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Adult Mink, April 2, 2018
Here are the photos I took today. While these are not very good photographs, one sometimes has to be content with what one manages to get, especially when the subject is as rarely seen as a Mink. It was pretty far away, so they are not sharp, but you can still see the Mink's body shape, the way he holds his head, his tail, and the way his body looks when he moves.
I stopped walking when it was out on the path because it was watching me and two kids on the other side of it about the same distance away. It didn't stay around long, so I didn't get any pictures closer than the ones below.
Comparing Mink to River Otters
I have found that many people, including some fine birders, when they see
a Mink, think they are looking at an Otter. Otters are more often seen
than Mink, and pretty much everyone has heard about River Otters in the River
and Amazon Creek and perhaps most of all at Delta Ponds. So I suppose
it is no surprise that people assume they are seeing Otters.
But in fact, Mink are in all these places as well.
There are lots of differences between Mink and River Otters, the most obvious being the deep chocolate brown color of the Mink compared to the gray of the Otter, which can vary from dark gray to almost silver.
A mink is about half the size of an Otter, and its tail fur dries quickly and stands up away from the tail, while the Otter tail fur - every time I've seen it, lays flat against the tail.
When they swim, Minks show the entire length of their back above the water line, while Otters typically show the head and only a portion of their back above water.
The snout of a mink is more pointed, while the Otters face is seems to be wide in the cheeks in comparison.
In the side-by-side comparison photos below, for each photo, notice the overall coloration: rusty chocolate brown or gray/silver?
Mink: entire body shows above water; Otter, little of back shows
Things to look for with Minks and Otters.
Two common birds in Alton Baker Park, Mar. 15, 2018
Tundra Swans, American Kestrel & Red-tail Hawk in Franklin Rd area (north of Alvadore)
American Kestrel - female
Bald Eagles; Franklin Rd area (north of Alvadore), Mar. 2, 2018
This Eagle was in a tree right alongside Washburn Ln. A pond is on the other side of the road. I stopped my car right below the Eagle, rolled down my window, turned on my camera and adjusted the settings, all the while expecting the Eagle to take flight. But it didn't. It remained even after I drove off.
Two adult Bald Eagles are sitting in this large nest.
This Eagle nest is west of Alvadore Rd about 1/8 mile and north of Franklin Rd about 1/2 mile and there is no nearby public access. I photographed it from a 90 degree bend in Alvadore Red, a short distance north of Franklin Rd.
Stormy Weather: Franklin Rd area (north of Alvadore), Mar. 2, 2018
Pipit run with Joel Geier, Feb 28, 2018
One of the pre-eminent birders who posts regularly if not daily, on OBOL (Oregon Birders Online - an email listserve), Joel Geier, took five of us BOGS members on a tour of some of the areas where American Pipits, Horned Larks, Grasshopper Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows can be found at various times of the year.
Near the Rice Ponds South of Lake Creek Rd & Gap Rd, we saw this dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk. I'd not seen one of these before.
The habitat along Belts Road, from where it intersects Gap Rad, to where Tub Run Road rejoins Belts from the East, is an important remnant of Willamette Valley native grasslands.
Grasshopper Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows both depend on native grassland habitat like this. Only a few breeding pairs of these species remain in this area.
This large parcel of land on the east side of Gap Rd's intersection with Belts Rd, is owned by a famous actor. There are hopes that the owner can be persuaded to agree to some kind of habitat preservation and/or restoration.
Joel Geier showed us the specific species of native grass which when going to see, shoots up taller than the belly of an adult horse. He said the Calapooia Indians, who lived in this area were sometimes called "People of the tall grass".
Delta Ponds Birds and Mammals, February 23-27, 2018
Male Gadwall, followed by male/female Gadwall pair; Delta Ponds Goodpasture Rd, Feb 27, 2018
Ring-necked duck, female; Delta Ponds Goodpasture Rd, Feb 27, 2018
Ring-necked duck, male; Delta Ponds Goodpasture Rd, Feb 27, 2018
There were some very fresh Beaver gnawings along the trail which were NOT there on the 23rd.
Photo taken at Delta Ponds along Goodpasture Island Rd, Feb 27, 2018
Northern Shoveler, shoveling just under the surface of the water.
Taken Feb 27, 2018
Raptor Trip with Jennifer and Janet, northern Lane county and southern Linn county. Feb 26, 2018
We think this is an immature Golden Eagle. There is a tan patch on top of the head, and when it flew Jennifer saw some white on the tail between the rump and the end of the tail, Golden Eagles have been reported regularly in northern Lane county and Linn county over the years. They are seen at Finley Refuge just about every January or February. But outside of Finley reports of them by well-established birders also do occur a few times each Winter. We saw this bird on Feb 16. According to eBird.org, another Golden Eagle was reported by Barbara Combs,7.5 miles east of ours, five days later, on Feb 21.
Greater White-fronted Geese. We were surprised to see these. Not that they are rare, but one doesn't seem that all that often. These were off Alvadore Rd or Dorsey Ln.
We thought this might be the start of another Bald Eagle roosting area. This is north of Fern Ridge, north of Franklin Rd and west of Alvadore Rd. We were surprised there were so many Eagles in the tree around 1:30pm in the afternoon. But when I returned here on March 2, there were no Eagles in this tree at all. We need to check it before Sunset to be more certain either way.
Tundra Swans on Meadowview Rd.
We saw these further north in Linn county. At the time we didn't know what they were, but now that I have looked at photos online, I think these are Dunlin. We have been seeing flocks of Dunlin the last few weeks in various areas of Lane and Linn counties.
We ended our birding that day as sunset was approaching, at the Tangent Eagle Roost. There were two other car-loads of birders there, one of which was from Eugene. Dave Stone was in that group. He sent me the following photo he took of the Bald Eagles in the roost trees that evening.
Bald Eagles roost here during the Winter months, essentially December-March; during lambing season. Counts of Eagles in the roosting trees get as high as about 120 on some years. This year I don't think I saw a count higher than 101.
Native Muskrat at Delta Ponds. Feb. 23. I rarely see these, but they are around. They're about half the size of an adult Nutria, and their tail is nearly half as long as their body, while Nutria tails are shorter in proportion to their bodies. In these photos one can see how narrow and pointed the Muskrat's snout is. Nutria have broader, flatter faces and their ears are not as far behind the eyes. You can see how far the Muskrat's ears are behind the eyes.
This is where the Muskrat was feeding. A year or two ago I was told there was a River Otter lodge at this location, though I have never verified that myself. There was also a Mink on the ridge on the other side of the water within a minute of seeing the Muskrat swim away. I couldn't get a photo of the Mink before it ran into the brush.
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