I managed to squeeze in a few more birds at the end of 2015. On Christmas Day I went to Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. I hadn’t visited since June and what a difference record winter rains make.
The trails were completely flooded with water, but looking around the upland part of the park I still saw many birds: Fox Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Spotted Towhees. On a tree nearby I also saw Red-shouldered Hawk!
Say, whaaa? Curious because I didn’t think Oregon was included in their typical range. Bib of dark streaks, rufous underparts, black and white bands on tails. I’ll take it!
It eventually ended up in the same tree as this unhappy Red-tailed Hawk.
Looking up in fury
The stare-down proved too much for the Red-shouldered Hawk and it flew away (giving a glance of its rufous underwing coverts) while it called “kee-aah, kee-aah, kee-aah!” in disgust.
I returned to the bird feeders by the main building and got an up-close and personal visit from an Anna’s Hummingbird. This flashy fella and I became besties.
Okay, maybe not. Back to the trees I saw a Northern Shrike! Nice! Or, rather, not nice. This predatory songbird “feeds on small birds, mammals, and insects, sometimes impaling them on spines or barbed wire fences.” Yikes.
I had hoped to see White-throated Sparrows but insted came up with Golden-crowned Sparrows that sort of look like tan-striped White-Throated Sparrows. It needs yellow lores, stronger facial marks, and a mottled breast. Nice try.
I left and went to Fernhill Wetlands since it is close by. I had not been before and I’ll have to try again once the water recedes.
The road was closed as was the gate to the park. But I was able to admire Ruddy Ducks, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Ducks, and Scaup in the nearby flooded farmlands. And, wait, what is that larger bird-blob in the middle?
Canvasback! A new species. What a great silhouette.
I walked along nearby roads, still not finding White-throated Sparrows, but I did find a handsome Lincoln’s Sparrow. This and the Canvasback made the trip worth it.
The next morning I set off for Vancouver Lake in Washington. This turned out to be a disappointing spot not for lack of birds, but because the air was ripe with gunfire.
Hunters. Even though I was in a “safe” hunting-off limits section of land, it was close enough to hear plenty of shooting. I have to say, I was unnerved listening to gunfire while birding. I’ve heard it before, but never this close, loud, or rapid. I stayed just long enough to see a few birds before I couldn’t take it anymore.
And another Red-shouldered Hawk!
Invasion of the Red-shouldered Hawks
I saw one new species at Vancouver Lake, Eared Grebes. (Common Merganser on the left for scale).
The last day of the long weekend I considered going to Sauvie Island to look for White-Throated Sparrows again, but I couldn’t take the idea of listening to more shooting. So I headed the complete opposite direction towards Franz Lake in the Columbia River Gorge. This was a good choice.
A herd of elk along the way!
And swans. Peaceful, graceful, lovely swans.
I read Tundra swans like to winter at the lake and I rounded out my year learning the difference between Trumpeter and Tundra Swans.
Trumpeter Swans have a larger bill with red on the lower mandible.
While Tundra Swans have a small yellow “teardrop” on the lore.
Subtle differences. Below is Tundra on the left, Trumpeter on the right.
The swans were a perfect way to close out 2015.
Time to do it all over again!!!
Tweets, chirps, and cheers to 2016!