a place for hats, birds, murals, running, and more…

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I love birdwatchers

Birdwatchers are often thought of as an odd bunch. Weirdos that hang out all day with camera, scope, binoculars, and as many bird guides as they can carry, sneaking thru the brush waiting and hoping and pursuing anything with wings.

And we get excited about things other people don’t even notice. Like this sign.

Only a birdwatcher, upon seeing this sign, would immediately stop in their tracks, disregard whatever it was they were doing, and spend the rest of the day scanning the field. My heart warms a little bit, knowing there’s another birdwatcher out there, sharing his find.

bird watchers unite


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Day 338 photo. movement.

January 5. Movement.

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Smith and Bybee Lakes October 19, 2012

It was a somber, gloomy day out at Smith and Bybee Lakes. I went out on October 19 as my final visit to the Wetlands, closing out my year-long project of visiting the area regularly throughout the year to document the seasonal changes.

If you’ve read my previous post on the lakes, you will know that the area has been closed since the beginning of September due to a botulism outbreak. Right in the midst of fall migration, one of our area’s most frequented stop-over wetland for migrating birds needed some help.  Many of the waterfowl were removed from the area so they could be treated.  Many others have died. Bybee Lake was drained to not much more than a giant mud puddle.  Loud noises, canons, gunshots, and other disturbances are being carefully used to discourage birds from entering the area.

The botulism will go away on its own, over time. When the weather gets cold enough and the rains are heavy enough, this will pass.  We are waiting it out and I am crossing my fingers for the birds.

I saw a pair of bald eagles flying around. I sure hope they can be scared off. There were still some small songbirds in the tree canopy: chickadees, ruby crowned kinglets, song sparrows.  While most of the birds getting sick from the botulism are waterfowl, I imagine any bird could get sick.  I could still hear plenty of frogs, so they seemed to be doing well. Perhaps due to rapid loss of their predators.  Overall the place was extremely vacant, it held a feeling of death.

I couldn’t get out to Smith Lake, the area was all roped off. But I could get out to Bybee Lake. Metro workers were out there doing their hazing. Not the most pleasant atmosphere.

What there was plenty of was leaves. With fall upon us, leaves were all over the ground. I spent my time taking pictures of leaves.

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Smith and Bybee Lakes. September 15, 2012

It was a pleasantly warm 64 degrees this morning, with promise of heating up to a high of 88 today. We’re hanging onto summer here. I went out to Smith and Bybee Lakes today.  You can read about my last visit here.

Today was going to be my last, or maybe second to last, visit for this series. But now I’ll need to plan on trying again, since I couldn’t get in today.  The area is all roped off and closed due to wildlife disease. I am sad to hear about this. I’ve googled around to try to find details of what is going on, but I can’t find any information other than general announcements, with no specifics.

I took some pictures around to document how the cottonwoods look like right now. They’re looking nice and full still, but the leaves are drying and yellowing just a little bit. I also stopped by a nearby lake, Heron Lake, at the golf course. There was a lot of green scum on the water surface. Perhaps Smith and Bybee have a similar look right now.

The crickets were obnoxious! You could hear constant cricket creaking. I found this unusual.  I didn’t stick around to see much wildlife, but could hear chickadees, saw a great blue heron, a cormorant, some ducks, an egret, mourning doves, and scrub jays.

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Smith and Bybee Lakes. August 11, 2012

I hadn’t been out to Smith and Bybee lakes for quite some time. You can check out the post about my last visit here.

I didn’t really have a whole lot of time last Saturday to devote to a really nice visit, but I wanted to get out there and take some pictures so there wasn’t too huge a gap in my Smith and Bybee Lakes series, my goal being to document how it changes through the seasons.  So this visit was pretty truncated, a quick rush through to take some pictures.  My bird/species list isn’t really a list because I wasn’t taking the time to seek stuff out, check them out carefully, etc.

It was 64 degrees and extremely muggy.

I would say the most abundant thing was the Tree Swallows. They were having a fancy flying time and tweeting up a storm. Osprey’s are pretty regular out there and I saw one adult, the nest just across the road was vacant. Their young must have fledged and are out enjoying the world on their own.

