Bird list for trip to William Finley National Wildlife Refuge, March 14, 2019.
The weather was foggy at our first stop, but cleared to sun and warm temperatures for the rest of the trip.
- COMPILED BY DORIS WIMBER
Trip summary by Priscilla Sokolowski
When we arrived at the refuge, it was foggy, but it was already obvious that the fog was going to burn off soon, which it did. While in the fog at the McFadden Marsh parking lot and observation yurt, a Black Phoebe, a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk made ghost-like appearances. To illustrate one thing that can be done with software I "de-hazed" one of the Black Phoebe photos and show it here side-by-side with the original fog-bound version. Generally I prefer to leave my photos very close to if not exactly as they come out of the camera. When I do make adjustments it is usually to brighten or darken a photo that was not perfectly exposed. If I go further than that, it is to brighten field marks that are obscured in the shadows. If a photo is especially in need of improvement I will do some sharpening of the edges - again to try to improve the visibility of field marks. What I do not do is make my photos into "art projects"; which many photographers these days do on a routine basis. More and more one sees photos which show vivid color brilliance and saturation never to be seen on the actual bird. My philosophy is to provide photos that look like what you can see out in the field when birding.
McFadden Marsh is always a great place to see a variety of Waterfowl in Winter. Tundra and some Trumpeter Swans are regular Winter visitors, as well as the thousands of Geese of several subspecies including the diminutive Cacklers with their short necks and higher pitched voices. Bald Eagles are always to be found at McFadden in Winter too. A variety of Ducks are always present (in Winter). Bufflehead, Shovelers, Mallards, Pied-billed Grebes, and others can usually be seen just by turning one's head when looking from the observation yurt.
At the South Prairie overlook, I took a group shot. Besides the many Geese in the fields, there was also a possible Pergrine Falcon which was too far to confirm with any assurance even with photos. Either way, Don, Mary Lee and Jackie (Chama) saw a pair of Pergrines later in the morning.
There was a Western Bluebird skirmishing with Swallows at the Bluebird boxes alongside the parking lot. Or maybe I should say the Swallow was skirmishing because the Bluebird only occasionally participated actively. Don took a flurry of shots showing the Swallows dive-bombing the Bluebird and a few showing the Bluebird in flight also.
From that overlook one can see the so-called "Scrape Pond" further to the west on Bruce Rd. We always stop there. It's on the north side of Bruce road only 1/8 mile past the overlook. We saw Northern Shovelers and Ring-necked Ducks most of all on this trip, but later in Spring I've seen American Bitterns here up close, as well as fledgeling American Coots and adult Yellow-headed Blackbirds. In Winter, late in the day Short-eared Owls are also seen near the scrape pond often.
I don't think I realized that Don was riding in Mary Lee's car during the Finley trip, so I figured Don would get lots of photos at every stop along the way. As it turned out, he did so, but their car got way behind the rest of the group after we left the South Prairie overlook, and they stayed at Finley much longer, (getting home at 3:30), so they saw several birds the rest of the group never saw. They even walked the boardwalk trail the the Cabell Marsh, where they saw a Cooper's Hawk flying through the thin woods, as well as Tundra Swans and other birds. I decided to put the photos Don's group saw on their own in a separate slide show below the main slide show. That way people would not be left wondering "when did the group see that Northern Shrike, or that Cooper's Hawk?" Well, of course, the main group did NOT see those birds, but there's no reason why we can't all enjoy Don's photos of them. Be sure to scroll down below the first slide show and take a look at the 2nd slideshow as well as Don's description of the experiences he, Mary Lee and Jackie Chama had that day.
Because I had been expecting Don to get his usual plethora of photos at every stop through the refuge, I did not take many photos between the South Prairie Overlook and the last stop at the North Prairie Observation platform. Hoever I did get a nice photo of a Red-tailed Hawk soaring not very high above Bruce Rd near the "Flamingo House". (This is the last residence near Bruce road further west from Finley). The owner has a sense of humor and sometimes poses things like pink flamingos in antiquated farm equipment he has here and there on his property. There are Acorn Woodpeckers in the Oak trees around his house too.
When the car I was riding in arrived at the North Prairie Observation platform, Jackie Stokes called me over to take a look at a Hawk perched on a tilted log/branch some distance away. We struggled to identify the bird, but it was only after I enhanced the contrast on my computer that I could see a trace of the "Owlish-facial disk" which is seen on Northern Harriers. I sent the photo to Jennifer, Don and Janet and we all had some confidence in the Harrier ID.
Also at the North Prairie Observation platform - always our last stop before leaving Finley - Steve saw two Hawks soaring high up above us in the very bright sky. He thought one was a Rough-legged Hawk a nd asked me to try to confirm that with my camera. The car I was riding in was about to leave because the driver had to be back in Eugene, so I didn't take time to adjust my camera settings. So while my exposure was letting in too much light, I was able to show Steve that the right field marks for the Rough-legged Hawk were indeed present. The other Hawk was a Red-tailed Hawk. I've annotated one of the photo-graphs to delineate the several field marks giving us a conclusive ID of Rough-legged Hawk.
seen by Don, Jackie and Mary Lee.
This portion of trip summary by Don Laufer
Mary Lee, Jackie Chama and I were way behind the caravan after leaving the Pigeon Butte overlook area. Along the way to the HQ we saw the Wrentit next to the road after we'd stopped to look at some other bird. After leaving the HQ, again way behind everyone else, we saw the RTH next to the road in the Turtle Flats area.
We didn't see much at the Prairie Overlook so we backtracked to the Homer Campbell boardwalk. On the way we spotted the Northern Shrike in the Turtle Flats area. It was hard to get a decent picture with all the heat shimmer and the distance! At the boardwalk pond we saw a bunch of swans, ruddy ducks, yellow-rumps and Kinglets. On the way back to the car we saw a flock of white pelicans and a pair of peregrines fly over, as well as a Cooper's hawk flying through the trees.
We left via the north entrance and saw the
meadowlark about 10 ft from Finley road, across from the large pond there. It just sat there while we talked and took pictures
so I wonder if it was sitting on a nest?
We didn't get back to the Campbell center until 3:30 but it was a pretty good day.