Bird Photography

Birds of Oregon and General Science, (BOGS)

in association with Eugene's Celeste Campbell Center
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BOGS Eastgate West D street birdwalk, Jan 23, 2014

I see more and more people carrying cameras on our walks so I'd like to put the word out again for ANYONE who takes photos on our trips to feel free to send photos to me for inclusion in our trip photo albums. Credit will be given for each of your photos.

Though it was quite cool and foggy at 9am, an amazingly large turnout of 33 people showed up for our birdwalk. There were 3-5 new men and several new women on this walk and it surprised me they would show up on such a dismal morning. But it's late January, the Holidays are over and Winter has settled in for the duration, so perhaps some people are looking for new activities to get them out of the house.

During the walk I spoke with four of the new folks. Two of them were within a year of having retired and probably trying new activities to their calendars. Several of the new folks have bird feeders and were wanting to begin seeing more birds than only those which come to their yards. As evidenced by Herb Wisner's report last week about the Christmas Bird Count, Eugene back-yard counts can be quite rich and varied in our area. I think I am recalling correctly that 75 species had been added to the CBC by back-yard birders this year.

Doris was able to come with us again this time, and compiled for us, a list of 34 species for this walk.
Welcome back Doris!

At first blush it might seem that this particular walk may not have provided many additional species to back-yard birders who came to see more, but upon some reflection, about HALF of the species we saw would be unlikely to be seen in most back-yards. For example, Pied-Billed Grebe, Double-Crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, Bald Eagle, Red-Winged blackbird, Great Blue Heron, and probably all of the ducks; Wood Ducks, Ring-Neck, Bufflehead, American Widgeon, Hooded Merganser, and Mallard.

The river itself had Ring-Necked Ducks near our shore. A Great Blue Heron provided a proper adornment to the shore of the millrace. Red-Winged Blackbirds were singing and perched in low vegetation along the millrace. Further downstream we came to the area where houses line the far bank. A cluster of Ducks and a Nutria contained an American Widgeon and Mallards. The same trees which last year had a mix of Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches, this year had Yellow-Rumped Warblers and American Goldfinches. These trees are near houses with several active bird feeders. A pair of Wood Ducks were skulking behind/beneath a large tree stump overhanging the water.

When we arrived at the large pond along Pre's Trail, an adult Bald Eagle flew over us and continued beyond the far shore of the pond until out of sight. There were Buffleheads and more Ring-Necked Ducks far out in the pond. By this time the fog was just beginning to lift to expose a clear blue sky, and a Winter Sun, still brilliant despite it's low riding arc through the sky in January.

Next we took a trail which climbs gently into and across the center of the meadow. I have been along the millrace several times on my own and also many times along the bike path in this area, but the trail through the middle higher ground of the meadow was new to me. So was the small vernal pond we found there, with a half-dozen Canada Geese on it's shore. We also encountered three Hummingbirds, possibly slowly coming out of a state of torpor after the cold night and cold foggy morning. The Sun had only just started coming out less than 20 minutes before we saw them. We got amazingly close to one of them before it finally flew. The bird was silhouetted against a very brightly lit white cloud, so I had to overexpose the photo 3 stops to begin to see some of it's color. On my computer I raised the brightness level even further.

As we returned along the river bike path, I was surpised and impressed to see some beautiful displays have been installed where the bike trail passes below the new I-5 bridge. There are painted murals depicting Native Americans in canoes, and on the other side of the path, there are some engravings of camas plants showing stages of their growth. It's all very nicely done.

Song Sparrows were singing in the wooded area near to the parking lot. Our large group took a last look at birds in the river. None were close, but the river itself offers it's own beauty


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