Fernhill Wetlands and Jackson Bottom

I made a quick trek around Washington County’s two prominent wetlands. There was nothing unusual to report, but there is plenty of bird activity at these sites this time of year.

green heronGreen Heron, lurking

gb heronGreat Blue Heron, not lurking

californiaJuvenile California Gulls are very common lately.

spotty 2I didn’t find many migrant shorebirds this trip, but the resident Spotted Sandpipers posed nicely.

killdeerKilldeer

pelicansFifteen years ago, White Pelicans in the Portland area were a pretty big deal, but now they are expected in the larger wetlands in summer.

kingfisherBelted Kingfishers like the perches that have been installed at Fernhill.

ospreyOsprey over the lake at Fernhill

treeClouds of swallows are hanging out at Jackson Bottom. This Tree Swallow spent a long time just sitting in the opening of her nest box.

chickadeeThey have installed a water feature near the visitor center at Jackson Bottom. This soggy Black-capped Chickadee was enjoying a dip.

lesser goldLesser Goldfinch on the fountain

As nesting season wraps up and water levels drop, I can soon start obsessing on migrant shorebirds.

Commonwealth Lake

IMG_8730I brief walk around Commonwealth Lake in Beaverton revealed lots of recently fledged Barn Swallows. They were perching on branches above the water, waiting for their parents to fly in with food.

barn swallow fledglingsstill waiting

barn swallow feedingnote the bulging crop on the adult

IMG_8720This park has produced a bumper crop of Green Herons this year, great to see in such a busy suburban setting.

IMG_8754There were several new broods of Mallards on the lake. It seems late to see such small ducklings.

bullfrogthe ubiquitous American Bullfrog

spotty frontThe highlight of this visit was watching this Spotted Sandpiper hunting flies in the lawn. He would crouch low to approach his prey, then reach out and grab it, hitting the mark more often than not.
spotty huntingThis little urban duck pond is surprisingly birdy, and warrants more frequent visits.

Pacific City

black-bellied 2I led the Three Capes Tour for the Birding and Blues Festival last weekend. Spring migration had not quite kicked into high gear, but there were some nice birds around. This is one of two Black-bellied Plovers we saw on the beach the day before the tour. They were losing their dull winter plumage and growing in some crisp black and white feathers.

IMG_8632Black-bellied Plover with a Mole Crab

IMG_8634Black-bellied Plover tracks

IMG_8641At Whalen Island, this Dark-eyed Junco and Purple Finch were sharing a treetop.

IMG_8643These Long-billed Dowitchers were some of the few shorebirds we saw on the tour. Most shorebirds were migrating well off-shore that day.

IMG_8645This patch of Red-hot Poker at the Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery always seems to attract good birds. This year it was a pair of Downy Woodpeckers.

barn swallowThis Barn Swallow sat and posed for us for quite a while.

Cannon Beach/Seaside

Nala and I spent a unseasonably warm morning around the towns of Cannon Beach and Seaside. Spring migration is just starting to kick in, but things are still pretty slow.

IMG_8591Since the tide was out, we were able to get pretty close to Haystack Rock and its compliment of Harlequin Ducks.
IMG_8594

IMG_8601This band of California Gulls were hanging out on the beach (yellow legs), accompanied by a couple of young Western/Glaucous Winged (pink legs).

IMG_8607Most of the wintering Mew Gulls have left, but this one was on the beach in Gearhart.

IMG_8605Small numbers of Caspian Terns have returned to the Necanicum Esturary. A few were holding fish, trying to impress the ladies. It should work. I can be won over pretty easily with a vegan doughnut from VooDoo.

IMG_8602This bird was vexing. He is obviously a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but I was convinced he was a Hutton’s Vireo. He moved very methodically, actually standing still for several seconds at a time. Spastic kinglets never sit still for that long.
IMG_8603But he has the classic field marks of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet; a black bar at the base of the secondaries (lacking in Hutton’s), and black legs with yellow feet (all gray in Hutton’s). I don’t know why his behavior was so un-kinglet-like. Just another reminder to mind the details as well as the gestalt.

Smith and Bybee Wetlands

cliff swallow 1Nesting season is in full swing at Smith and Bybee Wetlands in northwest Portland. There is a small colony of Cliff Swallows nesting under the highway overpass.

waxwing nestHere is the tail end of a Cedar Waxwing sitting on a nest. This seems like an awfully large nest for such a small bird.

waxwing raiding nestSeveral Cedar Waxwings were raiding nesting material from this Bushtit nest. I hope the Bushtits were done with it.

waxwing with fruitCedar Waxwing with fruit

song sparrow 2This Sparrow was carrying a mouthful of bugs, indicating that she had a nest of babies nearby.

marsh wren 1Marsh Wrens were actively singing in several locations.
marsh wren 3

cowbirdBrown-headed Cowbird

gb heronGreat Blue Heron on Smith Lake

turtlesThe warm sun brought the reptiles out in good numbers. Smith and Bybee is a stronghold for the threatened Western Painted Turtle.

garter 3Northwestern Garter Snakes were also enjoying the sun. Northwestern Garters are distinguished from Common Garters by their smaller head and gentler disposition.
garter 1

Double-crested Cormorants

cormorant 1Double-crested Cormorants always put on a good show along the Willamette River in Portland. For being an all black bird, they really show a lot of interesting details in their plumage. The blue eyes on an orange face are also striking.

cormorant 3This bird is just starting to sprout his crest feathers.

cormorant 4This young bird is still showing his pale gray breast and neck, but the facial skin is getting pretty bright.

IMG_6772This is what it looks like when a cormorant catches a fish that is just a little too big. The bird swam around for quite a while with this odd posture and bulging neck.

Jackson Bottom

There was a recent flurry of shorebird activity at Jackson Bottom, south of Hillsboro. I missed out on seeing some of the less common species, but a brief visit one morning provided lots of both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, among others.

IMG_5576Greater Yellowlegs were wading in the deeper water, chasing small fish.
IMG_5579IMG_5589Lesser Yellowlegs tended to stay in shallower water, and feed in a more delicate manner.
IMG_5591IMG_5595Common Carp, hoping the rainy season starts soon.