Priscilla's Bird Photography

HOME BOGS Links Non-BOGS Links

Several Wildlife refuges in the Willamette Valley celebrated their 50th anniversary in May, 2014.
The Corvallis chapter of the Audubon Society scheduled their monthly 2nd Saturday bird walk at Finley Wildlife Refuge and four of us from the Campbell Center birding group (BOGS) decided to join them.

Mary Morrison, Jennifer Haynes, Marvel Loftus and I met up at 7am so we could rendezvous with the Audubon folks at Finley's McFadden Marsh at 8am. It was a beautiful, bright sunny morning with only an assortment of small cumulous clouds. The fields around McFadden Marsh were rich with an assortment of green colors.

When the Audubon folks arrived, the group leader Bev Clark introduced herself to us. A couple others of their group greeted us on their own a short time later.

Birding with Corvallis Audubon was fun and interesting. They were a friendly group to bird with. I could not help but notice some differences from our BOGS bird walks. For one thing, there was a very wide span of ages, from some folks in their 20s, all the way up to typical BOGS members ages. Also, it became clear rather quickly that many of these people really knew their birds. I also noticed right away that there were times when no one was talking, and sometimes people would only whisper or talk softly; not wanting to scare off birds by making too much noise. Campbell's BOGS group is much more casual about these things for the most part.

The Audubon group was not quiet all the time though. There were times when conversation flowed easily; usually when most everyone was watching one particular bird which seemed oblivious to our presence. During the Spring mating season, we found that some birds were too pre-occupied with defending their territories, or trying to attract females to be concerned about us. For example, Red-Winged Blackbirds and Yellow-Headed Blackbirds allowed us to get quite close to them without their being scared off. If they did fly off, they returned in only a matter of a few minutes, even if we had not left the area yet.

We began by going to the observation blind at McFadden Marsh. Two immature Bald Eagles were seen flying in that area, and Barn Swallows were close enough to photograph. As we walked the road to get a look at the Little Muddy Creek, A Virginia Rail ran across the road in front of us and a Goldfinch landed in plain sight on a sign post.

From the bridge over the creek we viewed a Purple Finch singing relentlessly. This particular finch had very little red color so we wondered how successful it would be in it's efforts to attract a mate.

Returning to the parking lot, we drove West to what is called the "Scrape Pond." This is the shallow marshy area right next to the road (Bruce Road), where we looked for Short-Eared Owls this past Winter. They were reported there often through the Winter, but we weren't there close to Sunset and that's when they usually come out.

The scrape pond was the most entertaining if not the most productive birding spot for us that morning. There was quite a rush of excitement when we saw an American Bittern with it's bill pointing upwards. There were both Yellow-Headed and Red-Winged Blackbirds singing from the tops of cattails only 30-50 feet from us. An American Coot was swimming nearbu with several young Coots tagging along. These have orange bills and some orange streaking on their heads. There was a Cinnamon Teal swimming among the cattails as well.

On our return to the bridge over the Little Muddy, there was a Black-Headed Grossbeak singing. It was out of sight most of the time, but finally it flew across the road over our heads and landed for a very short time at the top of a tree branch having no leaves.

Our next stop was the Prairie Overlook at the Northeast corner of Finley Refuge. There was a canopy-covered station set up as part of the 50th anniversary of the refuge, and a guide took some of our group out into the field to look at some of the wildflowers which were in bloom. From the platform he pointed out a rare Delphinium.

From the observation platform, we saw a Lazuli Bunting, a Common Yellowthroat, a Wilson's Phalarope, a Semi-Palmated Plover or two, some Killdeer, a Turkey Vulture and further out, a flock of what we were told were Band-Tailed Pigeons. While there were a lot of birds here, most of them were quite some distance away compared to the very up-close looks we got at the scrape pond. We did not see any White-Tailed Kites here, as I did with Jen in December and with BOGS in January.

Our final stop for the Audubon birding trip, was Cabell Marsh, which I've not been to in decades. It was after 11am by the time we got out there, and things were rather quiet. An Osprey was diving for fish and from a look through someone's spotting scope while it was sitting on a log with it, I would say it was a 5 or 6-inch Catfish. Along the trail on the way out we clearly heard a Cassin's Vireo calling repeatedly very near to us, and saw a Wilson's Warbler.

After the bird walk, we took a very short side-trip to the very large barn across the road from the old headquarters building. There was a young woman from a rehabiliation center there with a beautiful adult Great Horned Owl.

We partook in a Buffet lunch accompanied by live bluegrass music, and toured the old headquarters building and the Historic home and buildings of the family which had farmed the land before it became part of Finley Refuge. On display were photographs taken by William Finley, and a book he wrote. We also watched part of a video taken while he and others trapped Beavers to move them to another location.

Our last activity was a van ride to the top of Pigeon Butte where habitat restoration is being done. Most of our party went on a walking tour with a biologist. They are re-introducing the host plant for Fender's Blue Butterfly and hope to bring back the Butterfly eventually to that araea as well.

There were some nice views from the top of Pigeon Butte.

Here is the full photo album for this trip: Paste the URL into your browser if the link does not work: