March 19, 2012

Good Mon. -5 here this ayem, closer to +10 with a breeze now. We got back from Ecotopia late last evening after a week in the rain in Seattle, Portland, and Eugene. We tried driving to the Oregon coast and encountered an advisory to have chains/snow tires to cross the 790 foot summit (!) on the way to Lincoln City. We braved it without those aids but thought better of staying on the coast as more storms were predicted. There was snow on the ground all the way to within 100 yards of the beach! Worst storm anyone could remember, winds 90 mph, trees down, power outages. So much for an idyllic drive south along the ocean. Maybe next time.

We visited my three brothers, two sisters-in-law, one former sister-in-law, two nephews and their spice, two grand-nephews and two grand-nieces, four cats, and two dogs. Also saw daughter Laura, looked around Portlandia, her current locale, and met her swain. On the way back north we did a little birding at Ridgefield NWR near Vancouver, WA when the rain let up for several hours Friday. We got nice views of a hooded merganser pair (Mr. and Bride of Frankenstein — see photo), ruddy ducks, a kestrel sitting on a road sign. Coots and shovelers everywhere. Missed the American bittern and the reported vermilion flycatcher (which we’ve seen in south Texas and Brazil). In Puget Sound we saw snow geese, Brant geese, both kinds of swan, black turnstone, lots of harlequin and golden-eye ducks. My sister-in-law pointed out a red-necked loon that was a pretty far sighting for me, but she is the sharpest-eyed birder I know. I put that alongside the equally distant rhinocerous auklets she spotted as not a good enough view to count on my list. The fur seal turned out to be a scuba diver.

We took in the Tin-Tin movie in 3D, which was enjoyable and suitable for kids. Ebert gave it 3.5 stars on his 4-star scale. Captain Haddock is played/mimed/whatever you call it by Andrew Sarkis who played/mimed/whatever you call it Gollum in LOTR. He walked upright mostly in this film, except when Haddock was three sheets to the wind. I visited a branch of Powell’s book store in Portland and the wonderful Smith Family bookstore near the UO campus in Eugene and found a few items of interest, mostly medieval history and literature, including a vivid description of the Black Death in England 1349.

Hooded merganser male. Photo by Gary Kramer.

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