On Rodger’s web page, he revealed NEW experiences we had last week on our first trip to Sauvie Island this year taken for viewing the spring northbound migration of our favorite birds… Our BIG NEW lesson was about the Blue Heron Rookeries….and just the fact these exquisite birds did such a thing…i.e., gather in these large flocks for nesting. All we EVER see are singular herons sitting elegantly in a bit of water…..it was stunning to see. Well, Saturday, cousin Nancy and I took a second trip out there to show her that wonder, and see what else was happening.
The Migrating bird numbers continue to increase through March …..so, as expected we saw mammoth flocks of birds. We did a lot of viewing through binoculars and a spotting scope, so the camera wasn’t really available. **NOTE: I DID choose to insert a few pictures from the web of some of a few of the stunning and fun birds one does get to see on a trip to this magic island of farmers, and nature preserves. After all “birding” IS about a visual thrill…………….. I hope it translates that way here.
The first sighting on the way to our first destination spotting place, was a SKY view of -9- Bald eages, 3 pairs doing bonding dives, and 3 other single birds. I’d never witnessed to MANY bald eagles in ONE place doing this behavior at the same time.
. . . . Imagine these and a few more flying above you doing bonding flights….Whew!
We took off on a farm road that leads to a nature preserve (not opened this early), and at the gated dead end, a little memorial feeder has been installed. At OUR house in the summer, I’ll see an occasional charming Golden Crowned Sparrow during the summer…there were DOZENS of them here feeding….we thought this must be the “New York” for these little birds:
Outgoing but shy, it is fun when you see THIS little sparrow in flocks.
Above them, several of the beautifully musical Red Winged Blackbirds were joining in for feeding time:
On the way further north, we encountered little Merlin Hawks in several places:
Good of Nancy to teach me the difference between the Kestrel & this Merlin…I’ve been wrong………. But, these little guys are nothing when you run into the very large Red Tailed Hawks, and there were several seen today:
Their nests are almost as large as the Eagle nests…..
Our next stop came at the huge Bald Eagle Nest…where, fortunately, one male chose to hop up on the nest edge and do some calling while we watched…I’d never seen a Bald Eagle make those calling sounds within earshot. Nice. Just a tiny bit further, we turn off the road, toward a water channel to see our first Heron Rookery, and at first glance you only see big lumps of sticks in the trees:
But, of course, your eyes SOON notice there are very LARGE birds either sitting or standing next to these nests:
Once the scope is set up, you see THESE views, and in the breezes, their fine feathers are absolutely beautiful:
**It is here we could see -9- Herons through ONE spotting scope view. THIS is thrilling….they are magnificent birds….but our whole lives, we are used to seeing them in a solitary position in the water……. **A cute addition, while watching these 9 birds, we also noticed a cute sapsucker nipping his way up the branches right in the middles of the Herons. Nice.
We finally walked up to the water channel about the time two pair of one of the most beautiful ducks in the world came in to feed, I love these guys:
**These guys ALSO came in calling out…I’d never heard them make a peep….
We moved on an Audubon official viewing area to see the normal hundreds of Canadian Geese and their smaller cousins the Cackling Geese….which one’s cuter, eh?
I’m not sure I’ve been on this island anytime and seen any more Canadian Geese than I have today.
We moved up to Rentenauer Road (small graveled road moving along a few huge wetland spaces) and found:
1.) The ONE Mammoth Flock of Snow Geese STILL here….I’m sure “gathering” together for the flight north to nesting grounds near Arctic regions:
Yes, it IS a web shot, but I swear, it looked like this picture does…And another interesting view was that MANY were interspersed into a huge Canadian Geese flock there also…all mostly sitting in the sun…quietly resting. Nice.
2) The same Tundra swans were in the same wetland we saw last week. These huge elegant swans, also, surely leaving for the far north very very soon:
Today, ALL were feeding as if they won’t be eating for another week.
It was ALSO here Nancy saw the two little cute ducks I’ve NEVER recognized or noticed. The Buffleheads are quite elegant ducks….they dive completely under and stay for a few seconds, always coming up exactly where they dived from:
3) ALWAYS one of the main beautiful birds to see are those that come through here in the spring headed north for nesting, the Lesser Sandhill Cranes and I am not sure I’ve ever seen more than there were this week.
In small groups, or one huge flock, these are always amazing birds. When you hear THEIR trilling, warbling calls, you never know if they’re just overhead or a couple miles away….the sound carries incredibly:
Of course, there were coots, widgeons, mallards about…..always fun to see
with that glowing green head.
By now, at about 3 hours, we began to get a bit cold all the way through….it was a Brisk morning….but we had gone today anyway because we knew it would be MUCH less crowded today in brisk weather than tomorrow…the forecast tomorrow for temps about 10-15 warmer will draw hundreds of cars out here tomorrow. TODAY, we had the place to ourselves almost.
Well, we finally had to move on…….to the big Heron rookery to the North…we both felt there would be a minimum of 50-70 Herons at the large nesting sight…. all 40-60 feet in the air….incubating eggs for a few weeks, then spending 60-70 days
feeding them until they are large enough to FLY off a tree at that height. Wow..
AND….thanks to Nancy’s dedication, here is a list of exactly WHAT birds we saw yesterday:
**From Nancy: “I wrote down the species (32). Let me know if I missed any: raven, crow, starling, robin, junco, yellow-crowned sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, song sparrow, mourning dove, spotted towhee, red-winged blackbird, bald eagle, red-tail hawk, merlin, kestrel, Bewick’s wren, sandhill crane, canada goose, cackler, tundra swan, snow goose, mallard, bufflehead, American widgeon, coot, Great Blue Heron, red-breasted sapsucker, scrub jay, northern pintail, cormorant, black-capped chickadee, wood duck.”
What a day we enjoyed. We sure do love cousin Nancy!