I scouted Jackson Bottom Wetlands Reserve in Hillsboro for my shorebird class this week. Much of the area is dry, but Pintail Pond still has enough water to create mudflats and easy fishing for the Great Egrets.
We are two weeks into a nasty heat wave in the Portland area. Sunrise is the only time of day when you can bird in any comfort and hope to find any birds active and singing. So I got up early and did a bird survey at Fernhill, then made a quick stop at Jackson Bottom on the way home.
This Common Garter Snake was very thick in the middle. I assume she is gravid. Garters give birth starting in late July. Broods are typically around a dozen, but broods of over 80 young have been reported.
I made a couple of trips out to Sauvie Island for my Little Brown Birds class. The weather was freakishly nice for late March, although the mild winter has not been conducive to large sparrow flocks.
One highlight of the trip on Saturday was a large flock of California Quail. This species has become more difficult to find in recent years.
Wapato Access Greenway State Park is a great place for herps on Sauvie Island.
This is a large Common Garter Snake. The subspecies found in this area is Red-spotted Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis concinnus)
Things are hopping at Fernhill Wetlands, with rising water levels, an influx of several thousand geese and other waterfowl, and a few other goodies.
A small flock of Greater White-fronted Geese were hanging out with the Mallards in Dabblers Marsh.
The resident Bald Eagles were sitting around looking majestic. I watched one carrying a stick to add to their nest.
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.
I spent a gorgeous day at Sauvie Island, northwest of Portland. There are still good numbers of waterfowl and Sandhill Cranes, but the sparrows have started to thin out.
Sandhill Cranes (and Mallards)
Dusky Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes (and Mallards)
I believe the front bird is a Lesser Canada Goose. The bill is long and slopes gently into the forehead, unlike the stubby bills and rounded foreheads seen on Cackling and Taverner’s Cackling Geese.
I saw at least a dozen Garter Snakes around Wapato Access Greenway. This was one of two that sat still long enough for photos.