Photos from personal trips AND trips with
Birds of Oregon and General Science, (BOGS) in association with Eugene's Celeste Campbell Center
BOGS Hileman Landing (a Lane County park),
August 21, 2014
Five of us met at the Campbell Center and headed to Hileman Landing, which is
an undeveloped county park. When we arrived, there were eight others
already there and getting ready to go birding. I've listed them here.
I had chosen this location because I had been wanting all Summer to take the BOGS group here, but it had been so hot every week that I kept putting it off. Finally we were expected to have a morning low of 57 and only low 70s by Noon, so I thought this would be a good day to visit this park. I think by 11:30 when we returned to our cars, it was perhaps a little warmer than predicted but it wasn't too bad. The high for the day did reach something like 84 by late afternoon.
The field of weeds right near the park entrance looked promising, and while we saw birds
flitting about near the tops of the tall weeds, they dove down quickly each time
and we could not get any good looks at them. We suspected they were Goldfinches,
but couldn't even really be sure of that.
There were birds moving around in the trees too, and again these were hard to locate. Several of us did get some good looks at a group of birds right above the trail in front of us.
I clearly saw a bird smaller than a Robin, with pale yellow breast, a clear light stripe above the eye and two wing bars. Betsy and a few others were looking at other birds near to mine. I thought what I was seeing looked like a female Black-Headed Grossbeak. (At the time of my first glimpse of the size of the bird and the pale yellow I thought it might be a female Western Tanager, but then I saw the eyestripe).
Betsy thought the bird she was looking at seemed too small for an adult BH Grossbeak. Then my bird and hers and then several others flew out of the tree one after another and we decided we might have been seeing an adult and some juveniles as well.
Sibley shows adult non-breeding birds to appear like the one I saw. It also shows the 1st Winter males (beginning in August) to have almost orange upper breasts, much darker than what I saw. Sibley doesn't show 1st Winter females.
Further along in the trip Don got a picture of another Black-Headed Grossbeak, showing some of the same field marks I had seen on the bird early in the trip. His picture also shows the bright color under the wing when it is flying, (but doesn't show the wing-bars I had seen). Here is Don's photo of the bird seen later on.
Along our way, there were two Turkey Vultures in a snag right alongside the trail. One of them was holding its wings outstretched.
We wound our way to the old, now-unused boat ramp. The channel here is lined with low trees and bushes and is quite pretty. About 20 feet across and several feet deep,
there is a small steady flow of water even in August. In each direction, the channel is obstructed by log-jams or heavy brush, and so it is not navigable.
We spent a considerable amount of time here because there were several Flycatchers feeding just across the channel from us and we were trying to get a conclusive ID on them. Had they been calling we would have been able to ID them just from their calls; the Western Wood Pewee having a single long buzzy note; the Willow Flycatcher have a two syllable call described as "fitz-bew" in some guides; and the Olive-sided Flycatcher has a very distinctive and loud three-syllable call, the middle note being higher in pitch and more emphasized than the first and third.
However, we did not hear these birds calling during the entire time we were studying them. The breast of the bird pictured below seems too light-colored for a Western Wood Pe-wee; however, there appears to be some downy feathers on each side so this might be a juvenile. The bill seems very long and thin for a pe-wee, and the wing bars are very faint.
All these things would suggest a Willow Flycatcher, but most of our group came to the conclusion that at least one of the birds we were viewing was a Western Wood Pe-wee. I concur with that based on the length of the wings when perched which I saw a few times.
WWPW wings extend to the middle of the tail while Willow Flycatcher wings reach only to the base of the tail. When I was looking at these birds there were times I could not determine the length of the wings. There may have been a Willow Flycatcher or two out there, but we could not be sure. Sibley says they especially like riparian willow thickets, which described our habitat pretty well.
Later in the trip we heard a Western Wood Pe-wee and then saw it so we knew what we were looking at. I've put together a composite of two images; one showing the WWPe-wee (on the left) and on the right,
one of the birds we saw at the boat landing. It seems to me that these are different species of birds, but take a look for yourself, and see what you think.
After hanging out at the old boat landing for a considerable time, we walked back nearly the park entrance so as to take the other trail. This trail winds Northwest along flood channels from over 100 years ago. This entire area is about 12 to 15 feet lower than the adjacent farmland which borders the park to the south.
The trail winds alternatingly through open meadowy areas and stands of cottonwoods and fir trees. There were numerous Steller's Jays making lots of noise in this area. Robins were also abundant. Don got pictures of a Scrub Jay with an Acorn in its bill, and a Robin lurking in typical habitat.
After going between 1/4 and 1/2 mile northwest, the trail reaches a point where the it runs out of the low ground eroded by channels more than a hundred years ago. It basically runs into the channel it has been following.
Here are a couple views of that channel where it bends to the north just beyond the log jam you see in the first photo. The second photo looks upstream where you can see that shallow water is flowing over gravel, as it leaves some heavy brush which has grown up along the log jam up there. The third photo is a close-up of that in-flow.
The channel we had been walking in parallel with, bends to the north and after another 1/2 mile or more, re-connects with the mainstem of the Willamette just a little north of the narrowest part of Green Island. The trail follows this channel but to do so, it climbs out of the eroded area, onto a forested high bank on the west side of the channel.
This junction has signs posted on fenceposts, labeling it as "Beacon Landing" and part of the old Willamette Greenway project.
There was a Green Heron on a fallen tree out in the expansive open channel.
As we walked north a few hundred feet along this high bank, we got several glimpses of the channel and even the distant confluence of the channel with the Willamette mainstem. Don captured these glimpses nicely with his photographs.
... and when we returned to the lower ground again and looked at the channel there was a juvenile Great Blue Heron, as indicated by the lack of any crest feathers on the head, the even gray color of the body and wings, and the lack of any longer feathers extending from the wings or neck.
Both Don and Terry got nice photos of this bird. (I did too,
actually but there is no need for more than two!)
Terry also got a very sharp picture of a Scrub Jay while we were re-grouping in this location.
It was getting pretty hot by the time we got back to our cars, but all in all, we'd had a nice morning birding in a peaceful and rather "untamed" stretch of one of the Willamette River's many special but usually less accessible places. I hope this album and report communicated the mood and beauty of this almost unknown park.
Generally speaking, this area is simply beautiful open country. Along our walk, at various times, several people commented to me about how much they liked this place. I was gratified to hear these comments because I think Hileman Park is a pretty special place and I had hoped others would enjoy it too.
Here are the birds I was able to remember
from the Hileman County Park Trip
Latitude, Longitude (gps coords of park): (44.13809, -123.12591)
23 species seen or heard at Hileman Count Park on 8/21/14.
Trip Album Link:
Paste this URL into your browser if clicking on the link does not work: