Sunday, November 26, 2017

Going Coastal

Going coastal
By Damian Fagan

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday at the Oregon Coast. The weather was classic coastal - windy, rainy, sunny, wild, and calm. We spotted gray whales on their southern migration, harbor seals hauled out on rocky "islands," seabirds and songbirds, and a few flowering plants clinging to the concept that winter had not yet arrived.

We, Raven and I, did a little research during our visit in bookstores and the Hatfield Marine Science Center which is a very cool place to visit - especially when the weather turns nasty. Oregon State University is involved with other entities in a variety of great projects, so we know to see what's up at HMSC. Plus, the birding outside the facility is great along the bay.

We saw a nice sized flock of brant, many American wigeons and a lone Eurasina wigeon, northern pintails, a few hooded mergansers, and other birds. The brant were special since we rarely see them inland.

We stayed near the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Resource Area (true to its name) and walked to the lighthouse several times during the holiday weekend from our motel. We had great looks at a female peregrine falcon perched in the cliff above the Visitor Center, as well as whales moving south. A highly recommended spot to stop.

Though we left the area during a minor squall today, the trip was fun and wildlife-rich. We'll be back, probably not until spring, but the coast draws us in and is hard to resist. Squalls and all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Klamath Basin in Winter

The lakes are frozen, plastered with snow, seams of ice stitched together with winter thread. Snow blankets the hills and higher peaks; the agricultural fields are somewhat snow-free but solid. Waterfowl exists where there is open water - the Link River, Wood River, Williamson River - but the rest is solid, deep in winter slumber.

The birding was OK, not great. Bald eagles, rough-legged hawks, red-tailed hawks and northern harriers were out hunting, preying on winter kill or small mammals. The Link River had its usual nice collection of goldeneyes, buffleheads, mergansers and even a couple of mallards. Black-crowned night herons roosted in the willows along the river, their numbers around 100 but difficult to count during the brief snowstorms.

Our best sighting for the weekend? A pair of bobcats hunting along the edge of a marsh, their movements slow and deliberate. Too far off for a good photograph, we watched them hunt until they decided to run for cover, back into the trees.

I look forward to next month's visit back to Klamath, to see the changes and the return of migrants as the lakes and waterways open up and provide them safe refuge.
A solitary coyote hunts in Klamath Marsh NWR.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice: Welcoming Back the Sun

December 21 is the official first day of winter, but winter has blanketed Central Oregon for over a month. The 17" snowfall last week was like a homecoming party for the season. That's OK, I like winter.

But for those that don't, over the next couple of days, here in the Northern Hemisphere, we'll have the shortest periods of daylight for the year. These aren't the "shortest days," the 24-hour clock is still on, but these days are more about darkness than light.

Today is also the winter solstice, a time when the sun reaches 23.5 degrees south latitude or directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. The sun will stay at this point for several days, then the Earth's orbital pathway will start to bring the sun back to our northern latitudes. So today is a welcoming of winter, a welcoming of the darkness and a welcoming of the return of light that is soon to initiate.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter Wings Festival

The 2017 Winter Wings Festival will be held President's Day Weekend, Feb. 16-19. I'll be leading one of the two Owl Prowls at Klamath Marsh NWR, Over the years, we've had some really poor nights due to rain and high winds, and some exceptional nights of clear skies, calm winds and lots of owls calling. Two years ago, we located 32 owls representing seven species. Short-eared owl would have made that eight species; barred owl could have been number nine.

This is a great festival with a lot of field trips, photography workshops and presentations. Keynote speakers this year include Paul Bannick, Chas Glatzer and Scott Weidensaul. Registration is now open and some courses have already filled. See you there!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Great Backyard Bird Count has come and gone, but I have some incredible images from the weekend spent in Klamath Falls at the Winter Wings Festival. Great gray owls hooting in the darkness and locating them in the daylight. A barrage of great horned owl calls; three pairs at one location. Roosting black-crowned night herons watching over the Link River. Western bluebirds perched against the clown-white bark of mature aspens. Thick V's of Tundra swans flying overhead illuminated by the setting sun. The high whistled calls of bald eagles as they pair bond.

The festival tracks bird sightings for the weekend and enters them into the eBird database during this GBBC time. Check out the observations on the website, Better yet, schedule yourself to visit the Klamath Basin next year during the festival!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DIY wreath making ideas

Here is a link to a recent DIY wreath making article on Dave's Garden. November means wreath making and greenery harvesting. Good times!

Dave's Garden article

Sunday, August 3, 2014

News Flash: Condors in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is where Condors in Utah hang out. A pair of first-time nesting condors have a successful nest; time will tell how the young bird does.