Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2017


Heading home from some errands in Portland, I stopped at the Tualatin River NWR in early afternoon. The temp was over 90 degrees so I was the only visible mammal out on the levees. The first thing I noticed in the air was cotton fluff drifting by from thistles now ripening. There wasn’t much else flying. Not a single raptor in the sky. Only crow was heard from, not seen.
Even the clouds were lazy. The over-stuffed white puffs lounged along the horizon line, taking a siesta after a heavy lunch perhaps. Cloud, air and time itself seemed sedated. Only thistle tufts in motion.TUAL IN JULY1TUAL IN JULY2
The air itself was perfumed by the dense lines of pennyroyal. Though not a native it is well adapted to that margin of marsh that is at the high water line in winter, allowing early germination but not drying out completely until late summer. pennyryl
Most of the waterfowl were loafing though some ducks and geese were lazily feeding in the grass or on the water. For the dabbling ducks this must be the best time of the year for ripe pond scum—algae and other organisms must be growing at their greatest rate right now with the long days and hot weather. You can almost feel the march bubbling and putting out O2.
Eventually there was action. The Red-winged Blackbirds flew back and forth a couple times. Families of Mallards pretended I was a predator and paddle away. Then a small flock of Canada Geese came in low from across Hwy 99, giving no honks but a few little squeaks, then the landing.
CAGO GRAzcago land-acago land-bcago landccago landdNobody is better at standing very still:GBH-TUALgbh-tual2mall-famSmall songbirds were largely hiding from the heat and the glare. The swallows were very high in the sky. The insects must be riding up on some strong thermals as the sun constantly heats the air near the ground. I pished at one clump of brush, hoping for at least a goldfinch or Song Sparrow. Instead this guy came in. “Peep, peep,” he said then marched along the muddy edge of the
The only non-avian voice I heard was single sequence of croacks from a bullfrog.

There were many dragonflies crusing over the marsh today. This guy I found yesterday, loafing on a rock in the middle of Baker Creek. A whitetail, I believe.df-bkr crkMy nieghbor’s rowan tree is draping its heavy fruited twigs over my fence as it awaits the waxwings to discover it.rowanThe Long-billed Dowitchers were far off and the rising heat waves made pictures very impressionistic but you can make out the long beaks in one image:lbd-tual1lbd-tual2

Here is what one myth site (as oppsed to mythical site) says about the rowan in European folklore: “The rowan’s mythic roots go back to classical times. Greek mythology tells of how Hebe the goddess of youth, dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the gods from her magical chalice. When, through carelessness, she lost this cup to demons, the gods sent an eagle to recover the cup. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle shed in the ensuing fight with the demons fell to earth, where each of them turned into a rowan tree. Hence the rowan derived the shape of its leaves from the eagle’s feathers and the appearance of its berries from the droplets of blood.” Click here for further read.

Tualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit
, Washington, Oregon, US
Jul 22, 2017 2:40 PM – 3:20 PM. 17 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 130
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 150
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 3
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 4
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 14
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) 9
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) 1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 2
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) 6
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) 2
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 50
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 1

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