Posted by: atowhee | October 29, 2016


The birding was great, the weather greater.  A day that started mild and overcast turned into milder and sunny by late morning when all the songbirds were out feeding.  This was the field trip to Tualatin River NWR for our McMinnville birding class.  Counting the Glaucous-winged Gulls over the parking lot where we in McM, we had forty species for the day.

We ticked every box on the waterfowl species listed as “abundant” in fall on the checklist for the refuge.  But better yet we added one “occasional” and one “rare.”   Occasional was a first-year Red-breasted Sapsucker where the trail first nears the Tualatin River. The “rare” was our Merlin atop the big oaks near the visitors center.  He sat around from some scoping before he jetted off to points unknown. We also found the two expected falcons: Kestrel and Peregrine.  Nice surprise was a modest flock of Tundra Swans who flew over, then two came and landed in a pool far south of the visitors center.dux-widedux-cu1If you click on one of these images you might be able to discern a wigeon or two in addition to the Pintails and Cacklers in the foreground.dux-cu2  At least twice one of the eagles circled and frightened many of the ducks and geese into the air at once.  The Peregrine must not have been hungry, he flew out into the lone dead tree southwest of the visitors center and sat there for two hours.  He did a fine imitation of a bare branch. Here, ne of dozens of flocks of geese passing over continually while we were at Tualatin River:geese-o-vr

We either encountered two flocks, or one flock twice, of Golden-crowned Kinglets and each time they were low in bushes and short trees where we could see their colors and especially their brights gold spots. We likely heard more in the mature trees along the river but those were in their usual canopy picnic grounds and we saw only fleeting movements far overhead.

Most photogenic bird of the day was this Bewick’s Wren who was clearly amused, or bemused, by the large mammals starting at him and his sapling.bewr-closerbewr-looks-at-usbewr-looksbewr-perffctSurely he’s indicating we are to admire his brilliantly white throat.  Consider it duly admired by all present at the time.bewr-throatOne of the Bald Eagles sat atop a Doug-fir long after the partner eagle departed.

be-tual2Then the eagle ruffled his wings:be-fltrAnd the general state of the plumage stayed a bit rumpled looking for a short all those feather muscles relaxed and everything went smoothly, nutria off the bow, moving at six knots nor-nor-east.nutria-ahoyThe river, muddy, leaf-littered and moving briskly.tual-rivr

Tualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit, Washington, Oregon, US
Oct 29, 2016 9:15 AM – 12:15 PM.  39 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  300
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  75
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)  25
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  100
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  30
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  2
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  400
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  60
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  40
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  1
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  1
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2     pair of adults perched side by side
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1–female
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  4
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)  1     heard only
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Merlin (Falco columbarius)  1     in big oaks near the visitors center; clearly seen through scope
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)  1
Hutton’s Vireo (Vireo huttoni)  1     heard only
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  50
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  15
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  10
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  10
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  4
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  3
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  60


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