Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sunriver

I start out on a cold Tuesday morning from the Sunriver Nature Center and walk some of the snow-covered paths in search of birds. I'd heard about chestnut-backed chickadees being seen down here at the resort.

What once was Camp Abbott during World War II, is now a resort complete with golf courses, lodges, pools, homes and a small shopping complex. Though developed, the resort has great pathways for walking or biking, and left enough cover during construction to offer some fair birding. Because I live about 15 minutes away, Sunriver is a spot that I come to when I want to feel like I'm on vacation. Or to go birding.

Today, January 11, is cold. Snow covers the golf courses and most of the units are empty. I find the usual suspects in the groves of lodgepole pine that line the trails: mountain chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, dark-eyed junco. A pair of redtails are perched on a lone snag near the horse corrals and an adult bald eagle makes its way flying upriver.

The first County Big Year addition is a northern shrike, striking a pose atop a cluster of willows. Perhaps because of the cold, I am able to walk within 10 feet of the willows and get some great views of the bird.

As I walking down one of the paths, I meet Bob and his four-legged friend Roxy. Bob, seeing my binoculars, asks for identification. "Are you a birdwatcher?" One field mark that indicates possible birder is the binos around the neck, the other one is the four-word question. So we start chatting about birds. I tell him I'm looking for the chestnut-backs and he tells me has had one at his feeder at times during the winter. We talk about the shrike, which we've both passed, and a hairy woodpecker pounding away a little bit up the trail. I relate that I encountered 2 evening grosbeaks, my first ones of the winter, and Bob says they would be his first of the year, if he had seen them. We chat some more and find a common name of a local birder to further establish our identities.

Twenty minutes later a flock of around 20 evening grosbeaks pass me by heading towards Bob. Or at least his general direction. I hope he hears them or maybe that Roxy will stop at the appropriate sniffing post and Bob will look up. In addition to the grosbeaks I hear a flock of crossbills, which I'm assuming are red crossbills, but won't add them to the list just to make sure of my identification. The crossbills are fairly regular here; I even get them to our feeders in Bend.

Evening grosbeak

Though the birding has been slim, it has been a nice morning walking in the cold. The seemingly ever-present coyote hunts out in the frozen fields, and I strain to hear somebody different calling. But not today. So these two plus the great horned owl hooting during the BCS championship game between Oregon and Auburn are the newest additions to the list.



County Big Year to date: 59 species.

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