The weather wasn't quite as nice as forecast today, but even though they changed it at the last minute to "fog" it was nothing like the dense soup Dave had to deal with today over in England! My dad and I headed out to Fernhill Wetlands this afternoon as planned, and it was amazing how few birds were out there compared to during our Christmas Bird Count a month ago. Still, we did find a small flock of western meadowlarks (88) in exactly the same spot, and there was a large flock of mew gulls (89) as well as some glaucous-winged and ring-billed gulls.
Even though the lake was empty except for a few common mergansers, a western grebe, and a horned grebe, we walked around it hoping to see some more around the edges. I ended up seeing a Wilson's snipe (90) in exactly the same corner where I added it to the year list last January. We saw the resident pair of bald eagles, a northern harrier, several red-tailed hawks, and another small hawk that may very well have been the red-shouldered hawk that's been reported there but that we've never managed to see, including missing it on the Christmas Bird Count. We decided not to worry too much about identifying it at such a distance since we were lucky enough to see on in Vancouver, Washington last weekend. There were also lots of American kestrels seen at Fernhill and throughout the day, but none of them could be turned into merlins.
Towards the end of our circumnavigation of the lake we found a large flock of sparrows. We found a single Lincoln's sparrow (91) mixed in, but the majority of the group was either song sparrows or golden-crowned sparrows, like this one:
We spent less time at the wetlands than anticipated so we decided to head over to the Pacific University campus nearby in Forest Grove so I could pick up the resident acorn woodpeckers (92) for the year list. We found them right where expected, but we also got surprised by a great view of a Townsend's warbler (93) as well as a close look at a pair of brown creepers. Of course this was the one short excursion where we left the cameras in the car, so no photos of those guys!
Next up we drove out to Harrington Road where a prairie falcon has been seen off and on for the last month. My dad has tried twice to see it without success, but since we were so close we decided to try again. It wasn't in it's regular tree, but a little further down the road I spotted a bird in the top of a pine tree - and it turned out to be the prairie falcon (year bird 94, NA life bird 342)!! Even though according to the field guide we are within the winter range for this species, it's the first time I've seen it anywhere and the first time my dad has seen on in Oregon.
Our last stop for the day was along the Willamette River in downtown Portland where a trio of Barrow's goldeneye had recently been reported. We didn't see the goldeneye, but did find an Anna's hummingbird (95) as well as the lone redhead (96) that had been reported a week ago. It was in with a large flock of lesser scaup, and nearby were boat loads of mallards, a flock of Canada geese, and a few double-crested cormorants.
So after the last couple days of birding, I'm tied with my dad at 96 species on the year, ahead of Dave for the moment (he sits at 91), and well within range of my goal of 100 species for the month, especially since I'll get to close out the month in the San Juan Islands. This is only my second year keeping a year list, but I like it - not only is the friendly competition fun, but it gets me out there birding more than I would otherwise, which can't be a bad thing!