Marys Peak/Finley NWR

Before we get to all that, check out this neat video that Metro has shared from Smith & Bybee Wetlands in Portland.  It's a time lapse video from last September of a beaver and a nutria working together to build a dam.  There's also an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron in the mix.

Cool, right?

Yesterday I was finally feeling better after being sick for a week and I decided to head south to check out Marys Peak for the first time and Finley NWR for the second time. 

View from the road to the top

Marys Peak is the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range and over the winter Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches and Pine Grosbeaks were being reported here.  I never made it during that time and during my visit I heard exactly one bird, a Red-breasted Nuthatch.

The dogs and I hiked around for awhile, checking out the sweet views.

The peak was a bust bird-wise.  Back on Highway 34 I was trying to remember where I had seen turkeys once before.  Just as I was wondering exactly how much money I would bet that it was in this one particular field, I noticed some motion on the opposite side of the road.  There they were!

 Recently on OBOL some folks were discussing pale/white turkeys which was something I had never noticed before.  Interestingly in this flock on 34 there were at least two pale birds.

The woman who started the discussion had a pale bird show up on her farm on the Oregon coast and she wondered if it was wild or perhaps hybrid with a domestic turkey.  Her bird can be seen here.  Anyway, it was interesting that I happened upon a pale turkey right after the OBOL discussion (where nothing was really resolved).

After the turkey stop I headed over to Finley NWR for the first time since October 2010.  Check out the old blog post here.  The dogs hung out in the car while I walked the muddy Woodpecker Loop Trail.

I didn't see any Wrentits like on my last visit but there were plenty wrens around.

Bewick's Wren

 Pacific Wren

Back on the main refuge road I passed Turtle Flats, where there were indeed turtles!

I'm pretty sure it's a western pond turtle, a threatened species in Oregon (and endangered in WA).

Towards the end of the road the landscape opens up and I found a Red-shouldered Hawk perched in some wetlands, near a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a power pole and a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk perched on a teeny tiny branch.  A passing vehicle flushed the Rough-legged...

I drove back out to 99, then south to Bruce Road which leads back into the refuge.   

 Pintails and coots. 

Spotted Towhee

Shifty shoveler

Along the road another Rough-legged Hawk was perched in a tree...

Lastly, a pair of birds gave me a bit of an ID challenge.  They're swans.  Silent swans, when seen at a distance or in flight, are not easy for me to distinguish.

The Sibley post on this ID issue has been interesting but I'm still uncertain. 

Zoomed in on the adult:

Thoughts?  If you have thoughts on these two, perhaps you have thoughts on these swans that flew over while I was watching my patch kestrels have sex the other day:

Zoomed in:

One thing Sibley mentioned that I think I see illustrated above is "Tundra has straighter neck that narrows before head."  Maybe?  Eh?  I probably should have saved swans for a separate post.  Oh well.

Anyway, it was a fun day in Benton County.  Good times!


  1. Such a surplus of sweet mountainy places to visit.

    That Spotted Towhee appears to need serious medical attention.

    Your Wren shots are tip top.

    1. Hmm, it does appear as though I strangled that towhee. I think he's okay.

  2. I will definitely post that video on the birdshop fb page. Good stuff! Get that trail cam going again! Too bad Mary's peak was a bust. So was our attempt at the high spot in wa county at the end of the year.

    1. Yeah yeah yeah, I know I need to get the cam back out. Is hunting season over yet??

  3. I think Trumpeter. The culmen does not curve up to the forehead (it is straight), I cannot see the eye, and a massive neck. On Tundra Swan you can see the shape of the eye (or think of it as you can see location of eye), the culmen curves and , as in your flight photo, Tundra Swan have skinny necks. I saw some Trumpeter out at Sauvie the other day hanging with Tundra Swan, They are huge birds compared to Tundra, the thick neck really stands out.

    1. Thanks, Bob, that is how I was leaning with the ID's. I would love to see some together for good comparison.

    2. Check out the flooded fields near bridge or around the roads near Coon Pt on Sauvie. They will be sitting around in a big group with Tundras. Usually an easy id, like scaup! :)

    3. Check out the flooded fields near bridge or around the roads near Coon Pt on Sauvie. They will be sitting around in a big group with Tundras. Usually an easy id, like scaup! :)

  4. Yep, I think the birds on the water are solid Trumpeters...I'm not going to pretend to know much about identifying overhead swans though.

    Nice PAWR shot, I've never managed a decent pic of one away from Buldir Island. Such a troglodyte.

  5. Love that foggy landscape shot--glad you're feeling better your guys look great! I enjoyed that video!!
    to me those swans in flight look like Tundra like you saw the neck is shapely not straight.


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