Posted by: atowhee | October 14, 2019

SAUVIE SATURDAY SATIATES OUR CRANIAC HANKERINGS

There were five of us on this Saturday birding trip to Sauvie Island.  No rain, mostly overcast, no wind, great light for binocs and camera alike. There were multitudes of birds, few birders.  I marvel that so many people live within an hour’s drive of Sauvie, yet few bother to experience the island when the crane numbers are at a peak. More astonishing still, we chatted with a long-time local homeowner on her bike—she admitted she’d hardly noticed the cranes and didn’t know anything about them. (To see full size image click on chosen one.  White dots above cranes among Cacklers) 

 

 

Later we encountered a couple photographing geese and cranes (see birds above)—which they proudly identified as “herons.”  Speaking of which we saw some actual Great Blues all snoozing in a line near the edge of a large crane flock in a pasture.  Did the herons feel protected by the presence and alertness of the cranes?  It seemed to be unusual to find over a dozen herons lined up, sleeping, in an open field.

On one hillside we could clearly see the size difference–the Greater Sandhill Cranes nearly a foot taller than their “diminutive” Lesser cousins from far-off Siberia.scr7 (2)

By winter the crane numbers on Sauvie will be modest. Most of the ones we saw will have moved further south. For me there’s no doubt that I go to Sauvie for the cranes.  All the rest of the beauty and the birds, the clouds and no crowds—that is a bonus beneficence of nature.
For a surfeit of crane images, dancing and more, click on this link…pure cranestuff.

Through the day we birded each of the roads that reach north from the Sauvie Island Bridge.  First, we went to the terminus of Sauvie Island Road.  Wapato Pond was dry—but there were dozens of Yellow-rumps (both Myrtle and Audubon), sparrows galore and our only Steller’s Jay of the day.  At the Columbia County end of the road we found our largest crane flock which may have numbered a thousand or more.  Along the Multnomah Channel we found our first Common Mergansers.  Along Oak Island Road we found waxwings while cranes bugled from beyond the hedges.

Reeder Road took us to the Sturgeon Lake overlook where some cranes fed along the margins of the greatly reduced lake.  Much of the usual winter lakebed was now densely overgrown  by grassers and other soft plants.  Further on, in Columbia County, there were mostly coots to be seen from the viewing platform, plus harriers and a hunting kestrel. At the western terminus of Rentenaar Road we stroke onto on the levee above the parking lot.  No other humans around.  But the sky was live with slow reformulation of cloud, and birds.  A Bald Eagle, robins in small flocks, then a red-tail. Red-winged Blackbirds in dark threads just above the shrubs and cattails. At one time several flocks of Cacklers, often moving in opposite directions, but a majority headed to a field we found later on. Among the geese would move small groups of cranes, often at goose speed but with their usual deliberate, steady wing-beats, not the frantic piston-like strokes of the seemingly tiny geese.cloudsky-cranes (2)_LI

NOT ALL ARE CRANES

If Cacklers give you goose bumps, click here for gallery of a flock of thousands.

We only saw Great Egrets once, two among the cranes. Adult Glaucous-winged Gull in Multnomah Channel.  Red-tail in sky. The only three swallows we saw all day, three laggard Barn Swallows.  What are they waiting for?

 

It was not easy finding a waxwing that flew into this fruitful hawthorn at the dead end of Oak Island Road:cw-haw_LI

You think the Supreme Court or your credit card company make you feel insignificant?  Try getting the attention of a Bald Eagle:

Paper wasp nest, White Pelicans in loose formation, Myrtle Warbler:

The trip was organized by the Rogue Valley Audubon Society as an auction item at last year’s fund-raiser.  All of us on the trip live in or near Salem in north end of the Willamette Valley.  In and out of the front seat of my car all day was well-known bird artist and illustrator, Jon Janosik.  The colorist and the colorblind birder, me.  It seems we always agreed about the clouds which performed admirably behind and beyond the flocks in flight all day.

To see some of Janosik’s work and learn about his beautiful works for bird books and bird admirers, click here for his website.

He has been painting cranes throughout his career, often the ancestors of those we saw on Sauvie Island.  He has been painting Sauvie cranes for over 4 decades.  Here is one such painting:sandhill-cranes-dancing-jon-janosik

We first  met up at Tualatin River NWR, not much to see.  And here’s the explanation for the dry marshes there from a fellow birder: “They have drawn everything down for all the work to recreate the Chicken Creek drainage and re-establish historic water flow.   As soon as they are done for this year they’ll open the gates.”

Sauvie Island–Multnomah, Oregon, US
Oct 13, 2019
38 species

Greater White-fronted Goose  X
Cackling Goose  X
Canada Goose  X
Mallard  X
Mourning Dove  X
Anna’s Hummingbird  X
Sandhill Crane  500
Ring-billed Gull  X
Herring Gull  X
Glaucous-winged Gull  1
Double-crested Cormorant  X
American White Pelican  X
Great Blue Heron  X
Great Egret  2
Northern Harrier  X
Bald Eagle  X
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Northern Flicker  X
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  2
Bushtit  30
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  X
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Pacific Wren  X
Bewick’s Wren  X
European Starling  X
American Robin  X
Cedar Waxwing  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
White-crowned Sparrow  (Gambel’s)  x
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler  100

Sauvie’s Island Lower–Columbia Cty, Columbia, Oregon, US
Oct 13, 2019
28 species

Greater White-fronted Goose  4
Cackling Goose  10000
Canada Goose  X
Northern Shoveler  X
Mallard  X
Common Merganser  X
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Mourning Dove  X
American Coot  500
Sandhill Crane  1500
Ring-billed Gull  X
Great Blue Heron  14
Northern Harrier  X
Bald Eagle  4
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Northern Flicker  X
American Kestrel  X
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Common Raven  X
Barn Swallow  3
European Starling  X
American Robin  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X


Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Wolf's Birding and Bonsai Blog.


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