Tualatin River NWR

eagle nestI made a quick visit to Tualatin River NWR in the afternoon heat. One of the main trails is closed off until this young Bald Eagle decides to leave the nest. Despite the flock of European Starlings cheering him on, he didn’t show any sign of leaving.

gadwallI saw several pairs of Gadwall, but no ducklings yet. This male was putting on a show for his lady friend.

mallard momMallards have been out with broods for weeks now.
duckling
cinnamon tealCinnamon Teal siesta

pb grebePied-billed Grebe showing off his black throat

spotted sandpipersI often find Spotted Sandpipers perched on man-made structures.

bullfrog Despite the time of day, American Bullfrogs were actively singing and defending territories. This introduced species is so common in the Willamette Valley. I would think they would be a favored prey item (Great Blue Heron, Mink, River Otter, etc.) but I seldom find any evidence of predation. Bullfrogs are unfortunately very good at preying on native frogs and turtles.

Fernhill Wetlands 10 April 2014

I took a quick tour of Fernhill Wetlands this week. Great changes are planned for this site. The main lake will be made smaller, and the other two impoundments will be replaced with emergent wetlands. I am looking forward seeing how things progress. Here are some birds and other critters from the trip.

yellow-rumped warblerMany Yellow-rumped Warblers were passing through, mostly the Myrtle race, with only one Audubon’s.

cackling geeseFlocks of Taverner’s Cackling Geese were feeding in the fields north of the main lake.

garter snakebaby Garter Snake. I’m not sure if this is a Common or Northwestern Garter.

muskrat climbingI don’t think I’ve ever seen a Muskrat climbing a tree before. This one was gnawing off a branch to get to the leaves.
muskrat front

tree swallowTree Swallows are swarming around Fernhill Wetlands, no doubt encouraged by the many nesting boxes that have been installed at the site.
tree swallows

northern shovelersNorthern Shovelers were the most common duck species on the lake.

carpSeveral schools of Common Carp were active at the surface. I don’t know if they were feeding on aquatic insects or involved in spawning.

marsh wren singingMarsh Wrens are starting to sing.

red-winged blackbirdA few Red-winged Blackbirds were displaying. There aren’t very many Red-wings at Fernhill since most of the cattails died off several years ago.

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

 

 

Smith and Bybee Wetlands 24 Oct. 2013

wf geese duoThe morning at Smith and Bybee Wetlands in northwest Portland started out foggy. At the Smith Lake canoe launch, 12 Greater White-fronted Geese were among the many waterfowl. It is getting late for White-fronts in the Willamette Valley.

waxwing 1There were a lot of Cedar Waxwings flycatching and feeding on various fruiting trees. This is a young bird, given the overall scruffy appearance and the lack of red tips on the tertials.

pileatedThis Pileated Woodpecker was very vocal and perched out in the open on a distant utility pole.

rs hawkThis Red-shouldered Hawk was among the many Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers present on the property.

marsh wren front 1The current low water levels allow you to hike quite a ways out into the wetlands. Marsh Wrens are common in the shrubs and reed canary grass.
marsh wren side 2

song sparrowSong Sparrows are also common in the tall grasses. The best bird of the day was a Swamp Sparrow, but he eluded the camera.

frog 3Pacific Chorus Frogs were singing everywhere, but this is the only individual I could see.

Delta Ponds, Eugene

I made a very brief stop at Delta Ponds in Eugene. Since the site is right by a major highway, the traffic noise effectively eliminates any birding by ear. But the ponds attract good numbers of waterfowl and herons. A Black Phoebe was a nice find.

egretGreat Egrets and Great Blue Herons were common. I am incapable of photographing white birds on a sunny day without them totally washing out.

beaver dam low resBeaver dam. We didn’t see any Beaver, but we did find two River Otters.

pond turtlesThe best sighting of the day, despite the slight social awkwardness, was this pair of Western Pond Turtles, a lifer for me. Western Pond Turtles, one of only two native turtle species in Oregon, are nearly extirpated from their range north of Eugene, and are listed as critical on the the Oregon list of sensitive species.

Cimarron National Grassland, 19 August 2013

cimarron riverI spent the day on the Cimarron National Grassland in southwestern Kansas. It is a frequent destination for Kansas birders lured by the possibility of southwestern species that only make it into Kansas here. The area has seen a lot of changes in recent years. A large fire swept through the area a few years ago, killing many of the cottonwoods in the riparian corridor. The last two years have seen severe drought, followed by four inches of rain in the past several weeks. I have been visiting this area since 1984, and this is the first time I have ever seen water flowing in the Cimarron River.

