This is that long awkward time of year between winter and spring. The big winter flocks have broken up, but the spring migrants haven’t returned yet. As I have said before, there is always something to see, but we have to find simple pleasures until the full decadence of spring migration commences in a month or so.
On a recent sunny day, this Varied Thrush perched outside the living room window. I don’t often see this species in sunlight. They are usually muted by the gloom of a rainy day or the shadows of the forest.
Pine Siskin at the nyjer feeder
For some reason, songbirds just look weird when viewed from the front.
The male American Goldfinches are starting to get their summer color.
Golden-crowned Sparrow, Vanport Wetlands
This fairly large tree has been felled by Beavers at Smith and Bybee Wetlands. None of the branches appear to have been eaten, so I don’t know why the Beavers felled it, perhaps because it was there.
Northwestern Garter Snake, Tualatin Hills Nature Park. I am making the identification based on the small head, although I am not completely comfortable differentiating Northwestern Garter from Common Garter.
My birding has been limited lately, and walks in heavy cover under cloudy skies don’t produce many photo opportunities, but there is always something to see.
Final Score: Beaver: 1 Protective netting: 0
Rough-skinned Newt, one of the most toxic animals in North America.
Eating one would be deadly to a human, but these animals are preyed upon by Common Garter Snakes.
I checked some of the birding sites in Washington County recently. The first stop was Rogers Park in Forest Grove (Birding Oregon p. 62). This is the home of one of the northernmost colonies of Acorn Woodpeckers. These are fascinating woodpeckers, both for their habit of storing acorns in tree bark, utility poles, wooden siding, etc., and for their interesting pattern. One this particular day, a young Cooper’s Hawk was hanging out in the park, driving the woodpeckers and most other species into hiding.
The next stop was Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61). While this is one of the best birding spots in Oregon, it is currently in the summer doldrums. The breeding season has about wrapped up, and the fall migrants haven’t begun in earnest. Shorebirds are starting to come through. There isn’t a lot of mudflat habitat available yet, but as water levels continue to drop conditions should improve.
Here is a first cycle California Gull munching on a dead carp. (who says birding isn’t glamorous?) I know what you’re thinking. “It’s only August. Is he going to start with the gulls already?” You betcha! We know this is a young California Gull by the long thin bill with the clearly demarcated dark tip, and by the long dark wingtips that extend well beyond the tail. My friend, the Northwest Nature Nut, has not yet developed a love of gull ID, but I hope to gradually chip away her resistance.
An exploration of Haag Lake in Scoggins Valley Park didn’t reveal a lot of birds, but a Beaver lounging in one of the quiet arms of the reservoir was a nice treat. I don’t get to see Beaver out in the daylight very often.