Monday, February 2, 2015

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Bad

The day Johnny arrived home from his northward trek, the pesky chipmunk appeared in the jungle room outside our dining room as we sat at the dinner table. Naughty chipmunk. But cute.

The Ugly

Johnny unpacked his van the next day, Tuesday, and loaded the canoe on top for our January beached bird survey on Wednseday, when the tides and weather would be right. We had been dreading this one because we had heard about the "wreck" of Cassin's Auklets on Oregon beaches in December, after storms. We had done our December survey before the wreck occurred. On our Wednesday survey, instead of finding hundreds of freshly dead little seabirds like other surveyors have been finding, we found eighty plus dead little seabirds in various stages of decomposition. Here are a couple rafts of the Cassin's Auklets that we tagged and logged.


After we had gathered up the dead birds from an area of the beach, I measured wing chord, tarsus and bill on one bird possessing all those parts, then Johnny tagged them, photographed them, cut all the little tag ends off, and I gathered them back up and slung them all around the beach again as we are not supposed to leave them in a heap.
The Good

When we finally finished with the survey, we were able to look up and admire the elk on Cascade Head. A Bald Eagle flew over them and Johnny got this photo. The eagle is a very tiny black dot in the upper left.

 Here are elk and eagle closer.

 There were lots of elk.

And two eagles but only one made the photo.

After five hours of handling decomposing birds, we went out to eat at our usual Thai restaurant in Lincoln City. Friend Dawn happened to be on her way home from her Tillamook raptor run and saw us. She pulled in and called her husband, Desi, who was on his way home from work in Salem. We all rendezvoused for supper, then walked over to the charging station where Desi's electric car was plugged in. Pretty cool! It had still had plenty of battery when he made it to Lincoln City, but he charged it while we ate, then drove home to charge it overnight at their house.

The Bad

The next day, Thursday, I spent getting our beached bird survey photos and data sheets ready to send. It is tedious work that I dislike. But we have told the COASST people who manage these surveys that March will be our last one. It is just too time-consuming... and not much fun. I know it is important to have this information of what's going on with seabirds... but I'll let someone else do it.

Johnny spent Thursday chainsawing trees off the fence that keeps the horses from wandering into the river woods and our sandy trails. They've been stepping over the fence and wandering into the woods, messing up our trails. He spent the next two days doing the same thing and repairing the fence.

The Good

I, on the other hand, took Friday off and went birding with friends John, Barbara, Marg and LaVon. We tracked down the large flocks of Tundra and Trumpeter Swans that had been reported in their usual winter haunt south of here. They were far from the road but we did find one smaller group of Trumpeter Swans close enough for a blurry photo.

The Bad

Our solar fence charger has not been getting enough sunlight to keep charged and so Jessie Anne, who knows when it's working and when it isn't, has been breaking through and leading her cohorts into the green field that Mr. Smith should not be in because something in that field makes his metabolic disease act up and he has tender feet again, even with a grazing muzzle slowing him down. I've spent the last few days trimming hooves, fixing and refixing electric fencing.

The Good

On Sunday, with the river fence work completed and the electric fence reinforced, we took neighbor Irv and went up to look for the nearby clearcut that we could hear happening but not see. Johnny was curious. We found where it is then drove on up Wind River road and back down the Yoncalla River road where we showed Irv Yoncalla Falls and another nearby falls on a tributary of the Yoncalla River.

Here Johnny stands on the Yoncalla bridge, looking for Dippers in the river. I love the fast, cold, rocky streams of our Coast Range.

We stopped on the way home along Agency Creek Road at the various places where Dippers nest. The only one we found this day was here at The Chutes, an area where the river shoots through a narrow passage between rocks. A Dipper was sitting on a log (left side of photo), below The Chutes, singing.

Any day I see a Dipper is a good day.

And a whole lot better day than one spent measuring, identifying and cataloguing dead sea birds.

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