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Birdwatching day at Smith and Bybee Lakes 10.31.11

I love Smith and Bybee Lakes.

They are two lakes really close together, they probably just barely stop short of being one giant lake. Somehow they manage to maintain their separate existences.

They are a protected wildlife wetland area, stuck in the middle of a very industrial area of Portland. They are a sanctuary where you least expect it, hidden off the side of a busy highway usually only used by trucks and industry. They are only about 10 minutes drive from my house.  The Smith and Bybee Lakes is one of my favorite places to go birding. I go there often, so I thought I’d start documenting how awesome this place is throughout the year.

I got the idea of returning to a place regularly to document the changing flora and fauna from another blog I found, click  here if you want to check it out.  This other blogger is doing an in-depth phenology project. I love the idea and what she is doing. It inspired me to do something similar. But I am not interested in doing it in such an official way.  But I wanted to do something. So I thought about a place I like to visit often, and Smith & Bybee Lakes came to mind immediately. I figured I could visit there about once a month, and take pictures and record what I observe each time I’m there. And show how beautiful this place is throughout all the seasons of the year.

It was a gorgeous fall day today. I walked out to Smith Lake first, with camera, binoculars, and spotting scope. Then after I got my fill there for awhile I walked out to Bybee Lake next.  Surrounding the lakes are walking paths and trees which are great for finding songbirds. Here’s the list of species seen today, and some pictures of the area.

  • Red Tailed Hawk, sitting on a pole in the parking lot
  • Dark eyed junco
  • Gull (type not identified)
  • Canada Goose (really, you can’t go anywhere in Portland without seeing these)
  • Pied Grebe
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Common Merganser
  • Great Egret
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Double Crested Cormorant
  • American Wigeon
  • Gadwall
  • Mallard
  • Wood Duck
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Green Winged Teal
  • Cedar Waxwings
  • Song Sparrow
  • Black capped Chickadee
  • Bushtit
  • Brown Creeper
  • White Breasted Nuthatch
  • Golden crowned kinglet
  • Ruby crowned kinglet
  • Coyotes. Two separate coyotes, not together. One was hopping thru the tall grass like a deer at Bybee Lake. The other (in the pics) was settling down for a nap in a sun patch on the path in between the two lakes.

coyote creeping up

coyote settling down

coyote enjoying the sun patch

Path down to Smith Lake Oct 31


path down to Smith Lake Oct 31




Smith Lake 1

in between smith & bybee looking left

in between smith & bybee

path down to Bybee Lake 1

on the path down to Bybee Lake

Bybee Lake

Bybee Lake looking right. The grass is about knee-high


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Unusual birds here in Portland

I work at a wildlife rehabilitation center, so I see quite a lot of bird species come thru the center than I have ever seen out birdwatching.  Recently we’ve had such an influx of birds unusual to Portland, its been so excited to see these birds that I would likely never see out in the wild.  This is not surprising, of course, since migration is still going on. But somehow it still catches me by surprise.

I wrote last week about a yellow-shafted flicker. These usuallyare not seen West of the Rocky Mountains. So is very rare here.

A hungry yellowshafted Northern Flicker, strug...

We usually only have red-shafted in Portland, so the underwings would be red, not yellowImage via Wikipedia

Today my boss said, “want to see something cool” and brought me over to a little incubator in the hospital.

“It’s a flammulated owl” she said. I had no idea what that was, I had never even heard of that type of owl. Now of course I know that they do exist in Oregon, after reading in several field guides. But they are in eastern Oregon. If you are familiar with Oregon

The taxonomic status of the Flammulated Owl is...

Flammulated Owl.Image via Wikipedia

geography at all, the eastern side of the state is like being on a different planet than the western side of the state where Portland is. The east and west are split by the Cascade mountain range. The flammulated owl spends some time in eastern Oregon during the summer and migrates thru during migration seasons. But they never come west of the Cascade mountains. For one to end up in Portland is very rare.  The owl was very cool indeed. It was tiny, only about 6 inches long.

We get a lot of Great Horned owls in the center. They are common in Portland. But recently over the past few weeks we’ve gotten some different sub-species/types of Great Horns that we don’t have here.  We’ve had a Southwest type, which has much lighter coloring all over.  The lighter color is distinct, you look at it and immediately you know it is a different kind of Great Horn.  We also got in today a Great Horn that is more of an Eastern Great Horn. It’s face has the orange coloring on its cheeks that simply doesn’t exist on the Portland Great Horns.I had never seen one with orange on its face.

