Saturday, June 26, 2021

Indian Ford Campground near Sisters Oregon

 I have been almost a week and am trying to stay cool despite the high temps but it looks like most of the state is suffering with as hot or hotter than I have it here. At least there is lots of shade and a small stream I can sit in to keep cool! I have camped at this site numerous time over the last few years and one species of birds that has escaped me is the owl. This trip that changed as I was awoken my second day here to the hooting of a Northern Pygmy Owl. I spent several hours over the next few days trying to find it and get a pic but no luck. This morning I was able to see and get pics of a Great Horned Owl. 

It was quite a ways off and there were a number of branches in the way but I was able to use the manual focus and at least get a decent pic! There were actually 2 of them but this was the only one to land in a visible location! 

While sitting in the shade this afternoon, a large moth crashed to the ground near me and started climbing a tree. I grabbed my camera and got some pics. It was a Pandora Moth! 

As you can see, it was easy to spot while its wings were spread but once it stopped and folded them in it was almost invisible!

It certainly is amazing camouflage! You never know what you will see in the outdoors whether you are looking or not!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Central Oregon Wildflowers

 I am currently outside Sisters, Oregon at Indian Ford Campground. While taking my bird walk today, I could not help but notice all the wildflowers in bloom! Hopefully I have identified them correctly! First is Indian Paintbrush. 

Now Columbine.

This is Wild Rose or Wood Rose

Next is Scarlet Trumpet. This seems to be a favorite of the Calliope Hummingbird as I have often seen them at this flower!

I did make a bird list and get a few pics. My favorite today was pics of a Red-naped Sapsucker bringing food back to its nesting hole! You can see todays list and the pics at eBird list

Saturday, June 19, 2021

A great morning at Sunriver and Life bird 431!

The mornings bird walk was very exciting! I was told about Great Gray Owl sightings here so I have been on the lookout. I took my camera along and sure enough while standing on the river bank, the owl flew out of the brush and landed an a small pine tree in the open. I snapped a half dozen photos before it flew back into the trees!

This was my Life Bird #431! My morning was starting out great. Next I spotted a Western Wood-Pewee and as I attempted to take some pics, it flew into a tree and landed on a nest!

That was also a first as I have seen this species many times but never nesting! I moved on and spotted several Mule deer standing under a tree. I looked at them thru my binoculars and saw that at least one was in velvet!

I shortly ended my walk after that and hurried back to update my blog and post pics on eBird. I am not sure if the owl or the pics will show up on ebird as it is considered a "sensitive" species and they hide the pictures and location to other viewers. My ebird list for today and be found by clicking on this link: Sunriver bird list 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Checking out caves

This afternoon we checked out a couple of nearby caves. First we went to Arnold Ice Cave. I was there about 35 years ago and was excited to show it to my son and his family. We located the cave and after a bit of searching located a trail to the entrance. To my surprise, there was no ice! We went in a couple hundred feet and except for a couple small frozen puddles there wasn't any ice. When I visited years ago, the ice was visible from the opening and it filled the cave almost to the ceiling! Despite the lack of ice, they were still thrilled to be there and were amazed that the temp outside the cave was mid 80's but once inside it quickly dropped to the 40's. From there we went to Boyd Cave

 The entrance is hardly visible among the sagebrush and juniper trees. Once again the temperature inside was in the 40's. We hiked in a couple hundred feet and could not see the end. My son and his wife stopped to pose at the exit.

From there we went to Lava River Cave but it was closed for the day so we headed back to Sunriver and dinner!

Sunriver, Oregon

It's been a while since I posted but I have been spending the last couple months camping at coastal sites that I have posted about in the past so not much new happening. This weekend I am somewhere new! My oldest son's wife has a conference at Sunriver and has rented a house here. She invited me to bring my trailer and stay with them so here I am.

I took a bird walk this morning but did not take my camera. This new camera and lens are quite a bit heavier than my previous on and even though it takes great pics, I often do not carry it along but out back of the house a Mountain Chickadee has a nest and I captured pictures of it bring food to its young.

Among the other sightings this morning was a small spotted mule deer fawn suckling its mother! At one point I was surrounded by winnowing Wilson's snipes! What an awesome start to my day!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The birds are in their courting colors!

 I decided it was time to update my blog. Most of last month I have been working my way north and only spending a few days at each stop. Up to the top of Texas, across New Mexico and Arizona and now I am in Nevada at Lake Mead. I will be heading north again in a couple days. I am just waiting for the temps to stay above freezing. Temps were hitting upper 80's in Arizona and even here in Nevada! While here I have been visiting the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and getting some good photos of male birds in their courting finest! Here is a Cinnamon Teal.

A Northern Shoveler
 A Bufflehead,
And an Eared Grebe,

The yellow head feathers are part of his courting plumage! The morning light has been great for capturing their colors. I usually have problems with the photos washing out when taking pictures of birds on water but I am happy with these! I may not post for a bit as I may be on the road with just over night  stops next week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Starr County Park

 I hit the road this morning and am headed back to Arizona, at least for a bit before going on home. I am at Starr County park for the night. This park is just outside the entrance to Falcon Lake State Park where I usually stay. It is not as developed but does have lots of potable water spigots thru out the camping area and a waste water dump station. 

