Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birding Baskett Slough

Nothing compares to spending a day birding with friends, unless it's a day birding with friends where you actually find the birds you hoped to find. Such a day was today. In spite of periodic rain showers and cold wind, the weather mostly cooperated when Tillamook birders Barbara, John, and LaVon plus Johnny and I stopped at our pre-selected spots.

We started with the Fink Family Farm where the seven bluebirds that arrived eight days ago came cooperatively close for photos by all of us. Hopefully the others got better photos than mine. I call this Fuzzy Bluebird #1 and Fuzzy Bluebird #2. Our resident Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel also put in an appearance, but my inability to get a decent picture of either continued today.

From the farm, we drove to Shenk Wetlands where four White-tailed Kites posed on their usual hedgerow, way too far for photos. Although they were facing away, I am fairly sure they were two adults and two juveniles, to be confirmed on a future trip when they face me where I can see the rusty blush on the breasts of the juveniles. Friend Marilyn and I saw two adults and one juvenile there on my raptor run two weeks ago.

Next stop was Orchard St. by Sheridan to see the wintering Northern Shrike. It was raining when we arrived and no shrike in view. But within minutes the rain subsided and the Shrike appeared right in front of our car. However, it soon flew to a tree a bit farther away and I managed to get only a Fuzzy Shrike photo.

After a lunch stop in Sheridan, we headed for Tucker Rd. on the way to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. The Hooded Mergansers I'd seen on Monday were still there, along with many Cackling and Canada Geese, but the Eurasian Wigeon that was hanging out with the Mergansers on Monday was nowhere to be seen through the now driving rain. (I later checked my bird book and realized that it was not a Eurasian Wigeon after all. Good thing it wasn't there this day to prove my ignorance.)

So onward we went to Livermore Rd. where I again could not find the alleged Snow Bunting. We did find Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks. Some Great Egrets continued to guard the sheep flock, as they had on Monday, and were now aided by this handsome Red-tail, who seemed to be keeping a sharp eye out for trespassers.

A pair of Bald Eagles sat regally atop very tall and distant power poles on Livermore Rd., but I managed only a Fuzzy Eagles photo.

Then on we went to the star attraction at The Narrows on Coville Rd.: the juvenile White-faced Ibis that I had taken blurry photos of on Monday. It was a bit closer this time, but not close enough. And the wind was very cold. These shots are the best my shaking hands could manage. The real photographers in the group undoubtedly did better. Another bird-photographer friend, one I met on my canoe trip at the Oregon Shorebird Festival in August, happened to be at Baskett Slough at the same time as we, also stalking the Ibis. It is always fun to meet fellow bird nuts in the field.

The first photo below has the Ibis in the center of the foreground, reflected in the water. The others are zoomed in closer, creating Fuzzy Ibis photos.

Having scored on nearly all the birds we had hoped to find, we headed home. As we left Baskett Slough, the rain returned in earnest. But a sun break along the way produced a lovely rainbow, a fitting conclusion to a fun day. As I write this journal report, the rain and wind are fiercely noisy outside my window. Let them rage. We are safely home, warmed both by the wood stove and fine friends.

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