Went to Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge for the afternoon yesterday. It is a bit of fairly flat land on the (surprise) Tualatin River, which is a smallish river that feeds into the Willamette River (rhymes with dammit) and thence into the Columbia River and the Pacific. It’s surrounded by mostly farmland and is reclaimed farmland in the process of being restored to wetland with native species. There were lots and lots of birds, though none of the rarer species allowed us a particularly close view. There was something furry and brown and very fast; there was a big frog relaxing in an algae-covered pond. There are meadows, groves of deciduous trees, hills with large conifers, a wide expanse of wetland that is mostly grassy plants with a few sizable ponds at this time of year, shallow streams, and distant views including farmland and suburbs but also wooded hills and Mount Hood. We (partner S and I) didn’t quite get away from the sound of traffic or the sight of people, but for trying to pick a place with restrooms, under-five-mile trails, and a short drive to get there, it was a really good try. There were far more than five shiny things, but I’ll list a sampling here.
* Blackberries! They are an invasive species. This is problematic, but it means as long as we stay on the trail there is ZERO guilt associated with eating all we can grab. There were literally millions of blackberries in view, with thickets the size of houses, and many were perfectly ripe. I must have eaten over two pints. (For those of you accustomed to sensible measurements, ( Read more... )
) OM NOM NOM NOM BLACKBERRIES. Afterwards we were puzzling over the fact that neither of us had a headache, since even though we were pretty good about water, food, sunscreen, hats, and so on we rather expected one of us would have issues, and we decided to credit it to the healthful effects of dozens and dozens of blackberries.
* Ducks! At this time of year here, adorable fluffy ducklings have converted into adorable mini-ducks, and many ducks and geese are testing their flapping post mounting and breeding to see if they can get airborne yet. We came across several mama and/or papa ducks resting on the bank while their offspring swam around aimlessly and flapped occasionally, and two ducklings cuddling with their heads resting on each other’s backs while napping in the grass. Mallards, so they are mottled brown but the adult females have a bright blue patch and the males seasonally (but not now) turn really colorful.
* Herons and/or egrets! We saw, from a distance, several birds of this general conformation, tow dark colored and medium large, one white and very large. Time to Google species.
* Oaks! We observed one truly mighty spreading oak tree, and a whole meadow of younger trees deliberately planted by conservationists. Weird interspecies relationships: ( Read more... )
* Colorful noisy birds I have no idea how to identify! One loud little bird perched on a loop of blackberry stem and sang over and over. It was barely bigger than a hummingbird, with an iridescent greenish-blue head, otherwise brownish, but it wasn’t a hummingbird. Another little rust-colored bird with a red and black head hopped around in a shadow on the path and vanished into the bushes. There were many many flickers of flying movement and songs we had no chance at identifying except “I don’t think I know what that is.” We also saw some Steller’s Jays and robins.
* Bonus Shiny Thing: While standing in the forest by a creek listening for birds, I was able to stand truly still and open ALL my senses and it wasn’t painful. I don’t think I’ve been able to deliberately listen and look and feel with every sense I have and take in and think about all the information and have it be all neutral or positive for … months. Getting to where the nearest traffic is miles away made a big difference. Being in a place and a situation - listening and being still to understand wildlife - where hyper-acute senses and focus and calm were assets was … amazing. I think in another age people like me would have been amazing gatherers, herbalists, hunters, trackers, so many skills that are less needed now when the ability to ignore the hell out of things has to be everyone’s number one skill not to suffer from just living with all the other people and machines around. I am at my best - one of my bests - in wilderness.