Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dawson Creek Field Trip

Yesterday, Sarah, Andie, and I returned from our winter vacation at the coast. Details of that trip can be found at our DogBlog.
Today, I woke early and headed out to Dawson Creek Corporate Park in Hillsboro to lead an Audubon Society of Portland field trip.

This was the first trip offered at this park, so I was not sure if many would show. I was pleasantly surprised to find at least 17 participants eager to bird a new area. Some folks were expert birders, most were new to the hobby, and a few had never been on a birding trip.

We started by identifying many species of waterfowl in the ponds by the new Hillsboro Library. We viewed a pair of great blue herons roosting in a short tree near their usual nest site. I hoped we would see them building this year’s nest, but they have not yet begun construction. We moved on to a small woodland and picked up a few songbird species, then listened to many birds that seemed inspired to sing by the great sunny weather.
We moved to a bluff above a riparian zone loaded with snags housing several granaries tended by a colony of acorn woodpeckers. After a few minutes, several woodpeckers flew overhead carrying acorns to the snags. We watched them chose a hole, insert their acorn, then inspect their work to make sure the acorn was snug, lest they get stolen by hungry scrub jays. The presence of such an active colony was a big surprise to all on the trip

Last week, I had spotted an owl nesting in a snag a few dozen meters from the granaries, so I checked the snag again and did not see the bird at first. I kept looking and eventually saw a dark area in the center of the broken trunk. I spotted some barring in the area and realized the dark spot was the owl. After a lot of direction-giving, persuasion, and squinting into spotting scopes, we were all able to see the owl.
We continued around a few more ponds and found even more species of waterfowl. We watched an Anna’s hummingbird drink sap from wells excavated by red-breasted sapsuckers and later found the sapsuckers themselves.

We finally returned to the library after three hours of birding. Participants said that they had a great time and the park far exceeded their expectations. Not bad for man-made habitat. The area and the birds did not disappoint, so I look forward to leading more trips here.

Birds seen:
Great blue heron
Canada goose
American wigeon
Northern shoveler
Green-winged teal
Wood duck
Lesser Scaup
Ring-necked duck
Common merganser
Red-tailed hawk
Glaucous-winged gull
Great-horned owl
Anna’s Hummingbird
Belted kingfisher
Northern flicker
Acorn woodpecker
Red-breasted sapsucker
Western scrub jay
Common raven
Black-capped chickadee
Brown creeper
Ruby-crowned kinglet
American robin
European starling
Yellow-rumped warbler
Spotted towhee
Song sparrow
Fox sparrow
Dark-eyed junco
Red-winged blackbird
Brewer’s blackbird
American goldfinch


Kathryn and Ari said...

Greetings from a canine naturalist and her human companion on Maine. I really enjoy your blog--thanks!

Birdnerd said...

Max - What a success! Thank you so very much for leading it and I'm jealous of your acorns and sapsuckers. Guess I better head out that way and check them out!
I look forward to future posts.