Monday, June 25, 2012

Townsend's Solitaire

My daughter graduated from the Univ. of Oregon this past Monday, so I took that day off from work as well as Tuesday. Since my wife and daughter were pretty tuckered out, I decided to slip in some birding Tuesday morning.
I decided to try my luck at Trillium Lake up on Mt Hood. While the hike around the lake was gorgeous, the birding was a little slow. I got glimpses of a couple of possible interesting birds, but was never able to get a clear view to identify them.
Feeling a little frustrated, I decided to make a quick stop at Tamanawas Falls Trail before heading home. I've made two stops there in the past and both times had multiple looks of American Dippers.  This time was no different, as there were both adult and juveniles along the rapidly flowing stream.
As I sat on the bank watching an adult Dipper feeding a juvenile, a rather nondescript grayish bird landed on a branch across the stream. I watched it, rather puzzled as to what it was, when it flew across the stream and landed on a branch about twelve feet away from me.
I started shooting away as it sat there keeping an eye on me, but not too concerned with my presence. Then it flew back to the other side of the stream only to return to the same branch beside me a minute later. It must have done this three or four times allowing me to get shots from the front, side and rear.

I had a hunch that the bird was a Townsend's Solitaire and sure enough, that's what it turned out to be. My first sighting of this species. Distinguishing characteristics beside the gray coloring is the obvious white eye ring, the white outer tail feathers and a broad creamy wing bar which stands out when the bird is in flight as seen above.

As I was on my way back to the parking area along Highway 35, I saw a couple of interesting birds on the ground among the picnic tables.  Before I could get a good look, they flew off back towards the stream. I went looking for them and while I'm not sure if I found what I'd seen, I did find an adult Townsend's Solitaire feeding a juvenile on a log across the stream.
Tamanawas Falls Trail continues to a great stop when up on Mount Hood.   

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