Fernhill Wetlands 1/28/10

I enjoyed a quiet walk around the main lake at Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61). By mid-morning, most of the geese that roost at this site are off feeding elsewhere.

Double-crested Cormorants are commonly seen perched on dead trees and utility poles when they are not fishing. The light breast, neck, and head identify this individual as a young bird. The orange gular pouch is diagnostic in differentiating this species from the other two cormorants found along the Oregon coast.

Several Tundra Swans were lounging in the marsh, always a delight to see. To get an idea of the size of these birds, compare the Cackling Geese and Mallard at the far right of the photo.

Golden-crowned Sparrows are common in the brushy areas. I was pleased that Nala, the Birding Dog, sat still long enough for me to capture this image.

Tundra Swan


I watched two Tundra Swans feeding on Sturgeon Lake on Sauvie Island. The heads and necks were darkly stained from the turbid water. The profile of this bird seems very flat, suggesting Trumpeter Swan from a distance. But you can see the little yellow spot in front of the eye and the shape of the feathering on the face that identifies this bird as Tundra. I’m guessing the bulge at the base of the neck is due to the bird having a full crop. With such a long neck, it makes sense that the crop would extend up that far.


From this angle, the profile appears a little more concave, as you would expect on Tundra Swan.

Ankeny NWR

I took my Portland Audubon waterfowl class to Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (Birding Oregon p. 86). The weather was glorious and the birds were abundant.

Many of the fields on the refuge hosted large flocks of geese, mostly the minima race of Cackling Goose.

This little mixed flock contains Western Canada, Dusky Canada, and Taverner’s Cackling Geese.

Eagle Marsh held several dozen Tundra Swans.

shades of pale

I am taking a writing course from Wendee Holtcamp, and needed to work on a journaling exercise so I headed out to Fernhill Wetlands. It was a very gray day, and quite chilly, but I was struck by the amount of white to be found in the birdlife. Large rafts of Common Mergansers, the typical flock of Mew and California Gulls, the heads and tails of the resident Bald Eagles, Great Egrets, and a flock of Tundra Swans really brightened up the landscape. There are always colors to be had, even on a gray day, but you have to appreciate big splashes of white, even after Labor Day.