Jo Co last weekend (10/29-30/2011)

I found myself in Josephine Co last weekend to work on my county list. Highlights included a Merlin, Red-shouldered Hawk, 2 Ospreys and a Bald Eagle at Lake Selmac, Greater White-fronted Geese along Lower River Rd, my county bird Oak Titmouse behind the Merlin Rest Area and Red Crossbill, Evening Grosbeak and a CASSIN’S FINCH at the Rock Garden on King Mtn.

This Striped Meadowhawk (at least I think what this is) has a remarkeably white face, but one can clearly see the thoracic stripes.

Here the King Mtn Cassin’s Finch.


Ok, one more AZ trip (10/14-16/2011)

A delightful trip to AZ last weekend yielded somewhat few specialities, but was nevertheless very productive with a few year and state birds. Highlights were many Least Grebes at Pena Blanca Lake, quite a few Chestnut-collared Longspurs and a nice Baird’s Sparrow at the San Rafael Grasslands and an Indigo Bunting at the Paton’s (which isn’t all that special; anyway …). It was great to finally get decent pictures of Lark Bunting. A doe and fawn Coues White-tailed Deer were at the Patagonia-Sonoita Reserve in Patagonia.

This Cassin’s Kingbird was waiting for us at the Tubac parking area.

This young male Indigo Bunting was in the Paton’s yard.

These 2 Lark Buntings were in the San Rafael Valley. Look at those claws and the huge bill!

The Verdin is one of the cutest little birds of the Southwest. Quite common, but I always enjoy seeing them.

Not really sharp at all, but always a treat when grebes carry their young on their backs.

The Patagonia-Sonoita Reserve had quite a few odonates hunting over the creek. Both Springwater Dancer and Flame Skimmer are really common.

Species list (total of 94):
Least Grebe (Pena Blanca Lake, several calling adults, many babies)
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Black Vulture (Pena Blanca Lake, Patagonia)
Turkey Vulture
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Rio Rico)
Cinnamon Teal
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
sandpiper sp (Baird’s Sparrow spot)
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Inca Dove
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Violet-crowned Hummingbird (Paton’s)
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker
Red-naped Sapsucker (many at Pena Blanca Lake)
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood-Pewee
Vermilion Flycatcher (1 at Pena Blanca Lake)
Black Phoebe
Cassin’s Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Mexican Jay
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Bridled Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren (Baird’s Sparrow spot)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Curve-billed Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit (San Rafael Valley)
Orange-crowned Warbler
Lucy’s Warbler (Patagonia-Sonoita Reserve)
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Hermit Warbler (Harshaw Canyon Rd)
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson’s Warbler
Western Tanager
Green-tailed Towhee (several places)
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Pena Blanca Lake)
Chipping Sparrow
Brewer’s Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Lark Bunting (2 in San Rafael Valley)
Savannah Sparrow (many at Baird’s Sparrow spot)
Baird’s Sparrow (1-2 in San Rafael Valley)
Grasshopper Sparrow (only 1 in San Rafael Valley)
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Chestnut-collared Longspur (about 12 at Baird’s Sparrow spot)
Northern Cardinal
Pyrrhuloxia (1 at Tubac)
Blue Grosbeak (1 at Tubac)
Lazuli Bunting
Indigo Bunting (1 immature male at the Patons)
Varied Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Hooded Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Another Bar-tailed Godwit (Tokeland, WA, 10/09/2011)

This juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit was in the godwit flock at the Tokeland Marina on 10/10/11. Note the stark difference in plumage compared to the pictures of the adult birds from last weeks posting. Again, messy plumage usually means adult; crisp, neat plumage stands for juvenile.

We often think of a bill to be the “hard part” of a shorebird. Not so. Bills are in fact quite malleable and here’s the proof. Also visible in this picture is the birds tongue. It looks like the bird possibly has just sucked in a lot of air.

Another example of this phenomenon was recently posted to OBOL (see in the context of dowitchers. While the original picture does not seem to be available any longer, Dan Gleason’s comment explains what is going on scientifically.

A single Marbled Godwit was lying down as all other birds were on their feet. This seemed somewhat unusual at the time.

Some good shorebirds from the Ocean Shores/Westport area, WA (10/1-2/2011)

The first notable birds of my trip were many Swainson’s Thrushes going over at a rate of 30/min Friday night at about midnight near the Ocean Shores visitor center.
My most productive spot was the early morning to Oyehut (Game Range) on Saturday accessed via the end of Tonquin Ave. Rattling LAPLAND LONGSPURS seemed to be everywhere. A (or the) SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER was in the taller grasses in the company of about 15 Pectoral Sandpipers. The previously reported golden plovers (1 American, rest Pacific), a total of about 14, were in the driftwood by the beach. An eager Savannah Sparrow very intent to catch a bug in the rip-rap but who failed miserably made me smile.
A walk around Damon Point yielded my only Baird’s Sandpipers of the trip.
The super-high tide had me show up at Bottle Beach too late (2+ hours before the official high tide was WAY too late), so I opted for the Westport Marina where the 2 Bar-tailed Godwits were again present at high tide at the rocks of the Coast Guard properties to the east of float 21. You can actually ask to access the property (register at the visitor information) and will get a personal escort. Many Long-billed Dowitchers and Greater Yellowlegs were perched up on several logs on the opposite side of the river at the parking lot of John’s River WA at high tide. Other than 5 elk, there was nothing to report from there. There currently is no real shorebird habitat.
On Sunday I started my day at the Hoquiam sewage ponds. Lots of the regular sparrows, Purple Finch and Orange-crowned, 2 Black-throated Gray and 1 Townsend’s Warbler joined the oodles of Yellow-rumpeds. The mud in the sewage ponds had 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, several Wilson’s Snipe and lots of American Pipits and Long-billed Dowitchers.
Bottle Beach between 1-2pm was hopping with the 2 Bar-tailed Godwits from the Westport Marbled flock, 2 Red Knots, 3 Short-billed Dowitchers, lots of Dunlin and Sanderlings and an out-of-place Surfbird.
17 Long-billed Curlews and 6 Whimbrels were near Graveyard Spit in Tokeland. The godwit flock at the marina was very flighty, so I didn’t linger.

These pix were really hard to get as the birds were pretty skittish. Down on my belly, I was pushing forward on my belly for about 50ft. The tracksl that I left behind likely puzzled some of the regular beach walkers (“what the heck …”). A sharp birder/photographer would have been able to id my tracks easily I’m sure … :-)

The following Bar-tailed Godwit shots were obtained in the Westport Marina.

The details of the underwing are almost shocking. Also a clear view of the tail.