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Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2019

BASKETT SLOUGH–A SWALLOW TALE

This afternoon, under the bright sun, I went looking for shorebirds.  Generally, you need shore to find shorebirds, with a few exceptions like Killdeer who’ll nest on a flat roof, or woodcock and snipe.  When I got to Coville Road and started looking there was little shore.  I found few shorebirds.  Parched, baked mudflats, wilting marsh grasses, dusty fields being worked by tractor to raise more dust…not enough water to produce shore. The second picture below is the seasonal lake on north side of Coville Road.

DUST UPOne shallow pool lingers about half mile south of the Coville parking lot with the toilet building.  There  I did find three Greater Yellowlegs tolerating what must be pretty grotty, warm and muddy water.  Here’s the pool and the ‘legs (a fourth was at Morgan Lake):

I consoled myself with the hundreds of swallows on wires, over fields, overhead, overall outnumbering all the other birds I could find by hundreds. In the field pic I have pointed out (painted in?) some of the many swallows at the foot of the slope.  Looking out over the weedy fields (not the farmed ones) you could see dozens of swallows in motion in all directions.

I then drove up Smithfield Road and walked in to Morgan Lake.  There I found one of my favorite fall migrants–a quintet of Red-necked Phalaropes twirling and feeding mid-lake. Shore enough I thought to myself.  Of course, these guys are true waterbirds not shore-huggers like some of their cousins. The phalarope stayed well out in the lake.  The dark birds behind them are the various ducks and small groups of Canada Geese.

Kestrel, then pennyroyal which populates the dried beds of vernal pools where earlier the water kept out larger, taller plants.  Now the hardy mint-family member can raise its humble, heavily-scented blooms to the sun.  Though a weed, pennyroyal is my favorite smell of August…until the wine grapes are crushed.

The refuge crews are taking out thickets.  Not good news for those sparrows that normally winter there.  I suspect it is part of a blackberry jihad  but there is not going to be any brush for sparrow hideouts this winter.BS BRUSH PILE

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Aug 23, 2019
19 species

Canada Goose  100
Cinnamon Teal  4
Gadwall  X
Mallard  500
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Red-necked Phalarope  5     in Morgan Lake which had considerable water
Greater Yellowlegs  4
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  2
Turkey Vulture  6
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  1
American Kestrel  3
American Crow  2
Violet-green Swallow  300
Barn Swallow  200
Cliff Swallow  X
Savannah Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  3

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Responses

  1. Jim s winning entry selected this year for inclusion in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2017 calendar. Pictured is a male California quail photographed at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.


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