BOGS Fern Ridge Royal Trip Report
Jan 14, 2016
I don't know about you, but the break we take from the end of Fall term into the next year feels all too long. Now that it is finally January, going out birding again with BOGS was not only a relief, but felt to me almost like a celebration. I found myself going around the group saying hello to everyone I knew before we starting walking.
The weather was making no promises, but while a storm was expected to arrive by 11 and it was heavily overcast, it held off from even sprinking, until we were nearly back at our cars. Even then I did not need to put up the hood on my raincoat. And at 46 degrees it wasn't really what I would call cold, though some folks did wear gloves and scarves.
Don took a nice landscape photo, which we both tend to forget to do. I think photos like this are great for those who are unable to go with us on our walks. They remind them of what our birding destinations look like.
Once we had all gathered at the beginning of the Royal Ave path, birds began to present themselves. It was mostly a Raptor day. First there was an American Kestrel a short ways off at the top of a small tree. Then we got a really great look at a Rough-legged Hawk, one of my favorite Winter birds.
The Rough-legged Hawk scared off a Red-tailed Hawk. I did get a photo of the R.L. in flight, showing wing coloration both on top and bottom. Don did a great job with it when it landed again.
I do not recall our group seeing a Rough-legged Hawk on any of our birding trips in the Eugene area. We have seen them on Belts Rd further north (in Linn county) on our Raptor Run trip and we have seen them at Finley Refuge several times in recent years, but I'm not sure we've had one at Fern Ridge or any of our usual watering holes.
I only wish I could have gotten a photo showing all the detail I saw through my binoculars when looking at the Rough-legged Hawk. The bird began flying before I brought my camera up for photos.
More bothersome than rain was the muddiness of parts of the trail in the area of the observation platform. Not that I didn't expect it, but somehow that doesn't seem to lessen the annoyance of picking one's way through and around watery and muddy patches of the trail. Maybe that's just me. And probably because my practical sense does not over-ride my inertia against wearing muck-boots. The worst place for this was as we approached the observation platform.
One reward for plucking our way through the mud, was a quick view of a Spotted Towhee, shown here in Don Laufer's photo. This bird was behind branches a lot and moving around a lot. I didn't try to photograph it, but Don Laufer did pretty well with it.
The best photo I have ever taken of a Spotted Towhee was also taken just a few hundred feet from this very place, also on a BOGS birding walk. It can be seen on the home page of this website. It is in the bottom row of thumbnails. Click on it for a full screen view. I really love that picture.
From shortly after we arrived at Fern Ridge and throughout out time there, we heard the percussive blasts of hunter's guns. We saw almost half a dozen hunters at various places over the course of the morning, and two of them were walking out with dead ducks in their hands. It was no surprise then, that there were not many birds to be seen from the observation platform.
We did see some Ruddy Ducks in the distance, and when walking further south along the dike we got closer looks the more Ruddy Ducks.
Don got a nice shot of a male Northern Harrier flying away from us. The white rump is clearly visible, but the male is a much grayer/whiter bird than the female or juvenile Harriers. We always see far fewer males. There must be some reason.
My best photo of the day was a Lincoln's Sparrow which flew from the bank of the pond to the weeds at the edge of the dike only 20 feet or so in front of us.
Nearly back to the parking lot, we came across a Red-shouldered Hawk perched in a tree. We see these at Fern Ridge on our Winter birding walks. This one allowed us to pass it by without flying away. Then Don got closer to it for a nice close-up of its red breast.
By this time the sky had darkened further and rain had begun to take over the day. Some folks stopped at the Acorn Woodpecker patch. I do see that species on Doris's bird list for the trip, so people must have seen them.
Bird list for walk at Fern Ridge Reservoir, Thursday, January 14, 2016, Royal Avenue entrance.
The rain held off until after 10:30, on our return to the cars.
-- bird list compiled by Doris Wimber
The photo slide-show for this trip can be found here:
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