Posted by: atowhee | September 2, 2018


September 2, 2018

Another in a series of mild, pleasant days.  No wind, no smoke, no excessive solar heat, dry air.  Summer is in retreat.  Many of the less hardy plants or those with shallow roots are dried, or drying.  Leaves are beginning to fall from ash and cottonwood.

Berries are abundant.  Nora the dog and I relish the late season blackberries. Now many of those in sunnier spots are fermenting, adding a zing to the tang. If you see a tipsy waxwing or robin in coming weeks, do not judge them harshly.  The flavors of the season can be intoxicating indeed. Also ripened now are haws, snowberries, chokecherries (Yesterday I saw quail eating those that had fallen to the ground.  Wonder if the quail ever go up into the tree for the chokecherries?), teasel seeds, seed heads of grasses, ash seeds.


There were three Cinnamon Teal amongst the shovelers and mallards today.  The only previous time I’d seen this species at this location was a single bird on May 25, 2016. Two other birders have reported Cinnamon Teal here–once in August and another sighting in May.  Teal on left, shoveler on right.  I’d recognize that nose anywhere…ct shovMomma Mallard and her half-sized young:mall-famly


Irrigation in one pasture next to the sewer ponds creates a narrow slough about thirty feet long and a few inches deep in the middle of field.  There gathered all the nearby geese and three shorebirds: Killdeer plus two Western Sandpipers.goose troopGOOSE TROOP2WESA-GEESEWESA-GEESE2
There were two Spotted Sandpipers and in their solitary fashion, they worked the opposite sides of one of the ponds.spsa linespsa line2Swallows were in the air over field and pond and creekside trees:flutterKeeping posted, male kestrel:kstrl


The oaks stand solid, stolid, stalwart.  Their leaves the dark leather of summer, stubborn to the last days of winter in some cases.  Oaks have always meant true forest to me. oak skyAs a child I lived where oaks were the most common wild tree.  Scorned as “scrub” but used for fence posts and fire wood, larger trees cut down for rough lumber to build sheds or chicken coops.  Used green, the oak boards would dry and twist and arc, refusing the straight lines of mere lumber.  Having lived near western wine regions I now understand the crucial relationship between oaks and some of the world’s most appreciated and prized vintages.  Wherever I have traveled I have been pleased and thrilled to meet the local oaks.  There are the large rounded live oaks of the U. S. Gulf Coast.  In Spain, Italy and Morocco were the farmed cork oaks, sometimes showing the vertical scars of recent cork harvesting.  Again, that connection to wine.  In Italy’s highlands there are Holm oaks.  In both southern France and Italy, let’s us praise the truffle oaks.  Before California’s redwoods and Monterey cypress were imported some of the largest trees in England were oaks.  There are still boats, bridges and the thousand-year old Westminster Hall made of English oak…all have lasted centuries.

The English oak was decimated by ship-building until steel replaced it.  Now the oaks are protected in Britain.  The largest tree in circumference in Britain is the Majesty Oak, forty feet across.

I grew up in the Ozarks where numerous oak species dominated the woods along with hickory, ash and walnut.  There were white and black, pine and post, tan and blackjack.  The first home I remember was in town, before my parents moved us out to a small hobby farm.  The address of that town house was #1 Great Oaks. On the farm our house was framed and partially shaded by large oaks.  In the thunderstorms their branches would vibrate, leaves shimmy, sounding like stiff cardboard.

Thirsty earth…moon trying to pour water on the land…the plants that cover the creek;s surface, where the current is discernible only where the water must flow over stones in a narrow channel…otherwise the water sits still.


Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Sep 2, 2018. 21 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  39
Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)  3
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  15
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  40
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)  2
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  15
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  40
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  6
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  4
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  8

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