Fernhill Wetlands 8/3/12

I scouted Fernhill Wetlands for the Willamette Valley portion of my shorebird class. After a cool summer, we have finally gotten some triple-digit temperatures, making birding a little challenging. But there is a lot of mud and the shorebirds are moving in, joining the typical and not-so-typical summer residents.

Greater Yellowlegs are common right now, taking advantage of the shallow water in most of the area’s wetlands.


I don’t think he caught anything on that dive.

Least Sandpiper

another Least

Spotted Sandpipers are often found along the rocky shoreline of Fernhill Lake.

This is a young Spotted Sandpiper, distinguished by the barring on the wing coverts (and the lack of spots).

Cackling Geese, which winter here in the tens of thousands, are a rare sight in summer. The exposed white rumps on these birds are an indication that the birds are molting their primaries, so they have obviously spent the summer here.

These three Greater White-fronted Geese are also several months too early.

Great Blue Heron and Great Egret

Green Heron

August is the time for baby Bullheads. Several schools were visible in the murky water.

Eight-spotted Skimmer, one of the few dragonflies that I can identify

Fernhill Dog Days

In preparation for my shorebirds class for Portland Audubon, I have made several trips to Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61) in recent weeks. As expected in the Willamette Valley in late summer, species diversity is fairly low, but there is always something to see.

Green Herons are common at this site, flushing from the shores of the main lake or hunting in Dabblers Marsh.

High water levels this year have left little mud for the shorebirds. This Killdeer has found some higher ground.

Greater Yellowlegs

The shorebird class found at least six Stilt Sandpipers on their field trip. This species is a rare migrant in Oregon. I had only seen one individual in Oregon prior to this trip, also at Fernhill.

Two Stilt Sandpipers

Late summer is the ugly duck season, with most birds in their summer alternate, or “eclipse” plumage. I think I know what this little duck is, but I would be interested in your opinions. Leave a comment.

This is a school of young bullheads, I assume Black Bullheads. The young school together while the adult male stays close by to protect them. There were many broods of these little fish in Cattail Marsh.

I haven’t learned to ID the local dragonflies, so if you know who this is, leave a comment.

Spring Valley Wildlife Area

One of the better birding spots in Greene County, Ohio, is Spring Valley Wildlife Area. It has a nice mix of wetland and riparian woods, and attracts many migrants in spring and a good variety of breeding birds in summer.

One of most stunning woodpeckers in North America, Red-headed Woodpeckers have experienced a severe decline in recent decades. I was delighted to hear that the birds had nested in Spring Valley this summer, after being absent for a couple of years.

Here is one of the young Red-headeds. Note the brownish head and the double black bars on the wing.

Here is a young Red-bellied Woodpecker. She doesn’t yet have the red nape of an adult.

Lots of Green Herons live in the wetlands of Spring Valley. They make a tremendous metallic squawking noise for such a small bird.

Not a bird, I know, but this dragonfly was particularly eye-catching. Does anyone know what species this is?

This will be my last post from my trip to the east and mid-west. It is always nice to reconnect with the flora and fauna I knew before moving to Oregon (except for the Chiggers, I don’t miss them at all). But I am quite ready to resume my explorations of the Beaver State.