Washington County Wetlands

fernhill lake
There are big changes underway at Fernhill Wetlands. The main lake has been drained, and the two impoundments to the south are completely gone. This is all to make way for large emergent wetlands that will replace the ponds. This should greatly increase the bird diversity at the site when work is completed.
fernhill
There weren’t any shorebirds on these newly exposed flats, but I would imagine this area would be pretty appealing to a passing plover or Baird’s Sandpiper.

american goldfinchThis American Goldfinch was enjoying the water.

lesser goldfinch right lesser goldfinchLesser Goldfinch

eurasian collared doveEurasian Collared Dove

tree swallowsAt Jackson Bottom, swallows were everywhere, with young birds out of the nest and waiting around for parents to feed them. Tree and Barn were the two species I noticed.

tree swallow female tree swallow maleTree Swallows

baby barn swallow barn swallowsBaby Barn Swallows

cedar waxwingCedar Waxwing

savannah sparrowSavannah Sparrow

red-winged blackbirdRed-winged Blackbird

least sandpiperThere were lots of Least Sandpipers about. These are birds that either didn’t make it all the way to the Arctic, or had failed nesting attempts and headed back south. Shorebird migration will really pick up in about two weeks.

wilson's phalaropeThis male Wilson’s Phalarope was reported with three downy chicks earlier in the week, but I did not see any young when I was there. Hopefully the little ones were off hiding somewhere.

Silver Lining

I led the field trip for my Warblers and Flycatchers class Saturday morning. We walked around Mt. Tabor Park in SE Portland for several hours. Spring migration tends to occur in waves, with some days producing large numbers of migrants, and other days producing very few. Unfortunately for the class, Saturday was one of the “very few” days. But despite the total lack of flycatchers and the near absence of warblers, we still enjoyed whatever birds we came across.

sapsucker on post 2One of the more entertaining birds of the day was this Red-breasted Sapsucker. This individual has become rather famous for drumming on the metal band on the concrete street light.

IMG_4556In the woods nearby, we found this sapsucker excavating a new cavity.
IMG_4554So even though we dipped on most of our target species, we proved again that there is always something to see.

Slow Spring

The end of March and beginning of April have been cool and wet. Spring is progressing, but seemingly very slowly. Here are a few images from the past week.

pacific wren frontPacific Wrens are singing everywhere. This bird was at Powell Butte Nature Park in SE Portland.

savannah sparrow frontSavannah Sparrows are staking out their territories in the grassland at the top of Powell Butte.
savannah sparrow side

ruddy duckThis Ruddy Duck at Vanport Wetlands is sporting his spring colors.

pileated woodpecker 2This Pileated Woodpecker is excavating a cavity at Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Thanks to Michele for sharing the location of this nest.
pileated woodpecker 3

common garterThis tiny Common Garter was also at Tualatin Hills.

townsend's chipmunkAs was this Townsend’s Chipmunk.

nala frontNala is far more interested in fetching sticks from the river than looking at birds. This “stick” in the Columbia is probably her biggest to date.
nala back

 

 

Cannon Beach

greater white-front 2While I recognize the serious nature of the current drought, it is hard to be unhappy about sunshine in January. So after many weeks of not birding, I finally got out and spent a day on the coast. On the path around the Cannon Beach wastewater ponds, I came across a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese.
greater white-front 1
eurasian wigeon and mallardsThis Eurasian Wigeon was hanging out with the Mallards at the wastewater treatment plant.

ring-necked duckRing-necked Duck

harlequin duckIn the surf around Haystack Rock, there were lots of Surf Scoters and Black Scoters, but they kept out of camera range. This is a Harlequin Duck. No, really.

thayer'sThe mouth of Ecola Creek, at the north end of Cannon Beach, is a favorite hangout of the local gulls. I found Western, Glaucous-winged, California, Mew, Herring, and Thayer’s. Unfortunately, photographing white birds in bright sunshine against a dark background is beyond my rudimentary skills. Most of my shots consisted of glowing white blobs surrounded by lovely blue water. This shot of a third-cycle Thayer’s Gull bathing in the creek is at least recognizable.

red-shoulderedThis Red-shouldered Hawk was at Mill Ponds Park in nearby Seaside.
red-shouldered roustThe same bird in the middle of a roust
red-shouldered in flightI couldn’t get a flight shot of the Red-shouldered in focus, but this at least shows this species’ beautiful pattern.

