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Birds of Oregon and General Science, (BOGS)

in association with Eugene's Celeste Campbell Center
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BOGS: Bird walk at Delta Ponds along the river, Oct 24, 2013

We've had cold foggy mornings day after day lately, so I wasn't too surprised to see only a half-dozen people gathered at the Campbell Center for our bird walk. What did surprise me, was the 20 additional people who showed up at the bike / pedestrian bridge near Valley River Center. We ended up with about 26 birders!

The birds matched our numbers pretty well. Doris listed 28 species by the time we finished. Not too much beside Cormorants was seen from the bridge, but as soon as we got to the ponds the action picked up. A possible Peregrin Falcon or Merlin was seen flying fast near the river. We only saw it's dark shape against a bright foggy sky, but that was enough to reveal it's small size and sharply pointed wings. Bill Butler said it's wings were too pointed for a Cooper's Hawk, and it was too large for a Kestrel yet too small for other Hawks or Falcons. The Wednesday morning birding group reported an immature Peregrin a week ago in this area and I've had two glimpses of it since then. Another friend saw a Peregrin where well enough to be sure about it, a few days ago. None of this proves anything about what we saw, so this bird was not included in our list for the day. However, it was very likely either a Merlin or a Peregrin Falcon.

Green-Winged Teals have just arrived at the ponds. I was there several of the days immediately prior to our BOGS walk and had not seen any. There were maybe 100 feet away from us so we enjoyed a good look at them. Someone, (Janet or Donna, I think), noticed some of the males did not have the white crescent up front near the water line, so we surmised that not all of them have reached full breeding plumage. In contrast, Wood Ducks showed up at the ponds in large numbers and full breeding plumage in the middle of September. They carried on and did their pairing up back then, but apparently other duck species have their own timetables. We saw Wood Ducks on this walk, but as far as I know, they were not seen up close. If you want a closer look at them, visit Delta Ponds within an hour or so of Sunrise or Sunset. They range more freely when not being spooked by steady traffic on the bike path.

American Widgeons are also now at Delta Ponds. They too have only just returned a week ago, and they too are not yet in full breeding plumage. We found them in the channel right alongside the bike path, so we really got good looks and pictures.

Coots and Canada Geese are now present in loose flocks. Gadwalls were too, a week ago, and some folks saw some on this walk, but I missed them. Pied-Billed Grebes nested successfully at the ponds this year, for the first time in several years I think. I've been seeing quite a few of them since this year's crop have started roaming all over the ponds late this Summer. We saw several of them on this walk, though again, not up close.

Besides waterfowl, we had a good time catching glimpses of a variety of smaller, actively foraging birds. Yellow-Rumped Warblers were the most common of these, but there were, of course, the usual Black-Capped Chickadees and Bushtits. We got a little more excited about Cedar Waxwings, including juveniles with a less developed black mask and less developed crest and streaked breasts. What many folks got most excited about, was a White-Breasted Nuthatch. Several of us commented that we hadn't seen any of these for a while. I missed the Nuthatch while trying for pictures of the Waxwings flitting about in the small trees. I did get the juvenile Waxwing. This is a bird (the juvenile) which I had not seen until this year in September. The local Belted Kingfisher graced us with a very brief close-up view as we were heading back to the cars.

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