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Friday, December 28, 2012

Birds In Motion

This morning my dad and I drove the Honeyman Road loop near Scappoose Bottoms to do a little bit of birding, in part to scout out the region for our January 1 birding day to kick off the 2013 year list. We turned up more than 30 species in an hour of birding, including lots of waterfowl species (mallards, wigeon, shoveler, green-winged teal, pintail....) The weather was overcast but not raining or too windy, with some views towards the mountains, like here towards Mt. Saint Helens:

Due to the low light conditions I thought I'd try to catch some images of birds in motion, and my first opportunity was this rough-legged hawk in flight:

He/she then perched in a nearby field. After scanning with the binos we found a second rough-legged hawk, the first time my dad has seen two in this area together. There were also an amazing number of red-tailed hawks, probably at least a dozen in the ten-mile loop, including a pair nearby the rough-leggeds. While we watched the raptors several hundred cackling geese flew overhead, cackling away the whole time.

Along the next stretch of road we saw some western meadowlarks - a good find that I hope we turn up again on New Year's Day. We also found lots of dark-eyed juncos and a couple flocks of golden-crowned sparrows, and a few song and fox sparrows. One field had eight great egrets, and we also saw a couple of great blue herons. There was a belted kingfisher who was looking for fish in a flooded ditch. Check out how steep his dive was off the branch:

Another red-tailed hawk was perched on a nest, maybe preparing it for the upcoming breeding season:

 The low hanging stratus clouds and flooded farm fields made for some neat scenics, like this one:

Our last stop of the day turned out to be a surprisingly productive one. In addition to hundreds of cackling geese, there were several hundred gulls. At least three species were present - most of them seemed to be mew gulls, but there were also glaucous-winged and ring-billed. Several duck species were in the middle of the flooded field, and at the edge of the marshy area we spotted six greater yellowlegs, another species that it would be great to repeat on the 1st. The real coup, however, turned up when I spotted something white among the cackling geese. We thought it was probably a gull at first, but after a closer inspection it turned out to be a Ross' goose (221)! One more year bird for the list, one that has eluded me the last couple of years.

That's likely all that will be added to the year list (I said that once before, didn't I?) unless something very unexpected turns up at my parents' feeders in the next couple of days. We'll see!


Phil said...

Hey Monika, one of these days you'll own up to your true identity,

Happy new Year!

Monika said...

Haha, Phil, I almost mentioned you and that belief in my year list in review post that just went up. If you check it out, you'll notice is already taken, for one. Happy new year! I hope we get a chance to go out birding together early in 2013.