Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Year in Review

What a whirlwind of a year it’s been for the Hipster Birders. The year started simply enough as other mid-winters – looking at some lovely ducks who have headed south for the season. One of my favorite spunky ducks that kicked off our year is the Ruddy Duck, who gave us lovely looks in sunny Savannah.

And the ducks didn’t stop there. We were delighted to finally have close views of the trifecta of Scoters – Black, White-Winged, and Surf. Up until this point, they were usually little black and white specks in rafts out in the distance or zipping across the coastal sky. And throw in a Redhead, and you're good to go!

Black Scoter

White-Winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, and Redhead

Fast forward to Spring time, Nick and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to move out of the South and head North, and I mean VERY north. We pretty much went almost as far as we could go in the lower 48. We set out on one heck of a road trip and took our time driving cross country for Savannah to Oregon, stopping to bird in some great habitat we had never explored before. Central and West Texas took us far away from the swampy, humid and marshes we had grown to know and love in the South & Southeast. We had reached the lands where Flycatchers gather to catch flies and put on spectacular shows in the middle of nowhere.

Male Vermillion Flycatcher

Female Vermillion Flycatcher

Western Kingbird

After a grueling 22 hour drive from Houston to Phoenix, we were not deterred from exploring the greatness of Phoenix after a refreshing 3.5 hour sleep. We will have to go back and soak up even more of its awesomeness someday, perhaps with more sleep and not getting pulled over and figuring out how to change our own headlight in the wee hours of the night. And we'll definitely have to explore more of California other than a sliver of a corner of it.

Gila Woodpecker


Black-Throated Sparrow

Yellow-Headed Blackbird in California
Once we arrived here in Oregon, it seems like it’s been almost non-stop birding and exploring. We found some great places close to home, like Minto-Brown Island Park and Ankeny NWR. We can’t believe how much variety of habitat is in this state, all within a few hours drive. We’ve gone to the coast to the desert to the mountains – each place new and exciting and filled with fun adventures.

Nesting Cliff Swallow


Black-Headed Grosbeak

Golden-Crowned Sparrows

We were welcomed by Golden-Crowned sparrows and new Jays - Western Scrub, Steller's and Gray. And one of my dreams came true when I encountered my spirit bird, the Acorn Woodpecker.

Western Scrub Jay

Steller's Jay

Gray Jay

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Each niche of this bountiful state had some unique birds to offer. Central oregon had some mountain birds, like White-Headed woodpecker, Townsend's Solitaire, and Pygmy Nuthatches. Going even a little further east into the desert, we found Rock Wrens and Black-Billed Magpies.

White-Headed woodpecker

Painted Hills

Rock Wren

Pygmy Nuthatches

Townsend's Solitaire

Black-Billed Magpie

We've seen lots of coastal birds in our time in Florida and Savannah, but the West Coast coastal birds are something else. The nesting birds when we first visited the coast just blew our minds! Three different types of cormorants and alcids galore! I just can't get enough sea birds. And other bodies of water have great things to offer, too - like the charming little American Dippers that hang out in the waterfalls and streams.

Harlequin Duck

Nesting Common Murr'es

Black Oyestercatchers

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Pelagic Cormorant

Pigeon Guillemot

American Dipper
Violet-Green Swallow

One of the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park

Wilson's Warbler

A couple of my all time favorite moments was watching thousands of Vaux's Swifts funnel into a huge chimney in Portland and the hawk watch at Bonney Butte. There may not have been hundreds of raptors flying by, but there was a good variety. And of course the highlight was getting to release a couple of Sharp-Shinned hawks. This wasn't just a hawk watch, it was a hawk catch and release!

Vaux's Swift

Golden Eagle
To end this bountiful year, we’ve stepped up our technology, which will hopefully make this blog even greater. We geared up our gear – Nick giving me a new, higher-end camera lens for Christmas (a Canon EF 100-400 IS Lens). We’ve seen this lens in mostly every birding circle we’ve encountered, and I’ve been longing for one for a while now. And now it’s mine! So that hopefully means some upping in quality of blog photos. And now I won’t be the only contributor since I gave Nick a new DSLR camera for his birthday! Our Canon family is growing, which means great things for our readers/viewers!

2014 has been an amazing year, and we can’t wait for what 2015 has to bring!


  1. Love the post! and great photos - I love the Stellars Jay - what a fabulous colour! Glad to see you're enjoying living in the North!

    1. Thanks Rach! Oregon is super lovely, and we're doing our best to make the most of it. The birds were well worth our moving; Steller's Jay is one of my favorites, too.