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.

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.

Jackson Bottom, 11 July 2013

savannahI walked around Jackson Bottom in Hillsboro this morning. As you would expect at this time of year, there were lots of young birds around.  This young Savannah Sparrow posed nicely. His parents have not taught him to skulk in the weeds yet.

blue-winged and cinnamon tealThe best bird of the day was this male Blue-winged Teal (right foreground), always hard to find in the Willamette Valley. He flew in with a small flock of Cinnamon Teal.
blue-winged teal

mallard familyFamilies of young Mallards were everywhere.

canada goose familyThese Canada Geese are mostly grown, but retain a bit of their cute fuzziness.

spotty left 1I was surprised by the lack of migrant shorebirds. The resident Spotted Sandpipers were well represented.

nutriaLots of Nutria were out this morning. Yes, introduced species often wreak havoc on native ecosystems, AND, Nutria look like adorable little bears.

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.

Washington County Wetlands

I visited several sites in Washington County to check for migrant shorebirds, inspired by the recent appearance of a Spotted Redshank at Fern Ridge Reservoir (Birding Oregon p 89) . I didn’t find anything so rare, but a few birds are moving through and there is promising mudflat habitat available.

A lot of work is being done at Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61), resulting in the closure of a small section of the trail around Fernhill Lake.

The big news at Fernhill is the low water level of Fernhill Lake, creating mudflats along the shore for the first time in many years. Several species of shorebirds were feeding there today.

Water levels in Mitigation Marsh are quite high, so there wasn’t much mud. These Long-billed Dowitchers were hanging out with a Mallard.

This Great Blue Heron caught a Bullhead (I can’t tell if it is a Yellow or Black Bullhead). He caught the fish near the middle of the lake, then flew to the shore to eat it.

There was some mudflat habitat at Jackson Bottom Wetland (Birding Oregon p. 60), but not a lot of shorebirds yet. The Hardhack is in bloom, adding a splash of color to the marsh.

One of these days I may have to break down and buy a field guide to dragonflies. Or maybe I will just learn to appreciate beautiful creatures without putting a name to them.

Tree Swallows are thick at Jackson Bottom. Notice the dusky wash across the upper breast. Young Tree Swallows can show extensive dark coloring here, leading some birders to confuse them with Bank Swallows.

 

 

Tualatin River NWR


Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, located just a few miles southwest of Portland on Hwy 99W, is a wonderful refuge for wintering waterfowl, despite its location in such an urban area.


The dikes around the wetland areas are closed to public access in the winter to prevent disturbance to the birds. But the trail leading through the wooded habitat beyond the wetland is open year round.


Northern Pintails and a Ruddy Duck


several Double-crested Cormorants perched on a log


a congregation of Northern Pintails, Mallards, and Ring-necked Ducks


The star of the refuge in recent weeks has been a lone Emperor Goose. He is the pale gray blob with the white neck tucked under his wings, right in the center of the photo. No, really.


This Dark-eyed Junco was a little more photogenic than the goose was.


Given the amount of brown on the crown and hind neck of this Dark-eyed Junco, I’m guessing she is a first-year female.


Golden-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco