Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2006

Interesting birds reported from Washington County, Oregon. New updates are added to the top of the page, thus the year tends to run backwards from top to bottom. The status of birds given is only for Washington County, unless specified otherwise.

For a general status of the birds of the county, please see
Checklist of the Birds of Washington County
by Greg Gillson.

The idea for this page copies that of Don Roberson for Monterey County, California (for example, http://montereybay.com/creagrus/MTY_2004.html). Text below by Greg Gillson. Photos on this page are copyrighted by the photographers and may not be used elsewhere without their direct permission (but you already knew that, didn't you?).

Please contact me, Greg Gillson, for instructions on emailing photos for inclusion on this page. Thank you.

Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2008

Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2007

December 2006:

Another immature Surf Scoter was spotted at Hagg Lake by Greg Gillson on December 29 (see February, October, and November reports). This rare, not annual, species put in quite a showing this year!

Rough-legged Hawk. Photo by Greg Gillson
Rough-legged Hawk south of Forest Grove on December 29, 2006, by Greg Gillson

This has been a good winter for Rough-legged Hawks, which are not found every year (see November report). Lars Norgren spotted one near Banks on December 20. Four birds were reported on the Forest Grove CBC on December 17. Greg Gillson photographed one at Forest Grove on December 29.

Thayer's Gull. Photo by Greg Gillson
Thayer's Gull at Fernhill Wetlands on December 9, 2006, by Greg Gillson
Thayer's Gull is a rare, but annual visitor, spotted primarily at Fernhill Wetlands. Several people reported them in December from there, including Greg Gillson who identified 6 birds of various ages on December 9 (See February Highlights).

A single White-tailed Kite was spotted by Greg Gillson in Patton Valley near Cherry Grove on December 25. On December 27 Joe Blowers found 2 birds at that location! This bird has been spotted less than 10 times in the county, but every winter, now, for the last 3 or 4 years (See November Highlights).

Joe Blowers spotted a very rare male Common Redpoll at Jackson Bottom on December 16. This is apparently the 4th county record.

Never recorded on the Forest Grove CBC, a Black-bellied Plover was heard, but not seen, by Lars Norgren on December 11.

Lars Norgren reports a probable female Red-breasted Merganser from Fernhill Wetlands on December 7 (See February record). This species is not annual in the county and potentially confusing with poorly-marked first year Common Mergansers.

A Swamp Sparrow was heard at Fernhill Wetlands by Greg Gillson on December 9 (See February and November record.)

Highlights from the Forest Grove Christmas Bird Count, 17 December 2006:
Low temp: 27F, High temp: 40F, mostly cloudy, no precipitation.
Participants (13): Trask Colby, Bonnie Cresap, Christine Fitzgerald, Pam Johnston, Ray Korpi, Harry Nehls, Jon Plissner, Luke Redmond, Jen Richardson, Dwight Sangrey, Mary Anne Sohlstrom, Carol Stowe, Jake Stowe.
(HC = high count, LC = low count, US = unusual species)
Greater White-fronted Goose: 9 HC US, Snow Goose: 16 HC US, Tundra Swan: 3371, Wood Duck: 2 LC, Eurasian Wigeon: 3, Northern Pintail: 19244 HC, Common Goldeneye: 1, Common Loon: 1 US, Horned Grebe: 5, Black-crowned Night-Heron: 1 US, Rough-legged Hawk: 5 HC, Merlin: 4 HC, Peregrine Falcon: 1 US, Lesser Yellowlegs: 1 US, Long-billed Dowitcher: 3 LC, Wilson's Snipe: 1 LC, Western Gulll: 1 US, Anna's Hummingbird: 1 US, Acorn Woodpecker: 28 HC, Pileated Woodpecker: 1 US, Northern Shrike: 1, Hermit Thrush: 3, Cedar Waxwing: 2 US, White-throated Sparrow: 3, Red Crossbill: 2 US, Common Redpoll: 1 US, Lesser Goldfinch: 49 HC, American Goldfinch: 79: HC.

November 2006:

A single rare Swamp Sparrow was at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on November 25 (see February report), along with at least 65 Lincoln's Sparrows, pushed up into a small area by local flooding. Though not rare, this is a huge concentration and actual numbers may approach triple this estimate.

Leslie Meserve reported a female Surf Scoter at Jackson Bottom on November 11, continuing the unprecedented number of reports this year for this normally rare, not annual, species (see October report).[See December Highlights.]

A Surf Scoter was reported at Fernhill Wetlands on November 25 by Mike Screen (Warbler 71(1).

A Say's Phoebe was reported at Rock Creek on November 13 by Lourie Hemmings (Warbler 71(1).

A rare but annual migrant and winter visitor, Lars Norgren reported an Eared Grebe at Fernhill Wetlands on November 5.

A probable Bonaparte's Gull was at Fernhill Wetlands on November 11, as reported by Lars Norgren (See October record). This is a rare annual migrant.

