Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August wrap up

No pictures today but thought I’d do a quick wrap, even though there is still a week or more of this month to go, but wanted to let you faithful followers that there won’t be anything new on the site for probably a couple of weeks ~ we’re heading out in search of some salt water and hopefully something a bit different ~ maybe even a whale.

So in summary, Brown Headed Cowbirds, Bullock’s Orioles and most of the Rufous Hummingbirds have left (I understand from following the Back Yard Bird Count Face Book Group that they are all in California about now!).  There are still lots of really young birds around, mainly Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak and Towhee….forming flocks are the American Goldfinch and Red-wing Blackbirds.  Still some Barn Swallows as well with late fledglings, but they all look like they’d really be liking to get a move on.  Black-cap Chickadees are still throughout the area but haven’t seen a Chestnut-backed for a while.

Out on the water, the Canada Geese seem to have pretty much finished their molt and are becoming more active and Great Blue Heron are seen flying about more often, as are the Belted Kingfisher ~ we’ll be seeing and hearing more of them for the next 3 or 4 months ~ not sure why, but that seems to be the time of the year they are most prominent.

By the time I get back in early September the water should be down where it should be and migration should be well underway and hopefully things will start to get interesting.  Remember is was mid-September, I guess 2 years ago now when we had the Great Egret show up.  See you in September!

Monday, August 20, 2012

An eagle!!!

OK, I have to say it – I don’t really even like Bald Eagles….there are many many species of birds I’d put on the ‘likeability’ list ahead of eagles….BUT Bald Eagles are what the Chehalis Estuary is famous for and the reason for it’s designation as an Important Bird Area….

lower and lower

so when you walk down there and look out and see….

an eagle

a Bald Eagle perched ….the heart does a bit of a flip flop, not so much because of the eagle, after all they nest around here so we’ve seen them flying and heard eagles all summer – but because this is the first indication that the season is moving along and in a couple of months we’ll be counting eagles and salmon and not looking at the depth of the water.

reappearing path

the path is getting there – it’s slippery and slimy where the water has just receded…

just around the bend

but we’re going to be able to see around that corner pretty quick!

American Robin almost an adult

we haven’t seen a lot of American Robins recently, but a few more are showing up now that the berries on the boulevard laurel bushes are getting ripe.  This one would be this years young, probably from an early hatch as it is now almost completely molted into it’s adult plumage.  The bushes, thanks to a severe pruning last year are absolutely loaded with berries – much to the birds delight!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The park – finally!

A break in the heat and we finally made it over to the park!

The viewing platform

there it is, the viewing platform….

the blocked trail

and no, we didn’t make it across the grasslands, the water is till to high for that, and someone, parks or other wise has been doing their level best to make sure that we won’t be able to access the park via the grasslands even when the water levels drop – such silly nonsense!  No doubt someone will clear the path again at some point.

view out from viewing platform

Every year once the water drops it is interesting to see what has changed and in this case the view from the viewing platform has increased as an awful lot of heavy driftwood has weighted down all the hard hack bushes out there.

The log bay

and here is the log bay again after, what?  4 months at least.

The bay

looking straight at it….apart from quite a few Swallows and I think maybe some Swifts, flying over head there wasn’t a lot…

Black Cap Chickadee eating Blackberries

Some Black-capped Chickadees, including this fellow eating Blackberries – something I’d never seen before!  Could hear Cedar Waxwings….

Young Common Yellowthroat and a House Wren!

Spotted some activity down in the bushes….a young Common Yellowthroat was exciting enough – then when I got home and down loaded it, I noticed I’d managed to capture a House Wren as well!  The first confirmed sighting and another new species for the area! We’re now up to 181.

Belted KIngfisher

On the way home a Belted Kingfisher was on a piling, I’d been hearing their chattering call quite a bit the last few days….

Downed tree

along the trail, that windstorm we had back in late June early July brought down a very large clump of trees…

Fallen Tree

it is too bad to see them down, but they’ll be just as valuable, if not more so, now that they are down and allowed to become part of the habitat.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Young Sapsucker…..

Has a very quick visit ….