North Coast, 21 November 2013

phoebe 2I spent a cold but sunny day on the coast, from Seaside to the Columbia River. One of the best surprises of the day was this Black Phoebe at Millponds Park in Seaside. This species continues to expand its range northward, both along the coast and in the Willamette Valley.

song sparrowWhile the ponds at this park are attractive to freshwater waterfowl like Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers, the brushy areas hold good numbers of sparrows. Here is a Song Sparrow in the harsh sunlight.

fox sparrowFox Sparrows are common in the brushy areas. Unfortunately, my camera prefers to focus on the brush, rather than on the birds.

dunlin 6This lone Dunlin was the only shorebird I found at Fort Stevens. He was very tolerant of my presence.
dunlin 3The same bird, blending in well with the sand
dunlin 2
rn grebeThe Seaside Cove hosted huge rafts of birds; all three scoters, Greater Scaup, Western Grebe, and a single Long-tailed Duck. Most birds were beyond the breakers (aka beyond camera range), but this Red-necked Grebe came in close enough for a blurry photo.

surfbird 1sleepy Surfbird

turnstones 1preening and sleeping Black Turnstones

turnstone and surfbird 2sleepy Black Turnstone and Surfbird

Long-billed Curlew, Seaside, OR

IMG_3016I guided a group of birders to the north coast this week. We saw a lot of good birds, but the rainy weather forced me to keep my camera in the car most of the time. The best surprise of the day was this bird, hanging out in the middle of the high school soccer field in Seaside. As we drove by, I thought we had a Marbled Godwit, but when got out to take a better look, we discovered he was a Long-billed Curlew. This is a common nesting species in southeastern Oregon, but is uncommon along the coast in migration.

IMG_3020This is a young bird, with fresh plumage and a bill that isn’t all that long for a Long-billed Curlew.

IMG_3022Here he is showing the cinnamon buff color under the wings, typical for this species.

IMG_3028I don’t know what he was finding to eat in the soccer field, but he seemed to be content there.

Sauvie Island 30 May 2013

osprey 2This pair of Ospreys is nesting on a piling along Sauvie Island Road. The elevation of the road provides an eye-level view of the nest. Note the piece of blue plastic.

osprey 3The female is sitting on eggs, so she remained pretty still the whole time I was there, aside from from making a few adjustments. Meanwhile, the male was bringing additional sticks and continued to build the nest around her.

crow 1While I was watching the Ospreys, this young American Crow flew in carrying a Cedar Waxwing, landed on a log, and proceeded to eat. I don’t know if the crow actually caught the waxwing or happened to find a dead one, but the crow didn’t hesitate to chow down and had the waxwing consumed in about one minute.  crowI am aging this bird as a youngster by the pale color on the bill and the scaly pattern on the back.

barn swallow 1On a less gruesome note, a pair of Barn Swallows was building a nest in the observation platform on Reeder Road.

barn swallow 4

barn swallow 5

IMG_1991This is a view from the end of Rentenaar Road, lots of flowers and Great Egrets.

 

Red-breasted Sapsucker

red-breasted sapsucker 2I joined the Audubon Morning Birdsong Walk at Pittock Mansion Friday morning. The cold damp weather kept most birds hunkered down out of sight, but this Red-breasted Sapsucker put on a nice show. He would fly to the concrete light posts and drum on the metal light fixtures to declare his territory. Several woodpecker species, flickers in particular, are known to drum on metal.

red-breasted sapsucker

Winter in the Wetlands

We are in that late winter season when birding seems to slow. I don’t know whether there are actually fewer birds around this time of year or we have just already seen the local winter residents so they don’t hold our attention. In any case, the best birding is usually found in and around wetlands. Here are some recent shots from area wetlands from the past couple of weeks.

great blue heron 1Great Blue Herons are always around, and have started hanging out in their nesting colonies.

dusky canada stretchingThis Dusky Canada Goose was enjoying the sunshine at Ankeny NWR.

dusky canada feeding

coyoteCoyote, Vanport Wetlands

coyote ankenyAnother Coyote, at Ankeny NWR

nutriaThis Nutia at Fernhill Wetlands seemed unconcerned with the group of birders walking by.

red-winged blackbird and lesser goldfinchHere is a Red-winged Blackbird sharing a nyjer feeder with a Lesser Goldfinch at Jackson Bottom. I don’t recall seeing blackbirds eating nyjer before.

spotted towheeSpotted Towhee, Jackson Bottom

Yellow-rumped Warbler

yellow-rumped reflection 1On a recent trip to Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61), I watched this Yellow-rumped Warbler feeding over the water. The air temperature was below freezing, so I believed the bird was searching for insects in the slightly warmer zone near the water’s surface. This theory was challenged on the other side of the lake when the bird was seen foraging on the shoreline, and then on the ice itself. Yellow-rumps are known to feed on arthropods and fruit in the winter, so I can only assume there were some small insects on the surface of the ice.

yellow-rumped on rocksYellow-rumped Warbler on the rocks.
yellow-rumped feathers  Yellow-rumped Warbler on ice. yellow-rumped soloThis individual is a member of Audubon’s race of Yellow-rumped Warbler (eye crescents, buffy throat). The Myrtle race also occurs in Oregon in winter, but reportedly seldom feeds on the ground.

yellow-rumped with feather