Posts Tagged ‘Eurasian Wigeon’

Steve Murray’s Focus on Northwestern Birds

February 26, 2010

TOP TO BOTTOM:

The only Pied-billed Grebe we saw on this trip.  There were dozens of Red-necked and Horned Grebe plus a few Western and Eared.

Thayer’s Gull

river otters

Eurasian Wigeon male at Nisqually NWR.

Dusky Canada Geese, Sauvie Island

Waterfowl and Weatherfouler

January 26, 2010

In the sky it was rain.   On my hat it was rain.  In the puddles it was…

7:15AM   Our PIB  birding group leaves Astoria.  Moderate rain, low visibility, near darkness.

8:00 AM  We cross Columbia River into Washington State, rain continues.  One of us spots a Kestrel perched on a pole.

8:45 AM  We stop at I-5 rest stop. Free coffee, heated rest rooms.  American Crows and American Robins in the parking lot.  Golden-crowned Kinglets respond to our calls and come down to eye level.  Light rain.

10:15 AM We arrive at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Lacey, WA.  Steady rain.  One Bald Eagle visible from parking lot.  Our first two Northwestern Crows* are calling yto confirm they cannot caw the way American Crows do. Pond at Visitors Center has Mallard, one Bufflehead, one Coot,concentric circles from numerous rain drops.

10:30 AM We being to walk the Nisqually trails where century-old levees have been breached to increase the area of salt water marsh in the Nisqually Delta.  Ducks now paddle over former pastures within fifty yards of the Visitors Center.  A Kestrel perches under the eave of one of the Twin Barns, out of the rain.  The rain pounds down on trees, ponds, levees, cars, birders.   Bald Eagles perch atop various cottonwoods, mostly the tallest ones.  It is hard to keep binocs or scope from clouding over with rainwater.

10:45 AM  We meet a lone birder heading back to his car, drenched and defeated by the rain and limited visibility.  Only the ducks, Canada and 3 Cackling Geese seem as ease.  Few songbirds are visible though we encounter a small gr0up of Golden-crowned Sparrows sheltered beneath large cottonwood branches.

11:15 AM  Overlooking the Nisqually River we see Common Goldeneye, the omnipresent Buffleheads, eagles perched up high.  Rain continues.  The seams in my “waterproof” jacket are starting to leak.  Both handkerchieves I use to wipe optical lenses are now soaked.

Noon    We go to lunch at the Nisqually Junction.  An NFL play-off is on the big screen TVs that line the bar walls.  Ravens are not playing, niether are the Eagles.  Rain comes in waves of hard or hardly while we eat.

1:30 PM   We begin walking the Nisqually trails again.  Did I mention the rain?  It’s cold enough that my fingers numb enough that the cold no longer hurts.  Tep somewhere in mid-forties.  More eagles.  Three or more different Harriers over the newly bulldozed shorebird scrapes.   We find a Eurasian Wigeon male among the many dabblers.  Later we see a lone Pied-billed Grebe diving among the ducks,  tightening up its plumage the grebe becomes heavier than water and slowly submarines beneath the water’s surface.

2:15 PM    Out in the sodden marsh a couple of Glaucous-winged Gulls, stand in the rain-slicked marsh.  Bald Eagles perch on the highest bare trees, sentinels of the Nisqually Basin flatlands.  Even the Blue Herons look droopy in the downpour.

3:20 PM    We’re just finishing the trail circuit, rain continues.  The boardwalks are slippery from rain.  The trees in the river bottom are furred with ferns and heavy mosses  One of our group has spotted Downy Woodpeckers.  We search.  Instead we find the a drumming Hairy Woodpecker.  Then we find the two Downys, feeding on the thinnest of limbs, dangling near the ends.  The Golden-crowned Kinglets are about the only songbirds we’ve seen feeding in the rain.

4:00 PM  We head to our last birding spot of the day. Tolmie State Park, named for Dr. Tolmie who discovered the first known specimen of the MacGillivray’s Warbler. And he collected right here on the Oympic Peninsula.  The rain continues, dusk deepens, clouds lie on Puget Sound, visibility is back to 8AM levels.  Wigeons, Bufflehead, Goldeneyes, gulls feed along the shoreline.  A female Belted Kingfisher perches above the estuary.  Slowly our wetted, dampened, washed-out birders returns to the cars and call it a day. Thanks to Kinglet curiosity insouciant woodpeckers and the newly breached dikes at Nisqually we saw a lot of birds up close.