Red-breasted Sapsucker

from this young Red-breasted Sapsucker this morning.  Was just lucky to look out at the right time!

receding water

It is another extremely warm day here today….as this heat wave intensifies…one thing it is really doing is drying up the water!  I might have been able to get to the point where I’d be able to see around the corner today, had there not been a boat tied up ~ as it was it was too darn hot to bother seeing if I could climb over ropes etc…

little fishes

while my dog paddled I saw a lot of little fish, of many sizes from the little guys not much more than and inch long in the above picture, to some up to 4 inches or so.  It was too hot for much of anything else to be around.  Did hear coyotes last night as things started to cool off – bet they’re happy to be getting some land back!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Heat Wave….

We seem to be in the middle of, or at the start of, a heat wave….extremely warm temperatures aren’t something we are used to here…so when we get them it is very hard on the birds, animals and vegetation – not to mention the people!!  It is also the reason I haven’t taken a camera with me when I’ve ventured down to the boat launch to give the dog a chance to get wet on her terms…so of course today was the day there was a

Juvenile Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper in the boat launch.  The above picture was not, of course taken here (no camera) but was taken a week or so ago at even hotter, Tunkwa Lake.    This is a young bird, but even adult ‘spotted’ sandpipers are no longer ‘spotted’ come this time of the year. 

Could hear the Canada Geese out there again but other than a few Barn Swallows flying around there was nothing else moving.  Even the feeders have been very quiet, at least until evening, as the birds, like the rest of us,  just try to get through the heat of the day. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting there….

We’re getting there…

We're getting there

Pretty soon we should be able to get far enough along the path to be able to peak around the bushes and actually see over towards the park – how long has it been?  Four months at least!

Geese out there

Could see some of the Canada Geese out there today.  It helped that a boat went by and sent them back in my direction.  Some actually flew so their molt must be just about finished.  There sure wasn’t much else around, could hear some Cedar Waxwings but that was about it, except for a Great Blue Heron that flew over earlier and the distant call of an Osprey.

American Goldfinch

around home here is part of the selection of American Goldfinch that were out there this morning….3 youngsters in this mix.

Townsends Chipmunk

One of the Townsend’s Chipmunks, I’ve had as many as 3 out in the yard at the same time, so nice to see their population on the rebound!

Worn White crowned Sparrow

and a kind of ragged looking White Crowned Sparrow – I guess raising a couple of batches of youngsters can do that!  Junco’s, Pine Siskin, both varieties of Chickadees, Steller’s Jay and a few Black-headed Grosbeak, only females and young seen the last few days so think the males must have started heading south. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lots of late babies….

The summer sun continues, perhaps that is why we seem to have quite a batch of late babies around right now, but first we’ll start at the water…

getting lower

where levels continue to drop, in fact since this picture was taken on Friday, the first part of this pathway is now dry – well not ‘dry’ it is muddy, but it isn’t covered in water…we’re getting there!

Wood Duck

also on Friday I spotted this Wood Duck out on the water, the only duck of any sort I’d seen for ages.  Ernie had seen a pair of Wood Ducks over by the log bay the other evening so it appears that we have been lucky enough to have Wood Duck’s nest in the area again.  There are a lot of Canada Geese out on the water right now, but still going through their molt so being very quiet and sticking to the back areas.  Ernie also saw a Grebe the other evening, at first he thought it was a Red-neck in non-breeding colours but later questioned if it could have been a Western, the bird hasn’t been seen since.  A Red-neck would be more likely than a Western, but Western Grebe have been spotted here in the past, so not impossible.

Pine Siskin

In the yard and at the feeders a continual supply of young birds, lots of Pine Siskin like these guys…. I’ve seen some really young White-crowned Sparrows again, obviously a second or even third hatch, Dark-eyed Junco as well – saw one today with an all white tail.  There are more very young Black-headed Grosbeak out there as well.  House and Purple Finch are showing up but not as often as before, the Goldfinch continue to come, some with very young fledgling, still begging for food.  Towhee show up periodically, usually young ones, and there seem to be a few more young Rufous Hummingbirds again, I’ve given up on feeders but they love my Monarda and Honeysuckle plants.

Black-capped Chickadees

and the Chickadees continue to be constant visitors, especially the Black-capped.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I’d never fed peanuts in the summer before – definitely worthwhile as the feeder has got more attention in the summer than it normally does in the winter.  Something else I’ve never fed in summer is suet.  I have been amazed by the number of people on the Backyard birding Face book group site that feed suet all year, even down where they’ve had extreme heat for it seems like months and the birds feeding on that suet are amazing.  I might try it next year but I fear that it will just get devoured by Steller’s Jay – none of the people feeding it with great success seem to be in ‘Jay’ country!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer doldrums…..

