Lately I’ve been finishing the move into my home here in Tigard, Oregon. I found a small dining set, coffee tables, and other odds and ends. It felt wonderful to finally get pictures hung on the naked walls.
But nothing was quite as satisfying as tackling the view from the house, especially the view from the large picture windows in the back of the house.
There is a tiny yellow frog, a real one, on the left. On the right, only whimsy.
Even more satisfying than my view was the goal of making the yard inviting to birds, bees, butterflies, frogs, and snakes.
Except for the occasional walk through the refuge, the yard has been the focus of my outdoor life for weeks.
Lately I’ve taken time to just sit, watch the creatures, smell the roses, and savor the not-so-subtle early morning fall chill. We’ve another glorious fall coming soon. I hope everyone takes time to enjoy it.
If it has been some time since you visited Yaquina Bay near Newport on the Oregon Coast, this may remind you to go back soon. If, like myself until last week, you have never visited Yaquina Bay, you will want to know that no amateur photographer (least of all me), can fully capture the sights.
The bay is partly enclosed but does have access to the open sea. Ocean water in the bay is diluted by fresh water from the Yaquina River. It is a protected refuge and there are guides ready to answer your questions.
I felt as though I was walking into a fairy tale when I first saw the dramatic majesty and architectural beauty of Yaquina Bay.
The estuary is haven for thousands of sea birds and herons. Fat Harbor Seals loll on the rugged rocks and, when we were there, pups played in nearby pools.
Yaquina Bay is an Oregon treasure, a national treasure really. It is almost too much natural beauty to fully absorb in an hour or two and the best spot I have ever seen for exploring tide pools! We are going back for a full day this summer.
Oaks Bottom is a treasure located in Sellwood, 15 minutes from downtown Portland, on the east bank of the Willamette River. Over the years I have seen a mama raccoon schooling her babies in the middle of a stream at Oaks Bottom. I’ve seen many deer and other mammals, and gone home to my family with excited tales of wild drama. I once watched a coyote catch up with a nutria on the riverbank.
Oaks Bottom offers a wide variety of habitat; there is wetland, woodland, meadowland, and the sandy banks at the river’s edge. All that variety makes for wonderful birdwatching. You can barely spot a Hairy Woodpecker on the tree at left.
Yesterday a friend and I walked the loop around the wetlands. It can probably be done in less than an hour but there is so much to see that we tended to linger.
For quite a while, we watched geese and several goslings near the water’s edge. Soon the youngsters scrambled up on the bank and began exploring, as the adults watched the babies closely and looked at us suspiciously.
When the babies moved very close to the path where we were standing, a parent put herself between us and the babies. Though it was the babies that had innocently headed our way, she was not happy with us.I don’t know if geese can blink, but she did not.
was a sign that they are nesting. I could hardly wait to find out this morning. There she was, sitting high in a tree across the river, safe from human traffic. A Bald Eagle’s nest can be eight feet wide and weigh as much as a ton. In Alaska they have been known to get much bigger and weigh up to two or three tons. Sitting at the very top of a tall tree, as this one is, makes them an engineering marvel, but most bird nests are.
That white head barely showing above the nest is everything I hoped to see.
Next time I go to the refuge I’ll be checking out the half-chewed tree below to see if the Beaver came back to finish the job.
Tigard’s Woodard Park is a perfect spot to picnic. It’s quiet and beautiful, and there is a playground with plenty of room for romping. It’s also full of surprises offering access to Fanno Creek Trail, Derry Dell Creek, Tigard Library Trail, and more.
The first time we visited Woodard Park I was surprised, and delighted, to accidentally find the Derry Dell Creek restoration project. Yesterday we returned and found another surprise
As we walked Woodard’s graceful paths shaded by tall old oak and long-leafed pine trees, there were choices to be made. We were just exploring, so I let my little dog decide to follow the path to the left. He seldom gets to make those decisions. We walked over a bridge where I spotted a breathtakingly beautiful Cedar tree. Phone apps aren’t always correct, but mine identified the tree as an Eastern Red Cedar.
The trail had led me to Tiedeman Street. Across Tiedeman Street I was surprised to see an entrance to Dirksen Nature Park. In the nature park I tried to photograph a wren before it flew off. Then Teddy and I became distracted by tiny two-legged wildlife at the most appealing toddler playground I’d ever seen.
There were plenty of small people enjoying themselves on a sunny Saturday morning. As a stranger, I was careful not to take pictures of children, but we enjoyed watching them climb logs and rocks, run, everywhere, and play with the little windows and doors on the carved tree stumps. I didn’t see it but there is also hidden “cave” for the little people.
Teddy basked in attention from children whose parents allowed them to pet his soft red fur. He reluctantly abandoned all that adoration when we left to enjoy the overlook in the oak savannah area of the park.
