Portland Birding Part 2

Disclaimer:  I have tentatively Identified these birds.  Any comments or help, whether to agree or disagree,  would be appreciated  as these birds are all new for me.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands:

Upon reaching the marsh area just below the main building we were surrounded by many birds.  Our only decision was where to look first.  There were many ducks and other water birds out on the lake but they were pretty far away.  We were able to identify Northern Shovelers, Mallards, American Coot, American  Wigeon, Canadian Geese, and eventually Ruddy Ducks and a cormorant.  Some of these were new for me. 

There was also a Blue Heron and  a Great White Egret hunting in one of the many pools.

I enjoyed watching the waders more.  This Yellowlegs caught our attention right away as he was fairly close to us.  I tentatively identify him as a Greater Yellowlegs.


Nearby also was a little flock of Least Sandpipers.  They were very well camouflaged and hard to see.  I didn’t even notice them until Jonathan pointed them out. 


In the same general vicinity were many Savannah Sparrows.  These were all lifers for me.


After walking, photographing and watching the birds for a good while we decided it was lunch time.  We also noticed some dark clouds heading our way.  As we headed up to the main building we noticed they had a couple feeders hanging and we enjoyed stopping there to watch as well.  There were many of these Golden-crowned Sparrows and also a beautiful Mourning Dove.



We were fortunate that during lunch the rain passed over with only a bit of a sprinkle despite the dark clouds, so we decided to go back and walk the woodland trail.  This was a little more open than the forest at the Audubon Society and we were able to see Yellow-rumped Warblers and Black-capped Chickadees.  A Bushtit and this Bewick’s Wren were both lifers.


We also saw and enjoyed several Scrub Jays.  Despite their name, they are still a beautiful bird.


All in all it turned out to be a fabulous day. Great weather, great birds and great company!

Linking up with I’d Rather B’ Birdin’  and Wild Bird Wednesday.


Birding Portland

My brother got married Thursday in Portland.  The morning of the wedding we had a couple hours to kill, so when it finally quit raining we decided to go wander around in the little park by the riverside at our hotel.  This netted me a lifer of a Spotted Towhee.



We had decided to add an extra day to the trip just for birding.  I didn’t want to drive around too far so we didn’t go to the mountains or the coast.  We just stayed around the Portland area’s beautiful parks and kept it low-key. 

The Audubon Society has a beautiful sanctuary that borders on Forest Park, both of which are just outside of downtown Portland.  We decided to go here first to try to see some woodland birds.  We had heard there were bird feeders set up and were hoping to see some of the birds up close, but we never did find them.  Thus the birds were a bit more difficult to find.  The forest is beautiful in and of itself so we enjoyed our very slow hike through it.  The trails were a bit muddy and the morning was dreary but it wasn’t raining and we enjoyed the walk.  I was happy to get a lifer of a Chestnut-backed Chickadee.


We also saw Towhees, robins, juncos, sparrows, and warblers.  This Wilson’s Warbler was displaying and singing his heart out, completely ignoring us, even when we walked right under him. 


After the Audubon Sanctuary we decided to head out Jackson Bottom Wetland.  The weather had turned sunny but it was still cool so it was a beautiful day.  We headed down to the marshy area.  We were looking for a Kingfisher for Jonathan to photograph as those are his favorites, but we also checked out everything that moved.  There were many swallows making use of the boxes they had put up there.  They seemed to be mostly Tree Swallows but we also saw Barn Swallows.  I never managed to identify any Violet-Green Swallows, which would have been a lifer.


There were loads of birds there and we took our time watching them all.  Wood Ducks greeted us upon our arrival to the marshy ponds but they were pretty shy.


The Cinnamon Teals were a little less shy so we got better pictures of them. They were my first lifer at the marsh but were quickly followed by several more.


This Yellow-throat was also a lifer.  I know it is weird that I have such common birds as lifers but keep in mind that I was never more than a backyard birder while in the States.  All my birding prior to this was done in Africa. 


Speaking of Africa, although I have no current plans to go back, I do hope to start posting some of my back photos from there soon.  I don’t know if people are bored with American birds and the African ones are more interesting.  I guess for me I just want to post some of the nicer photos that we have, whether African, Costa Rican, or American.

I’ll end here for now and finish my Portland birding next time.


For more great bird blogs try Wild Bird Wednesday or I’d Rather B’ Birdin’.


