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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

From Winter to Summer

This month - this season - is a true merge between winter and summer. Some mornings there has been a coating of frost on the ground, but some afternoons have been warm enough to walk outside with no more layers than a T-shirt. There are still bufflehead and ring-necked ducks at Westside Lake, but above them orange-crowned warblers sing and rufous hummingbirds display. Some days have been windy, rainy, and downright chilly, while others have been bright and sunny and bordering on warm. Needless to say, I've been fully enjoying those nicer days and spending more and more time outside.

Sometimes we get all kinds of weather in a single day or over the course of just a few hours. On one such afternoon, the result was a rainbow (actually a faint double rainbow!) over Brown Island seen right off our front porch:

I've been doing some bird monitoring out at False Bay Creek, and back on April 5th I heard my first common yellowthroat (130) of the season singing a single tentative song. By now, they are confidently trilling away in all the marshy areas on the island.

Last Sunday I went for a walk with four friends at Three Meadows Marsh, which is probably experiencing its most active month bird-wise right now. There were pairs of bufflehead, northern shoveler, mallards, pied-billed grebes, coot, ring-necked ducks, and wood ducks on the marsh. The most impressive sighting was FIVE swallow species, a first for me in the month of April. The tree and violet-green swallows were as expected the most common, but there were also a few more barn swallows, a single cliff swallow (132), and a pair of northern rough-winged swallows (133). There were probably a good 20 marsh wrens singing around the marsh, along with more yellowthroat. In total, two hours turned up a very impressive 40 species.

Today I took advantage of a half-day at work to spend the afternoon outside, but before leaving the work place I added orange-crowned warbler (134) to my year list. I'm surprised this one has taken so long to check off. I'm pretty sure I've glimpsed and faintly heard a few before today, but I just wasn't sure enough until now! That sighting, however, helped push our work bird list past 30 species this year, which is way more than I would have expected!

After lunch I headed out to the upland trails near the Lime Kiln Quarry. I was surprised to hear my first warbling vireo (135) of the year - a bit early for this species, but I checked the song on my bird app and it was unmistakable. A little further down the trail I heard a singing Hutton's vireo (136), another year bird!

There have been lots of mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) butterflies out in the last few weeks, and today I finally got close enough to one to get a photo:

The quarry overlook was beautiful this afternoon. While taking in the view I could see or hear violet-green swallows, American robins, orange-crowned warblers, purple finches, chestnut-backed chickadees, and red-breasted nuthatches. 

I had seen a couple of rufous hummingbirds, but was surprised when a male Anna's hummingbird perched nearby. The Anna's are here year-round, but seem to fade into the background a bit during the few months after the flashy and aggressive rufous hummers arrive. 

Next up, a trip to the Oregon Coast! Hopefully the weather will cooperate, as then there will be more pictures to share and some more birds for the year list!

1 comment:

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Crikey it's close this year, you're ahead by 1.
Very topsy turvy 'spring' here so far, feels like it could turn back to winter at the drop of a hat