Ridgefield NWR

Here are some highlights from a recent summer trip I took to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. I saw two new species!

One, a Blue-winged Teal. If I’d realized at the time, I would have attempted better pictures.

Blue-winged Teal

And Two. This barely recognizable silhouette that looks more like a deflated balloon torpedoing away, is none other than a Wilson’s Snipe. The unusual winnowing flight sound of their tail “hu-hu-hu” cracks me up for some reason.

I know I’m not supposed to care about European Starlings because they’re introduced and invasive, but they are here, and their nestlings look like muppets, so…

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

The Red-winged Blackbirds posed nicely.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

I also got a good look at a handsome Cinnamon Teal couple.

Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal

It was easy to recognize the Steller’s Jay crest.

Steller's Jay

I don’t know why, but I love when birds sit on signs. Like Savannah Sparrows often do.

Savannah Sparrow

And finally, tree swallows were zipping around in the forest, except when they were perched and looking over their shoulders.

Tree Swallow

It’s hot out there folks!

Stay cool.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Sundial Beach Loop Hike

I had super-fun at a former Superfund clean-up site a couple of weeks ago! A place now called the “Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park” that just so happens to include the Sundial Beach Loop Hike. It’s not much of a hike since most of the trail is a paved levee road that is part of Portland’s 40-mile loop.

The trailhead is next to the Troutdale airport and a sewage treatment plant. Along the trail, huge powerlines loom overhead, and a giant substation sits on one side. Paradoxically, lush riparian forests, wide fields, and vibrant wetlands, including Company Lake, make up the rest of the park.

Power view

I also just noticed on OregonHikers.org: “A note of caution should be added: the wooded areas are sometimes the camping places of transients and some may not feel safe straying from the paved trail, especially when alone.” So, yeah. There’s that. I saw camps on the sandbar at the “beach” (poor access through thickets, not much of a shoreline), but didn’t run into anyone besides dog-walkers and hikers along the trail.

What the heck was I doing here, you ask? Well, I was here for the birds of course! This area includes a confluence of the Sandy River and the Columbia River and is buzzing with wildlife and birds. To be completely honest, I’d seen several Rufous Hummingbird sightings reported on E-bird here and I had to take a look.

I’m glad I did.

Rufous Hummingbird

I love this bird.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Giddy, after watching the Rufous Hummingbird for a bit, I got turned around and ran into these charming birds:

Greater Yellowlegs

Solitary Sandpiper

I had to do a bit of research (gah- shorebirds!), and I came up with the top as a Greater Yellowlegs (extensive dark bars on the flanks), and the bottom as a Solitary Sandpiper (white “spectacles,” short bill, dark breast). For the Solitary ID I triple checked, since most of the maps show this is uncommon or rare even for this region, however, as someone pointed out, “they’re unusual but far from unheard of in that part of the state.” E-bird also had some sightings in the area, so, Solitary Sandpiper it is!

Additional shorebirds, difficult to see, determined to be Least Sandpipers (yellow legs, dark brown on top, and droopy bills).

Least Sandpipers

There were several birds at this park: Wood Duck, Canada Geese (with goslings!), Kingfisher, Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Goldfinch, Savannah Sparrow, Western Scrub-Jay, Spotted Towhee, Killdeer, and Swallows. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Spotted Towhee

Western Scrub-Jay

Another bird I happened upon this day was a Great Horned Owl. Some people “chase the dragon,” I chase “cat ears” in the woods. I’m hooked on scanning tree-tops for those telltale “horns.”

Great Horned Owl

And this one had a little owlet.

Great Horned Owl & Owlet

I watched the “owl muppet show” for a while. My boyfriend is convinced they’re muppets because of the way they move their heads in circular motions, even though I know they’ve really got “binocular vision,” and are judging objects shapes and distances, but, yeah muppets are fun. It was this owl enocounter in particular, along with a post on Facebook by Scott Carpenter, that inspired me to join the Put an Owl on It team for Birdathon. Because owls.

And that’s not all! After I’d exhausted myself hiking around the industrial park/bird paradise, I hopped on my bike to ride home and included a bit of birding-by-bike along the way. Here’s a small sample of what I found.

Osprey

Bunny

Savannah Sparrow

An Osprey, a tatter-eared bunny, and my favorite picture so far, of a Savannah Sparrow!

Super-fun!

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Smith and Bybee with Angela

A few weeks ago, my cousin, Angela, from Seattle expressed an interest in birding together. I was tickled. She is currently earning her Master of Arts degree in Museology from University of Washington, and is also a talented science illustrator focusing on “microhabitats” such as slime molds, mosses, and ferns. She’s pretty kick-ass.

We met at Smith and Bybee wetlands to see what we could find.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle eating a catfish

Juvenile Bald Eagle eating a catfish

Tree Swallows

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Cooperative Tree Swallow

Eurasian-collared Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian-collared Dove..."koo-KOO-kook"

Eurasian Collared-Dove…”koo-KOO-kook”

 

From Bald Eagles to Eurasian Collared-Doves, Smith and Bybee did not disappoint. Overall, we saw (and/or heard) 23 bird species. Angela’s favorite sighting was this Anna’s Hummingbird flittering from flower to flower in the Red-flowering Currant.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Angela also pointed out a Bombus melanopygus, the Western bumblebee on the currant I hadn’t noticed (and failed to get a picture of).

My favorite point of the trip was when she rolled over a log on the forest floor, uncovering a Long-toed Salamander.

Long-toed Salamander

Long-toed Salamander

Long-toed Salamander

Long-toed Salamander

 

It was fun birding with Angela. She’s a naturalist at heart who takes interest in learning about the world around her. Just earlier in the month she’d been on a nature walk with an entire class of biologists, graduate students, and nature-nerds identifying the full spectrum of flora and fauna of the woods. This was a fun way to explore Smith and Bybee too.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey