Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Mother's Day Weekend for the Birds

My Mother's Day weekend was for the birds, but in a good way. The spring North American Migration Count (NAMC) was held that weekend. Plus the spring Black Oystercatcher survey week started on Sunday. I spent both days looking for birds, one of my favorite things to do.

Saturday was spent birding our farm, Agency Creek Rd., Shenk Wetlands, and fruitlessly searching for Red-shouldered Hawks in their usual haunts. I didn't take photos of birds but did take one of this deer at the edge of the horse pasture, watching me as I toured the farm in the wee hours of the morning, before chores.

After chores, we drove up Agency Creek Rd. and found many more birds. When we returned at lunch time, this beautiful bouquet from Munazza was waiting for me. We have told our sons that phone calls are all the gifts we need and so they dutifully call... but their wives spoil us. (I am definitely not complaining.)

The afternoon was spent not finding White-tailed Kites or Red-shouldered Hawks, but we did enjoy supper with friends at The Wildwood Cafe in Willamina. Our one stop in Polk County, Shenk Wetlands, added few birds to that county's NAMC, but it was fun to hear Western Meadowlarks singing.

After evening chores, I climbed the ladder and counted five owlets to add to Yamhill County's NAMC. There could be more as there were seven eggs laid but the little owls all huddled together and were tough to count.

Saturday we headed for the coast and climbed The Thumb at Road's End. All three pairs of oystercatchers were on their usual nest rocks, apparently already nesting. It was a lovely day up there but I only took photos of the blooming salal and the mowed beginning of the trail... quite a change from past years!

Oh, and a photo of Johnny trying to get all his gear back on for the trek down. He carried the scope in his back pack.

 After descending, we drove to the Jasmine Thai restaurant in Lincoln City for a Mother's Day lunch. We love their food... and their prices. Then it was southward to Fishing Rock, where we found no BLOY (Black Oystercatchers) but I was intrigued by the trail that has been cut through the trees since the bank gave way, dropping the old trail into the ocean.

The first part of the trail, farther away from the ocean, has always been a corridor between bushes. I love it.

 From the north side of the outcropping that is Fishing Rock, we could see all the way up the Lincoln County beach to Road's End, where we started that morning.

Next stop south was Boiler Bay where we found more BLOY but also rain and wind. So we headed home, stopping at the Van Duzer Wayside to find the Dipper that is always there and add it to the Lincoln County NAMC. We had collected ten Black Oystercatchers for that count but not much else. Although we prowled the Salmon River for an hour, no Dipper appeared. This was the first time we have ever stopped there without seeing a Dipper. The river was very, very low, like all the coast range streams in this unusually dry, warm spring. Perhaps that has affected the water insects that the Dippers live on and forced the birds to move farther downstream.

 The only bird we found on the water was a Common Merganser, too far upstream for a photo but I took one anyway. This Merganser did not have much water to navigate in around all the exposed rocks.

It was a fun Mother's Day weekend, but the birding did not end there. Since then, we have spent two more days surveying other Black Oystercatcher sites. Sandwiched between all this birding is a whole lot of work on the farm. And a whole lot of photos... so... more stories will come.

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