Date: 2/25/17 9:37 pm
From: Jeff Fleischer <dmarc-noreply...> (Redacted sender raptorrunner97321 for DMARC)
Subject: [obol] banner raptor day in Linn County
Hi Everyone,
Well, it could not have gone any better for me today on my final raptor survey in Linn County.  The route I did today is my biggest one, about 135 miles long and it takes a full day to complete.  It covers all the valley floor from Hwy 228/American Drive just north of Halsey south to Priceboro Rd near the Linn/Lane Co border and from the Willamette River east to the foothills south of Brownsville.  I was about 1.5 hours into the survey when I found the Gyrfalcon on Malpass Rd just south of Lake Creek Dr.  It flushed off of a wooden fence post next to the road and landed about 5 poles out into the field on the east side of the road.  I watched it for about 10 minutes, took some pictures, then posted my first post on OBOL, hoping some folks might be able to come out and refind it.  Turns out a fair number were able to refind the bird throughout the day, thanks to Jenna Curtis and Jessie Laney for posting their pictures when they refound it further south on Malpass Rd south of Nixon Dr about an hour after my post :)  I refound it again on Substation Rd a few miles south of the original site later in the day.  It was perched on a wood post out in the field north of the road.  Vicki Buck and Steve Jaggers appeared shortly after I found the bird and they were able to enjoy the sighting.  While watching the Gyr, Vicki found a Merlin perched on one of the fence wires near the Gyr so I started getting excited because I knew that my route was leading me into areas where I find Peregrines and Prairies pretty regularly during my winter surveys.  With high hopes I continued my survey, leaving Vicki and Steve to chase the Gyr which was starting to head north again back up towards Malpass Rd. 
About an hour later, I crossed over I-5 on Lake Creek Dr into Prairie Falcon territory and it took about 3 minutes to find one!  It was perched on the short tree line heading south of Lake Creek Dr on Weggener Rd.  At that point I was pretty confident that I was finally going to get the complete falcon slam, all five NA species in the west but was really anxious with negative thoughts about not getting it!  I continued the survey which flipped back over to the west side of I-5.  I eventually got down to Bond Butte Rd and crossed back over on the east side of I-5 and headed north on Weggener Rd.  When I got to Twin Buttes Rd I turned east and looked at a lone tree in the field to the north where I saw a slender shaped raptor that was obviously a falcon and not a Red-tailed Hawk.  Heart was really pumping then and I was hoping that it was not the Prairie that maybe had moved south.  I put the scope on it and immediately saw the tell tale full black helmeted Peregrine.  Whew, that was quite a moment.  After savoring it a bit, I wrote my second OBOL email explaining what I had just done.  The rest of the survey went like clockwork and I found another Peregrine along Gap Rd south of Diamond Hill Rd to add an exclamation mark to the falcon day! :)
Regarding my survey results, I found:
Red-tails    47American Kestrels   57Northern Harriers    12Bald Eagles    31 adults, 14 subadultsRough-legged Hawks    6Gyrfalcon     1Merlin   1Prairie Falcon   1Peregrine Falcon    2Red-shouldered Hawk   1 gorgeous adult bird
Red-tails and Kestrels have been noticeably down all winter, in the 40-50% of average range and Harriers have been way down in number more than 70% short of average.  Bald Eagle numbers continue to be healthy.  As a matter of fact, I had enough light left in the day after the survey so I zoomed north to the night roost site west of Tangent and finished the day counting 130 birds in the roost at dusk.  I could see more coming in as I packed up my scope at near dark around 6:20.  The 6 Rough-legs were my high count for the winter on any given survey so was happy with that as well.  The Red-shoulder was really stunning.  I found it about 0.2 miles north of the intersection of Gap Rd and Priceboro Rd.  It was perched on a pile of brush east of the road and after watching it for about 30 seconds it flew off to the south with the bright sun lighting up its reddish chest and flashing the black and white body/tail plumage as it flew south into the trees right at the intersection.  I had not seen one at this location before, was gearing up to hopefully see one a little further north on Gap Rd where I have seen them several times so was happy to see it where I did :)
The only known miss for me for the day was a group of 5 Short-eared Owls that were flying around the Malpass Rd area around 3 pm when I was miles away to the east and south.  They were seen by Paul Sullivan who told me about them during a phone conversation.  On my way to the Bald Eagle roost I drove back through the area but could not find any so they obviously have more places to do their hunting than where they were seen :)
All in all a very memorable day for me.  I have done hundreds of surveys for the East Cascades Audubon Society's Winter Raptor Survey Project which I coordinate.  The closest I came to the 5 falcon slam was years ago when I was doing a survey in southern Benton County, knowing a Gyrfalcon was up in Polk County.  I stayed true to doing the survey when I finally found my fourth falcon of that day, a Merlin, with still about 2 hours left to complete the survey.  I guess I could have zoomed up there to get the Gyr but wanted to complete the survey.  I was rewarded today, something I will never forget! :)
Tomorrow the weather is not supposed to be as nice but I certainly hope some more people with attempt to refind the Gyrfalcon.  My educated guess/hope is that it will still be in the general area.  I would focus on the area bordered on the north by Lake Creek Dr and the south by Substation Rd and concentrating on going north/south through the area on Malpass Rd. Good luck for those who try, if you find it you will know it and you will be as happy as I was today when I found it! :)
Jeff FleischerAlbany


 
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