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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon

I thought my year list was all wrapped up, but I was wrong! I went out on a couple of birding excursions to enjoy the end of December sunshine, and turned up an unexpected surprise of a Harris' sparrow (222) on Sauvie Island on the 29th. THAT turned out to be where my year list halted for 2012 - the numbers in the last post have been updated accordingly. 

On Saturday we headed to Sauvie Island, where the first major attraction wasn't avian but mammalian, and not wild but domestic:

These cows were quite interested in us, and quite photogenic:

We looked high and low for a merlin, a big miss on the year list for both me and my dad. We did see probably a dozen American kestrels, and at least as many red-tailed hawks:

We stopped at the Reeder Road observation platform where there were great numbers and variety of waterfowl. Some highlights included a canvasback, a redhead, and two female ruddy ducks, as well as most of the other unexpected duck species. Again I crossed my fingers in hopes the same birds would be present on New Year's Day.

Next stop was Rentenaar Road, where the Harris' sparrow had been reported. As I mentioned, we found the Harris', and an amazing six other sparrow species: song, white-crowned, golden-crowned, fox, Lincoln's, and savannah. We later heard some other birders also found a swamp sparrow and a clay-colored sparrow. At the end of the road we also saw a huge flock of snow geese. One other notable sighting on Sauvie Island was the amazing number of sandhill cranes - 300 is probably a conservative estimate of what we saw.

On Sunday morning "the mountains were out" as they say during a clear day in the Portland area. From Scappoose Bottoms we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Saint Helens. Here's a couple views of Saint Helens - the first one with a great egret and the second one with an American coot:

Along the Crown-Zellerbach trail, we scouted out some great birds that I hoped would be around on January 1, including the Virginia rail, red-breasted sapsucker, and yellow-rumped warbler.

Later that day I got to visit the neighbor's chickens, where this handsome fellow wouldn't qualify for a year list but was still fun to see and photograph:

That recaps the last birding of 2012, so next post will be about kicking off the year list for 2013, which I did today. We didn't have a white Christmas here in Columbia County, Oregon, but snow slowly fell for much of New Year's Eve, so we welcomed in the new year in wintery style. Photos of that in the next post too!

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