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Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Woodpecker Kinda Day

My original, admittedly lofty, goal was to see 100 bird species in the month of January. After sitting at 84 for a while as the days of the month tick down, it was clear I wasn't going to reach that, but maybe I could still break 90?

Today I got a chance to pursue a few recent bird sightings outside of the city. First up was to try and track down some western bluebirds my dad saw near his office a couple of days ago, but no luck there. Then it was off to Carlton, Oregon to try and see Lewis's woodpeckers.

Success! Right at the exact oak grove where several birders have recently reported Lewis's woodpeckers, I added year bird 85, and, more excitingly, another life bird for me! It only took a moment after stepping out of the car before spotting the floppy wingbeats of this bizarre woodpecker named after Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark. There were several of them flying around, and I got some decent looks that revealed their forest green backs and heads, gray napes, pinkish breast, and red cheeks. Sound strange-looking? It kind of is! They were too far away for photos but its worth checking out the photo on their Wikipedia article if you haven't seen them before. Old-time birders remember the days when the Lewis's woodpecker was common here in the Willamette Valley, but the fact that I've grown up here and never seen the species until today tells you how much that has changed.

Next stop was Gaston, Oregon where a rare hooded oriole was picked up the day of our Forest Grove Christmas Bird Count. No luck there, so it was on to Pacific University campus where there is a resident colony of the clownish acorn woodpeckers (86). They store shelled acorns in caches in trees to feed on during the winter, and there were a couple flitting about the tree tops. The Lewis's woodpecker is bizarre, but the acorn woodpecker is comical, with its white eyes and black and white face. Again, too far for pictures from me, but here's a good one.

Fernhill Wetlands yielded the last year bird of the day - the killdeer (87). It's amazing that it's taken this long to see one, and also that it's the first shorebird on the year list!

Overall, a pleasant day's birding, with 43 species sighted, but nothing else unexpected was seen. The sighting of a northern flicker made it a three woodpecker species day, never a bad thing! The highlight was of by far the life bird, the Lewis's woodpecker. Sorry for another post with no photos - it was gloomy and the birds were all pretty distant today. It seems a lot of bloggers have been having that issue during the gray days of January! I'll see if I can't find something photo-worthy this week.


Warren Baker said...

Well done on your lifer Monika. Three woodpecker species ? we only have 3 woodpecker species!

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Congrats on your lifer - 2 in a week! Good going and some. Got one ten minutes drive away but can't get a chance to go and see it...doh



michelle said...

Hi Monika!
Are you still in Portland? I am taking Ornithology this term and would love to get out with you to practice my skills (and get a drink too-there is so much to catch up on)! Send me an e-mail.