Even during the slow birding season of late August, you can count on finding Western Kingbirds in trees and on power lines.
kingbird 2

point of rocksThis is Point of Rocks, one of the few actual landmarks in this area.

point of rocks 2This is the view from the top of Point of Rocks, with the Cimarron River corridor on the left. They say you can see wagon wheel ruts from the Sante Fe Trail from here, but I’m not sure which tracks were made by wagons and which were made by pickup trucks. Birding is usually slow here, but sometimes the brushy slopes attract interesting migrants, and raptors often fly by at eye level.

rock wrenNo matter how slow the birding, you can always find a Rock Wren or two at Point of Rocks.

wren 2Rock Wren scratching

sand bluffWhile it may look like rock, this bluff above the Cimarron River is made of sand.

bullfrogDespite the dry climate, there are a few ponds on the grasslands. This American Bullfrog looked especially alert.

widow skimmerWidow Skimmer

moth 4This White-lined Sphinx put on quite a show.
moth 5

Water Babies, Tualatin River NWR

juvenile spotted walkingThere are lots of youngsters in the wetlands these days. We haven’t had any rain in July, so water levels are dropping, concentrating wetland animals into smaller areas. This is a Spotted Sandpiper in that awkward adolescent stage.

spotted in culvertThe same Spotted Sandpiper, peeking out of a culvert

spotted 1This adult Spotted Sandpiper may be the parent of the juvenile pictured above. Like many birders, she assumes the sign does not apply to her.
spotted 2
pb grebe scratchingThis young Pied-billed Grebe was grooming and stretching in the canal.
stretching pb grebe
pb grebe left

tadpolesThere are lots of tadpoles in the canal.
bullfrogUnfortunately, they belong to the invasive American Bullfrog.

bullheadsEvery puddle has a school of baby bullheads this time of year.
bullheads 2

nutria eatingAnother invasive species, but darned cute, is this young Nutria nibbling on aquatic vegetation.
nutria eating 3

Maine, June 23-29, 2013

blackburnian warbler 2I spent last week in Maine, around Bangor and the central coast. The weather went from hot and muggy to cold and rainy, which might have to contributed to the overall poor birding compared to previous visits. I did see two lifers, one on the first day (Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow) and one on the last (Great Cormorant). It is always nice to see some eastern warblers, like this Blackburnian.

eastern phoebeEastern Phoebe, Mount Desert Island

great black-backed gullsGreat Black-backed Gulls, Schoodic Point

great black-backed gullGreat Black-backed Gulls in this area are rather shy, perhaps because biologists have been “discouraging” them from hunting on the offshore tern nesting colonies. The gulls do not allow a close approach and quickly take off if you point a camera at them.

herring gullThe Herring Gulls are happy to pose for mug shots.

great shearwaterGreat Shearwater, Gulf of Maine

great cormorant 1Great Cormorant, Schoodic Point, way out there, in the rain, but he still counts.

bullfrogAmerican Bullfrogs are an invasive species here in Oregon, so it was nice to see them in their natural range.

petit manan nwr MaineThis dragonfly species was common in wooded areas, where they blended in with the tree trunks.

petite manan nwr, METhis more colorful species was at the edge of a meadow.

spotted sandpiperSpotted Sandpiper, Petit Manan NWR

spotted and willet smallSpotted Sandpiper and Eastern Willet, Petit Manan NWR

willet 2aEastern Willet, looking a little sleepy
willet 3a

Tualatin River NWR

eagle nestWhile the bird diversity has thinned out considerably in the past couple of weeks, I had some nice views of the summer residents at Tualatin River NWR. The resident Bald Eagles still have one youngster in the nest. He is expected to fledge any day now.

eagle nest 2

bald eagleOne of the parents was hanging out near the refuge headquarters, looking all regal.

common yellowthroat 1This Common Yellowthroat was frequently seen carrying food, indicating he had a nest nearby.
common yellowthroat 2 common yellowthroat front

mourning dove3Mourning Dove, feeding on the gravel road.
mourning dove eyes closedI think the blue eye shadow makes her look a little trashy.
mourning dove front

savannah sparrowsSavannah Sparrows are common in the open habitats here.
savannah sparrow

western scrub-jayWestern Scrub-Jay

northern flickermale Northern Flicker

brush rabbit 1Brush Rabbit. The tattered ear suggests that he has had a close escape or two.

townsend's chipmunkThis Townsend’s Chipmunk was eating grass seeds.

rough-skinned newt 2I saw two Rough-skinned Newts crossing the road. One of the most poisonous animals known to science, this species exudes equal amounts of toxins and cuteness.

Sandy River Delta, 5 June 2013

I took Nala on a hiking/swimming tour of the Sandy River Delta. We were there at midday, so we missed the dawn chorus, but the common species were still active and vocal.

american goldfinchAmerican Goldfinch

lazuli buntingIn the open brushy habitats, you can’t turn around without seeing a Lazuli Bunting.

lazuli bunting maleLazuli Bunting

red-legged frog 4It was nice to find a couple of native Red-legged Frogs. This species often succumbs to introduced American Bullfrogs.
red-legged frog 3

Nala’s main interest in the trip was swimming. She swam in a vernal pool, the Sandy River, and the Columbia River.

mud puppyDuring the long hot walk back toward the car, she needed to cool off in this convenient mud hole.

nala drinking