Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dippers in Four Counties

The North American Migration Count is conducted in any county that wants to participate. Johnny and I count birds in four counties... mostly so I can find Dippers in four counties. I love American Dippers. They are not migratory but all birds are counted so who cares? On the third Saturday in September, we count birds in Yamhill County, which means on our farm and up Agency Creek above our farm.

Our first bit of excitement on Sept. 19 this year was not a bird: it was a bear cub that ran up the road in front of us and then darted into the brush. It disappeared too quickly for a photo and I did not care to follow it to try to get one. Mama bear was likely not far away.

Dippers were not in their usual places up Agency Creek and I began to despair of getting my Yamhill County Dipper. And although the Wrentit we found not far from the disappearing bear cub was a good bird for our county, it did not come out for a photo. So I took pictures of scenery instead.

Beavers have been busy building dams to create deep enough pools in this dry year.

While watching for Dippers, Johnny found an abandoned Canada Goose nest with one egg still there.

Eventually we found a pair of Dippers (who declined to stay for photos) and, just before arriving back at the farm, a Dipper hanging out below a bridge for a distant photo op, giving us a three Dipper count for Yamhill County.

From Agency Creek, we drove to friend Blythe's to count the numerous birds she has at her feeders. The cute Nuthatches did not hold still long enough for a photo, but, ironically, when we arrived home, a Nuthatch hung out in a dead tree by our creek for many photo ops, albeit at a much greater distance.

On Sunday, Sept. 20, we headed to the coast and went up the Little Nestucca River Road to search for Tillamook County Dippers. We found lots more than Dippers. A Bald Eagle posed in a distant dead tree.

Marsh Wrens sang, unseen as usual, from a marsh. We found some beautiful park-like areas we had not seen before.

Huge salmon chased each other in a big pool below an old fish ladder, their fins and tails tattered from their journey up the river from the ocean... their last hurrah before spawning and dying.

 And, at last, a Dipper for Tillamook County.

Then it was onward to Lincoln County to check on our Black Oystercatchers at Road's End, count other birds there... and take miscellaneous photos since the birds we found declined to pose close enough...

From there it was back to the Lincoln County Dipper search. We found the one that lives under the bridge at Rose Lodge, or close to it. The Dipper was swimming in the boulder-filled stream and was too busy feeding to come out of the water for a decent picture.

Onward we drove to Van Duzer Wayside and two more Dippers! One was singing. That made Lincoln County another three Dipper county.

The last county was Polk and we know of only one creek within our range that hosts an easily accessed Dipper... Mill Creek. It took a lot of looking before we found one, but the scenery there, as everywhere, was lovely.

Our last Dipper of the day was a long way from my camera... and blurry. But gave us our Dippers in four counties. A strange goal for a migration count, I know. But so much fun!


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