Posted by: atowhee | October 7, 2017


Saturday, October 7, 2017

It was supposed to be clear, but it clouded up. It was supposed to be the day of our first McMinnville Parks autumn birding class.  That part went as forecast. We went up to Tualatin River NWR in Sherwood.
Among the first birds we saw from the visitors center overlook were a pair of adult Bald Eagles.  The male was atop the dead snap where the old eagle nest once hung.  The female was a couple hundred yards away to the west, on top of the tallest Doug fir in the riparian treeline.  Much later we saw them both fly over, heading northward.

At first we saw few geese.  Later we would see hundreds in the air, honking loudly.  We did not see what launched their circling and complaining.  Most were Canada but there was a sizeable contingent of Cacklers as well.  The volunteer guide told us there were a few White-fronted present but we failed to find them in the hub-bub.

The waterfowl population is slowly building toward its mid-winter crescendo.  Mallards, shovelers and Green-winged Teal were most prominent today. No diving ducks, yet.

Some of the Pied-billed Grebes are first-year birds, still sporting their black and white stripes on head and neck.  A male Belted Kingfisher came and flashed his fashionable blue at us.  Flew to various perches, made some half-hearted dives toward the surface, then vanished into the blue sky or some willow thicket, or….  The whole time he never treated us to a single rattle call.

A cloud of American Goldfinches rose from the seeded weeds just downslope from the overlook.  They fluttered upward, buoyant in the calm air,  turned and churned and then spun off and settled in a different weed patch beyond the staff parking lot.  Later we saw more in the air, never perched.  Their insistent restlessness this morning may signal it is time for them to migrate southward. I still have more than a dozen on my garden feeders, chowing down greedily.  Be a money savings to have them go on to Santa Barbara or wherever they go for winter vacation.

We saw a single straggler from the Barn Swallow migration.  This bird was passing back and forth along border of the ponds.

At one point a female Kestrel was flying sorties over the short grass area just across the pond nearest the visitors center.  The Western Meadowlarks panicked into the air and flew about, seeking safer distance from the little falcon. They felt they were the targets.  Who am I to gainsay their wisdom? Soon there was falconesque feint and parry as the small raptors threatened one another with nary a feather touched.  Then it quieted down into absolute stillness.  Except for the geese who were never quiet, nor settled.

We walked out through the immature oak chaparral and then along the riparian forest.  Here songbirds rule.  Sparrows, especially.  Golden-crowned, Song, Lincoln’s, Spotted Towhee, junco.  Waxwings, of course, and a few Myrtle Warblers (yellow-rumps).  We even got good looks at a Bewick’s Wren who came out and called from a small oak not far off the path.

A Cooper’s Hawk flew overhead along the river, later we found him perched in a tree near where we’d encountered a sparrow flock, warblers, wren and waxwing.  You can’t fault  his taste in birding.

Here are a couple of the Tualatin Bushtits, then a photo from my back garden.  These tiny tykes seem to follow me everywhere and I cannot imagine a finer, more energetic tribe of travelers.BT HANGZBT HANGZ2BT SWARMThese Shovelers were at Yamhill Sewer Ponds but show the same eclipse plumage that was on all the ones at Tualatin this morning.duk-shovsGeese in fright, in flight, loudly in voice:GEEZA portion of the goose-filled sky.  Pillows may have goose down, these pillowed clouds must submit to goose up.GEEZ2How great an egret is this?GR EG WADSThe refuge at 940AM.  That low dark island in the back of this front pond held five lazing GW Teal.TRNWR1

Tualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit, Washington, Oregon, US
Oct 7, 2017 9:40 AM – 12:20 PM.  34 species (+1 other taxa)

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  60
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  1500
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  20
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  1
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  3
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  1
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  20
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  15
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  10
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  5
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  1
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2
Red-tailed Hawk at HG bldg.
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  2
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  4
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  40
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  1
Bushtit (Pacific) (Psaltriparus minimus [minimus Group])  25
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  1
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  10
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) (Setophaga coronata coronata)  5
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  12
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  8
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  3
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  4
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  8
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  30
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  6
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  60


  1. You can’t fault his taste in birding. Ha!

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