BOGS Delta Ponds
April 14, 2016
Not many members showed up at the Campbell Center on the morning of this walk. At first I thought it was because it was a pretty wet morning. There were maybe 8 to 10 people. When we arrived at the bike/pedestrian bridge connecting Valley River Center to Maurice Jacobs Park, there were more people waiting for us than had car-pooled over.
That is not unusual though when we are going to Delta Ponds, nor to Fern Ridge either for that matter, because many folks live closer to these destinations and prefer to meet there, thus avoiding the extra driving to and from the Campbell Center.
Though the weather was intermittantly showery, we came up with a pretty long list - 30 species of birds.
Bird list for walk at Delta Ponds on April 14, 2016.
Mostly wet with many showers.
--- bird list compiled by Doris Wimber
1. Double-crested cormorant
2. Great blue heron
3. Canada goose
4. Cackling goose
5. Wood duck
7. Green-winged teal
8. Lesser scaup
9. Greater scaup
10. Turkey vulture
11. American coot
13. Wilson’s snipe
14. Anna’s hummingbird
15. Scrub jay
16. American crow
17. Violet-green swallow
18. Black-capped chickadee
20. Bewick’s wren
21. Ruby-crowned kinglet
22. American robin (heard)
23. European starling
24. Orange-crowned warbler
25. Yellow-Rumped warbler
26. Spotted towhee
27. Golden crowned sparrow
28. Song sparrow (heard)
29. Red-winged blackbird
30. House finch
There was some excitement about a Long-eared owl which had been seen on Skinner’s Butte the day before; so Steve decided we would return a little early from Delta Ponds and go up to the top of the butte to look for the Owl. Several of us had in fact already been up looking for it that morning before the BOGS walk - and had not found it.
It had been spotted by Dennis Arendt of the Wednesday morning birding group and several members of that group got great photos. A few other birders had been contacted privately and also took photos. BOGS member Terry Smith happened to be up on the butte Wednesday photographing the Bald Eagle nest, so he heard about the Owl and took some excellent photgraphs of it. If you look at as many photographs of Long-eared Owls in Oregon as I have, you will find that it is rare to be able to see more than just some portion of the bird, such as half its face, or just portions of its upper or lower half. That's because it is almost always found in dense vegetation.
This particular bird however was being harassed by Jays and was rather out in the open. It was also not in its home habitat, which is most likely in Eastern Oregon. It breeds there and is primarily known here on the west side of the state, in post-breeding dispersal which takes place in Fall and Winter. A worker at Cascades Raptor Center told me they get an occasional injured Long-eared Owl and it is usually Fall or Winter and usually from the foothills of the Cascades at elevations like Leaburg. Sometimes one or two are seen near Tillamook in the Winter, but otherwise they are rare on the west side, or at least rarely observed.
Although the Long-eared Owl was not seen on the BOGS birding walk, we did look for it and it is an exceptional bird to have right here in the city limits - probably a record in fact - so I am including a few of the wonderful photographs which were taken by Terry Smith (a BOGS member) and by Stephen Franzen of the Wednesday morning birding group.
Once we were on our way along the river, several birds were heard more than seen. When we came to where the river feeds water into the ponds, a small glen was rich with birds. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was seen by some, as well as an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Black-capped Chickadee. The Orange-crowned was particularly easy to photograph for a change, as it was actively feeding and ingnoring us completely.
Some field guides will tell you that the most conspicuous field mark of Orange-crowned Warblers is their utter lack of field marks. They do have a small orange crown patch, but that is rarely seen.
So I was surprised to find this very obvious split eye-ring when I looked at my pictures of the bird. I took them to Steve and asked about it. He seemed surprised too but upon looking it up in Sibley we did find an eye-ring showing in a "Taiga" version. Also there is a gray eye-stripe behind the eye, which is also visible in this photo. I haven't looked into the "taiga" feature any further, but I remember seeing the word "Taiga" mentioned in reference to Wintering Merlins and perhaps some hawks.
Another bird in this same area was a Black-capped Chickadee
Also nearby was a Scrub Jay
There were two Canada Goose familes right on the bike path. One group of Goslings discovered some plant they found especially appealing. They were all grabbing for the blossums or buds.
One of the Goslings from the second family began walking away from its parent, heading across the bike path. One adult Goose, presumably the mother, leaned towards the errant youngster and called to it. I don't "speak Goose" but she seemed to be emphatically scolding the Gosling. The Gosling's initial response was to skulk lower down and continue slinking away, but as Mom continue her apparent harangue, the little one, along with one other, came walking meekly back towards Mom. The little one is behind the larger Gosling as they both return to Mother Goose.
Once the adult Geese got all their ducks in a row, they led them, like a parade, away from us.
There were sticks which had been stripped of their bark on the dike separating the first two ponds. Though Dave Walp has told us Beavers especially go after bark in the Fall, these sticks looked like the work of Beavers to me.
I do not know any place better than Delta Ponds when it comes to not only reliably seeing, but also getting good looks, at Wood Ducks. Early Fall and breeding season in Spring and early Summer seem to be best, but one can almost always find Wood Ducks here. The only month during which they seem to be hard to find, is August and into September. I've seen them gather at a more secluded location two different years in early September engaging in displays and males driving each other away from females. A week or so later, the Wood Ducks seem to be all paired up.
Every so often there are surveys of small fish taken at Delta Ponds to evaluate the degree of success and providing a resting and feeding area for migrating Salmon and Steelhead smolts. We came across a woman in a kayak carrying out one of these surveys.
I noticed a "mud slide" across the pond. It ran from a small channel in the vegetation at the top of the dike, down a steep slope to the water, where there was an obvious tunnel in the bank right at water level. I think most people know that River Otters make slides like this and play on them. There are also Mink living around these ponds though, and I do not know if they might make and use a slide like this. Terry Smith has seen Mink on this very dike several times, over towards the end where the river water enters the ponds.
The next photo shows how difficult it is to see - without much magnification - a Killdeer standing on an island some distance out away from the shore we were on. The Killdeer can be seen much better in the second photo.
I left this outing a little early with Beth, and missed seeing a half dozen more birds as a result. Beth and I joined up with the group again at the top of Skinner Butte, where everyone looked for but did not find, the Long-Eared Owl that had been around the entire day before.
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