This post was written in March of 2014.  Life got in the way and I am just now getting around to posting it.  More posts coming soon.

I was so excited to find a lifer here in Ohio that I decided I should try to figure out what “number” he was.  I had never been a lister here in the States.  I kept track of new birds that I had seen on vacations but I never counted them or put them into any kind of a list.  That only changed when I moved to Africa, when every bird I saw was a new bird, it made sense to start keeping track.  And so a lister was born.

At that point, I did not really have a life list number because most of my previous lists were left in various notes and field guides that we left back in Ohio when we moved to Zambia.  Now that we were back I was finally able to compile them all, remove repeats and actually get some sort of count.  Prior to now, I only had a count for Zambia.  That number is 361.  In addition I saw 45 more lifers in Zimbabwe and South Africa combined.  My recent trip to Costa Rica had added a bunch more to my list so I had to count those up as well.  My subtotals looked like this:

Continental U.S.: 76

Hawaii: 15

Zambia: 361

Southern Africa: 45

Costa Rica 2014: 93

Costa Rica Previously: 31.

I suppose my totals are not all that impressive but they are what they are. 

Total life birds as of March 15, 2014 = 621.

More Beautiful Costa Rican Birds

After staying near Quepos and visiting Manuel Antonio National Park, we made our last road trip up to Monte Verde.  I had never been there before so I was looking forward to it.  The mountainous drive was beautiful and not too steep, with many enjoyable views.  Upon arrival, we had to make our plan for the next day and we decided to go to a private reserve known for its birding guides, called Curi Cancha.  This turned out to be a good plan.  The trails there were well kept and it was great to have a guide for our first hike.  We had been walking for a little while, and had already seen the Emerald Toucanet, (below)

fixed toucanet


when I asked our guide if there was any chance we would see a motmot, another bird I was eager to see.  I think we walked down a little slope about 50 feet; it seemed like I had hardly gotten the words out of my mouth when he basically turned around and showed me one straight away.  I was thrilled!  And we were able to get several more looks at these beautiful birds.  This one was posing for us just outside our room at Cala Lodge.


A couple other of my favorite birds in Monte Verde were this Red-legged Honeycreeper and Slate-throated Redstart, that we saw while lunching at Stella’s Bakery.



And of course the Hoffman’s Woodpecker that we saw at Cala Lodge.


Monteverde was a really great place for beautiful birds and hiking through the cloud forest.  It was one of my favorite parts of our trip, possibly because I hadn’t been there before; the birds were gorgeous, and there were many lifers for me.  I would definitely recommend it as a stop for anyone visiting Costa Rica.


For more bird blogs, try Wild Bird Wednesday  and  The Birdin’ D’Pot.

Ohio Lifers

I had to take a break from our travels in Costa Rica to make note of some interesting things happening here in Ohio.  It has been such a cold, snowy winter that I haven’t gotten out much. I have always been a back-yard birder here in Ohio and I guess I still am.  I enjoy my feeders with all of the usuals taking their turns.  My favorite chickadees as well as the cardinals, juncos, blue jays and all the rest that I can watch from the comfy warmth of the house.  Still, there are so many birds here in Ohio that I have never seen that it had to happen sooner rather than later, that I would find a new lifer.  Sometimes, it is just a matter of paying attention to something that you have never paid attention to before and it helps to have your binoculars close at hand. Nevertheless, I was super excited to see my first Lifer for Ohio in about ten years, the Horned Lark.  I was always quite eager to see one of these, and I imagine that they were always close at hand but I had never paid them any attention before and they were always too far away to identify properly (I don’t have the best eyesight).

Lifer # 621 IMG_3448


Horned Larks seem pretty easy to find this winter.  They are typically the bird that I see flying off the side of the road as cars go zooming past.  It has been fun to discover as much as I can about them.  Usually I see them where there are empty fields on both sides of the road, away from any trees, bushes or houses.  They fly low to the ground most of the time, and I don’t see them take cover in bushes but instead fly far away and land on the ground again when they have been startled.  Maybe that seems like pretty basic info to lots of people, but I know next to nothing about larks.  I grew up in the mountains and they are not really the typical bird there.

