Spring has been busy, exciting at Wetlands
It's been a busy and exciting spring at the Wetlands, especially for the birders. Migrating birds stopped by to feed in the rich waters of the various ponds with mid-May producing the highest numbers. Some of those visitors were quite unusual.
On May 7, two RED KNOTS were found feeding with Long-billed Dowitchers. This is only the second time this species has been noted in Crook County with the first record from the 1980s. They stayed for several days and were seen by many visiting birders.
Ten days later, we were very surprised to find a LITTLE GULL at the Wetlands, the first record in Central Oregon. Normally found in Europe and Asia, it's the smallest gull in the world, measuring only about a foot in length. Unfortunately, it stayed for just a few hours and was only seen by a few people.
You can see photos of the Red Knots, Little Gull, and more than 40 other rare birds that have found their way to the complex by going to the Wetlands website at www.cityofprineville.com/wetlands and clicking on the bird tab at the bottom of the page. To date, 196 species of birds have been recorded since the Wetlands were completed in 2017.
The boy scouts' efforts have borne birds, as the nest platform nearest Kiosk G actually has a pair of OSPREY! Nesting material is on the platform and at least one bird was observed with a fish. Additionally, at least one of the Mallard "hen houses" has a momma duck, a first for this project as well.
People are increasingly aware of the Wetlands and are finding this a perfect place for ORGANIZED ACTIVITIES. Along with guided cart tours (mostly small parties of birders) there are an increasing number of larger birding groups, such as the East Cascades Audubon's "Wednesday birders" and a group from Crooked River Ranch. The Crooked River Weed Management Area held a weed workshop for the public at the pavilion, and many elementary classes from our school system have adopted the area as an outdoor learning lab.
The Wetlands will also serve as a venue for the ARRL FIELD DAY over the weekend of June 25-26. This is an annual event put on by the American Radio Relay League, an association for amateur radio operators. The event is touted as "ham radio's open house" where operators' skill and community service are highlighted as they compete to see who can contact as many stations as possible under all sorts of conditions. I got a headache as I tried to understand some of the technical details, but it should be fun to watch as they set up and operate in the pavilion. 10-4 good buddy.
Finally, it's been a literal beehive of activity in the NATIVE POLLINATOR CORNER by Kiosk G. The trees planted in April are flourishing, thanks to TLC on the part of volunteers, the plantings between the path and pond 9, known as the DLT/Student Garden, hosted a volunteer weeding party, and the Bee Garden has been lovingly nurtured and expanded. Additionally, all the gardens were hardscaped, a fancy word for throwing some boulders around to make the area look nice, thanks to the city crew. And in recognition of our drought conditions, volunteers will soon reduce the size of the DLT/Student garden's footprint a bit to conserve water needed for irrigation.
See you in the tules!
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