Westmoreland Park

A quick visit to Westmoreland Park in southeast Portland revealed good numbers of waterfowl and gulls typical of this little urban duck pond in the winter.

Two duck butts in the middle of the pond stood out because of their large size. They turned out to be Tundra Swans, the first I have seen at this park.

Of course, every visit to Westmoreland requires a quick scan of the gull flock.

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Thayer’s Gull

Gadwalls don’t sport a lot of color, but are lovely little ducks.

Fernhill Wetlands, 2-15-12

I walked around Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon, p. 61) in the mid afternoon. Most of the waterfowl that roost here on winter evenings were still off feeding in the area fields, but there is always something to see.


A flock of Brewer’s Blackbirds were hanging out in a tree by the parking lot.


This American Kestrel was in the same tree as the blackbirds, but the two didn’t seem to pay any attention to each other.


A pair of Bald Eagles is usually visible in the grove of large cottonwoods on the southeast corner of the property.


The eagles have started a new nest this year.


This observation platform was destroyed by arsonists. Fernhill Wetlands is not a park, but is owned by the area waste water department. As a result, there are few resources for facilities or habitat management.


Tundra Swans were flying in to roost. They tend to stay in the more distant parts of Mitigation Marsh.


Great Blue Herons are nesting in the trees to the east of the wetlands. This individual was resting on a snag in Cattail Marsh.


The deeper water of Fernhill Lake attracts divers like this Horned Grebe.

Frozen Fernhill

An arctic air mass brought cold temperatures and ice to Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61), but there was no shortage of birds. Here are some grainy gray photos from a lap around the ponds.


Horned Grebe


Tundra Swans and California Gull


Taverner’s Cackling Goose and Northern Shovelers


Cackling Geese and Northern Pintails


Snow Goose and Cackling Geese


American Kestrel


immature Bald Eagles


This American White Pelican, a very late straggler, was circling high overhead, trying to find a thermal on this cold cloudy morning.


Cackling Cackling Geese


Great Blue Heron standing on a Beaver dam. Note the frost on the bird’s back.

Fernhill Wetlands 1/28/10

I enjoyed a quiet walk around the main lake at Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61). By mid-morning, most of the geese that roost at this site are off feeding elsewhere.


Double-crested Cormorants are commonly seen perched on dead trees and utility poles when they are not fishing. The light breast, neck, and head identify this individual as a young bird. The orange gular pouch is diagnostic in differentiating this species from the other two cormorants found along the Oregon coast.


Several Tundra Swans were lounging in the marsh, always a delight to see. To get an idea of the size of these birds, compare the Cackling Geese and Mallard at the far right of the photo.


Golden-crowned Sparrows are common in the brushy areas. I was pleased that Nala, the Birding Dog, sat still long enough for me to capture this image.

Tundra Swan

tundra-swan

I watched two Tundra Swans feeding on Sturgeon Lake on Sauvie Island. The heads and necks were darkly stained from the turbid water. The profile of this bird seems very flat, suggesting Trumpeter Swan from a distance. But you can see the little yellow spot in front of the eye and the shape of the feathering on the face that identifies this bird as Tundra. I’m guessing the bulge at the base of the neck is due to the bird having a full crop. With such a long neck, it makes sense that the crop would extend up that far.

tundra-swan-takeoff

From this angle, the profile appears a little more concave, as you would expect on Tundra Swan.

Ankeny NWR

I took my Portland Audubon waterfowl class to Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (Birding Oregon p. 86). The weather was glorious and the birds were abundant.

field-of-geese
Many of the fields on the refuge hosted large flocks of geese, mostly the minima race of Cackling Goose.

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This little mixed flock contains Western Canada, Dusky Canada, and Taverner’s Cackling Geese.

tundra-swans
Eagle Marsh held several dozen Tundra Swans.

shades of pale

I am taking a writing course from Wendee Holtcamp, and needed to work on a journaling exercise so I headed out to Fernhill Wetlands. It was a very gray day, and quite chilly, but I was struck by the amount of white to be found in the birdlife. Large rafts of Common Mergansers, the typical flock of Mew and California Gulls, the heads and tails of the resident Bald Eagles, Great Egrets, and a flock of Tundra Swans really brightened up the landscape. There are always colors to be had, even on a gray day, but you have to appreciate big splashes of white, even after Labor Day.
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