Tualatin River NWR

eagle nest Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is still a fairly new addition to the Willamette Valley refuge complex, but it offers a nice variety of habitats very close to Portland. I don’t know if the resident Bald Eagles had a successful nesting this year, but this individual was hanging out by the nest during my recent visit.

cinnamon teal 1Cinnamon Teal were conspicuous, but Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal were also present.

killdeer 1Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers are both common nesters on the refuge.

n. rough-winged 1The air above the wetlands is filled with various species of swallows. This Northern Rough-winged Swallow was the only one that sat for a distant photo.

willow flycatcher 1This Willow Flycatcher was giving his distinctive “FITZ-bew” call.

w. wood-pewee 1Western Wood-Pewees were calling from the edges of the woods.

savannah sparrow 1The grassy areas are home to Savannah Sparrows.

white-crowned 1This White-crowned Sparrow was singing from the roof of the refuge office.

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.

Shorebird Class

My Shorebirds of the Willamette Valley class had their first field trip on Saturday. We found nine species of shorebirds, a nice collection of the expected species. We missed the Semipalmated Sandpiper that had been reported earlier in the week. All the migrants we saw were adults. The juveniles should be arriving soon, hopefully in time for our next field trip. Since I was leading the trip, I didn’t have much opportunity to seek out photos, but here are a few back-lit images.

leastLeast Sandpiper was the most common species of the day.

lesser yellowlegsWe found one Lesser Yellowlegs at Jackson Bottom and one at Fernhill Wetlands. The one at Jackson very cooperatively posed next to some Greater Yellowlegs for direct comparison.

western and semipalmThis Semipalmated Plover, to the right of the Western Sandpiper, was the only one of the day. He nestled down into the mud, perhaps to cool off.

bald eagleA blurry Bald Eagle at Fernhill Wetlands didn’t pose much of a threat to the shorebirds, but did make the waterfowl nervous.

westernWestern Sandpiper at Fernhill Wetlands

spottedLots of Spotted Sandpipers remain at both Jackson Bottoms and Fernhill.

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.

Fernhill Wetlands 11/1/12

Things are hopping at Fernhill Wetlands, with rising water levels, an influx of several thousand geese and other waterfowl, and a few other goodies.

Cackling Geese have been arriving for weeks now, and the skies and fields around Fernhill are covered with these little guys.

A small flock of Greater White-fronted Geese were hanging out with the Mallards in Dabblers Marsh.

This interesting beast is a hybrid, a product of one of the local Canada Geese and a domestic Greylag Goose.

Here are some of the many Northern Shovelers feeding in their typical manner, swimming along with their faces in the water, as if their enormous bills are too heavy to hold up.

Two American White Pelicans have been hanging out at Fernhill for a couple of months now.

Shorebird numbers and diversity have dwindled. Here are a few Long-billed Dowitchers.

Greater Yellowlegs

The resident Bald Eagles were sitting around looking majestic. I watched one carrying a stick to add to their nest.

Great Egret

Several Northern Shrikes have been reported around the Portland area in recent days. This one is snacking on a large insect.

I saw three Common Garter Snakes on this trip, including one very young newborn about the width of a linguine. The colorful individual in this photo was about 20 inches long. Note the large laceration on his neck, presumably from a predator. Despite the severity of the wound, the snake was not bleeding and he crawled away after this photo was taken, so I am hopeful he will recover.

Autumn Arrivals

The weather is cooling and rain is in the forecast, as our long dry summer is finally letting go.

Cackling Geese have arrived by the thousands in recent days. This Ridgeway’s Cackling Goose is sporting a black chin stripe and a white collar.

An American Pipit, blending in with the dry cracked lake bed at Fernhill Wetlands

Two California Gulls harassing a Bald Eagle. It is probably much safer being behind the eagle than in front.

Closer to home, this Purple Finch visited the feeder. If you look closely you can see her tongue positioning the sunflower seed.

Mimi, one of my neighbor cats, is enjoying the birdbath and keeping those pesky hummingbirds out of my garden. I have two words for you, Mimi; Urban Coyotes.

April Teasers

After the wettest March on record, April has  provided a few sunny days to help awaken us from our rain-induced torpor.


I made a quick trip out to Fernhill Wetlands to look for the Swamp Sparrow that has been reported there. Between the sunbreaks, I still had to dodge a few passing squalls.


I missed the Swamp Sparrow, but this Song Sparrow was very cooperative.


Here is the same Song Sparrow in a little more natural setting, if you consider invasive Reed Canary Grass to be natural.


Much of the loop around Fernhill Wetlands has been blocked off, supposedly to reduce disturbance to the new Bald Eagle nest.

A pair of eagles has been hanging out in this little grove of cottonwoods for years, so I would imagine they are used to birders and joggers going by, but better safe than sorry.


The Yellow-rumped Warblers have molted into their flashy breeding plumage. This one is an example of the “myrtle” race.


On Saturday I took some clients out to Sauvie Island for a morning of birding. This view of Mt. St. Helens is from the west end of Rentenaar Road.


Sandhill Cranes, seen here with a flock of Cackling Geese, were common in the morning.  But as the day progressed, many birds circled up on thermals and then headed north. By noon, most of the cranes were gone.


Most of the sparrows seen just a week earlier had moved on. Two White-throated Sparrows were a treat. Singing Orange-crowned Warblers and five species of swallows were other good signs that migration is stepping up. I’m looking forward to the next sunny day.