Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Twelve Great Months

As the end of 2009 approached, I took a look at photos from the year and realized we had some great outdoor travels in new and familiar places. Below is a picture from each month.

January Rock Creek floods, Hillsboro, OR.

February snowy beach at Manzanita, OR

Columbia River Bird Camp in March, Sauvie Island, OR

Sweetwater Wetlands in April, Tucson, AZ

Haystack Rock in May, Cannon Beach, OR

June fieldwork at Killin Wetlands, OR

Seattle waterfront in July

August morning in the Cliff-Gila Valley, NM

September islands and clouds in Discovery Passage, BC

October afternoon in Wallowa County, OR

Andie at Cape Kiawanda, OR in November

December deep freeze at Dawson Creek Park, OR

To all friends, family, and blog-readers: thanks for stopping by in 2009 and have a great 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Foggy Holidays

Western Oregon won't have the white Christmas it did last year, but recent days have had a nice winter feel thanks to the freezing fog.

Late last night, ice crystals were falling from the air and catching the glow of street lights on their way to ground. When I woke this morning, everything was dusted with fog powder.

I have added a few ornaments to our tree this year, including a Harlequin Duck

and a female black-chinned hummingbird. Our tree is now complete, featuring many representatives of the Oregon coast and desert Southwest.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Foggy Bay Birding

Sarah and I spent a soggy Weekend Before Solstice at Pacific City. On Saturday, we conducted out monthly bird survey of Bob Straub State Park, then drove north to Netarts Bay.

We had hoped to find a Snowy Owl that has set up shop near the end of a spit.

Unfortunately, the bay was socked-in by fog. There was no owl to be seen, but we did find a Peregrine Falcon and many diving birds. Maybe next month.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cold Snap Waterfowl

Thanks to El Nino, the Portland area is seeing its lowest temperatures in ten years. The cold, clear weather makes for great sunrises and sunsets.

Most of the local ponds are iced over, so small areas of open water were popular places for waterfowl at Dawson Creek Park.

This hole in the ice was surrounded by at least 40 Green-winged Teal, the most we have ever seen at the park. A few Wood Ducks and Mallards were mixed in as well. A pair of Pied-billed Grebes, a fixture of this pond, were floating in the center.

Closer to the library, a huge flock of white-cheeked geese (Cackling and Canada Geese) occupied the grass, ice, and water.

They kept busy by commuting from the field to the pond and back again.

The white bird in the center is a juvenile Snow Goose, a new Dawson Creek species for us.

In addition to the waterfowl, a nutria strutted atop the ice. There is plenty of beaver sign at the park, but we only see their introduced cousins during the day.
We expect to return to normal temperatures and rain next week, so I will enjoy the Rockies-like weather while I can.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


During the last few weeks, a few distractions have made it difficult to focus on work. The first is the Oregon Duck football team, which won the PAC 10 championship on Thursday night.

The Ducks beat their rivals Oregon State in one of the best football games I can recall. Like many other Duck or Beaver fans, I had been thinking about little more than this game since November 21, when it became clear that the winner would go on to the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is almost a month away, so hopefully I can regain some focus until then.

The other distraction began when Sarah and I started the process of buying a house. Nothing is official yet, but we have set our sights on a small home in a great neighborhood.

The property has a lot of garden space and plenty of exotic vegetation in need of serious management. I can’t wait to get out there to pull some English ivy, cut blackberry, and plant native shrubs.

I have managed to get some work done during the last month, including a paper on Black-chinned Hummingbirds, which was published in a major bird journal. I have another stack of papers I am trying to finish, but it has not been easy. Luckily, my out-of-state employer is not expecting any products until February.