Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lunch with the Birds

Lunch With The BirdsToday at noon I volunteered an hour of my time for the Jackson Bottom Wetlands' "Lunch with the Birds" program. This is the 12th year of the program, though my involvement only started a couple of weeks ago. Jackson Bottom Wetlands is immediately south of Hillsboro, Oregon as Main Street turns into Hwy 219.

The official announcement is as follows:

"Come join us as we begin our 12th year of Lunch With the Birds! Meet at the north viewing shelter just south of Hillsboro on Highway 219 next to the Clean Water Services water treatment plant. Our naturalist will help you identify birds and other wildlife that call Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve home. Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and many different kinds of waterfowl are just a few of the wonderful creatures that may be observed on the Preserve. This event is free and open to everyone. The site is wheelchair accessible. For more information call 503-681-6278."

Jackson BottomThe fall rains started this week, though the skies became mostly sunny as the noon hour progressed. The water added to the ponds and 600 or so Cackling Goose were present. I explained (to the only person to join me this day) that these were recently split from the Canada Goose as a separate species. It was easy to see the Canada Goose was twice the size of the Cackling Goose. A Great Egret was working the shoreline.

We spotted an adult Bald Eagle perched high in a Douglas-fir tree behind its nest in a cottonwood. The eagles just returned last week after being absent most of the autumn. Later its mate appeared, making a strafing run at the geese. A previously hidden Greater White-fronted Goose flew up from the back pond along with all the Cackling Geese.

A flash of white over the back marsh revealed an adult Bonaparte's Gull! This species is a rare annual spring and fall migrant in the county.

Lunch with the BirdsJackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve has a new web site where you can read more about its activities and birding opportunities.

Lunch with the Birds is presented every Wednesday from noon to 1 pm. Check the web site calendar to verify the program each week. This venue is suitable for local families, nearby workers taking a lunch break, small school groups, and beginning birders wishing to know more about the local birds.

At the south end of Jackson Bottom is the Education Center and hiking trails (no dogs allowed). These take you along the ash groves beside the Tualatin river and out along several ponds. The wetlands are open all year, though the entire area can flood following heavy rains.

Will you meet me there next week for Lunch with the Birds?