The Great Horns I’m used to seeing are like the one on the right. Pretty brown and gray-brown, with just a hint of warmth on the face. The picture on the left is one with bold orange on the face, which is new to me. The slight difference is enough to make it seem like a new bird.

Its is awesome to see these birds that are so familiar but with something slightly different than the ordinary. It brings a fresh approach to really looking at a bird’s details and appreciated it for all it is.

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Yellow Shafted Flicker

I saw a Yellow-shafted Flicker today for the first time.

Flickers are a dime-a-dozen around here, a very common bird around the city. But in the Western half of the US all the flickers around here are Red-shafted. The Yellow-shafted just aren’t around here much. The yellow could be a migrant or be here for the winter. But it is uncommon. I’ve never seen one before.

Technically the bird is called a Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. A distinguishing feature on the bird is a “mustache” stripe on the face on the males. Red-shafted have a red mustache, and also red feathers under their wings and undertail. Yellow-shafted have a black mustache and yellow feathers under the wings and undertail, and also a red crest on their head or red stripe on the back of the head or neck. The two types also interbreed, so hybrids are common. Hybrids can have a red crest on their head, or some other red striping on the back of the head or neck, as well as the red mustache.  Females lack all the mustache, crest or striping.

I work at an animal hospital. The Yellow-shafted came in from a local area after being hit by a car. It is being treated. It was certainly a treat to see this marvelous creature.  Its yellow under the wings was a gorgeous golden, bright and distinctive. So spectacular, while also being so common! It is a great reminder to never take anything for granted, and to never think a bird is boring. Those in the East probably think the yellows are the dime-a-dozen and would marvel at the beautiful rich red feathers.

Male red-shafted hybrid.

Beautiful red striping on back of head


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First run

I went out today for my first run since the marathon. I’m back in action. And it is such a beautiful fall day out there, there’s really no reason not to go running.

It felt good to get out. My hamstrings have been really tight, and although I’ve been stretching, they really needed to get out there moving. My left hamstring is really pulled right now, feels really tight and sore after the run.

It was just an easy 4 miler, one of my regular loops thru my neighborhood. The first mile I was all out of whack… I tied my shoes too tight, I had to stop and re-tie them. I was off-balance. I jumped ahead too fast so was out of breath. It’s like I had never run before. I felt a mess. After the first mile I settled down into feeling good, just out on an easy jog.

It felt so good to run again. I’ve been feeling cooped up. It is a little weird to me right now to not have any plans or goals, after having very specific goals for 6 months. I’ll have to figure out what I’m gonna do next.

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A weekend without running

This is the first Saturday that I haven’t gone running in so long I don’t know how long. It feels weird. Feels like there was something I forgot to do or that somehow I’m playing hookey from work.

I wasn’t sure how long I should, or would want to, take time off to rest after the marathon. But I think I’m ready now to ease back into some easy running next week. How long do others take time off before starting a regular running routine again? How long before actually start training for the next race?

My legs are no longer painful, but they do feel tight constantly. I’ve been stretching daily. The inside of my left knee is bothering me, which is a result of the marathon. I felt it about 3/4 way thru the run. I need to pay attention to that and make sure I don’t hurt it.


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Compression socks

Does anyone understand compression socks?

I’ve recently purchased my first pair, curious about them and what they might do. I’ve heard about them, read about them, and it seems people talk them up like they’re super helpful. The salesman told me they would increase the blood flow in my legs to help speed recovery after runs. Sounded good to me. But I don’t actually know a whole lot about this. Apparently there are different socks to wear while actually running, versus to wear after running. ?? Ones with feet versus just sleeves, I was told. What real difference does that make?

I’ve been wearing my socks for several hours while sitting around the house in the evenings, every day since the marathon this past Sunday. I haven’t really noticed it doing anything nor even “feeling good” or whatever. How do I know if I’m getting a benefit from this? And if it really is increasing circulation and pushing blood out of my lower legs so fresh blood can flow in, why can’t I wear compression on my thighs where my muscles are more sore?

What’s the deal?