Posted by: atowhee | August 7, 2019


I went to Tualatin River NWR this afternoon.  Glaring sunlight on the water, and there was very little of that…water I mean.  I expected lousy birding and worse camera luck. Here are three shots of what is normally marsh where now narrow threads of warm muddy water cross the baked mudflats:


I was prepared for disappointment. The air was criss-crossed by swallows–barn and cliff, with the latter dominating by about a three to one ratio. And there were dozens of herons and egrets, a gang of crows parading on the mudflats, numerous Turkey Vulture both on the flats and circling overhead.  As I lingered longer and walked a bit on the path that goes west from Hwy 99, I began to realize the narrow water channels meant many animals were confined to narrow quarters.  Further, they were sulky but willing to put up with me so they could keep feeding on the remaining mud or in the small pools that persist.  So some shots surprised me and must’ve given my little point’n’shoot camera a big ego boost.

MOST LEASTS  I had my most Least Sandpipers of the year.  First 18 at Yamhill Sewer Ponds this morning, then a six-pack at Tualatin River, less than 20 feet off the trail. I don’t expect to ever get that close again to an untamed sandpiper. Note the fine edging on this bird’s feathers.lesa back (2)lesa lean (2)lesa lean2 (2)See how muddy the legs are but the toes show yellow as they were just in shallow water.lesa lean3 (2)

lesa-two (2)

In the same trailside channel as the peeps, this adult Great Blue (click on an image to see full screen):


gbh landing (2)Not all herons were mudding about:perch (2)

There were three male Wood Ducks in eclipse plumage.  Isn’t this the time of year when they molt and temporarily cannot fly?  Being grounded might explain why they were out in a narrow muddy channel without a bush or willow within a hundred yards, no place to hide.  This tie of year I normally see this bird’s tail as he disappears into a watery thicket.  No waterside thickets available at Tualatin right now.


ALL GORE, NOT AL GORE      Young Pied-billed Grebe swallows it whole.  I couldn’t figure out what “it” was.  One shot, even though I was aimed straight toward the sun and sun-glare, shows the zebra-stripes on the youngster’s face.  In the second shot he had temporarily lost the prey back into the water.  In two shots the bird’s head is turned on its side so you see the pale chin behind the beak.


KESTREL, complete with fly-by swallow.


CROW FLATcroz (2)

NUTRIO–that would be three nutria in a wad.  Adult and two young.  Then later one of the young and the same adult pulled up on the mud next to a heron.  I just imagined the heron assuming an Oxbridge accent and sniffing impolitely:


Tualatin River NWR, Washington, Oregon, US
Aug 7, 2019
19 species

Canada Goose  8
Wood Duck  3
Gadwall  X
Mallard  X
Pied-billed Grebe  4
California Gull 2 –both first year birds
Killdeer  3
Least Sandpiper  6
Lesser Yellowlegs  1–my first this season
Great Blue Heron  21
Great Egret  14
Turkey Vulture  33
American Kestrel  1
American Crow  30
Barn Swallow  100
Cliff Swallow  300
European Starling  X
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  5

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