Waterfowl numbers have been increasing in the Willamette Valley as the rains have begun. This male Northern Shoveler is still in his drab summer plumage.
This Emperor Goose is currently a local celebrity in the Beaverton area, hanging out with the local ducks and Cackling Geese.
This Gadwall was hanging out at Koll Center Wetlands. A brick building at the edge of the pond creates those brown reflections in the water, which complement the colors on this duck.
American Coot having a snack
Green-winged Teal at Fernhill Wetlands
Common Merganser at Fernhill
Numbers of ducks and geese should continue to increase into November.
Trestle Bay, just off Parking Lot D at Fort Stevens State Park, can be one of the more productive shorebird spots on the north coast. Timing is critical, as the bay fills completely with the high tide.
When the tide is out, the bay provides extensive mudflats. With this much exposed mud, the birds can be quite distant, so timing your visit when the tide is coming in can produce some nice viewing.
On this visit we observed what we thought was a California Sea Lion carcass way out on the flat.
Later we noticed the the sea lion had rolled over and extended a flipper. Apparently he was just hanging out on the mudflat catching some sun.
I normally see these animals basking on rocks, but the mud was apparently working for this guy.
Southbound shorebird migration tends to come in waves, and we were between waves on this visit. Our consolation birds were this flock of Common Mergansers with a California Gull.
Happy last days of summer.
When time is limited or weather is sketchy, I appreciate having Commonwealth Lake close to home for a quick birding fix.
Early in the morning, River Otters will often visit the lake to fill up on fish. There were three otters present on this visit, but they stayed out in the middle of the lake most of the time.
This Belted Kingfisher called from the tangled branches that overhang the water.
Male Common Mergansers lent a splash of color with their red bills.
This female Hooded Merganser kept to the far shore.
Some of the dogwoods still had a few berries, and this Hermit Thrush was taking advantage of this seasonal food.
It was a treat to see this species sitting out in the open, rather than skulking in the undergrowth.
So nothing too exciting this trip, but it is enough to ward off insanity/crankiness until the next outing.
Commonwealth Lake Park is your typical urban duck pond nestled in the Portland suburb of Beaverton. Such parks are certainly not the places to go if you seek a wilderness experience, but they can be excellent places to study waterfowl up close. They also serve as a quick and easy birding fix when “life” prevents you from getting out in the field as much as you should.
Species that are normally rather shy, like this Pied-billed Grebe, will often allow a close approach is parks such as this.
American Coots, common and often dismissed by birders, are quite lovely when you get close enough.
male Common Merganser, with what I think is a Yellow Bullhead
female Common Merganser
Greater White-fronted Geese are common migrants over the Portland area, but uncommon winter residents. Four have been spending the winter at Commonwealth.
Since the remodeling of Portland’s Westmoreland Park a couple of years ago, there really hasn’t been a good spot to easily study gulls in the Portland area. This adult Ring-billed Gull was a cooperative model.
This Ring-billed Gull is in his second plumage cycle.
So while I would much rather walk for several miles in a natural setting to find birds, I am grateful for little urban parks like Commonwealth.
Nala and I spent the morning at the Sandy River Delta east of Portland. Bird activity is definitely picking up, although many of the summer residents haven’t arrived yet.
White-crowned Sparrows were singing
as were Savannah Sparrows.
Rufous Hummingbirds were zipping around everywhere. All the birds I could get a look at were males.
scratching an itch
Here is a typical view of a Common Yellowthroat.
The recently reopened channel hosted a lot of birds, including this pair of Wood Ducks and a sleepy Mallard.
Spotted Sandpiper, not yet spotted
Great Blue Heron in a tree
Common Merganser, proving once again that I have no idea how to control the white balance on my camera.
Of course, Nala will tell you the main reason to visit this site is to go swimming. Here she is in the Sandy River, while the mastiff on shore waits to try to steal her ball.
I went out for a few hours on New Year’s Day to scout locations for my upcoming gull class. The weather was freakishly sunny for a January day in the Portland area.
The only gull flock I found was at Amberglen office park in Hillsboro. Most were Ring-billed Gulls. Here is a first cycle Ring-billed with an adult. As you can see, I am totally incapable of getting a good photo of white birds in bright sunlight.
adult Ring-billed Gull
These two Mew Gulls were looking very petite among the larger species.
A couple of Hooded Mergansers were swimming near the fountain.
Finally, a bird that doesn’t have a lot of white. This Mallard was looking gorgeous in the bright sun.
Here are a few photos from recent ramblings.
After delivering some books to Tualatin River NWR, I took a quick walk on the path that leads through some newly planted oaks and along the river. This male American Kestrel had just captured a shrew.
These Western Canada Geese (and the Common Merganser on the log in the foreground) were napping at the Sandy River Delta.
The Beavers are really enjoying the young trees at Sandy River Delta.
This old American Robin nest was tucked into a crevice of a tree.
Pileated Woodpeckers are fairly easy to find at Sandy River Delta. This one was perfectly hidden behind a branch.
Peregrine Falcon, Sandy River Delta
This Hermit Thrush was chasing another outside my bedroom window early in the morning.
Fernhill Wetlands, south of Forest Grove, is a great place to see the onset of autumn. Water levels on the main lake are still very low, but the recent rains will soon change that.
Migrant shorebirds, like these Western Sandpipers, are enjoying the mudflats. Shorebird numbers are starting to thin out.
This Pectoral Sandpiper was checking out the new vegetation on the lake bed.
The first Cackling Geese have arrived. They will soon be joined by a few thousand more.
This Common Merganser was resting on an exposed mud bar. I don’t get to see mergansers out of the water very often.
American White Pelicans, once considered rare in the Willamette Valley, are now an expected species in late summer.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are another species that are increasingly common in the area.
The annual Fernhill Wetlands Birds and Brew Festival will be held on October 12. I will be leading the 8:00 tour for that. Here is a link for more info.
Here are some random shots of some of the many waterfowl species that winter in the Willamette Valley
This Common Merganser was swimming with her face submerged, looking for fish. I have also seen loons hunt in this way.
the same bird preening
Here she finally shows her face. The clearly demarcated white chin helps to differentiate this species from the similar Red-breasted Merganser.
This female Eurasian Wigeon is recognized by her brown head. Notice the female American Wigeon on the right with her gray head.
Here is a distant shot of a mixed flock of waterfowl (click to enlarge). From left to right, you can see Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Cackling Goose, American Coot, and American Wigeon.