Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Beardiest City in America.

Liam and I were birding last Sunday in Indiana to see some local winter birds and catch a crazy hummingbird stuck there for the winter.(2 posts ago). While we were birding Michele texted us and told us Emperor Goose and Brambling were close to each other and the flights to Portland look good tonight AND you can get a car for $12.50! We said o.k. (hell yes!) and hurried home with just enough time to get to the airport. It is exciting to decide to go to Oregon and be on a plane a couple of hours later!
Yes, beardiest, not birdiest. I read that Portland was the self proclaimed Beardiest City in America. During our "Big Year" I would like to have read "birdiest" but having a big lumberjack beard like I do I was happy to fit in! We had to fly through Salt Lake City to get to Portland and we couldn't get on the evening flight to Portland from Salt Lake but had an early flight to Portland in the morning. We got into Portland at 10am got our car and started driving to Tualitan River NWR to try and see Emperor Goose. The NWR is south of Portland and North of Woodburn where a Brambling was being seen at a backyard feeder. When we got there it was pretty damn cold and there were no other birders around which was not a good sign. Without a scope the bird could be there and we still may not be able to find it. Just after we started walking towards the water another couple started walking our way with binocs and a scope and we were relieved to have some more eyes to search. The first treat was seeing a pair of Eurasian Wigeon fly in almost right away. It took about 10 minutes to get Liam on it and to see the identifiers but he got it eventually. We also got Bufflehead and Cackling Goose.
A few minutes later the man with the scope said he had a different goose in his scope and that he thought it was the Emperor Goose. Through the binoculars there was a goose with different coloration in with a group of Canada Goose in the distance. Through the scope a sleeping silver gray goose with a tucked white head. I was certain it was the bird but couldn't write it on the list until we got a better look. Thankfully after another 10min that seemed like an hour he got up and walked around a bit giving us a fantastic look for confident identification. We had gotten off the the plane at 10am and had Emperor Goose by 11:45am! We were freezing so we hurried to the car to head on in hopes of seeing the Brambling.
I think we got to the backyard with the Brambling at about 1:15pm. It was biting cold and ungloved hands quickly hurt and had to be pocketed. One person, an ebird reviewer was there with us and the Brambling had been seen earlier the same day so when Liam asked how long we were going to wait I said "until the Brambling shows up". The first striking thing about the backyard in Oregon that we didn't expect especially with the snow covered ground and freezing cold was Anna's Hummingbirds zipping around all over the place! There was so many of them it was almost like being in SE Arizona!

Anna's Hummingbird - Woodburn, OR

The Woodburn backyard was a mini goldmine getting us Anna's Hummingbird, Pine Sisken,Black-capped Chickadee, Bushtit, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Red-breasted Nuthatch. At 2:05pm the eBird reviewer who was with us said "there it is!" Sure enough the Brambling was on the ground under the corner feeder. It was a beautiful bird with lots of color and stayed long enough for a good look and a picture and then was gone. Wish I had a bigger lens but I did manage to get an identifying picture

Brambling - Woodburn, OR

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