[birding] Santiam BBS notes (western Cascades): Green-winged Teal nesting, lots of flycatchers

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Sun Jun 15 16:37:29 PDT 2014

Hi all,

This morning I ran the Santiam Breeding Bird Survey route which starts
in old growth forest in the western Cascades of Linn County, follows
Crabtree Creek down to just above Lacomb, then crosses over to the
Roaring River drainage and comes out into a bit of farmland and rural
residential lands before wrapping back around toward Crabtree Creek.

This route always has a bit of adventure. This year it came in the form
of (1) a 6-mile detour around the Larwood Covered Bridge, the deck of
which has been torn up for repairs, (2) lots of fresh crushed rock on
the logging roads that traverse industrial timberlands (good in terms of
smoothing out potholes but also requiring slower speeds to avoid flat
tires), and (3) a dead battery apparently due to driving through too
deep of a puddle, causing a battery drain which I learned about when I
woke up at 1:00 AM to the feeble tooting that our minivan's alarm makes
when the battery has run down.

Luckily around 2 AM an owl surveyor working as a contractor for BLM came
into the same remote location where I was camped. He was apologetic
about setting up a calling station right next to my campsite, but I
assured him that I was very glad to see him. I joined him on his rounds,
then we came back and jump-started the minivan.

When 4:54 AM finally rolled around and I was able to run the route
itself, everything went pretty smoothly. Some birds that are always nice
to hear included COMMON NIGHTHAWK (3), VAUX'S SWIFT (1 heard during the
count, though a couple more seen last evening), and OLIVE-SIDED
FLYCATCHER (several locations).

The weather and timing seemed to be perfect for flycatchers.
PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHERS are always common in mixed-forest habitat
along this route, but they seemed to be especially thick (a quick tally
from my data sheets gives 45). I also heard three HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS,
which I've sometimes missed on this count. Once I came into the "reprod"
areas (replanted clearcuts) I started to hear lots of WILLOW
FLYCATCHERS, with at least 8 at one stop, basically calling from all
points of the compass.

The most unusual birds were a GREEN-WINGED TEAL hen with at least half a
dozen half-grown ducklings on a large pond. I picked up on the ducklings
first as they were swimming toward my left away from the closest part of
the pond to where I stopped, partly screened by willows. I was expecting
a Wood Duck, Mallard, or maybe a Cinnamon Teal so it was a surprise when
I saw the mother glide into view, showing a vivid green speculum, and
then noticed a very distinct dark line through her eye.

I gave some thought to Blue-winged Teal as female Blue-winged Teal show
basically these same traits, and it wasn't the greatest of views, but I
went with Green-winged based on the overall impression of size, blocky
shape and dark coloration.

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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