* An excellent Sequim birder told us that the locals in the Northwest claim you have to go all the way to the Fraser River to find “Pure” Northwestern Crows.  Sort of like gulls and oaks, the crows here intermingle their genes to the point where species becomes a very vague definition.  Much like honesty in Washington D.C.

Here’s our Northwest group, in photo taken by trip host and driver Tom Bush: left to right–Mary Ellen Moore, Christie Arnold, Meredith Anderson, this blogger in back, Bryan Arnold, Jeannie Mitchell, Loran Olsen, Ron Mitchell.  In the background is the mouth of the Columbia River.  We are on viewing platform at the wind whipped South Jetty in Fort Stevens Park.

Proof that I have been to one of the few state parks in America that share a name with a bird species.  Park and MacGillivray’s Warbler binomial both honor the good Dr. Tolmie. And MacGillivray was a Scottish naturalist who wrote most of Audubon’s ORINTHOLOGY text and so got a namesake bird he had never seen.

Scappoose and More

January 22, 2010

View across Sauvie to the Cascades.

The Golden-crowned Sparrows crowd the berry brambles along roads, pastures and water courses on Sauvie.  They’re only here for the winter.  I also rustled up a couple of Fox Sparrows on the island, not nearly as abundant.  And a lone White-crowned.  I could not locate the American Tree Sparrow supposed to be about.

There was a single large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds mixed with Starlings.  Most of the flock was female Red-wings, like this one.

Here’s how they decorated one bare tree:

Location:     Scappoose Bottoms
Observation date:     1/21/10
Number of species:     25

Canada Goose     12
Canada Goose (Dusky)     200
Gadwall     4
Eurasian Wigeon     1
American Wigeon     60
Mallard     20
Northern Shoveler     10
Northern Pintail     150
Ring-necked Duck     35
Common Merganser     6
Double-crested Cormorant     30
Great Blue Heron     2
Bald Eagle     4
Northern Harrier     2
Red-tailed Hawk     3
American Kestrel     3
American Coot     16
Sandhill Crane     4
Dunlin     120
Mew Gull     8
Ring-billed Gull     150
American Crow     13
European Starling     45
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     4
Red-winged Blackbird     60

Location:     Upper Sauvie’s Island
Observation date:     1/21/10
Number of species:     43

Canada Goose     500
Tundra Swan     7
Gadwall     4
American Wigeon     75
Mallard     77
Northern Shoveler     8
Northern Pintail     480
Green-winged Teal     180
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian)     1
Ring-necked Duck     140
Bufflehead     2
California Quail     1
Pied-billed Grebe     1
Double-crested Cormorant     31
Great Blue Heron     4
Great Egret     1
Bald Eagle     5
Northern Harrier     2
Red-tailed Hawk     7
American Kestrel     5
Mew Gull     70
Ring-billed Gull     50
Herring Gull     1
Glaucous-winged Gull     3
Eurasian Collared-Dove     8
Mourning Dove     1
Red-breasted Sapsucker     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     2
Steller’s Jay     3
Western Scrub-Jay     8
American Crow     18
Common Raven     1
American Robin     16
European Starling     20
Spotted Towhee     5
Fox Sparrow     2
Song Sparrow     3
White-crowned Sparrow     1
Golden-crowned Sparrow     16
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     10
Red-winged Blackbird     300
Brewer’s Blackbird     60
House Finch     41

Asian Ducks in Oregon

January 22, 2010

Dabblers from Siberia.  There was a Common Teal on Sauvie Island and a Eurasian Wigeon in a farm pond in the Scappoose Bottoms.*  Lots of plain old Yankee ducks about as well.  Eleven species of ‘Merican ducks.  In Europe they consider the Common Teal to be a separate species.  The AOU is the North American arbiter of the species splitting business and they don’t agree, still lumping Green-winged and Common.  The Common male lacks that spiffy, vertical white shoulder bar that denotes the male Green-winged Teal.  Most numerous duck of the day: a plentitude of Pintails.

Mew Gull paddling about a farm pond along Dike Road, Scappoose Bottoms.  Same pond that held numerous Wigeons including the Eurasian male.

One of the many Song Sparrpws that inhabit the dense berry tangles along the channels and canals of Sauvie Island.

Here’s is one of several Bald Eagles seen today.  This one was watching a channel at the foot of his tree.  And here’s that same bird, giving me the eagle eye.

*Scappoose Bottoms is a geographical, not an anatomical term.