Posted by: atowhee | December 1, 2017


Guns were booming at Baskett Slough this morning.  My sensitive gun-shy dog cowered in the backseat, a Baskett case for sure.  The shotgun percussion was sporadic but on-going.  Here there should be a sentence about PTSD and trigger warning.  Trigger for sure.  “Wildlife refuge” during hunting season is a full dose of “newspeak” where the reality is directly opposite the superficial meaning.  Intentional sarcasm perhaps?

The wintering Dunlin flock was in a frenzied flight over the marsh.  Due to shotguns or passing harrier or both?dunlinAERIAL ATTACK

Overhead there was some mock violence–a harrier harrassing a red-tail.  I saw no actual contact and no feathers knocked off.  It was a male harrier, protecting his hunting field and driving the larger, slower bird into a tree.HARR ALONEHARR-AHARR-BHARR TREED2Red-tails were numerous and twice I saw pairs perched together.  Courtship needed as breeding and nesting season begins in the New Year.  Here one bird takes off from tree just as I get out to take a picture.  The mate remains perched near the tree trunk.  Below that, other red-tails of the day, the last one drying off.  Perhaps it had gone after or caught prey down in the very wet grass.2rth2rth2RT AT CROSSRT DRYINGBEAUTY OF THE DAYFINETAILPintail pair above already in full breeding plumage.  So were the Shovelers but too far away for decent image.  Below a single cackler leads a short line of Canada Geese, note this cackler has the white necklace.  In the background some of the few Gadwalls to be seen today.  The abundant ducks were pintail, shoveler, Mallard and GW Teal.FOWLZcack-fieldCackler convergence.cack-field2A single young Bald Eagle made a circling pass over a pond full of ducks and geese.  Those loafing on shore panicked into the water.BE AWAYBE AWAY2Ducks and geese cannot possible out-run or out-fly an eagle attack but they can and do dive beyond reach.  Water is their best escape.after eagleIcterids on display.  In fact, the meadowlarks were singing and could sometimes be heard providing melody amidst the cannonade from men with guns.BB LANDZm-larkBaskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 1, 2017,  27 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  X
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  10
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  X
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  X
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  X
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  X
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  1
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) (Ardea herodias [herodias Group])  3
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  5
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1     first year bird
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  7     including two mated pairs side-by-side
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  200
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  2
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  1
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  40
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Hwy 99, Polk County, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 1, 2017, 6 species

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  4
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  40     in Firesteed vineyards
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  12


  1. According to USFWS, neither hunting nor firearms are permitted at Baskett Slough NWR. By my recollection, hunting has never been allowed there. Perhaps the shooting was on adjacent private lands?

    • I am sure you are right, there is plenty of private uplands all around the “protected” areas, pity any poor duck or goose that takes to the air

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