Long Distance Traveler
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area west of Eugene sees a variety of birds and other wildlife. It seems to be along the migratory route of some species of birds. I was fortunate to locate some American White Pelicans on a recent visit. Pelicans are large birds, capable of traveling long distances.
I found this information from 'All About Birds' helpful - "Though American White Pelicans breed at fewer than 60 colonies in total, their large size and propensity to travel large distances, even when breeding, make finding them fairly straightforward. Finding them depends on where you are and what time of the year it is, so check a range map to find out whether you should be looking in inland sites in the north or coastal spots in the south of the continent." ( https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_White_Pelican/id)
Sitting Still For a Moment
I saw this beauty along the Mill Race Path in a riparian area. There was a number of them zooming back and forth above the water, too fast for this old guy to catch them. But then I didn't have my Nikon D500 DSLR, which could stop them in their tracks. Still, they are very fast. I think they were swallows, but this one confused me. Whatever it is, I enjoyed the antics. A friend ID'd the bird, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow. See - http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-rough-winged-swallow
The Art of Preening
This Red-wing Blackbird stopped in the top of a small fir tree along the Mill Race Path to preen. The beautiful green of the new growth. along with a green background, really set the bird apart. As it preened, the bird struck this nice pose. If you look closely, you will see that those small black spots are insects buzzing around the bird.
Why do birds preen? Note this comment from 'thespruce.com': "Birds have up to 25,000 feathers, and regular preening keeps each one of those feathers in top condition. Second only to feeding, preening is a common bird behavior easily observed in a backyard, out in the field or even among captive birds or pets. Understanding why and how birds preen can help birders better appreciate their beautiful avian friends."
Soaking in the Morning Light
This Cormorant I saw at Delta Ponds looked quite comfortable on the small tree branch. I imagine it was enjoying the warm golden light of a sunny morning. I know I was, though I wasn't up in a tree. :)
Enjoying the View
Three bicyclists riding the Riverbank Path pause in Delta Ponds to enjoy the view of one of the ponds. It was a great day for a bike ride, with warm sunshine. And it was also a good day for walking through the Ponds on a photo walk. The sunshine came a little later. :)
Below you will find some information about Eugene's bike paths from Eugene Parks.
Eugene's growing bicycle network includes: •46 miles of shared-use paths,
•187 miles of on-street bicycle lanes,
•71 miles of signed bikeways, and
•5 bicycle/pedestrian bridges spanning the Willamette River
•2 bicycle/pedestrian bridges spanning major roads or highways
Out in the Sticks
Enjoyed a visit to Delta Ponds where I saw this gorgeous bird, a Cedar Waxwing. It was perched on a bare twig in among a lot of twigs, truly "out in the sticks." For anyone unfamiliar with this phrase, it is an American term meaning "a rural area considered remote or backward"
"I was the country bumpkin from the sticks."
"I haven't lived in the sticks all my life."
"Warren admits he couldn't live right out in the sticks."
"It's out in the sticks, about two miles from the nearest shop."
"He lived out in the sticks somewhere."
(From Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers)
I saw these ferns along the Middle Fork Path in Springfield and thought the natural arrangement was perfect.
"Fern is a vascular, seedless plant that belongs to the group Pteridophyta. There are around 12 000 types of ferns that differ in size, morphology and type of habitat. Ferns can be found throughout the world. They live in shady places that provide enough moisture, such as forests, fields, swamps and areas near the streams. Fern can survive in various climates and on different altitudes. These plants are among the oldest living organisms on the planet."
There is so much we can learn from nature. There is even a field of science where they steal designs from nature for ‘new’ inventions. I feel I am getting a real education from what the Bible calls “the book of nature”.
Awesome Aerial Acrobat
According to "All About Birds - The Cornell Lab of Ornithology", "Violet-green Swallows are graceful aerial acrobats that fly at various heights, often over water bodies, in search of flying insects. When not foraging Violet-green Swallows perch on wires or exposed tree branches. They are social songbirds and occur in groups with other swallows and swifts." I saw this Violet-green Swallow flying with other kinds of swallows above the waters of a Riparian Area along Springfield's Mill Race Path. I believe it is the first of this variety of swallows that I have been able to photograph. They are swift little things.
More information from "All About Birds" - "These aerial insectivores perform acrobatic stunts over lakes and streams high in the sky in search of flying insects. Violet-green Swallows can look dark at first, but their true colors come to life when sunlight illuminates their metallic green backs and iridescent purple rumps. They are a common sight in the West in spring and summer, but they vanish to Mexico and Central America for the winter. They can be distinguished from other swallows by the white patches on the sides of their rump and their white cheeks." - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Violet-green_Swallow/id
It was a beautiful morning at Delta Ponds. The water is high for this time of year, so wildlife isn't as plentiful as last year. Still, I was treated to some photos of a variety of birds. Besides this, the turtles were out in numbers sunning themselves on logs in the ponds. I call this image Double Exposure because the reflection is almost as realistic as the real turtles.
A Buddy of Mine :)
Just can't help it, the Great Blue Heron is a favorite of mine. I am so impressed with this huge bird, so gangly looking when walking, but oh so graceful in flight! I love to watch them hunt and quickly strike at prey, also to see them with outstretched wings as they glide through the air.
I really appreciated these comments from 'The Cornell Lab of Orthinology - All About Birds' - "Whether poised at a river bend or cruising the coastline with slow, deep wingbeats, the Great Blue Heron is a majestic sight. This stately heron with its subtle blue-gray plumage often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. They may move slowly, but Great Blue Herons can strike like lightning to grab a fish or snap up a gopher. In flight, look for this widespread heron’s tucked-in neck and long legs trailing out behind."
My First Sighting of a Green Heron This Year.
I saw my first Green Heron this year while at Delta Ponds this morning. It was very skittish and I had a difficult time getting a shot of it. I suppose that's because it just arrived at the Ponds where quite a few people walk each day. If it stays long enough perhaps it will get used to us.
In previous years it has been a little easier to get close enough for photos. But the Green Herons in those years arrived earlier and stayed longer than we will probably see this year. The waters in the Ponds have been high all spring, and they are still a little high even now. So I am not seeing as much wildlife yet, like I have in previous years. Perhaps this will help you to understand why I was thrilled at seeing the Green Heron back again.
I saw this cute little bird in a tree along one of the Delta Ponds. Its size, shape and bill are like a Chick-a-dee or a Bushtit. My guess would be a Bushtit. I loved how the branches created a wonderful frame for the bird.
Following is a link that leads me to believe the bird to be a Bushtit. It mentions that they are often seen with other birds as they forage. That was the case with this one. It was with a Bewick's Wren and perhaps another kind of bird. This quote is from 'The Cornell Lab of Orthinology - All About Birds': "Bushtits are sprightly, social songbirds that twitter as they fly weakly between shrubs and thickets in western North America. Almost always found in lively flocks, they move constantly, often hanging upside down to pick at insects or spiders on the undersides of leaves. Flocks of Bushtits mix with similar small songbirds like warblers, chickadees, and kinglets while foraging. Bushtits weave a very unusual hanging nest, shaped like a soft pouch or sock, from moss, spider webs, and grasses." See the photo at this link, which does look like the bird I saw - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bushtit/id