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Local photographer captures wildlife friends around East Multnomah County in stunning photos

COURTESY PHOTO: CAROL ZYVATKAUSKAS - Gresham resident and nature photographer Carol Zyvatkauskas snapped this picture of a Great Egret flying through the powerline corridor between Powell Blvd. and Division Street last month. It had been fishing in the nearby wetlands.

Some people are putting in a big garden, others knitting afghans, and still others are finally cleaning the garage. But, as always, Carol Zyvatkauskas, is taking pictures of Gresham's wild things.

"If I couldn't go out and see wild animals, I would be even more dispirited," Zyvatkauskas, said of the confinement imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

She doesn't have to go far for some of her photos, as she and her husband live along Johnson Creek.

Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have canceled some of Zyvatkauskas' favorite activities.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAROL ZYVATKAUSKA - This female Black-tailed deer was photographed in April crossing Johnson Creek, just upstream from Gresham Main City Park.

She normally does presentations included in "Wild Gresham" at libraries and other events around town. These have been canceled due to the coronavirus.

She also looks forward to the yearly Gresham bird count, usually occurring in April and May, which has also fallen victim to the virus this year.

Zyvatkauskas was a volunteer at West Gresham Elementary School, which closed forever at the end of this school year. She was working on a project with the students to study and vote on an official amphibian of Gresham. The students voted for the Oregon Slender Salamander.

But schools closed because of the pandemic and events overtook the plan to propose the kids' choice to the Gresham City Council. Another disappointment caused by the pandemic.

She recently collected a vial of beaver castoreum, which is secreted by beavers to mark their territory. She uses the highly-scented castoreum in her nature presentations, asking people to take a whiff and guess what it is. Zyvatkauskas says the recently-collected castoreum will still be plenty fragrant for presentations next year.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAROL ZYVATKAUSKA - Mom Hooded Merganser with ducklings were swimming in Johnson Creek near mile 17 of the Springwater Trail, Zyvatauskas said. She had six youngsters with her, but sometimes Mergansers babysit for their neighbors.

But despite the cancellations, she can still capture local wildlife. The Johnson Creek Watershed Council, where she once served on the board, uses her photos on its web page and in its materials.

Zyvatkauskas, who is known around town as Caz, moved to Gresham in 2013. She grew up in Scarbouough, Ontario and attended the University of Toronto. She's worked at newspapers and the University of Toronto, and has been a freelance photographer, designer and writer.

Zyvatkauskas is sanguine about the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is hopeful things will be back to normal next year.

While she waits, she said, "Encountering wild animals is enormously exciting. The exciting part is in the surprise, whether it's discovering a small frog in a Gresham pond or happening across a Horned Owl in the woods on Gabbert Butte. For me, the excitement is always followed by a comfort knowing that there's enough habitat in our immediate area to support amazing creatures."

COURTESY PHOTO: CAROL ZYVATKAUSKA - This female Red-winged Blackbird and Painted Turtle share a sunny spot a few weeks ago at the Fairview Creek Headwaters. The wetlands can be accessed from Southwest Community Park off Powell.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAROL ZYVATKAUSKA - Zyvatkauskas and her husband built two ponds in their yard that now sustain a variety of amphibians. Heres one of the many young Northern Red-legged frogs that take refuge near the water. There are a number of ponds and creeks where you can find these quiet frogs. Zyvatkauskas recommends the Kelly Creek Greenway to see both Red-legged and Pacfic Chorus Frogs.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAROL ZYVATKAUSKA - The Northern Flicker is one of Greshams largest woodpeckers. This one was photographed at the end of April on Walters Road from the bridge near the Springwater Trail. Caz reports 'He was as curious about me as I was about him.'


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