Posted by: atowhee | July 1, 2018


JULY 1, 2018

A half dozen Vaux’s Swifts are high over a neighbor’s home.  They circle and loop through the air.  Behind them a white vaporous cumulus lets me see the kinetic art of their arcs and aerobatics.  Just once to fly like that.  A mouthful of insects would be a small price to pay…



Just click on any image to see it full screen.

No Name Pond

At first the pond seems to have become a flat circle of grass and tubers covering soggy ground.  The dog and I stand in a shaded spot not far above the mudflats that show the old high waterline edging the declivity from which all water seems to have exited.nnp-july1As we arrive I can hear a Black-headed Grosbeak’s long song.  The energetic concert comes from the willow and ash thicket to the north in the floodplain of Baker Creek.  Red-winged Blackbirds fly up from the reeds, flutter low across the “pond,” then back down into the green. One male stops on a perch to give out his clear, lilting song.  Mostly we hear the coarse chuck notes of competition and defense.

Behind us a Song Sparrow gives out half-songs from a berry thicket.  Then another flies before us and lands on an exposed log, giving us a trill.  This bird then lands on the mudflat where he or she is joined by two more.  One turns out to be a fledgling who flies up onto a low limb.  There the youngster flutters both wings and gives out a “feed me” call. One of the adults obliges.

From out of the sky drops a pair of Barn Swallows. The sun gleams off their dark, glowing back feathers.  They course irregularly, low over the reeds and grasses.  As I watch a lone coot calls from some hidden spot.  Not long after, a female Mallard, quacking loudly flies up from the reeds and moves twenty yards before dropping back out of sight.  There is much here that slowly meets the eye…and reaches the ear.

Just before we leave a Western Wood-Pewee fies out from his perch somewhere in the ash trees and attacks a red-wing in reeds.  What did that blackbird do to draw the fury of a tyrant flycatcher?   Perhaps it got too near the pewee’s perch?  Our flycatchers are never shy about their territorial rights.  After his brief sortie the pewee withdraws back into the trees beyond my view.


American Goldfinch on feeder, perhaps he’s eaten so much he can’t fly? I was only a few feet away and Mr. Fatfinch didn’t flinch.  Spotted Towhee male in a treetop, only 25 feet up, but still, far from his usual groundling behavior.  Tree Swallow atop a pole as three of his Violet-green cousins swooped around overhead along Pinot Noir Drive.


The many greens of summer are now to be seen.  I am colorblind so I cannot imagine what normal-sighted people see but for me any hint of yellow or blue in a shade of green makes it stand aside from the other, moderated greens of grass and blackberry and fireweed and dandelion and ash tree.

The yellow blooming weed inthe last photo is the ubiquitous, invasive, toxic tansy ragwort.  A member of the aster family, it originated in Eurasia.  The arrowleafed plant with the white flowers is a wapato specifically, Sagittaria latifolia. It is native and indigenous people ate the roots boiled.  Click here for a prier on wapato harvesting and cuisine…gluten-free, of course.


At this time of year I do not expect to see a White-crowned Sparrow in McMinnville.  This one showed up in the city park next to the library for our Keep Families Together protest yesterday.  Could he be part of a small breeding population?wcsp-mcmOther birds we saw near the protest rally…a Violet-green Swallow (they nested in the back of the Harvest Fresh building)…and a flicker male, very busy in a neighbor’s garden. Click for big images:


  1. The White-crowneds are plentiful up at Kiff Vineyard on Willis Rd (up at 450 to 600 ft), as well as on the Linfield campus. Seems that they are indeed nesting here this year.

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