Posted by: atowhee | July 19, 2018


THURSDAY, July 19, 2018

Two of us went south from McMinnville to Baskett Slough today and were rewarded with seven species of shorebird. The long-distance migrants who’ve just arrived were over a dozen Least Sandpipers, a Long- billed Dowitcher and two greater Yellowlegs. Al these newcomers were still in their breeding plumage, darker than what they will wear in January. There were four species of Oregon-breeding shorebirds present as well.

A large, loud tractor with hay rake attached lumbered past and scared up an American Bittern that we got to watch.  He hunted successfully on the marshy margin of the eastern most slough on the refuge.  That’s south of Coville Road. We saw the bittern catch and swallow a fish at least as big as a folded dollar bill.  He caught it along the edge of the water. Later we saw a Green Heron hunting along the canal south of Coville Pond at the west edge of the refuge. The heron seemed to be picking insects off the surface of the canal while a few feet beyond him a Spotted Sandpiper ran up and down a narrow border of mud, also picking up insects.

Between Hwy 99 and the refuge, there’s a clover field south of Coville Road.  It is in full bloom, uncut and clearly an insect magnet.  The air over the clover was swiftly sifted by swallows, nearly all of the Violet-green persuasion. On the refuge itself some sections of power line along Coville Road were lined with swallows, four species altogether and mixed in together.

In the marsh there were many young Mallards, some still in yellow fuzz.  Half-grown coots and Pied-billed Grebes were plentiful and one of the stilts was a juvenile, still afraid to wade out into the water to be near its apparent parent who kept up a shrille scolding call while we were nearby.

The cool morning, overcast and quiet air made for near-perfect birding conditions.


The last we saw of our obliging bittern was as it flew in a semi-circle around us to cross the road to the western-most marsh.  That gave me tie for some aerial shots.  As our bittern landed he flushed up a second one that only flew a short ways with a single harsh croak call. Both then vanished into the shielding reeds.abi-flyabi-fly2abi-fly3We all know how hard bitterns are to spot unless they fly.  Here are some shots of our bittern along the marsh edge even after we knew where he had landed after the tractor scared him aloft the first time:ABI-1click to enlarge image with bittern marked from aboveABI-2_LIABI-3ABI-4
Here is sequence of the bittern hunting, striking at prey, catching fish and then turning his head sideways during the swallow…click on any image to enlarge it.  None are sharp as the light conditions baffled my little camera, not to mention its amateur operator:

In the last image his gullet is fish-filled.

Can you find our fellow in the first pic?  In the lower left, the stick in center left had us fooled, too, until we scoped it. Click to enlarge.



Below there are five shorebirds, from left to right: two Killdeer, two Least Sandpipers, young stilt afraid to go into the water:s-birds1Adult stilt wading across marsh pool:stiltThen there was this lone stilt alone the edge of the green heron’s canal:waterside2Wherever we looked the waterside was busy…here a nutria like a stick in the mud, a Barn Swallow in flight, a Brewer’s Blackbird working the mudflats.waterside
Below, old man of the marsh:nutr
Among the windrows…”Nice feathers, bro…”
“Hay [-field], you lookin’ at me?  Move along….”
[click for full size image]

Above we have goldfinch dining, and his breeding colors, fading already.  Pennyroyal forming a highly scented island in bloom.  Swallines on the electric wires. Click an image to enlarge.

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Jul 19, 2018 10:10 AM – 12:10 PM.  33 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  40
Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)  8
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  X
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  3
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  4
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)  8
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  X
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  15
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  1
Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)  4
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  2
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  1500     large flock hunting over clover field in full bloom
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  X
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  1
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X
Purple Finch (Western) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  20

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