Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wild Arts Wood Duck

The Wild Arts Festival, a fundraiser for the Audubon Society of Portland, has become one of my favorite events of the year. As in previous years, I submitted a painting for the festival's 6 x 6 project.

This year, I took inspiration from the Wood Duck hens I see paddling the irrigation ditches, such as the one above, each summer at Killin Wetlands.

I cut a Wood Duck silhouette out of cedar with my new scroll saw, then painted it to resemble a hen. I made a space for her in the 6 x 6 inch canvas donated by Art Media. I removed the cloth that was stretched over a nice wood frame, which I sanded and stained. Finally, I gave her a gold-painted plate with her genus and species names.

My hen was displayed with 199 other birds. On Saturday morning, we watched as a line of eager shoppers formed for the 11:00 start of the sale. I'm happy to report that someone quickly stepped forward to give her a new home.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Commonwealth Lake Birds

On Friday, Sarah and I took a break from work at home to see who has settled into Commonwealth Lake Park for the winter. Here are a few of the species we saw:

This bright gull contrasted nicely with the colorful foliage and dark water.

The yellow legs, yellow bill, and yellow eyes indicate this is Ring-billed Gull.

A larger gull had perched at the other end of the pond.

This gull has the dark gray back and black wing tips of a Western Gull, but the fine-gray barring on the head suggest that one of its ancestors had hybridized with a Glaucous-winged Gull.

As expected, small flocks of American Wigeons have returned to dine on the grass like miniature geese.

Around here, every park seems to have at least one American Coot in winter. This is one of three that we found.
We look forward to the arrival of additional winter waterfowl in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Banana slugs at the beach

Western Oregon is a world full of slugs, but we found a few at the beach this week that are worth mention.

A few days ago, this banana slug was peeking into the garage from outside . It had squeezed its eye stalks into a gap between the wall and the garage door. I wonder was it was looking for.

Earlier today, Sarah and I found the two largest banana slugs we have ever seen on a trail near the beach at Bob Straub State Park.

It is surprising that these slugs thrive so close to a huge body of saltwater.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Albatross on the Beach

While walking Pacific City's beaches, Sarah and I keep an eye out for beached birds, even though we ceased our volunteer monitoring last year. Earlier today we found an unexpected species.

At first we did not recognize the narrow, white and black wings, so we dug a little deeper to reveal the head.

And found the unmistakable bill of an albatross! The white feathers on the head and wings indicate that this is the body of a Laysan Albatross, less common in these parts than the Black-footed albatross, a species whose carcasses we have found on the beach in previous years.