Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Return of the Dawn Chorus

OK, so maybe not a chorus, but the heralds (Harolds?) of spring are starting to sing. A few days ago I could hear an American robin singing in the pre-dawn darkness. Yesterday a mourning dove joined in for a few rounds. Today, I heard a robin again; then it began to snow. Springtime in the High Desert. Check in again tomorrow.

Although this County Year project has been slogging along lately, I've added a few species to my initial list. Seems like for each outing there is either the regular winter residents or a lone individual representing a new species.

Turkey vulture

Though the waterfowl are mostly gone from the Old Mill District, I've picked up greater white-fronted goose, canvasback and greater scaup there in the past week. The greater white-fronted had teamed up with a pair of Canada geese, but that pair seemed to work at ditching the white-fronted. After circling and lots of noise, the pair landed on a rooftop while the white-fronted landed in the Deschutes River, then began an endless cacophony of calls. In addition to the waterfowl, there was a lone turkey vulture battling high winds in the district's vicinity about a week ago.


There was also a small flock of Barrow's goldeneyes at the Sunriver sewage lagoons and a lone killdeer near the Sunriver marina. Fortunately, this County Year is a list of species, not a tally of total individuals. Otherwise, you'd hear me honking, as well.

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7

Forget February. Busy, busy, busy with book revisions, Winter Wings Festival programs, nordic ski races, life. The birding was tough - how many times do I have to walk the First Street Rapids trail before I find that damn Harris's sparrow? Obviously, more times than I've been done there.

Seemed like wherever I went, I was met with bitter cold and winds, poor luck or repeat species. Not that the latter is bad. I can watch golden-crowned sparrows until the day turns to night or hoot for non-existent owls until the night turns to day. It's the "being out there" that is the most important.

Still, I wouldn't have minded picking up a new species. Or two.

Today, I walked the Old Mill District loop along the Deschutes River and saw about 14 waterfowl individuals. Not species, but total number of ducks and geese. Pretty slim. But, much to my surprise I picked up a white-fronted goose trying to hook up with a pair of Canada geese and a greater scaup moving in on a pair of ring-necked ducks. The soaring trio of geese disbanded after the Canadians landed on a nearby roof, and the white-fronted was forced to land in the river. Even its honking sounded mournful.

The scaup was diving and swimming with the ring-necks. It would be interesting to see if they hang out together on their migration or if the ring-necks try to ditch the scaup.

Of course, I was looking for another species. A woman sent me a photo of a female Barrow's goldeneye that she had observed the other day. I couldn't find a goldeneye even if my  name was Bond. Scare would be giving the birding a lot of credit. Even the lone robin in the parking area seemed like a teaser.

But, things progress. The juncos in my yard are singing, the house finches are thinning out, the lone song sparrow seems to be showing up more often, the pygmy nuthatches are pounding away on my neighbors garage, trying to break in. Nothing but fun in birdlandia. Of course, I can always count on the local quail stopping by.

Species to date: 80