It is a free campground so the lack of some facilities is okay for me as I am only here for 1 night. As you can see there is a lot of space and you can park about anywhere you like. I am near a couple other campers but it is an easy in and out spot. The picture makes them look close but I am about a 100 feet from anyone. I'll hit the road again tomorrow morning, heading for Del Rio.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Everybody out of the water!

The cold weather is gone and the temperatures have returned to the normal for this time of year so I am back out hiking and bird watching. This morning I went to a nearby spot that has a lake and several ponds. As I approached the lake, I noticed an unusually high number of birds sitting in trees above the water line. There were herons, egrets, ibis and anhinga's.

 As a came around the corner, where I could see a wider area, I saw the reason. A large alligator was right by the shore! 

I watched for about 15 minutes as it slowly floated along. The birds close to the water where not fooled by its imitation of a log and quickly moved to a safer location before it got too close! Another reason to be glad we are at the top of the food chain!

With the warmer temps comes safer roads so the stores are getting restocked. The only item I could not find was eggs! Several days ago I was able to find a gallon of whole milk to get me by. It was at a little market close to the Mexico border just a few miles west of here. It cost me $5 but you have got to feed the addiction! I need my bowl of evening cereal!

The effects of the cold weather are clearly seen all around. Trees that were green and full of food for the birds are mostly leafless and brown. The lakes and ponds in this area are very shallow so they were strongly affected by the cold. Large numbers of fish perished as they could not handle the temperature drop. They rescued about 5000 cold shocked sea turtles along South Padre Island shoreline. They turned the convention center into a sea turtle warming center in order to handled this unusually large amount. This was Texas's longest and coldest spell in about 30 years. I was lucky to be in an area that was not too badly affected. I will be making my final trip to the coast this weekend then come Wednesday I will hook up and start working my way back to Arizona. It will be bittersweet to leave.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Almond "milk"?

The Rio Grande Valley, were I am staying, was fortunate in that the most severe weather from winter storm Uri pasted to the north and east of here. We still had several nights of mid 20 degree weather but never any snow or teen temperatures like a lot of Texas. I was also fortunate to be a full time RV'er as when the power went out, I just fired up my generator and stayed warm and cozy! What did impact this area was a lack of goods like dairy, meats and fuels. Most goods in this area arrive from other parts of the state and travel on many highways has been restricted because of the storm. I will not drive when the roads are impacted by bad weather but I was able to walk to the market just across the street for milk. Unfortunately they were out of  cows milk but they did have Almond milk. 

I figured this was a good opportunity to step outside my norms and try something new so I bought a half gallon as I can always use it in my coffee if nothing else! After tasting this new "milk" I came to the conclusion that the only thing this milk has in common with cow milk is the color!  I am sure many people enjoy Almond milk but I am not one of  them! I am not even sure I will enjoy it as creamer! on the bright side, today is the last of the cold weather and temps will return to the 50/70 range by tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully truck traffic will start to flow and the products I prefer will become available again! 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Life Bird 423, a Groove-billed Ani

 One of the birds I have been attempting to see here in Texas is the Groove-billed Ani. I have been going to Estero Llano Grande State Park several times a week for a month in an effort to see one. It has been reported there several times a week for months but my timing has never been in sync with its appearance. Sometimes I missed it by just minutes but today the timing was right. On my way out of the park, another birder told me he has just seen the Ani and where to look. I hustled to the spot and sure enough there was one sitting in the open so I snapped a couple pics before it disappeared back into the brush!

It is slightly smaller than a crow but prefers to stay in low brushy areas. If you are not paying much attention, you might mistake it for a Great-tailed Grackle which is about the same color and size and is very abundant in this area! This bird usually heads down to Mexico for the winter making this a rare sighting for winter in Texas. My goal is to reach 425 Life Birds before leaving Texas. I might have to head back to the gulf to achieve that as that is where the most birds I have not seen reside! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Oliveira Park in Brownsville-TX

 I have been trying to find a convenient location to see parrots. I have visited several close by locations but no positive results. So after a bit of research I headed south to Oliveira Park, in Brownsville, where they have been seeing several species roosting just before sunset. A few miles north of there I spotted Green Parakeets on some power lines so I stopped and snapped a few pics.

It was a cloudy day so the pics are not the best quality! From there I continued on to the park. It was still several hours before sunset so I wandered around the park. I saw this Papaya tree loaded with fruit.

I also spotted this Gulf Fritillary butterfly!

Several locals saw my camera and stopped to ask if I was looking for the parrots. They were all friendly and gave me tips on how to see them. It turned out no tips were needed as when they showed up they made a loud enough noise to hear them anywhere in the park! They showed up about 15 minutes before sunset. With the darkening sky and the cloud cover picture taking conditions were very poor. I did get a couple pics of the White-fronted Parrots but  none of the Red-lored Parrots. I could barely make them out even with my binoculars.

The Red-lored look almost the same except the white spot on the forehead is red! Before I left there were well over 100 parrots squawking on the power lines! Right after I snapped some pics of these parrots, a Cooper's Hawk flew in and they all went to the other side of the park. By the time I walked to the new location, it was too dark for more pictures but I was very satisfied in just seeing them. I added 3 life birds yesterday making my total 422 with 15 of those new ones in Texas!

Indian Ford Campground near Sisters Oregon

 I have been almost a week and am trying to stay cool despite the high temps but it looks like most of the state is suffering with as hot or...