Monday, January 3, 2011

Birding the Old Mill District

January 2. I spent a portion of the morning birding the along the Deschutes River near Bend's Old Mill District. The walking trails here provide great access and, because of their popularity by walkers, runners and pet owners, the waterfowl here are "accustomed" to disturbance. And from the several foot bridges that span the river, there are nice elevated views to scan for ducks and geese.

Duck, Duck, Goose

There were 300+ mallards along this stretch of the river. Their brilliant orangish legs and rich green heads looked spectacular in the winter light. Though a common duck that often gets ignored for more unusual species, these mallards were strikingly beautiful. Just as spectacular where the hooded mergansers, especially the males with their white head patches when the birds raised their crests. A smaller merganser than the common merganser, both were present and hunting for prey. Other duck species present: ring-necked duck, bufflehead, American wigeon and common goldeneye.

The Canada geese were also present, mostly confined to the lawns at the amphitheater. I saw only one goose sporting a USFWS silver band and a red leg band. I don't know if this one is part of the resident/migrant study down there, something I'll have to check on. As in some parts of the country, these geese have been targeted for population control methods.

A statuesque great blue heron, some pied-billed grebes and a lone horned grebe rounded also provided some great viewing opportunities.

Great blue heron from another place and time

All in all, it was a nice morning and a great walk to view a lot of waterfowl. I'll keep checking this area throughout the year and expand my walks downstream to Drake Park and upstream to the footbridge.

At home I added a varied thrush which was visiting one of my feeders and California quail. The quail are almost daily visitors most of the year and we had our first nesting pair last year under a brush pile in the backyard. A good reminder that not all areas of the yard should be cleaned up!

Quail nest from 2010

Deschutes County Big Year Update
County species to date: 34

1 comment:

  1. Damian, I was walking the Old Mill Loop on Sunday and saw a bald eagle with a duck in its talons flying upriver. Very exciting!