ruin the surprise element? Of course, I can see the positives- data collection, a general “count” of what birds are where/when…and a great time-saver for birders.

This day, I decided to save time. A Short-eared Owl sighting was posted the day prior only 45 minutes away! I was game. I grabbed my camera and binoculars and headed out. Traffic was awful. I didn’t care. I was elated at the possibility of seeing an owl! Would it still be there? What else would I see!…

The first thing I saw was a fast blur that I thought might be an owl…

Northern Harrier

Black wing-tips and a white rump identifies this as a Northern Harrier!

Then, far away in a field I saw what I thought was a cat that turned out to be a coyote!

Coyote

I drove so slowly, and stopped and started the car so much, a concerned resident came out of their house to ask if I was looking for someone. Abashedly, I replied, um…I’m here for an owl. She laughed, “Oh! – I guess we’re just so used to seeing them here”. Used to them? Must be nice.

I continued on and saw this neat-o barn I thought might have some birds near the roof.

Barn

Sure enough! Hello, Great Horned Owl!

Great Horned Owl

This spontaneous birding trip was going better than I’d hoped and I hadn’t even seen Short-eared Owls yet! Past the barn, I saw another Northern Harrier in the grass! What a sharp-looking face.

Northern Harrier

And then…the icing on the cake, Short-eared Owls!!

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

It’s official. I’m in love with birding.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey