Weekend Birds...

It's pouring rain now but this weekend was pretty nice... I hit up a few spots to check out the birds.  Saturday morning I wandered around the Force Lake/Vanport Wetlands area.  At the lake the Redhead pair were out and about:

All of the nest boxes around the area seemed to be occupied.  I saw some Tree Swallows flying in and out of one right on the lake.

I tried for a decent photo of a Rufous Hummingbird, but failed...

Oh well!  There were some turtles catching some rays on a branch...

I had the urge to ID these guys and found a great Oregon Turtle website.  The turtle on the left is a native western painted turtle but the other two are non-native red-eared sliders.  Interesting!

On my walk along the road to Vanport I stopped to look at a bug on a dandelion...

It appears to be a spotted cucumber beetle.  Cute.

On my walk I met a fellow birder named Bruce who informed me his wife, Christie, had been the one to create the Friends of Force Lake group. I was unable to make it to their recent clean-up at the lake but they did an amazing job!  They are removing the invasive Himalayan blackberry bushes and putting up wire guards around the trees to protect them from the beavers.  They also cleaned up tons of trash and are working to repair the stone walls at the parking areas.  If you live in the Portland area and are on Facebook I highly recommend "liking" the group!

At Vanport I walked along the fenceline hoping to see one of the Yellow-headed Blackbirds I was hearing.  I was in luck!

I was amazed at how close he was to the fence, especially since half a dozen dogs were splashing around in the puddle in front of the fence (it's an off-leash dog park).  Also in the wetlands were Ruddy Ducks!

That was a great morning and probably the warmest one we've had yet!  On Sunday I headed up to Woodland Bottoms to look for shorebirds.  There was a big flock of gulls way out in one of the flooded fields... I realized they were mostly Caspian Terns though quite a few other gulls were mixed in.

The only shorebirds I could find were pretty far away.. The Black-bellied Plovers stood out the most.

There were some little peeps near the plovers that I could barely see, let alone identify.  It started to rain so I headed down to Ridgefield for a drive around the auto route.

I saw all the usual suspects... More Barn Swallows than my last visit.  More Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  Common Yellowthroats...

Lots of American Bitterns in wonderful camouflage...

 That was about it...  As Kris posted in a comment on my last posting, people have been soooo inconsiderate of the owlets at Ridgefield.  I don't even stop to look at them now because I feel they are being harassed enough by photographers.  Yesterday while I was looking at the bittern in the water between markers 10 and 11 I could see across to cars parked at the owl nest.  They must have sat there for at least 15 minutes which seems like WAY too long to be that close to a nest.  I really hope the owls make their nest farther away next time....


  1. Hi Jen, when I was at the refuge Saturday there were four cars at the owl nest at one point late in the day and some people were getting in and out of their cars, making a BIG commotion, and causing a traffic jam. One of the cars with people getting in and out was there for over an hour. I've also seen some other people (typically the guys with long lenses) parked at the nest for well over an hour, with tripods set up or standing up through their sunroofs and just generally being a total nuisance to the owls. Apparently the pictures matter more to them than the birds.

    I saw several people out of their cars that day and on other days last week, at various parts of the refuge. Some were at least a quarter mile from their car. If people don't wise up it's going to hurt us all because the management will eventually have to crack down and impose more strict rules. There has already been talk of closing much of the auto tour route and/or requiring people to take shuttle buses around the refuge. It may come to that if people don't wise up.

    You sure are seeing lots of neat things and getting nice pictures too!

    By the way, there was an Osprey and a Peregrine Falcon at the refuge Saturday. The Osprey was circling over Rest Lake and the Peregrine was in the same area late in the day.


  2. That yellow headed Blackbird is really something!! Great series. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  3. I agree. The Yellow Headed Blackbird is an amazing shot. Quit showing such awesome pics of the Bitterns. One of my nemisis birds, if I have such a thing! I got a pic of one in Louisiana, but the pic was terrible. I could sit and listen to them for hours.

  4. OH I dont get it once they have their shot Move ON! ITS like when a moose in around in Yellowstone..OMG traffic jam-
    WOW girl your photos today are excellent--and I think that hummer shot is great its all about action--ZOOM- and the spectacular colors of the birds really beautifully captured!!!

  5. Another great set of shots Jen! I haven't witnessed the traffic so bad at the owl's nest but the word is obviously spreading. Hope the birds fledge soon and can get to higher locations. It really irks me when I see people out of their cars, against the rules, and being a detriment to the birds and wildlife. Five more days and the rules allow folks to get out of their cars. Gosh I hope the birds are out of there by then.

  6. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for the shout out about Friends of Force Lake!

    Christie and Bruce


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