Call it what you will, the dog days of summer or the summer doldrums….it sure is quiet…

Water levels

Today being a perfect summer day, just the right temperature, I sat down by the boat launch for a while, at the rate the water is dropping maybe we’ll be able to get down onto the grasslands in the next week or so – sure hope so, even though they are always disgustingly mucky for the first while!  At first, today, there seemed to be nothing moving but slowly activity started up..

Black-capped Chickadee

a family of Black-capped Chickadees moved through, and then a family of American Goldfinch.  Could hear some Cedar Waxwings but never saw any.  A few Barn Swallows were flying around but not anything near the numbers that had been here.  Spotted a couple of Red-wing Blackbirds and heard a Common Yellowthroat.  Earlier there had been 3 Osprey flying over head which much mean that some young had fledged and left the nest.  On the way home I could hear a Raven up on the hillside and spotted a Robin which made me realize I hadn’t actually seen one of those for days!

The Bullock’s Oriole have obviously left for the year, as have most of the Rufous Hummingbirds although we may see more of them again as they migrate through towards the end of the month and in early September. 

Pine Siskin


Back at home the most activity is being provided by Pine Sisken….








Young Goldfinch

and American Goldfinch, this being one of the very vocal youngsters!

Black-oil Sunflower seed flowers

I’m really thrilled with this ‘volunteer’ Sunflower which must have grown from a Black Oil Sunflower seed.  I’ve never had luck when I’ve tried to grow sunflowers…I’m hoping for some good photo ops somewhere down the road when birds decide to feed on the seeds…

Honey Bee on Sunflower

right now it is the Honey Bees that are enjoying the flowers.  I haven’t seen the Rose-breasted Grosbeak again but there are a number of birders working behind the scenes trying to decide if it is the same bird that keeps returning or not….I think not as the markings appear to be different.

One last picture, this from our August long weekend trip to a very hot Tunkwa Lake…

Lot's of Leasts

some Least Sandpiper – we tend to think of shorebirds as being quite large but these guys are really tiny.  Of the small shorebirds or ‘peeps’ they are easiest to identify as they have light coloured legs – also their bill has a slight downward droop at the tip. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rose-breasted Grosbeak!!!

Just when you least expect it – something exciting shows up!  After just having endured, and still recovering from, what was hopefully the hottest weekend of the year (according to CTV news last night it was and we won’t have anymore like that)…I really was in no mood for birding….that was until I glanced out my kitchen window and saw this…

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - August 7, 2012Ro

a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak!!!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak and young Steller's Jay


The bird was at a platform feeder with this young Steller’s Jay….

there are a number of things that make this very interesting…

First of all, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks aren’t supposed to be on this side of the Rocky Mountains, but this is now the 3rd year in a row when I have had a male show up in my little tiny yard!

The first time was on August 11, 2010 and the bird stayed around for a week or so.  The next time was May 26, 2011 and the bird only stayed a couple of days – was it the same bird?  I don’t know!  Possibly it returned in August of 2011 but we weren’t here to see it if it did…now on August 7, 2012….I have one here again…

Rear - undeveloped tail and wings

The question now is….is this a really young bird???  look at the undeveloped tail and flight feathers….or is it an adult in a molt and if so, how did it fly all the way to the west coast from where it is supposed to be in the extreme north east corner of B.C., Alberta or points east?  I’m going to send these pictures to a few experts and see if I can get an answer.  I suppose it is possible that a female has been here, they are very similar to female Black-headed Grosbeaks and I could have missed seeing one, but does that mean that there is a possibility that they are actually breeding somewhere close by????  who knows…I’ve checked and I can’t see that anyone else has reported even seeing any recently…

Young Chickadee

While I was outside puzzling over the Grosbeak, another Black-capped Chickadee family showed up with the above youngster begging for food…that has to be a second hatch!

Should mention that shorebird migration is definitely under way…we spent this last very hot (38 degrees Celsius) weekend at our favorite lake.  It was far to hot to walk anywhere but I did a bit of kayaking and saw a number of Least Sandpipers and Yellowlegs – the Yellowlegs flew over so couldn’t tell if Lesser or Greater….also it appeared that all the adult Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers had left, with only this years youngsters left behind.  Here at home, where I understand it was just as hot, the water levels are really dropping so maybe we’ll actually end up with some ‘shore’ before the shorebirds have all passed through.