Bird list for BOGS raptor run, N and NW of Eugene, first of two, Thurs. 12-12-19, 9:10am. - 2:30 or 3pm.
Leader: Priscilla Sokolowski
Weather: Stormy, wind and rain all day with squalls of strong wind and heavy rain. 42-48 degrees.
The squalls were pretty exciting, watching large very dark clouds coming towards us.
-compiled by Janet Naylor
I led a Raptor Run Thursday, Dec. 12, for BOGS. We drove up to Linn County, after several scouting trips with Janet and Jennifer and Don. (We repeated this trip on Thursday Dec 19).
While the predictions for weather were bleak, expecting steady rain and 20mph wind gusts, we had a crew of about 15 intrepid birders whose enthusiasm would not be quashed by these reports.
Rain began at our first stop and then we drove through an intense squall line as we drove up I-5. The rain increased rapidly as we drove further into Linn County and there were some wind gusts.The temperature dropped from 51 to 48 over 15 minutes.
However, when we arrived at the prime birding grounds, the rain stopped, the sky brightened, and even some blue sky was seen for a while.
Birding action began within a few minutes of our arrival on Smith Rd (SW Linn County); with an American Kestrel and two Northern Harriers sweeping the skies around us. The Kestrel perched on a signpost with its tail spread out like a fancy dancing skirt.
Next, two Northern Harriers flew around us low over the fields. One was a male - very pale with dark wingtips. We don't see as many males of this species so he was a welcome treat.
We did not wait long for a Rough-legged Hawk to make an appearance. This is one of my favorite winter birds. This bird too was first seen perched on a signpost. It took flight and showed us all the important field marks. We had at least three Rough-legged Hawks before lunch.
When the skies had still been dark as we drove up, I thought that might bring out some Short-eared Owl. While we did not see any of these on our scouting trips, a Short-eared Owl DID make a sudden appearance flying low and fast over the fields not too far from us. It dropped into the grass for a while but when it again took flight we all enjoyed many good long views of this bird at all angles. It was not as close to us as I would have liked, but as with the RL Hawk, all the important field marks and flight qualities were seen.
The profile of a short-eared Owl can vary a great deal. I made a web page showing all the common wing positions and bird profiles in flight.
SHORT-EARED OWL FLIGHT PROFILES
Oh, it did rain again, but not hard and not for long. We had another couple of minor squall lines and periods of drizzle. We also had a rainbow or two. For me, it felt colder than I had expected and that was true all day. Everyone else was better prepared for the weather than I was, so the weather was no problem for them, and I'm glad for that.
Bird activity kept us enthralled until Noon, by which time everyone was hungry if not a little tired and in need of restrooms. The porta-potty which had been in a perfect place for us on our scouting trip Mon Dec 9 was GONE! We hurried our way to Oldtown Albany for much needed services!
We split up over three restaurants about one block apart in old town Albany. Everyone seemed happy with their choices. The group I was with ate at Zone Thai. This place is rathe upscale, with very good food.
After lunch a few of our five cars went on back to Eugene. The rest of us went to the Calapooia River Eagle Roost. There had been no Eagles there on our scouting trips but today there were about 7 Eagles in the roosting trees and several more flying around in the same area.
A carcass of something was being picked over by several of the younger Eagles - one hatch-year and a few 1 and 2 year old birds.
Other birds included quite a few Bald Eagles, (most of which were immature); and a large group of American Pipits; a hard-to-see flock of Killdeer right where we saw them on our scouting trip on Dec 9.
American Kestrel hovering
Raptor Run #1, Smith Rd, Linn County, Dec 12, 2019
Scouting for Raptor Runs, Davis Rd, Dec 9, 2019
Killdeer Flock making "chittering" noise
ALthough these next two videos were taken 3 days before the raptor run, we saw the same flock of Killdeer in the same location on the raptor run as well. I wasn't able to get any good photos or videos during the raptor run, but these two videos show you what we experienced there.
When we first saw the Killdeer flock in a house's garden right next to the road, as we slowed down the Killdeer started walking quickly away from the road and made this unusual "chittering" noise. As soon as we stopped the car and rolled down the windows they all froze and became ghostly quiet and motionless. (See the video after this one).
Killdeer Flock- "chittering" and walking away
Scouting for Raptor Runs, Davis Rd, Dec 9, 2019
Killdeer Flock- ghostly quiet and motionless
(They had been walking and chittering when we stopped alongside them, then when we stopped car and rolled down windows, they became motionless and ghostly quiet Scouting for Raptor Runs, Davis Rd, Dec 9, 2019
(The same thing happened on the raptor run but the lead car I was in was too far past the birds to use my camera)