Birding our public lands

 If there’s one thing we’ve learned this month, it’s that we can’t take our public lands for granted. Several national wildlife refuges are a quick drive from our home in Portland and we find something unexpected and unforgettable every time we visit one.

 During each visit, we can bird by car, scope birds from one spot for hours, or hike several miles. Our refuges help us stay sane when life does its best to make us crazy. 

We gave ourselves some much-needed Refuge Therapy this weekend, starting with a trip to Tualatin River.

We came to see a lone Ross’s Goose and, as usual, found much more.

Many of the refuge units were flooded, to the delight of thousands of ducks and geese.

Up on a dike, a coyote snacked on a vole and chased some geese. While watching all the birds and mammals, we chatted with birding friends and absorbed a rare dose of sunshine.

The next morning we met with Nick and Maureen in Salem and drove to nearby Baskett Slough. 

Again, the water was high and waterfowl were everywhere.

We cruised the roads along the north edge of the refuge and found some Killer Birds: Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, a Rough-legged Hawk, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrels, a Prairie Falcon, and a Northern Shrike. They were too far for decent photos but perched nicely for us to watch as long as we liked. 

If you're a fan of public lands (and we know you are), tell your friends, tell your senators and representatives, and thank those who work for the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agencies.

Stay tuned for more public land adventures!


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