Between the recent bouts of rain, we have seen a few sunny days. The birds seem to really take advantage of the nice weather to bulk up for winter. Cedar Waxwings, like this juvenile, have been working fruiting trees and shrubs. Most of these images were taken at Koll Wetlands in Beaverton.
adult Cedar Waxwing
The red nape on this Downy Woodpecker blended in with the red berries.
This noisy Belted Kingfisher blended in amazingly well with the foliage.
This one was not so well camouflaged.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are starting to arrive in the valley.
Most migrant shorebirds are long gone, but three Greater Yellowlegs were lingering at Koll. There is no exposed mud, so the birds were wading deep or actually swimming.
Young Red-tailed Hawk, keeping an eye on me
The male ducks have mostly finished their molt into their colorful plumage, a nice change from the dreary summer look of “Ugly Duck Season.” These Wood Ducks were at Commonwealth Lake.
I followed this Bewick’s Wren around for a while, waiting for him to emerge from the shade and land in a bit of sunshine. When I shoot in RAW, my camera cannot shoot multiple frames, so I only got one chance when the bird popped up into the light.
A much more cooperative model, this Barred Owl hung out by my bird feeder for about half and hour one day. He watched the little birds flitting around, but I think he was hoping for one of the squirrels or rats that often clean up under the feeder. Unfortunately, the rodents did not make an appearance, so the owl eventually moved on.
Most of my recent outings have been while leading trips or in dreary conditions, both of which limit any photo opportunities. So here are some dribs and drabs from recent weeks.
This Black-tailed Deer and her fawn were at Cooper Mountain Nature Park in Beaverton. There was a second fawn present out of frame.
This Long-billed Dowitcher was blending in well with the rocks at Parking Lot C at Fort Stevens State Park. I often find shorebirds, usually Least Sandpipers or Dunlin, in this little patch of rocks.
I saw this Pied-billed Grebe on a cloudy morning at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
Crystal Springs is thick with Wood Ducks.
Eastern Gray Squirrel at Crystal Springs
Sandhill Cranes have arrived in good numbers at Sauvie Island.
A young Bald Eagle flying by on Sauvie
This White-crowned Sparrow posed nicely in filtered sunlight along Rentenaar Road on Sauvie Island. This is a first winter bird, but he was singing from this perch for a while.
Most shorebird migration is long past, but this mixed flock of Dunlin and Long-billed Dowitchers were hanging out at the small ponds near the parking lot at Fernhill Wetlands.
Long-billed Dowitcher at Fernhill. This intense sunlight is certainly not the norm for mid-November, but the rains will return soon enough.
I visited Tualatin River NWR last week. The weather has been very hot and dry, so I started early in the morning. There was a surprisingly large diversity of species for mid-summer. I ended the trip with 55 species. I didn’t pay too much attention to waterfowl, so there may have been more. This Savannah Sparrow was backlit by rising sun.
Here is one reason I don’t pay too much attention to waterfowl this time of year. There are a lot of young birds and molting adults around in Ugly Duck Season. Some birders love the challenge of studying these birds, but since ducks are not migrating during their summer molt, the likelihood of finding anything other than the local breeders is slim to none. I’m calling this an immature Wood Duck, but I could be wrong.
Willow Flycatchers were still singing from prominent perches.
This Lazuli Bunting was singing from a little thicket.
There is not a lot of shorebird habitat at the refuge right now, but Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, and Western Sandpipers were present in small numbers along with hundreds of Killdeer. As water levels drop, shorebird numbers should increase.
February birding is famously slow around much of Oregon, but, as I like to remind myself, there is always something to see.
This male Redhead has been spending the winter at Commonwealth Lake Park in Beaverton. It is not often that I get a really close view of these lovely ducks.
This preening Black Turnstone showed off his flashy backside at the Seaside Cove.
I have made four trips to Fort Stevens State Park since early December to try to see some of the many White-winged Crossbills that have been spending the winter there. They have eluded me every time. I think I have seen more Elk than I have birds at Fort Stevens this winter.
The bumper crop of cones on the Sitka Spruces is what has attracted the crossbills. There is a lot of food available and the finches keep moving all the time, so our paths have not crossed. It is kind of like pelagic birding. You are moving around the open ocean in a little boat, looking for birds that are also moving.
I went out to Rentenaar Road on Sauvie Island to chum for sparrows. Conditions were dark and damp, but the head of this White-crowned Sparrow shone from the depths of the brush.
The Red-winged Blackbirds are getting fired up for spring. This guy was flashing his epaulets but still showed some rusty pattern on his back from his youth.
preening Green-winged Teal, Westmoreland Park
preening Gadwall, Crystal Springs
male Wood Duck, Crystal Springs
The lighting was not great, but it was nice to see this Lincoln’s Sparrow just sitting out in the open for so long. This is a species that I often see, but am seldom able to show to others because the birds tend to hide in thick cover most of the time. I have two Little Brown Birds classes in March. I hope I can find such a cooperative individual on those days.
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.
The weather has entered its dark and dreary pattern, typical for Portland in late autumn. This makes for dark grainy photos, but here are a few shots from Crystal Springs in southeast Portland.
Steller’s Jay, looking all artsy among the architecture of the boardwalk
This American Coot appears to be concerned with modesty while preening.
Here is the same individual feeding on land. I always appreciate the chance to see this species’ lobed feet.
Western Canada Goose
American Wigeon, with Bufflehead in the background
I don’t know what this Wood Duck was carrying. They eat acorns, but this appears to be something different.
I am hoping for some sunshine for my next outing.
I visited Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Birding Oregon p. 69) on May 28. This site is best known as a good spot for wintering waterfowl. This late in the spring, most of the ducks and geese have moved on, leaving just a few resident species. But even with the lower diversity, it is still nice to be able to get such close looks at birds that are normally much more “wild” in other locations.
Wood Ducks are always a treat.
This male Wood Duck was in a tree, providing a view of the white throat.
American Crows in the bright sun showed some interesting feather patterns.
Two Cackling Geese (Branta hutchinsii minima) were still present. This is a very late date for this species to still be in Portland. This species nests on the Arctic tundra, so most have left by mid-April. Perhaps these two thought that a summer on the duck pond would be nicer than flying all that way.
Here is another view of the Cackling Goose. Notice how far the wing tips extend beyond the tail. Long wings are typical for species that migrate long distances.