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Posted by: atowhee | January 13, 2019

A BUSHEL BASKETT OF WATERFOWL

My wife and I checked out Baskett Slough this afternoon.  First, good news: water.  On the way south along Hwy 99 we noted a shallow pool in a flooded field.  It was alive with Dunlin and loafing Glaucous-winged Gulls.  It was just east of 99 and south of Stevenson Road.  This is in Polk County.

ONE WORD

There is only one word for Baskett Slough this time of year–GOOSE.  5K?  10?  20K?

There were plenty of dabbling ducks present, as well.  Most numerous were the pintails.  What is most elegant about this drake?  His white racing stripe up that finely narrowed neck?   The pale blue swoosh on the side of his beak?  That cavalier spike on his tail?  The fine green of the head feathers?  The delicate piping along the edge of the wing feathers?  The overall effect would make the finest Italian dress designer weep with admiration.

The biggest of waterfowl there was the biggest of waterfowl.  You don’t need thousands of Trumpeter Swans to make an impression.  Be hard to get thousands anywhere anyway.  There are probably less than seventy thousand on the whole continent according to the Trumpeter Swan Society.  Hunted nearly to extinction they are coming back as some humans continue to protect them and their habitat.

This quartet was visible from the Hwy 22 overlook:ts quartet

RAPTORS

We saw only one male harrier there, three females, a common enough ratio.  Here is the male lifting off from a field:

Later we passed a red-tail next to the road, he refused to yield.  Then one of the three eagles soared out over the marsh:

DOG WALK

Speaking of predators:

This guy was visible from the Hiwy 22 overlook, until he vanished into the reeds.
THE ULTIMATE VISUAL

This is a classic view of Willamette Valley winter.   Fields of green grass.  An azure sky under the slanted sunlight of January.  Seasonal marsh.  A living black sward across the green hillside: thousands of geese.  Utilitarian farm buildings. In the far distance, the Cascades, here bejewelled by the snowed peak of Mt. Jefferson…and against it all flies a young Bald Eagle…headed toward the camera.vulcn eagleBaskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Jan 13, 2019. 19 species

Cackling Goose  5000
Canada Goose  X
Trumpeter Swan  4     visible from Hwy 22 overlook
Northern Shoveler  500
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  2500
Green-winged Teal  500
Bufflehead  1
Mourning Dove  3
Dunlin  50
Great Blue Heron  3
Northern Harrier  4
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Crow  X
American Robin  X
European Starling  X
Western Meadowlark  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X

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