As you may know by now... May is American Wetlands Month! WREN has lots of events going on, includingthe big sit...
Today 5 birders worked to identify as many bird species as possible from one place. This was a fundraiser for WREN, whose education effort serves school children through field trips and classroom programs, as well as community events – all in the spirit of wetland awareness and stewardship. The birders collected pledges at a flat rate or at a per species IDed rate.
We were at Fern Ridge reservoir – specifically on the platform at the end of
Some of the highlights were seeing a family of 5 river otters!
Another major highlight was getting some stellar looks at a family of Virginia Rails! Virginia Rails and Sora (which we only heard) keep hidden most of the time, so this was a real treat. Seeing their 8 chicks was amazing! These tiny jet-black puffs have the tiniest “wings” – nubs really – and the biggest feet! The parents were busy getting critters (like crayfish) out of the muck at the edge of the water and feeding the young. Right in front of us! There were several large bullfrogs in the vicinity… we were a little nervous for the chicks.
Also feeding young in the muck were song sparrows. They would gather mouthful after mouthful of freshly hatched damselflies – wings and bodies poking out of its bill -- and pass them off to the young, who were incessantly crying for more. Red-wings were also feasting on the flies.
We spied several – perhaps 10 – bald eagles, most of them immature.
We got great looks at a bittern which was very close, perhaps 100 feet, from the platform. Throughout the day we saw several others flying by. They are pros at holding still and have camouflaged coloring. We did not hear much of the classic “gulp, gulp” though! What we did hear a lot of was pie-billed grebes and marsh wrens.
Towards the end of the day after not seeing a “new” species to add to the list for quite some time, Rick spotted a raptor high in the sky. By the time I got a look at it he had IDed it as a peregrine falcon. I noticed that the wings were completely at its sides for a moment. Then it went into a sharp dive to the ground, wings tucked! Wow! It scared some shorebirds but didn’t get one. Awesome!
All in all 60 species were identified by the group as a whole – either seen or heard by someone. For collecting pledges made on a per species rate, birders may use the list of species they heard and saw. Here is the list, although a few are not “official” because they were seen during Emily’s walk (marked with a *) far from the platform. Read Steve Gordon's post on OBOL here.
Great Blue Heron
Thanks to everyone who made this possible! We raised over $900 for WREN!! Way to go! Happy Wetlands Month!