Another freakishly sunny autumn day took me to Killin Wetlands.
This park was developed fairly recently, with a nice parking lot and some informational signage.
The trails don’t get very close to the water, so a scope would be useful.
Here are just a few of the thousand or so Cackling Geese that were using the site that morning. You can also see a few Dusky Canada Geese and Northern Pintails in the photo.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many Nutria in one spot. Here are just a few, sunning themselves on a little island.
I thought the weedy patches along the trail would host more sparrows, but a few Song and Golden-crowned were all I could find.
There is a nice stand of pines on this site. I think it would be a good spot to look for owls in winter.
Just a little to the west of the Metro Park is the original Killin Wetlands site at the corner of Cedar Canyon and Killin Roads. There are no trails here, but you can get close to the water.
Three River Otters were a treat to see.
The pandemic birding continues. While the visitor center and parking lot are closed, you can still walk the trails at Tualatin River NWR.
Social distancing, birder style
The big news at the refuge this spring has been this pair of American Avocets, a rare species on Oregon’s west side.
It’s always a treat to see these guys, especially this year when the shorebird migration has been rather lackluster.
This Bonaparte’s Gull was hanging out with the Avocets for a while.
This distant pair of Long-billed Dowitchers was the only other evidence of shorebird migration on the refuge this morning.
This Purple Finch was keeping with the “birds at a distance theme” that prevailed this trip.
Lazuli Bunting, not quite as distant
Probably the most unusual bird of the trip was this intergrade Northern Flicker. He shows the normal red mustache of the Red-shafted form and the red nape of the Yellow-shafted form.
During the current pandemic, it is not always easy to visit favorite birding sites. I have found that if I go very early, I can get some good birding in at Fernhill Wetlands without encountering too many folks. (Of course, this is my goal even without a pandemic.) This Marsh Wren put on a nice show.
Greater Yellowlegs is the only species of migrant shorebird I have seen so far this spring. We are still about two weeks away from the peak.
Green Heron, completely failing at camouflage. The auto-focus on my camera insists on focusing on the vegetation behind birds, rather than on the bird. (Yes, I am blaming the equipment.)
White-throated Sparrows have been regular at Fernhill lately.
This Northern Flicker was hanging out on the gravel dike in the wetland, perfect woodpecker habitat.
This Pacific Chorus Frog was hanging out under a log on a cold morning.
Long-toed Salamander is a lifer amphibian for me this year. As is typical when I see a new species of whatever, I now see them all the time.
More Long-toed Salamanders
This Muskrat would like to remind you to eat your greens.
Still waiting for spring migration to kick in.
I walked the Tilley Jane trail on the east side of Mt. Hood. This trail starts near the Cooper Spur Ski Area and goes about two and a half miles up to the Tilley Jane Campground.
Much of the trail goes through an area that burned a few years ago, so there are lots of standing dead trees and wildflowers.
Burned areas are great for woodpeckers and other cavity nesters. This is a young Northern Flicker that was peeking out of her nest hole.
Dark-eyed Junco. Yes, I can see them out my living room window, but they look better on the mountain.
We came upon this Black-tailed Deer nursing her new fawn. If the fawn had been hidden, I think the doe would have taken off. But since the baby was exposed, they both just froze as we passed by.
This Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel looks like she might be carrying a litter.
Charismatic megafauna among the lupines
At higher elevations, Cassin’s Finches became common, if not cooperative.
Along with the wildflowers are butterflies. The flowers are interesting in person, but not so much in photos. A few butterflies, like this Pacific Fritillary, posed for good looks.
This is a Persius Duskywing, which I had never heard of before.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most popular birding destinations in Oregon, not just for the abundant expected species, but also for the eastern vagrants that turn up there every year. Our Birdathon team from the Audubon Society of Portland visited the area June 7-9.
The trees and shrubs around the refuge headquarters are very attractive to birds.
Western Tanagers were abundant in the trees and in the sagebrush.
The lawn at headquarters hosts a large colony of Merriam’s Ground Squirrels.
The view from Buena Vista, with Steens Mountain in the background
In warmer weather, this part of the state is great for herps, like this Western Fence Lizard.
Northern Flicker, nesting in the town of Frenchglen, near the southern end of the refuge
Along with the usual small songbirds that visit my bird feeder, I sometimes host larger birds that do their best to deplete the feeder as quickly as possible.
Western Scrub-Jays will fill their crops, then fly off to hide the seeds somewhere.
This Mourning Dove camped out on the feeder for the better part of a morning. Their thin bills are not designed to crack open seeds, so they swallow their food whole.
Northern Flickers don’t crack seeds open either, so they pull all the seeds out of the feeder until they find one that is already open.
Northern Flickers have been visiting the bird feeder lately. Their bills are not designed to crack open seeds, so they just pull all the seeds out of the feeder until they find one that is already open.
Females lack the red mustaches found on the males.
Since they are a common backyard species, we tend to take Northern Flickers for granted, or focus on their destructive habit of drilling into house siding. But on close inspection, we see that these are truly stunning birds.
This Black-capped Chickadee, a more common species at bird feeders, is dwarfed by the monstrous flicker. Northern Flickers normally eat ants and other insects, but will come to feeders offering suet or sunflower seeds.