Posted by: atowhee | January 28, 2022


There has been much to learn at Clark Creek Park lately.  First, the “wild” turkeys roosting in leafless trees when there are Doug-firs a couple blocks up hill.  Then the walnut sculptures left behind by gnawing squirrels.  Most surprising is how unaware our species can be, even when we THINK we are paying attention.  I look into Clark Creek, at least briefly, 20 times per week.  We have lived here over eighteen months.  I estimate nearly 1500 glances, even lengthy looks, into this creek in all seasons.  I’ve photographed the water skimmers, seen the tiny minnows, heard without seeing nearby chorus frogs, never seen any salamander nor snake.  But watching and photographing a Great Blue Heron presented me with evidence I’d failed to perceive with my own limited abilities.

Two days ago the dog and I walked past Clark Creek one evening.  As we neared one brushy section a Great Blue Heron flew up from the other bank.  Every person in the park stopped to watch.  Heron climbed into the sky, banking his own flight, curved along the creek and landed on a large horizontal limb of a bare cottonwood, about fifty feet up.  I have learned to carry my camera.  Here are some of the resulting pictures.

Click here for info on the four introduced species of crayfish now found in Oregon. We do have one native crayfish in Oregon in the genus Pacifastacus (commonly called signal crayfish). Based on habitat it is likely this heron snack was a red swamp crayfish from the southeastern U.S. originally.

The squirrel sculptures:

One morning this week it was turkeys at dawn. They are their sidekick, peacock, were gathered in the garden of our neighbor who admits to feeding them.

The fantail display by two turkey toms indicates the hormone levels are approaching spring levels and courtship is not far off. Other signs: bright colored finches, singing flicker, drumming sapsucker.

The dog and I are on our morning walk. Suddenly we hear loud drumming on wood. It is a syncopated rhythm. It must be a Red-breasted Sapsucker. I look up at the nearby utility pole, no bird visible. The drumming is repeated, loud, clear, nearby. I look at the next nearest pole, about fifty feet away–birdless. Could some person be playing a recording? Merlin is on every phone it seems. I move a few feet–there at the top of the pole next to me is the sapsucker–previosuly hidden by cables and huge insulators. I reach for my camera, he drums a third time before departing.

The pole is a perfect instrument…split, partially hollow, dried for decades, fine reverberation, an inadvertent drum.

These are our first collared-doves in weeks. The native Mourning Doves have been regulars, one to six every day, one eaten by an accipiter.

Junco exit:

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