Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Singing Dipper and Other Bird Stories

We take time off from farm chores to do fun things, especially (in my case) bird-related things. Every so often we survey Dippers up Agency Creek. And starting this month and lasting all summer, I survey Black Oystercatchers in several areas of the coast with Johnny's frequent help.

Last Sunday, we did our Dipper survey, and happened upon two fledglings begging from a rock downstream of their nest. Birder friends had told us they found Dippers by that nest earlier in the day, so we drove up the road to find them... and others. We found no Dippers by the nest, but a little ways downstream were the two begging fledglings. A parent flew in while I watched but did not feed the chicks. Instead, it sang to them! Another adult was farther downstream gathering food.

empty nest

singing Dipper and fledglings

I took a video of the babies and their serenading parent. I don't know if it was singing to the children to pacify them or if it was telling its partner to hurry up with the food. I didn't wait long enough for the other adult to come. I put the video on youtube: https://youtu.be/0JMOwDuE1Pg

Farther downstream we found three fledglings at the area called The Chutes. Here is one.

And here you can see part of the chutes... and why the two chicks visible (if you look hard) do not want to jump into that roiling water!

Friday I hiked one of my Black Oystercatcher survey areas to see if there were any more potential nest sites. I did not find any, which is good from my standpoint because I already have 6 nests in that area to monitor. We (my guide Michael and I) did find a pair near one of the known nest sites and saw them copulate, so they will soon be nesting. Look for red bills in this photo:

The area can only be accessed through private property so I won't say where, but it's beautiful, like so many places on the Oregon coast. This one has some very huge, old trees, both upright and fallen. We watched a peregrine falcon chase two sub-adult eagles out of its territory. Peregrines are amazing aerial acrobats!

Michael is 6 feet tall. That's a big root wad!

The next day, Johnny and I did a Brown Pelican survey from 5-7 p.m. at Cape Kiwanda. It's a coast-wide survey from Mexico northward. I dropped Johnny off at the Cape Kiwanda parking area, which was jammed with Mother's Day weekend celebrants. He hiked up to his Observation Point on the south side of the cape while I drove northward to McPhillips Park. My CoastWatch adopted mile is from McPhillips Park south to the dune on the north side of Cape Kiwanda. I did that walk and reached my OP on the north side of the cape at 5 p.m. Unfortunately, my camera quit after the first few photos on my walk and I had left the spare battery at home in the charger. I managed to get a photo of the formerly sandy, now rocky beach... and nothing else. The beach has had most of its sand washed off, exposing rocks.

While Johnny was getting sand-blasted in the wind on the south side of the Cape, watching a pair of Black Oystercatchers but no pelicans, I had a protected spot on the north side where I watched a second pair of BLOY, numerous whales in the ocean, the resident Peregrine Falcons, and several groups of pelican fly bys. But, alas, no photos. I don't think Johnny was thrilled to find out there will be another Brown Pelican survey in the fall. 

On May 12, the Black Oystercatcher spring survey season begins. We'll be doing lots more bird monitoring when we're not gardening or haying. It's a busy season on the Fink Family Farm.

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