I decided to take a break from the norm and try my luck at Mt. Tabor Park in Portland on this edition of The Blog. The park is only about 20 minutes from my house so I made three trips there recently: May 26 & 31, and June 1. The May 26 trip was by far, the most successful for me, and I’ll feature that trip on today’s blog post.
Mt. Tabor Park is a 190 acre park in the city limits of Portland that became part of Portland in 1905. It is a beautiful place with paved roads and walking/jogging trails as well as many other recreational activities. The park is built on a volcanic cinder cone. I don’t think it is known as a bird photographer’s paradise though but after I saw the variety of birds captured by photographer/blogger Jen at Mt. Tabor, I just had to check it out. There are lots of joggers, walkers, runners, bike riders, and cars, so it does have its drawbacks from a photography perspective.
I actually stayed in my vehicle to take these shots and basically used the same strategy I do at the wildlife refuge. The paved road that winds around the cinder cone, has a steep drop off on the right side of the road, and a steep bank on the left as you head up the hill. I got most, if not all, of these shots by shooting out my passenger-side window over the steep drop off (right) side of the road. Large fir and deciduous trees rooted at the ground, 50 or so feet below, cascade up right outside your window with their branches 15 – 20 feet away from your camera. It is these branches (in decent light) that I hope a bird lands on. Much of the time, there is nothing behind the branches but lush green which can be a wonderful background. I drove up, down, and back up the ‘mountain’ many times in hopes of seeing something new each time.
Let’s get to the photos!
This shot was one of the few I took out the driver’s side window looking toward the steep bank, making for a cluttered background but good from a “habitat” point of view. A Spotted Towhee.
Here’s a Western Tanager that I missed a really nice opportunity to catch. It initially appeared to me on a deep green fir tree bough at camera height, only about 20 feet away. I wasn’t paying attention and it moved before I could get the shot. So I settled for the shot behind a branch! But also take a look at the tongue action on this guy (click on the thumbnails of all shots to see larger views).
A cute little Song Sparrow.
These next shots of this male House Finch were taken looking down the bank and onto a road below where there was a mud puddle. This guy was doing his best to get spiffy for his mate.
I then discovered this female Goldfinch making lunch out of a dandelion on the ground about 12-15 feet away from my window.
In a tree just above this dandelion, more shots of goldfinches.
I spotted this male Dark-eyed Junco in a tree outside my truck window.
And, the American Robin.
Each time I drove up the road scouring the trees for any movement, I would pass this one exposed perch that I thought would be really cool if a bird landed on it. Much to my surprise, toward the end of my day there, I spotted this flycatcher on the exposed perch. I estimate the perch to be closer to 30 feet away–a little further than I like for this size of bird but because of the aesthetics of the shot, I took a lot of frames in hopes that some of them would come out acceptable. The bird let me shoot for several minutes, which is an eternity for a bird photographer.
At home I looked up the bird in my field guide and determined it to be an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a life list bird for me. This was a thrilling way to end my first photo shoot at Mt. Tabor. Also, note the rain drops in the images.
That’s it for now! Thanks for joining me and we’ll see you next time on The Blog!