This last picture of Teddy was taken as we left the children and all the attention he was enjoying. He was not happy.
We’ll go back soon to see where the shaded paths at Woodard Park will take us next.
It was wet and 39 degrees at the Tualatin River Refuge Wednesday morning. But I can never stay away for long.
Thanks to winter storms, the water is brown and running much faster than it was last summer and early fall.
I peeked under the rails of a footbridge, noticed this Great Blue Heron looking for breakfast, and took a dozen photos hoping to capture his face. He refused to cooperate but catching the elegant feathers on his body was enough.
The storms of the last two weeks were too much for a large old oak. The relatively new wetland overlook will need repairs.
Teddy and I meant to spend a few hours exploring Woodard Park in Tigard this morning. Instead, we stayed on the boardwalk at the end of Johnson Street and marveled at the Derry Dell Creek Restoration project.
Only a few years ago, Derry Dell Creek had become an ugly ditch that frequently threatened homes, property, and sewage systems. It was inhospitable to humans and wildlife, and it was a dead end for fish trying to move upstream.
Today, the creek is a messy, chaotic, living work of art; exactly what a healthy creek should be. It’s a piece of wild beauty in the middle of an ordinary neighborhood.
Now the creek is rich in inviting habitat for herons and many other birds.
There are streams of fast-moving water making ripples in the surface. The stream sometimes wanders around giant root balls and logs piled up like pick -up-sticks, other times it sits quietly at rest in pools. A pair of raptors nest in one of the tall trees standing over the creek
The restoration work received the Oregon State Land Board’s Stream Project Award in 2014.
One day soon, Teddy and I will go back to explore the rest of Woodard Park, and we will go back again in the spring to see what’s happening on Derry Dell Creek.
The backyard chimes I enjoyed so much in a tiny breeze last summer, are temporarily down. I wasn’t thinking about winter storms when I hung them outside my bedroom window last spring.
A few nights ago, tucked in my warm bed, I listened to a howling wind and buckets of rain splashing against the bedroom window. The wind and rain only only heightened my sense of warmth and security.
The storm woke me up every once in a while, but only long enough to turn my pillow over, snuggle deeper under the blankets, and drift back to sleep. My pillow was cool, the bed was warm, the dog was at my feet, and I remembered how fortunate I am.
A wild night of wind and heavy rain had flooded the paths in the oak savannah area of the refuge this week. Still, I counted myself lucky to be able to take a nice walk before the rain began again.
Thank to the storm the night before, the river was moving swiftly, carrying logs and debris. I rarely see any noticeable movement on the lazy Tualatin River. Drops from rain-soaked trees along the banks fell to the river, briefly expanded in concentric circles, then quickly disappeared before being replaced by others.
As I stood there, a single black goose flew over the river, reminding me of my ignorance in identifying waterbirds.
While walking to the river, I had seen a pair of Bald Eagles fly to the top of a tall fir overlooking a large pond crowded with ducks and geese. I’d first noticed the eagles because of the modest little chirrup sound they made as they landed. It’s a sound that doesn’t seem appropriate for such a magnificent creature. As for the ducks and geese, they didn’t appear alarmed, though I’m sure the eagles were planning dinner.
I left the eagles and took the path into the woods and out to the wetland viewing platform where I could see several ponds in the distance and a small herd of deer gathered together on the grassland about half a mile away.
On the way back, I glanced to my left just in time to see the eagles land together in a fir tree directly across the river from me. It is hard to miss the bright white plumage of the huge bird. One of the eagles seemed to be sitting low on a nest and the other sat beside the nest, tall and confident. I lingered under the dripping trees for a while just to savor the sight.
Teddy was shaking and whining with excitement when we got out of the car at Cook Park. He knew this wasn’t going to be our usual neighborhood walk. It was cool but not freezing as it had been the day before. The sky was clear but heavy rains had left the ground mucky and Teddy seemed to gravitate to the worst puddles.
We arrived in time to see a huge flock of geese rise from a pond and circle the sky above our heads. I confess that I never get tired of their noise and chaos.
The little dog followed his nose from tree to tree, reading pee mail and gathering as many smells as he could. I have to wonder whether he remembers particularly delightful scents the way I remember the the lovely Egret we saw.
There are plenty of opportunities to glimpse the Tualatin River as you walk the path through the woods.
I stood near the path,on the “civilized” side and peeked through the bushes into the wildlife area. It was a bit like straddling two different worlds and my favorite moment of the morning.
Snowberries always looks like Christmas to me, and we found plenty of them when we followed the path to Durham City Park.
Teddy must have been happy. He trotted along happily beside me on the way back to the car. At home he had to submit to having his feet washed before he found his favorite soft spot (my favorite chair) an napped for a few hours.