Every day is a big day when you bird by bike. At least the way I do it. I was away from home for 9 hours, rode 35 miles, and saw 52 species of birds. My first stop of the day was one of the three highest locations in my 5 mile radius: Powell Butte. The whole ride there was a headwind. I felt like I was in purgatory. I need to get stronger…
The reason for tackling such a hill so early in the year was that there was a report of a Northern Shrike.
Shrikes are great because they are killer songbirds. That, and they impale their prey on pokey things. They are great birds and they are by no means a guarantee in anyone’s 5mr. This Shrike was well worth the climb and 2 hours searching. I’m happy I got it on my first try!
While on Powell Butte, I saw most of the expected winter raptors. I got my year Norther Harrier, I saw an American Kestrel harass a Red-tail Hawk, and two other Red-tails soaring. It was soooooooo windy up there, I saw almost no smaller birds, and felt very lucky to find my shrike.
On the edge of the forest, on my way down the butte, this male Anna’s Hummingbird bid me farewell and congratulated me on finding my shrike. I think.
It was a very forward little guy. While I was walking my bike it flew right up to me, about 5 feet away, and just hovered in front of my face. It was a weird experience.
As it landed I took this photo. I guess it could have just been eating the insects that were attracted to my bike-induced stink.
Though the trip up to Powell Butte was difficult, it was literally all downhill from there. I rode from the southeast most corner of my 5mr all the way to the Mighty Columbia. It was very fast and easy. I was surprised.
Once on the bike path I stopped to look at every group of ducks. I tried my hardest to turn one of the 100+ Common Goldeneyes I saw into a Barrow’s Goldeneye, but my efforts bore no Barrow’s fruit.
I’ll try again next weekend.
The whole day was fairly windy. Fortunately I had a nice tail wind while surveying the Columbia for secretive ducks.
Broughton Beach, and the trail to the east was fairly birdy. I added 3 new year birds: Common Loon, California Gull, and this menacing killdeer.
Last stop of the day was Whitaker Ponds. A reliable great egret spot, that also had reports of a spotted sandpiper. The Egret eventually flew right over me into the setting sun.
I ran into Audrey there, who asked,
“Did you see the Great Horned Owl or the Spotted Sandpiper?”
Wait, what? An Owl?
And then she walked me 25 yards, said it was in that tree, and I looked up and saw it immediately.
THAT NEVER HAPPENS!
Normally, if there is an owl in a tree I don’t see it. Or, I do see it, after walking around like an idiot for an indeterminate amount of time.
I was very happy! Also, I didn’t expect to get an owl in the 5mr challenge so early!
Right after that she walked me over to where she said she saw the Spotted Sandpiper. It was right there waiting for me! Double Wow!
Oh yeah, and perhaps most importantly of all… I saw the Bald Eagle everyone has been talking about. Somehow I made it 13 days without seein’ it. Bald Eagle was bird 81, and my last bird for the day. Also, Audrey found this one too, so I owe her the majority of my birdwatching success.
If anyone was wondering what I look like, this is me.
I am smiling because I saw the Bald Eagle. Also, because I know at this time that there is pizza and beer in my future.