The most notable thing about the plant life was the berries. It’s berry season and berries are everywhere. There was also ample evidence of the bird and mammal life consuming a high-berry diet!  This time of year the local wild blackberries (and also the invasive species blackberries) have their ripe fruit.  Lots of other bushes and trees also had berries on them, I don’t know what kind they are nor if they are edible but the flowers have all now turned into berries.  Also notable was the cottonwoods dropping tons of cotton. It looked like spiderwebs dusted all over the trees, bushes, and ground.

Smith Lake was actually accessible this time! This is the first time I’ve been out since I’ve started this series that the water level has reduced again, down to a level where you can actually walk out again to the lake. It had been so flooded you couldn’t even get out near it to take pictures for quite some time. This isn’t surprising, of course, since it’s summer and August is our hottest driest month. But I was pleasantly shocked all the same.

I hope to go out a few more times this fall and then I’ll plan on putting together a little photo-summary of the series for the year. I’m looking forward to doing that because I think it will be pretty cool.


A day at Smith & Bybee Lakes. June 13, 2012

I went out to Smith & Bybee Lakes yesterday. I haven’t been able to get out there as often as I’d like, but it’s great to visit and track the changes going on there over the year. Check out my last visit from April 24. I started visiting last October and plan to visit about once a month for a whole year. I love watching the changes of nature over time.

It was 59 degrees and lightly overcast. Very little wind and no precipitation.

As soon as I took two steps into the forest you could tell it was springtime. Warm, wet weather (it has just poured rain the day before). The bird song and bird calls were so loud they took over like someone turned on a giant bird radio. The plants were lush and green and full. Flowers were open and colorful. The cottonwoods were dropping cotton flakes, floating through the air like a light snowfall. What a difference from the last time I was there!

The trees had a strange rusty dust on the trunks. I have no idea what that was but it was everywhere.

I keep saying this each time I post, but the water level was the highest it’s been since I started visiting in October. I don’t know why it surprises me that it keeps going up, but it continues to surprise me each time! You can’t even get out to view Smith Lake, the path down there is so flooded. People launch their kayaks and canoes from that path, it’s a great place to do so. There is a view of Smith Lake from the other side from a viewing platform along the walking path.  But my original spot to take pictures of Smith has been inaccessible for quite some time.  I can’t wait to see at what point the water level goes down again.

The water was also covered with a green film. Algae or moss or whatever hangs out on top of water. The grass surrounding Bybee was so tall it was above my head.

Birds and bird families were everywhere. The robins pretty much dominated. Parents feeding fledglings on the ground. Yellow warblers were the next most abundant. Nests seen all over. I spied a morning dove sitting quietly on a nest, it was in really good cover so I couldn’t snap a good picture, but it was adorable. The osprey nest also has a young. I saw the parent fly away and one little head remained tucked down. I also saw female mallards with their little groups of teenagers.

Species list for the day:

  • osprey
  • northern flicker
  • barn swallow
  • tree swallow
  • crow
  • robin
  • yellow warbler
  • mallard
  • wood duck
  • great blue heron
  • towhee
  • morning dove
  • marsh wren
  • song sparrow
  • bushtit
  • chickadee
  • cedar waxwing

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Peregrine nest monitoring

I wanted to share this video clip for anyone who gets excited about birds. You’ll probably need to login to facebook to see it. ?

One wildlife conservation project I’ve been a part of is monitoring Peregrine Falcon nests this spring. You can read more about it in an older post of mine here.  We’ve been monitoring suspected nest sites to see if falcons are present, if they are nesting, and if the nests are successful. If nests are successful the young are banded for continued monitoring. The video clip was taken when banding the young earlier this week.

Peregrines nest on cliff ledges naturally, and often in city areas on “manmade cliffs” such as high-rise building ledges and bridges. Here in Portland the Falcons tend to nest on our bridges.

Peregrines used to be on the Endangered list but have recently been removed. Federal and State monitoring programs are in place to ensure the species is indeed recovering and does not need to be put back on the list.

Peregrines are beautiful creatures. You can read more about them here.