Weekend Trip Reports
May 31, 2014: Rotary Park
Our plan for the morning was to take in the beauty of the park, and on that point we more than succeeded. The first notable activity came from Tree Swallows who were doing their usual aerobatics above our heads. After bug snatching for a few minutes, one swallow flew straight to a small hole in a snag on the edge of the parking lot. Viewing through binoculars confirmed that young were present in the cavity. It was exciting to see these birds doing exactly what they are named for—nesting in tree cavities!
The forest along the river was filled with birdsong, reminding us that it is the wonderful spring time of year when the males are singing to defend their territory and attract mates. In the first few minutes of walking the riverside trail, we heard a Western Wood-pewee, a Swainson's Thrush, an American Robin, an Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler and Wilson's Warbler, and a Western Tanager! Just a few feet away from the parking lot, we saw a Yellow Warber adult feeding its young—something your humble correspondent has never seen before. Clearly this was going to be a good morning for birds.
Having been coming to this park every year for the Christmas Bird Count for the last few years, I was familiar with some of the resident bird species, and sure enough we found them this day as well. Black-capped Chickadees flitted among the branches of the small trees along the path, and a pair of Bushtits was also foraging nearby. Like in the winter, we were able to add Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Marsh Wren, European Starling, Rock Pigeon and American Goldfinch to our checklist. Some nice surprises different from winter were more swallow species (Barn Swallow and Cliff Swallow), a singing male Common Yellowthroat, a Mourning Dove, and Killdeer.
The highlight of our trip was a small heron or crane-like bird that kept flying back and forth up and down the river. At first we thought it might be a Black-crowned Night Heron, but then we got a better look and realized it was a Green Heron, which the first time for everyone in the group to see this species at this park! Later in the day, we saw two of them at once, and concluded that they must be nesting in the forest and going out to forage to feed their young.
Once our bird walk was done at 10:00 AM, we proceeded to our rendezvous point with Sara Noland of the Green Everett Partnership. She had brought some much appreciated water and snacks for us, and explained that for the next two hours we would be working near the riverbank to suppress invasive canary grass to make way for the planting of native species like willow trees and Oregon grape. These make for better habitat for the local animals, not least the birds. We covered the grass with burlap sacks, and then shoveled mulch on top to both kill the grass and lay the groundwork for the plantings that will come in the fall. I'm looking forward to coming back to the park for the Christmas Bird Count in December and seeing how things have changed.