Saturday, April 28, 2007

Propertius Duskywing butterfly

While birding this afternoon along the edge of an oak forest on the Amity hills I found a butterfly I'd never seen before. The Propertius Duskywing, one of the "spread-wing skippers", thus became my second "lifer" butterfly this month.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rufous Hummingbird glowing

This afternoon this male Rufous Hummingbird brightened my backyard, and my day.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tree Swallow in morning sun

This male Tree Swallow in the morning sun was displaying colors I had never seen on a swallow before. It was a glorious morning to be out birding in the foothills of the Coast Range.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Turkey Vulture in flight

On a recent windy evening I enjoyed a close encounter with a Turkey Vulture at eye-level. Those broad wings with the seven-foot span are much more impressive when you can hear the air rushing past them than when the bird is circling silently high overhead.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hairy Woodpecker excavating nest cavity

On a drive over the Cascade Mts. last weekend I stopped at a place which Oregon birders have nicknamed "Calliope Crossing." The hummingbird was not there yet, but I did catch a male Hairy Woodpecker in the act of preparing his nest site for the new season.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bleeding Hearts

Sometimes the joy of "birding" is experienced not so much in seeing the bird but in having all the senses captivated by other living things around you while an invisible bird provides background music. On a recent evening in a local park a Winter Wren was singing its heart out somewhere nearby, while these Bleeding Hearts glowed in a random ray of sunlight. As Annie Dillard wrote in the first chapter of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, "Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sara Orangetip butterfly

I consider myself a very novice butterfly watcher, and only yesterday I saw and identified a Sara Orangetip for the first time. However, I discovered that photographing one is even more of a challenge than seeing one well enough to identify it. I followed one back and forth along the edge of a field for 15 minutes, and it never stopped. I gave up when it flew out of sight. But today, on Minto Island in Salem, I found several males that kept coming back to the only Dame's Rocket flower I could see in the entire area, so I knew I had a chance. I discovered only later that I also had managed to photograph a female that stopped briefly nearby (lower photo). No other butterflies were seen today, but this one was more than enough to make the walk special.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Osprey in flight

An Osprey overhead at the Willamette River today - now a fairly common sight in most parts of this valley from April to September. They've made a remarkable comeback since DDT was outlawed in the U.S. a few decades ago, and as long as fish continue to be abundant, the Osprey population will probably continue to grow. Who could be sad about that?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

White-tailed Kites near nest

This evening I spent the last hour before sunset watching the pair of White-tailed Kites that are nesting near McMinnville. About 10 minutes after I arrived, the female left the nest to meet the male who arrived carrying her dinner in the form of a large vole. After handing it off to her in flight, he perched directly above the nest and kept watch while she landed on a lower perch and devoured the vole in bite-sized pieces. Then she flew up to a vantage point on the tip of a nearby tree, and the male disappeared. About 50 minutes later, as it was getting dark, she finished her preening, dropped down out of my sight near the small creek for about two minutes, and then returned to her high perch. She stayed there for only about five minutes, and then flew to the nest and appeared to settle in for the night.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Violet-green Swallow female

The Violet-green Swallows are spending a lot of time resting in the general area near the nestbox, and flying up to it, but not often going inside. This photo, taken today, shows that the female seems to have very short tail feathers, but I'm not sure if the camera angle in relation to the long wings just makes them seem shorter, or if they are just growing in following a molt. I'll be watching to see if they appear to grow longer during the coming week.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bald Eagle nesting

When I checked on the progress of the nesting Bald Eagles near the Willamette River two days ago, it appeared that the eggs have not yet hatched. The adult returned from a flight without bringing in any food; just slowly and carefully settled back down on the nest. In order not to disturb the eagles, I took this photo through my spotting scope at 30X magnification from about 1/4 mile away.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

California Tortoiseshell

After hearing reports of widespread sightings of California Tortoiseshell butterflies in Western Oregon in recent days, today in Central Oregon (city of Bend) I saw "lots" of them. The book says this is one butterfly that overwinters as an adult, so it seems that the recent warm weather has coaxed them out of their sheltered spots. Maybe this year we are seeing another "irruption" of this beautiful flyer.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Savannah Sparrow singing in the rain

This rainy spring day is not keeping the Savannah Sparrows from singing as they stake out their territories in the ryegrass fields. This is probably about the most common open-country bird during the nesting season in Yamhill County.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

White-tailed Kite male in flight

Here is another shot of the male White-tailed Kite near McMinnville as he headed out on another hunting trip. The pair is continuing to carry sticks to their nest, but I'm surprised that they do not yet appear to be incubating eggs. Maybe the behavior I observed last week did not necessarily mean that eggs were being produced, but it would seem strange to me if that were the case. More unanswered questions to ponder.