Monday, February 24, 2014

Getting Started in Oregon

I was going to post some photos that I took of birds while traveling through California, but I wanted to hold off and put up some ones from Portland.  We've been here for almost 2 weeks already, but I haven't had much of a chance to get out.  Lucky for me there are lots and lots of birds that live in my backyard.  And by backyard, I mean in our apartment complex.  I think that my one month yard total in New Mexico may have been 10 species, but I can get that in 15 minutes here.
Behind our building is a small woodlot with lots of activity.  I've seen Dark-Eyed Juncos (guess which type... go ahead!), Lesser Goldfinches, Red-winged Blackbirds, a Red-Tailed Hawk, a Red-Shouldered Hawk, Bushtits and Chickadees, to name a few.  This little Bewick's Wren was singing away at the very top of a tree, I've never seen one so bold before.
Bewick's Wren
Bewick's Wren - Beaverton OR
And this is one of many Black-Capped Chickadees that frequent the trees around our building.

Black-Capped Chickadee
Black-Capped Chickadee - Beaverton OR
And I've run into a flock of 2 dozen Bushtits a few days in a row, including today in the rain.  But these ones were near Beaverton Creek where it borders our Apartment Complex.

Bushtit - Beaverton OR
Which is also where I saw lots of Lesser Goldfinches.
Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch - Beaverton OR
And this Great-Blue Heron, who must be watching the Gulls too much.

Great-Blue Heron
Great-Blue Heron - Beaverton OR
I was lucky enough to get an Anna's Hummingbird to perch pretty close to me, but no lucky enough for him to flash me the beautiful red of it's gorget. 

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird - Beaverton OR
But I did catch it doing some early morning stretches.
Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird - Beaverton OR
And in Beaverton Creek among a few Mallards were some Common Mergansers, which really surprised me.  I'm used to seeing the on larger bodies of water, but I guess that is all we had in New Mexico.  Anything smaller was an Arroyo.  This Female was really photogenic.

Common Merganser
Female Common Merganser - Beaverton OR
I'm also fortunate enough to live very near the very nice Taulatin Hills Nature Park, within walking distance actually.  I finally made it over there late on Saturday.  It's really impressive in it's size and the number of trees.  And it's greenery.  I'm actually overwhelmed with the density of the flora. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but it's much more intense out here.  There is moss and lichen everywhere and on everything.

Taulatin Hills Park
My god... it's full of green.... 
On top of that, I'm really, really bad at bird calls.  I know a handful, but was spoiled by always birding with people great at it, and by being able to spot birds very easily.  Here in the shade and the constant over-cast skies, it's really hard to see the birds, but I hear them constantly.  Walking around just part of the park I saw some Common and Hooded Mergansers, heard some Red-Winged Blackbirds and what may be Golden-Crowned Kinglets.  I saw some tiny birds that really didn't want to come out into the open, which I think were Fox Sparrows!

Thrush or Fox Sparrow?
Fox Sparrow - Taulatin Hills Nature Park
I plan on spending lots of time here.  The fact that it has 4 of the species of birds that I really want to see in Oregon seen there often helps.  But having a place that nice a half of a mile away is really a luxury for me.  I was only there for an hour when I had to leave.  But as I was walking back towards the main visitor's center, I saw a couple of civilians (non-birders) looking up into a very tall tree.  I stopped to see what they were seeing when a large bird flew from a branch, circled the tree and then landed a bit higher.  I asked them if they knew what it was and they said an owl. I located it and did a double-take. I was expecting a Great-Horned Owl (lazy me) when, in fact, a Barred Owl was looking back at me.  A very surprise lifer.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl - Taulatin Hills Nature Park, Beaverton OR
It was so high, and the light was so bad, that my shots were all lousy, but you can see what it was.  I watched it fly off in the direction that I wanted to go, so I walked on.  Once I was back on the main trail, I heard the familiar skitching sounds from an aggravated Accipiter (I said that I do know some calls).  Shortly after I saw the owl flying again, this time chasing a bird through the tree-tops. They flew over my head and I recognized that it was a Cooper's Hawk with the shoe on the other foot! I was amazed and so excited.  I don't know what happened, but my guess is that the Coop got away, they are the better fliers.  But if I had any doubts about visiting the nature park whenever possible, they were gone at that point.

I plan on making it back over there on Thursday and hopefully I'll get to see a Pacific Wren, Chestnut-Backed Chickadee, Pileated Woodpecker and/or a Varied Thrush.

Thanks for making it this far,



  1. Welcome to Oregon Steve! Great photos. I also have a blog, and it seems to becoming mostly about birds. Jim Scott

  2. Welcome to the neighborhood! You'll have lots of fun exploring this wet wonderland. There are quite a few bird bloggers/photographers around here so you're in good company. I used to be one of them but now I just read blogs with better photos than I ever took. I should point out that it's Tualatin HNP, not Taulatin. There are a couple of those TU spellings around here. I look forward to more discoveries - always fun to read about birding from a new arrival's perspective.

  3. Hi, New Kid. And welcome! I'm looking forward to keeping up with your birding adventures here is the glorious land or Oregon. Please check out my blog when you get a chance:

    Cheers, Ivan.

  4. Great to see another Portland area bird blog and one in WA county! First saw your report of the Barred Owl on e-bird and went looking for it Monday with no luck. What a great find! Looking forward to following your adventures.

    1. Thanks. I'm only here for 3 months though, and then I'm going to Ireland for a few years. But the Barred Owl was a surprise, not sure if it will stay around or not. It was near the visitor's center.