Yesterday we took a trip down to Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, 10 miles south of Salem, Oregon, right off I-5. I am taking my Beginning Birding 2 class here on Saturday. I hadn't been since April (much like Tualatin NWR) and needed to check it out. Another glorious birding day in the Willamette Valley!
At our first stop we found this Raccoon eating on the ground in broad daylight. Can't be a healthy animal......and it was favoring one paw. Seemed to be getting along OK, despite the injury. I'm not fond of raccoons, but they sure can look cute.
Our second stop was Eagle Marsh pond and the marsh hosted loads of waterfowl. Harriers buzzed low and spooked the Teal and Dowitchers but many ducks were resting and preening and bathing.
This is my favorite duck; the Northern Pintail. Actually, it's tied for favorite with the Gadwall, but don't tell.
At another stop we found just a few geese.
Most of these were Cackling Geese, recently split (classification-wise) from Canada Geese. Then there are three sub-species of the Cacklers to contend with, too. After some deliberation we decided we were looking at Cackling and Aleutian Geese.
What you really need to remember about the Cackling Goose is how little they are.....look at that stubby bill and high forehead. They aren't a whole lot bigger than a big barnyard duck and are certainly much smaller than the large, imposing Canada Goose we're used to seeing.
Quick! Pop Duck Quiz!! What species and gender is this duck?!?! Leave a comment with your answer.......
One nice feature of the refuge is the Rail Trail, a long boardwalk through seasonally flooded land. In April it was high water but now it's empty. Little bird activity but lovely photo ops.
We ended our day with about 45 species at a relaxed pace. I can't wait to bring my group on Saturday!