Thursday, March 15, 2018

Enjoying an Early Spring at Sauvie Island and Newport

A welcome bout of warmish, sunny days meant we had a couple of days last weekend to plan a couple of semi-ambitious daytrips (ie, we left town). On Saturday we drove up to Sauvie Island to get our crane fix. Sandhill Cranes bugled away in big numbers, while we also counted Snow Geese in the hundreds, and Canvasbacks in the dozens. It’s always worth a winter tirp to Sauvie, even though we typically only make it up there once or twice a year.

Sandhill Cranes

The view of Mt. Saint Helens from Rentenaar Road

Afterwards, we decided to take a look for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that had been found earlier in the week, not far from there. Not to be confused with the one in Beaverton that’s been hanging around reliably for months. This new one, in Columbia County, had been found along a paved trail that runs just behind the residential area. Sure enough, it turned up at the precise intersection (with Bird Rd., appropriately enough) where others had seen it.

It was nice to get YBSA for the state to complete our sapsucker set for Oregon. I miss seeing them reliably like we did when we lived back East, but at least we still manage to see them every year when we travel to Texas for the holidays. This one flew a circuit between only three or four trees, and never left the tiny perimeter it established for itself.

The sapsucker sees a couple of saps

While the sapsucker was busy sucking sap on high, the lower trunk had a couple of Brown Creepers creeping, until one of them stopped creeping and started sunning. It found a cushy patch of moss and spread itself to soak up some rays. It's hard enough just to catch one staying in one spot for more than a second, it was unprecedented that we found one in good light and posing in all its Certhiid glory.

Brown Creeper

We were heading to Beaverton next to run some errands and pay a visit the best noodle house around (Frank’s), so we figured we might as well pull a twofer, and see if we could turn up the other Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We pulled up to Commonwealth Lake Park, and found the sweet gum trees easily enough. We even spotted a sapsucker right off the bat, but it ended up being a Red-breasted. We walked the path around the lake and found the resident ducks and grebes totally, ludicrously photogenic.

Pied-billed Grebe

American Wigeon

The American Wigeon were as tame as domestic Mallards, either swimming right up to the edge of the lake, or feeding en masse on the lawn and chasing breadcrumbs. A pair of Green-winged Teal even got into the action and rooted around in the mud and the puddles while I crouched down a few feet away.

Green-winged Teal

The following day we drove over to Newport for a quick coast trip. We strolled around Hatfield Marine Science Center where we picked up some year birds, but nothing mind-blowing. Our best find of the day came later at Ona Beach State Park, and it did actually blow our minds, even if it looked like it had been dead awhile (R.I.Petrel). From a distance it looked like a sub-adult gull, but up close we made out the naricorn. The bill was too short and stout for a shearwater, and eventually we figured out we had a Northern Fulmar on our hands. Pretty damn cool.

Northern Fulmar

From there we visited the Beaver Creek Natural Area where the clever Steller's Jays were finding a way of getting around the suet baffle

Just a couple of birds hanging out

We wrapped up the weekend by heading over to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, where you can always see the pair of Peregrine Falcons that call the cliffs outside the visitor's center home. One of them had a small bird that it spent some time plucking and tucking into. Not a bad finale to a pretty packed weekend.

Peregrine Falcon

Underneath its tail you can see a leg and foot of its prey sticking out

No comments:

Post a Comment