Posted by: atowhee | May 19, 2019


I have made two round trips from Salem to Ashland and back this month.  Outside the towns and cities industrial agriculture rules. Much of that drive is through monocultures of grass, hazelnuts or Doug fir forest, but occasionally nature makes her presence known, escaping people’s efforts at control.ind agr (2)

South of Sutherlin you begin to notice all the dead Doug firs.  Many have been planted in terrain where they cannot survive the drought or competition from plants less thirsty than they are.  This photo is a ridgeline in Douglas County.DEAD D-F

In southern Oregon the introduced locust trees, native madrone and hedgerow hawthorns were all in bloom.  In some areas the cow parsnip flowers are nine inches across and form miniature forest canopies along the road side.  Elsewhere larkspur is in clumps.  On the dry southern Oregon slopes the invasive purple vetch colors the landscape.

I spotted five occupied Osprey nest platforms–three in Douglas County, two in Lane.  The northernmost platform is east of I-5 in north Eugene just south of the MacKenzie River Bridge.  The other Osprey nest I noted in Lane County was west of I-5 alongside the lumber mill south of Cottage Grove.  In Douglas County they are all south of Roseburg.  One near Milepost 113 west of the freeway, one a bit south of there along the South Umpqua River and east of the freeway.  A third is hard to see, it is east of freeway about 150 yards, along the river, and about two miles north of Myrtle Creek.

I found a family of Hooded Mergansers in the Umpqua River in Roseburg, at Fir Grove Fields.  Mom and four swimming ducklings.  There were also Mallards and Common Mergansers on the river there as well.

Turkey Vultures are most numerous in Douglas County with over 20 seen above the freeway on one transect.  Lane County is much smaller but may have as many TVs per mile or roadway.


Cottonwood fluff often drifted across the highway in loose blizzards.  Millions of those seeds will be run over, wash away in streams, be eaten by bird or mammals, lodge beneath a rock.  A few wild their way to damp soil and one or two may someday become a 150 foot tall adult cottonwood, its roots deep beneath a stream.

Nature’s efficiency sometimes comes from adaptive behavior.  In the parking lot of the Santiam Rest Stop I watched Brewer’s Blackbirds and House Sparrows eating grilled insects.  One large truck pulled into the parking lot and immediately a blackbird flew up to the engine grill to pick insects bodies from the metal. After the truck driver killed the engine, three more blackbirds and a House Sparrow came to partake of this home delivery of fresh protein.

Look closely in the foliage above, there is a Yellow Warbler feeding, ignoring me and the camera…this was at Santiam River Rest Area in Marion County,geese at lowes (2)

Speaking of adaptation.  I saw a happy-looking family of Canada Geese cruising the parking lot of Lowe’s in Salem, working their way across the pavement and past long rows of pallets with garden supplies.

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