Date: 7/21/17 2:56 pm
From: Roy Gerig <roygerig...>
Subject: [obol] Marbled Murrelets in the heart of the coast range, an hour from Salem 7/21/2017
I had a near religious experience this morning 0530-0600 (to clarify, I am
a left wing Christian, I don't attend any church regularly and my favorite
place of worship is an Old-Growth Forest with Marbled Murrelets in it
during the hours around sunrise).

The most accessible spot for MARBLED MURRELET from the Salem area is 50
miles west of here between Hwys 18 and 22, the spot that is the closest to
a faux Four Corners where Tillamook, Yamhill, Polk and Lincoln Counties
almost touch each other, just into Tillamook County. I camped there last
night, waking a little before 5 AM by several VARIED THRUSHES in wondrous
ethereal song, soon joined by just as many SWAINSON'S THRUSHES in song and
call. Just when PACIFIC WREN and PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER joined in the
marvelous dawn chorus, at 0533 I heard what sounded like 1 or 2 MARBLED
MURRELETS calling standard Keers as they seemed to be flying down Stillwell
Creek about a mile from where it flows into the Little Nestucca River. I
often visited this site as part of some jobs for agencies and an
environmental group in the old days, but I had not been there for awhile.
It was gratifying that it still seems to work for MAMU.

At 0543 I heard 3 higher, thinner Keer calls. They may been stationary
calls. If Kim Nelson is watching and feels so inclined, she can tell you
what this higher Keer might mean, and any other thing I say here. At 0545
a single MAMU flew directly overhead, lower than the high canopy of the
tall very large trees in this strip of mixed Old-growth - Doulgas fir,
Sitka Spruce, Western Redcedar and Western Hemlock, broken topped with
massive examples of each with thick mossy limbs, easy to get to from a
Murrelets perspective as they fly along Stillwell Creek with its completely
inaccessible to humans steep and unstable canyon sides below the road.
0549 I heard a burst of many Keers, almost all at the same time, like when
a MAMU rejoins the group it flew in from the ocean with just before they
head back out to sea for more fish. Sounded like a large group, in
situations like that where I've had visuals I have seen 6 of these seabirds
or more. Companion birds to the one visiting a nest fly in giant circles
around the nest tree until the mate of the nester comes out and rejoins
them, being sociable they talk excitedly when regrouping for the trip to
the ocean. Around 0600 I heard a very faint Keer, and just before that I
saw a dark bird of the right size dive into where a good looking MAMU tree
is, but I had a brief glimpse and cannot say it was not a STELLER'S JAY,
which was in the area.

The chorus around sunrise led by the many VARIED and SWAINSON'S THRUSHES is
at least as good as any church organ, and until you've been in a place like
this, you don't know how abundant these 2 species are as nesters in our
mountains. The warblers have stopped singing by now, past mid-July. I
heard only 1 HERMIT and 1 WILSON'S WARBLER both abundant and certainly
still here for another month or more, and 1 BLACK-THROATED GRAY, and saw 2
ORANGE CROWNED. All of the Warblers were detected along FS 2280, 3 miles
from the MAMU site on the way back down, no warblers were detected during
the MAMU visit.

There was quite a lot of mostly dried and faded, with some recent, Cougar
scat along the road where I wanted to start this morning. I had chicken
along to eat and thought it prudent to back my car up into a very small
unused road that nobody had been on for a month or more, overgrown with
soft Thimbleberry and Salmonberry crowding in from the sides but where
there was no Bear or Cougar sign. This morning I spent the 2 hours around
sunrise walking slow trying to watch the best looking wildlife trees
between two openings in front of and behind where I camped. I watched a
Chickaree climbing up a 7' dbh Doug fir into a witches' broom a hundred
feet straight up where it seemed to have a nest hole

I plan to go back on Sunday, so that Monday morning I can share this with
USFS biologist in Hebo, and look at some relief maps, I shared data with
them 10 and 20 years ago and they are aware of this magnificent site. If
anyone wants to join me, let me know, I'll plan on leaving Salem Sunday
mid-afternoon, and be finished with the Murrelet visit and back out to
pavement near Dolph Jct by mid-Monday
morning.

The location is not a secret, but you won't remember how to get to it
anyway because 1) it is hard to find and 2) you will be required to drink
wine or some other ritual designed to make you forget how you got there, on
Sunday evening

Thank you for reading this opposite of a rant, it is just that I am so
stoked. I haven't done a MAMU visit in a few years and haven't been to
this site in nearly 10, and was not at all sure the site would still host
Murrelets
Roy Gerig, Salem OR

 
Join us on Facebook!