May 29, 2015, Eugene, Oregon — This morning I visited one of my favorite birding spots in Oregon, a place called Fern Ridge Reservoir just west of Eugene. At Fern Ridge, a large system of wetlands and marshes is managed for wildlife by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I spent a couple of years working here for the Corps in high school, helping with bird surveys and habitat management—not a bad summer job, except when I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to do point counts in the mosquitos!
Once, I spent all day walking around Fern Ridge’s impoundments and found 124 species of birds—still a “walking big day” record in Oregon, as far as I know. Today, however, I just had two targets here: Virginia Rail and American Bittern. I’d already seen Fern Ridge’s other birds elsewhere this year.
The rail was easy enough, and I even lucked out and found one in the open (they typically skulk in tall grass, and are much easier to hear than to see). But the bitterns weren’t calling, and, after a couple of hours, I gave up and headed out. As I opened the car door to leave, I glanced up—and a bittern was flying over the parking area! This good luck was consolidated on the way home, when brief stops produced a hoped-for Ring-necked Pheasant and Cassin’s Vireo.
I spent the afternoon repacking my backpack and catching up on other chores, including a three-hour afternoon nap! This brief stop at home gives a chance to update some gear: I picked up my second passport with several visas in it; bought a new cell phone; packed a mosquito net (for Africa) and leech socks (for southeast Asia); re-soaked my outer layers in permethrin; replaced a lost shirt and a scratched-up pair of sunglasses; got a new pair of shoes; fixed my watch battery; and discarded a travel lock, dummy wallet, and long underwear (which I haven’t used). Mostly, things have held up remarkably well so far, given the abuse of constant wear and tear. Hope the second half of this year goes just as smoothly!
New birds today: 4
Year list: 2691