provided by:

Priscilla Sokolowski

Eugene, OR

Photos from personal trips  AND trips with

“Birds of Oregon and General Science” (BOGS)


Bird photography

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MAP: Inlet and Ammocoete Site Location

Ammocoete SITE Wide View
Photo taken from the downstream side of the channel where ammocoetes were found; ie, looking upstream (Southwest).
The Green Heron was feeding in the area from the patch of mud on nearest bank near bottom of photo, and up and to the left into the shade of the tree

Site location: closer view
Photo taken on second visit, July 12

Inlet from river - rocky patch
The small rocky patch on the far side of this pool is the inlet from the Willamette River.

Inlet: Close-up
Photo taken between inlet from river and ammocoete site. Looking Southwest towards river.
The rocks at the inlet are quite large and then there is a drop-off into a few feet of water as the flow enters this pool

Inlet: FLOODED (Dec 18, 2015)
This photo, taken between river inlet and ammocoete site, looking towards river, ie; southwest.
This photo was taken during a very high water event. It shows how high the water gets in some Winters. This past Spring, the water came up high enough to flood the bike path where I was standing to take these photos.

Ammocoete site flooded (2015)
Photo taken between inlet from river and ammocoete site; Looking away from river, ie; northeast; towards ammocoete site. Photo taken during a high-water event in 2015


I was at Delta Ponds for only half-an-hour on July 2, around 9am on a calm lightly overcast day. I happened to find this Green Heron eating what I took at first to be a small snake. It caught another one the same size right away and I thought that to be odd on a cool early morning in deep shade so I looked at the photos and saw immediately that these were not snakes - they were something like EELS! I could only stay a short time, unfortunately, but I noticed from the times on my camera that this Heron ate four of these things in less than six minutes! I could not see anything that might have helped the Heron to find these guys, but he was sensing something because the Heron would run two feet or so and grab another one.

Enlarged close view showing eyes of ammocoete

Green Heron eating ammocoetes: Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Ventral side of ammocoete
When I saw the Heron drop one I knew it was my best chance to get a shot of the color of the ventral side of one of these things.

Some kind of injury or fin - something protruding from "neck" area of ammocoete.

Closer view of odd bump or injury

Very close enlargement of protruding feature

Heron extracting ammocoete from silt
This is out of focus so back on July 3 I did not even process this photo. But when I went back recently (August 18) and looked through the original photos shot in "RAW" format, I saw that the Heron was pulling out an ammocoete in this photo so I'm including it even though out of focus. The photo taken immediately after it shows the ammocoets in its bill so I included that too.

Heron after extracting ammocoete
The ripples in the water show that this photo was taken only seconds after the previous one.

Heron eating ammocoete

SHORT VIDEO of Green Heron thrashing an ammocoete

This is a very poor video. The Heron has its back to the camera and the ammocoete can only be seen very briefly wriggling around as the Heron holds it in its bill. I rarely take videos, but if I'd had more time that morning I might have taken another video, but alas, I was already late for picking up friends for a day-trip to Portland.

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TAKEN JULY 2, 2019

I did not notice these ripples and/or bubbles on July 2 when I took photos of the Green Heron eating the ammocoetes, but upon seeing a short stream of bubbles coming up from the silt on my return visit on July 12, I (eventually) went back and looked through the July 2nd photos and discovered there were two photos from that set which also show ripples on the water surface a short distance from the Heron. I want to stress that on July 2, the photos were taken near 9am on a windless lightly overcast morning. There were no leaves falling from the trees. These ripples were either from something moving in the water or from bubbles rising up out of the silt. (The July 12 photo set further down this page includes one which shows definite bubbles coming up). It is possible that small fish were making some of these ripples, though they couldn't make the sreams of bubbles seen in some of the photos seen further down this page. Also if the ripples were made by small fish, that leaves the question of how the Green Heron was finding the ammocoetes from two or three feet away, because he ran a few feet each time to pick up another ammoecoete.

Green Heron eating ammocoete with ripples further away from camera (higher up in photo) near the shoreline.

Closer view of Ripples/Bubbles from previous photo

Ripples/bubbles near Heron while it feeds on an ammocoete
Notice ripples near Herons legs are smaller than those in the water in front of the Heron

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RETURN VISIT JULY 12, 2019 Ripples on surface (possibly from Bubbles rising up from silt) at site where Heron had been feeding on ammocoetes

Feeding area and two ripple/bubble locations
Once photo opens click on it go get a much larger view

The most conspicuous bubbles
This set of bubbles was the first one I actually saw while it was taking place. Until this time, on July 12, (nor on July 2) I'd had no thought of bubbles and had not noticed any. I was re-visiting the site to see if any Herons or other birds were feeding on ammocoetes or at least to get photos which gave more detail of the silt from which the ammocoetes were being pulled by the Green Heron on July 2.
Even after seeing these bubbles I didn't think too much about them. In fact it was days later that I looked through my photos and noticed bubbles in another photo also taken July 12. Did I then go back to the July 2 photos to see if there were any bubbles to be seen? No, I'm sad to say, it didn't even occur to me to do that. I guess I assumed if there had been any bubbles the morning of July 2, when I photographed the Green Heron eating ammocoetes, I guess I thought (without really thinking) that I would have seen them. Well I was wrong about that, as the photos in the section above demonstrate- there WERE bubbles coming up in one of the photos of the Green Heron eating an ammocoete! When I told retired UofO Professor of Ornithology Dan Gleason this story his first question was to ask how the Heron was finding the ammocoetes. When I told him there were some streams of bubbles and ripples on the water surfce, he nodded and said that must be what the Heron was cueing in on. He seemed confidant about it.

Ripples on water surface in another spot where the Heron had been consuming ammocoetes on July 2. This photo was taken around 10am, July 12.

More ripples on water surface a few feet away

Enlargement of above photo

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Revisit Ammocoete site July 15 to Photograph newly exposed silt as water level drops

I took this set of photos because it struck me that the "cottage-cheese curd-like" texture of the soil seemed unusual. It reminded me of fresh worm-casting in an active compost pile. Why does silty soil which has been below water look like so many identical "curds"? There are no clear bird footprints either. If birds walking through repeatedly somehow caused this,there would be footprints from the last few birds to walk through this patch, but there are none to be seen.

Fairly wide-angle view of soil which had been underwater back on July 2, but is now several inches above the waater line

Closer view of soil

Another even closer view of a soil patch

Closer view

Another very close-up view.

Revisit Ammocoete site again, July 28, to Photograph silt again as water drops

"Cottage Cheese" texture of exposed soil
The most recently exposed silt still has theat "worm-castings" or cottage-cheese texture

Above the water line; 3 views progressively closer: #1
While much drier looking, the soil seems very loose and lacking in density or cohesion. I have to wonder how soil like this can be here after high water flows. Even this past Spring there was a high water flow through here. Why didn't it wash all this very loosely packed soil away? Or did this soil get this way later in the Spring as a result of ammocoetes emerging or moving around? I'm purely speculating here, and very curious about all this.



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