Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring is Coming

I'm sure that if House Stark had a motto like that, they may have been a bit more cheerful.  But spring is certainly in the air here in Oregon.  It actually stopped raining on Monday and the Sun has been out for 2 days in a row!  And I finally got to see Mt. Hood (or Mountain Hood as my daughter calls it), it's impressive and I really want to go visit before we leave.  But the nicer weather let my son and I go looking for a Rusty Blackbird in Hillsboro on Tuesday.  Behind one of the branches of the Hillsboro Library, which is huge and has their own donut/coffee shop, are a series of lakes and trails known as the Dawson Creek Corporate Park.  As far as I can tell, it's private property which is open to the public.  It really is a nice area with lots of various habitats and thus, lots of different birds.  We had 31 species in just a few hours and didn't make it to every corner.
But the main reason that we visited was to see a Rusty Blackbird which has been continuing there all winter.  It's fairly rare for the Pacific NW, and everywhere else.  They may even be on the path to extinction, their population has declined 85% since the 1990s and the Audubon Society has started a program to track them.  So if you are reading this out East, go look for some.
But alas, I only got a quick glimpse of the bird up in a tree before it flew off, no time for a photo, but I plan on going back next week.  There were lots of Brewer's and Red-Winged Blackbirds around too.

Brewer's Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird - Hillsboro OR

Red-Winged Blackbird
Red-Winged Blackbird - Hillsboro OR
Walking around the ponds we got to see lots of ducks, Ring-Necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups, Mallards, Buffleheads and even some Wood Ducks.

Bufflehead - Hillsboro OR
There was a lonely Killdeer there too.  I keep hoping to see a different Plover, but these guys are so fun to watch.  And I don't think that I've ever noticed the red-ring around their eye before.

Killdeer - Hillsboro OR
The different types of habitats in the park gave me a good look at an Acorn Woodpecker, first one in Oregon for me.  But I would end up seeing a few more before we left.  There is a colony in one part of Dawson Creek Park that we didn't get to.

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker - Hillsboro OR
These Northern Flickers appeared to be getting ready for spring too.  They were making some calls and one was following the other from tree to tree.  This is one species that I see much less of in Oregon than I did in New Mexico.

Northern Flickers
Northern Flickers - Hillsboro OR
There were quite the number of Cackling Geese in a field opposite the lakes from the library.  I estimated 800, but there could have been a thousand easy. I noticed a few with white rings around their neck and reported them as the Aleutian type.  It seemed odd that there would be a group of ones that looked like that all together in the middle of the Minimas. But all of a sudden they took to the air at once and I got a flashback to the Festival of the Cranes fly-out at Bosque del Apache.
Cackling Geese
Cackling Geese - Hillsboro OR
My son got really scared and I had to hold him while they flew over honking away.  But we shortly saw the cause of the commotion circling a bit north of us.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle - Hillsboro OR
This is cropped a bit, it was way out there doing some lazy circles.  I also saw an American Kestrel and a pair of Red-Tail Hawks that were flying together.
We also got to see a nice non-bird that I didn't think that I'd see in the "wild".  A few weeks ago I saw a River Otter at Commonwealth Lake Park, and on Tuesday we saw 2 of them at Dawson Creek.

River Otter
River Otter - Hillsboro OR
I'm not sure what these Mallards were doing, but they were following this one pretty closely.  Now that I think about it, some Gadwalls were following the otter that I saw before.

Mallards and Otter
Mallards and River Otter - Hillsboro OR
I plan on heading back again to try and get some photos of that Rusty Blackbird, and it's a really nice place to spend a morning.  It's amazing to think that we've already been here a third of our time and are moving on in 2 more months.  I really need to see a Varied Thrush before then.

Thanks for making it this far,


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