I think we had more snow in April than we did in December. It has been cold and wet most of the month, and while I am very grateful for the rain and the added mountain snowpack, the weather has seemed to delay the onset of spring. Migrants have been few, and resident species a just starting to get revved up for the season. This Pacific Wren was trying out his song at Tualatin River NWR.
The Townsend’s Chipmunks are out and about. I think the two lumps in this one’s ear are ticks.
Hermit Thrushes, which are considered a winter species here in the Willamette Valley, are still around.
This Virginia Rail put on a nice show at Commonwealth Lake Park.
If we can’t have spring migrants yet, we might as well enjoy the local residents. Spotted Towhees never fail to impress.
On a recent semi-birdless outing, I noticed a nice flight of these, Western White-ribboned Carpet Moth. These are tiny, with a wingspan of about an inch and a stunning pattern. It is always great to learn a new species.
So, colorful migrant birds and will show up any minute. Right?
I made a quick trip to Fernhill Wetlands and Jackson Bottom to look for shorebirds. My first bird of the morning was this Killdeer standing on the sidewalk. I guess that counts.
There is a frustrating lack of mudflats in area wetlands this year. Areas are either dry with lots of vegetation or are full of water. I did manage to find this Wilson’s Snipe (front) feeding with a juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher.
Young Spotted Sandpiper on a log
Lots of American White Pelicans are in the Willamette Valley right now.
The wetland rehabilitation at Fernhill Wetlands has resulted in much less exposed mud, but the thick emergent vegetation is hog heaven to rails, like this Virginia Rail.
In the “invasive but adorable” category are this Nutria with her baby.
Brush Rabbits rule the “native AND adorable” category. So cute
These two Black-tailed Deer were at Jackson Bottom. I found it interesting that the little spike buck in front still had his antlers completely encased in velvet while the fork buck in back has already shed his velvet to reveal polished antler.
There is still about a month of shorebird migration left. I hope we get some good mudflats to bring them in. Happy Summer.
As many people are jumping on the “bird local” bandwagon, little Commonwealth Lake Park in Beaverton has been getting a lot of birding attention and producing an increasing array of interesting species. One of the stars of this winter is this Virginia Rail. While Virginia Rails are scarce in winter, and almost always hard to see, this individual has been venturing out into the open to feed, sometimes onto the athletic field.
We should appreciate the value of little parks like Commonwealth Lake to wildlife. But we should also remember that the reason birds can be easy to see in such places is because the habitat is so limited. This park is a small isolated patch of wetland surrounded by high-density housing. Wildlife thrives in large tracts of habitat. Since large tracts are no longer available in many areas, we should at least strive to preserve corridors between smaller parks to allow wildlife to safely travel from site to site, and to allow young to disperse.
I don’t get up to Ridgefield NWR in Washington very often, even though it is a short drive from Portland. But lots of folks had recently seen adorable fuzzy little Virginia Rail babies, so I wanted to try my luck.
By the time I got there, the adorable fuzzy little babies had become rather unattractive adolescents, but it was still fun to see this usually shy species out in the open.
Another adolescent foraging near the rails was this little Nutria. The refuge staff tries to control the population of this introduced species, but they remain plentiful.
Black-tailed Deer, perfectly hidden among the teasel
There is not a lot of water on the refuge right now, so the Great Egrets were gathered on one of the remaining ponds.
We are entering Ugly Duck Season, when adult ducks molt into identical ratty plumages, making them much harder to identify. I am going with Cinnamon Teal on this mama and babies (all-black bill, overall warm brown coloring).
On the way home we stopped at Kelly Point Park along the Columbia River in NW Portland. California Gulls were gathered on the pilings.
This young American Crow (note the pinkish gape) was begging for food.