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.
If you hadn’t heard what happened to the bald eagle pair tending this year’s nest at the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge, the pair I’ve mentioned several times in the last few months (A Pair of Eagles), I apologize for bringing bad news. Many of us have been following the nest this spring and hoping to see hungry eaglets Sadly, the wild winds of last Tuesday morning sent the tall fir tree, along with the eagle’s nest, into the river.
I was compelled to go see the damage this morning and was able to talk to a woman who had been watching when the incident happened. I also read an account by a photographer who had been there.
Both witnesses said that the tree fell very quickly and that the distraught parents circled again and again above the spot, obviously in shock and confusion.
The woman I spoke to this morning said she has only seen one eagle in the last few days. As I left the refuge I saw one eagle in the top of the huge oak tree near the visitor center.
It’s a sad outcome for this year’s eagles at the refuge, but those parents are big, strong, beautiful birds – and there is next year. it is still springtime, it is still the season of hope, the season of growth, and a time for renewal. There is much to love about this time of year.
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.
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.
I was at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge to greet the dawn this Saturday morning. There was no rain, but the air was cold and the dampness from the rains we’d been having seemed to penetrate my warmest jacket and gloves. Trees held plenty of water from the rain and one or two icy drips managed to run down my neck until I wrapped my scarf tighter.
There are not many leaves left on the trees, but there is still a colorful carpet of leaves in some areas, and they serve to soften the sound of the gravel path.
I startled a small flock of juncos and sparrows rooting around on the gravel path. They flew into a bush, waited for me to pass, then immediately went back to sorting gravel.
According to the weather service, dawn would be at 7:18. At exactly 7:20, with the sun burning softly through the fog, a roar rose from the refuge ponds. It was the sound of many geese and water birds rising together in response to the dawn. Perhaps there were thousands of them. I can only say there were so many that they didn’t sound like geese. For just few moments, sounded instead like the roar of the crowd in a huge football stadium during Superbowl. I’ve seen huge flocks of geese before, but I’ve never heard anything like the roar they made as they first roused themselves.
The geese seemed to rise in waves, some appearing to fly away from the refuge but many staying overhead, low in the sky, circling, stretching their wings, milling around and around, not minding the fog. There were so many geese overhead I worried about what might drop on my head. In the end, luck was with me. A noticed a heron who seemed to resent the noisy early morning ritual as he fled for more peaceful territory. After thirty minutes most of the geese had settled back down and quieted. The ceremony of celebrating dawn was over.
The spectacular wakening was the gift I had come for, so was the small herd of deer I nearly stumbled into, and the juncos and the sparrows. I seldom anticipate what I will see when I walk in the refuge. Instead, I wait for the gift I will be given. I am never disappointed.
Teddy and I celebrated the second day of fall by walking the Gettman Loop around the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course this morning. It had only been two weeks since we were last there yet everything has changed. Cool air and an overcast sky might be tiresome in a few months but they are invigorating this early in fall.
Aside from a dried up Bachelor Button hanging on a brittle stem near the path, the wildflowers are gone. Although many trees have barely begun changing color, the forested path is already accepting a carpet of crisp yellowed leaves.
The bridge showed signs of some repair done after the windstorm earlier this month and there was plenty of debris in the form of branches and heavy limbs that had been moved to keep the path clear.
The forest was quiet this morning. Teddy curiously nosed a large green Pacific banana slug and a single Gray Squirrel hid behind a fir for a few minutes but the squirrel’s beautiful tail curved around the trunk of the tree and gave him away. He reminded me of my 21-month-old grandson who covers his eyes and believes we can’t see him. After a few minutes, the squirrel came out of hiding in order to scold us. We were probably interrupting winter preparations.