Great morning of birding! I was to lead a free field trip through Audubon Society of Portland at the Wapato Access Greenway Access State Park (whew!) on Sauvie Island, north of Portland. I was looking forward to it because my normal field time is spent teaching classes where I am more "on" than usual. Free field trips certainly attract beginners but I am less concerned about them seeing and learning every little thing because they haven't paid for a class. Know what I mean? You can lead a casual trip and see lots of birds and have a great morning but if money changed hands you might feel more pressure.......or maybe it's just me.
With the time change last night I bet some forgot to spring forward so I didn't have as good a showing as I'd expected - just two folks! This turned out to be wonderful because three birders see a whole lot more than ten since we're lots less noisy and disruptive as we move along. Fred was a pretty accomplished ear birder interested in woodland birds and Jen was a recent east coast transplant looking to get to know the western species. On the path down to the lake we heard quite a few birds tuning up for spring.....Song Sparrow, Flicker, Bewick's Wren, Black-capped Chickadee. The lake held a great variety of ducks as well as two lone Tundra Swans. Shovelers, Pintails, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, Wigeon, Wood Ducks, Mallards and Buffleheads were all present.
Jen bowed out after about an hour as she was chilled to the bone and could no longer concentrate on birds. I know how that feels! It was chilly but I guess I had more layers on than she did.......she thanked me and hiked back to the parking lot. I turned to Fred, who had no hat or gloves, asked how he was holding up and he said he was game to walk all the way around the lake. Hooray! I hadn't been all the way around in so long I could barely remember.
The trip around was pleasant but much less birdy. We met two other birders who had intended to meet me for the walk but were late and went the other way. Oh well! We chatted about duck ID and then continued on our ways. Fred had been tallying species and we were closing in on 30 but still needed a few. At a dense stand of blackberries we found our last two species - Purple Finch and Fox Sparrow. Nice!
Got back to the lot just before 11am......three hours and 30 birds - 10 an hour isn't bad!