Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sauvie Island Raptor Road Trip

Today I volunteered as a naturalist at the fourth annual Sauvie Island Raptor Road Trip, an event put on by Audubon Society of Portland and Metro. For many years, Metro offered a cool program on the island called Breakfast With The Birds of Prey but capacity was limited and it always had a long wait list. So they turned it into a self-guided tour with four stops staffed with volunteer naturalists, stocked with coffee and donuts, and open to everyone who wanted a chance to see eagles, hawks, falcons and harriers. I've done it for the past three years and, though chilly and tired, I always enjoy it. The weather is the challenge but the reward is great views of birds of prey!

Today's challenge was snow! It snowed all day but still the birders came. The neat thing about this event is that all kinds of people show up; longtime birders, newbies, kids, people who didn't even know a Kestrel existed until they saw one through our scope. Our job as naturalists is to draw people in with a smile and exclaim "Have you seen the Eagle through the scope??!!" You know those adults....they hang back.....unlike the kids who run right up to the scope for a peek.

Volunteers gathering before heading out to their sites

First order of business: Gotta get that tent up

Yours truly at the ready

Ginormous binocular scope extravaganza

Can you hear the Ooohs and Aaahs of these Raptor Watchers?

I tried more digiscoping and got some nice-ish shots of a male American Kestrel eating a meadow vole that practically outweighed its captor. Lots of water spots on the scope lens and snow obscured the clarity, too. But I'm happy.

What the shot looks like before I crop it. Not actually a Kestrel in front of the full moon :)

Donuts and Coffee=Happy Birders

Despite the less than ideal weather and visibility conditions we saw several Bald Eagles, many Northern Harriers, one male Kestrel, one Cooper's Hawk, a few Red-tailed Hawks, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Common Mergansers, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Sandhill Cranes, and a Coyote hunting in a field. A good time was had by all!


Anonymous said...

Great report! Wonderful snow! Awesome kestrel! Thank you for all the terrific pictures.
(says Mom)

NW Nature Nut said...

Wow. I was thinking of you as it was coming down today. Brrrr! I'm glad to see more digiscoping experimentation. The Kestral shot is cool.

Seth and Michelle said...

We really wanted to go on the raptor trip but we couldn't pull it off. Now, I'm even more sad we didn't go. :( Those are some great shots. And, OMG! That is the largest set of binos I have ever seen! I guess we could mortgage the house and get them?

Laura W. said...

It's a yearly event so be sure to come in 2009! Maybe next year we'll get a hurricane?!

KP said...

cool laura. glad to see you are still doing this. maybe I won't work weekends next year and I can do it too. Love your photos!

Seth and Michelle said...

Hey! I'm leading a call for more posts! Just kidding. I'm sure you are plenty busy, but, seriously though, how's the yard?