I'm sure you all get tired of seeing my wetlands/wildlife refuge posts, but I never get tired of visiting them and taking a series of rainy photos of birds and lichen. Such is the Northwest life - one must appreciate the grey, puddly days just as much as the sunny days in order to survive.
Ben and I, in our constant quest to "visit all the _____," the _____ being breweries or local wetlands, have been dedicating our weekends to knocking items off of our list. We used last weekend to visit two new breweries out in the suburbs (one of which impressed us and one of which we're happy to have off the list and not visit again) and to visit a wetlands tucked along a boring stretch of highway right outside of a boring part of town. Right past an auto parts junkyard that's nothing pretty to look at, there's a little brown sign indicating the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge with about five miles of trails in the summer months. Before we pulled in I saw flocks of geese flying over the road and landing in the expanse of floodplain surrounding the river.
The refuge was popular on Sunday morning with families, other birders, and a guided hike and birdwatching crew, but not too popular that it congested the trails. We spent most of our hike able to enjoy the scenery in peace. As it's winter, most of the trails along the water were closed off and we were only able to skirt the water and enjoy most of our walk through the forest along the river, streams, and creeks.
It was a cold and wet morning, but the birds were chirping like crazy and we immediately heard the red wing blackbirds singing their very recognizable song in the tops of some short and stubby evergreens. We spent a few minutes watching their vivid red wings and listening to them trill before heading down the path. We spotted a pied-billed grebe treading water in the river (there's a photo of it above) which was exciting as its a bird we've never knowingly spotted here. At the end of the trail, many a little sparrow and finch sighting later, we got a good look at two bald eagles perched high in a dead tree. You can see them (two little black dots) in some of the photos above. In the swampy wetlands, there were a host of American Coot - a cute gangly looking waterbird - some wood duck, mallard, and buffleheads.
On our exit out of the wetlands and back to the car, we saw the fat, invasive rodent of the Northwest - the nutria - making its way across the water. A mammal cap to a bird-y morning!