Female Horned Lark:


A week or so later, I was fortunate enough to hear from a friend about a reliable, nearby location to see a Snowy Owl.  I had seen a Snowy once when I was a child (probably between 10 and 14 years old, though I am not sure) so this wasn’t a lifer for me but since it was so close we agreed to try looking for it. (There needs to be a word in birding lingo for a bird that isn’t a lifer but is close to it.)   We went out on Wednesday afternoon and drove to the small, country airport where it was regularly seen and then drove slowly around about a two mile block surrounding it.  We had absolutely no luck.  We spent much more than an hour and decided we had better head home, figuring that it wouldn’t be long before the owl would be spotted again, and that we just happened to miss it.

I was fortunate enough on the way home to spot a hawk.  We were later able to identify it as a Rough-legged Hawk.  Ohio Lifer #2.  Another common bird that I had probably seen before but had never bothered to stop and identify. No Snowy, but I couldn’t complain when I got another lifer.


Sure enough, the next afternoon, my friend called me and told me to drop everything.  She had decided to just pass by the nearby airport and, of course, the owl was there.  Jonathan and I headed out for a quick trip to get some photos.  It was bitter cold.  I only got out of the car briefly, got a good look at the owl on the roof and then retreated back to the warmth of the vehicle.  Jonathan, on the other hand, had the unenviable position of trying to get a decent photo in high winds with temperatures only a bit above zero.


The owl sat pretty calmly for us for a good while despite several cars stopped to look at it.  Eventually a hawk came by and startled the owl.  The owl retreated to a nearby snow pile. He was much too far away now to get a decent picture, but I like how he is perfectly camouflaged on a dirty pile of snow in the pictures that we did get.


Beautiful Birds!

Red-tailed Hawk

(Taking a short break from the Costa Rica pictures.  I have just a few left.)

This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk has been hanging around our place in Ohio for most of the winter.  We have seen him catch several small mammals including squirrels.  He often comes quite close to the house, one time even landing on the umbrella pole on our back deck.  On Saturday we got to watch him hunt “close up and personal” as they say.  He was in the trees, at the edge of our lawn, just above the three bird feeders there.  He wasn’t after any other birds though.  Little did I know how many rodents my bird seed was attracting. 


He quickly dropped down and landed on something.  In the below picture he has it in his talon.


He promptly proceeded to eat his meal as we watched through our back windows.  It appears to be a mole, a vole or a mouse. None of which I am too sorry to be rid of. 


He almost immediately repeated his same hunting tactic, catching another similar rodent just about five feet further into the woods, still at the edge.  This time he flew a little ways into the woods onto a favorite branch and swallowed the little thing down in a couple bites.  I was very impressed with his hunting prowess as he was now 2 for 2.  He ruined it later in the day when I watched him try again, this time missing two in a row.  I don’t see myself as especially bloodthirsty, but I must admit that when I see a bird has caught something to eat, I am very eager to get a look at it and see what it is.

Another beautiful bird – and useful!

Waterbirds of Costa Rica

After our sojourn into the mountains and our excellent views of the quetzal, we were ready for some warmer weather.  We were originally planning to stay another night at a different lodge in the mountains, but since we already had such good success at Trogon Lodge we decided to head down to Quepos and Manuel Antonio a day earlier.  We had not packed overly well for the cold in the mountains, and it would also enable us to get laundry done at the next place. 

We had hoped to spend a whole day and more at Manuel Antonio, mostly just hanging out at the beach or hiking a trail or two.  Unfortunately we had forgotten that they are closed on Mondays so here we were in Quepos, basically at the door of the park, but couldn’t get in.  We decided to go on a Mangrove swamp tour as our outing for the day, and then had only Tuesday morning for the park before we had to move on.

From a birding perspective, this turned out pretty well, as I got a number of lifers in the swamp including Southern Lapwing:




IMG_2056 (2)


the Mangrove Black-Hawk:


as well as Mangrove Swallow, and White Ibis.  We also had lovely views of Northern Jacana, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Spotted Sandpiper.

After our trip to the mangrove we decided to get lunch in Quepos and walk around the shore area where the fishermen unload their catch.  Here there was an abundance of Brown Pelicans,



and Magnificent Frigatebirds. I don’t know if the numbers of these birds cause them to be a pest in any way, but I have to say that I loved watching them soaring and swooping. 


I love the shape of their wings and their gracefulness as they glide.



Beautiful, Gorgeous, Magnificent!


All Photos copyright Jonathan Moeller.