A Northern Shrike was reported to me from Jackson Bottom Wetlands in late November. This is a rare, not annual, winter visitor.

A White-tailed Kite was at Jackson Bottom on November 18, reported by Dennis Manzer. This species has been quite rare, with very few sightings, but reported the last two winters. [See December Highlights.]

Not annual, Paul Vanderheul found a rare Rough-legged Hawk at Tualatin River NWR on November 18. [See December Highlights.]

Dennis Manzer reported a possible Curlew Sandpiper from Jackson Bottom on November 4. Unfortunately, it could not be refound or documented with photographs to help separate it from the very similar Dunlin. There are only 13 previous accepted records from Oregon of this Review Species, none from Washington County.

October 2006:

A new county record, a Black Phoebe was spotted at Fernhill Wetlands by John Rakestraw on October 21.

Only the second county report (pending approval by the Oregon Bird Records Committee), a Broad-winged Hawk was spotted at Manning on October 14 by Lars Norgren.

Eurasian Collared-Dove. Photo by Greg Gillson
Eurasian Collared-Dove at Verboort on October 7, 2006, by Greg Gillson

The pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves at Verboort remained, and were seen by Greg Gillson on October 7 and 8 (see August and September reports).

A Bonaparte's Gull was seen by Greg Gillson at Hagg Lake on October 7. [See November record.]

A Snow Goose was reported by John Rakestraw at Fernhill Wetlands on October 21 (see February-April and June reports).

Surf Scoters. Photo by Greg Gillson
Surf Scoters on Hagg Lake on October 7, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Twenty Surf Scoters were on Hagg Lake on October 7, where Greg Gillson photographed them. At least 3 remained to October 9 when David Smith spotted them. This species has been a very rare winter visitor, with single reports about every 5 years (see February report). Perhaps searching Hagg Lake in October and November may reveal them to be more regular fall migrants. [See November report.]

A Baird's Sandpiper was seen at Fernhill Wetlands on October 8 by Erik Knight (see August reports).

September 2006:

The Eurasian Collared-Doves continued at Verboort (See August report). Birds were seen by Greg Gillson on September 2 and 16. [See October Highlights.]

Another Red-shouldered Hawk was at Manning on September 15, seen by Lars Norgren (See August report).

Tracking continuing Pectoral Sandpipers (see August report), Single birds were reported September 10 by Don Albright and September 14 by Erik Knight, both at the Tualatin River NWR.

Late Cassin's Vireos were reported at Buxton on September 15 and 17 by Lars Norgren, as well as at the Tualatin River NWR on September 22 by Erik Knight (see May report).

Rarely reported in fall migration, 2 Yellow Warblers were at Pacific University, Forest Grove, where Greg Gillson spotted them on September 25.

Another species rarely reported in fall migration, Doug Robberson spotted 2 Western Kingbirds at Tualatin River NWR on September 17 (see April and July report).

Unusually high numbers of Greater White-fronted Geese were detected overflying the county on September 30, when 4 flocks over Manning totaled about 490 birds (see April report).

A Barred Owl was at Tualatin Hills Nature Park from September 3 to 13, seen by Erik Knight (See May report). This may be a first record for this park.

A Semipalmated Sandpiper was reported by Tom Love at the Tualatin River NWR on September 14 (see August reports).

August 2006:

Lars Norgren reported a dozen of those enigmatic Black Swifts over Fernhill Wetlands on August 23 (See April and May reports).

Lars Norgren spotted the very rare Golden Eagle again (see June Highlights). This time it was near Manning on August 22. These birds are very rare winter vistors. Such a summering bird is highly unusual in the northern Coast Range and western edge of the Willamette Valley.

On August 21 Lars Norgren spotted the first Red-shouldered Hawk of the year. A bird was along Hwy 26 between Banks and North Plains. These birds are now annual, but still rare, with only a couple of birds reported per fall. [See September Highlights.]

Pectoral Sandpiper. Photo by Greg Gillson
Pectoral Sandpiper at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, on August 27, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Greg Gillson noted the first of the uncommon Pectoral Sandpipers of the season, a small juvenile female, on August 21. Perhaps this same bird was noted by Mike Marsh on August 22 and Leslie Meserve on August 26. Three birds were present on August 27, an adult female, a juvenile female (photo, right), and a larger juvenile male (See May Highlights for a rare spring record). [See September Highlights.]

Erik Knight reported 3 Baird's Sandpipers, which are rare annual migrants, on August 20 at Fernhill Wetlands. Greg Gillson noted 1 there on August 21 and Mike Marsh spotted one on August 22. [See October Highlights.]

Semipalmated Sandpiper is a rare annual migrant and is easily misidentified. Thus, I always appreciate when reports are accompanied by written descriptions or identifiable photos. For my part, the distant bird in the photo below, from August 21, is a juvenile with a longer, tapered bill (typical of Western Sandpiper), but the legs are grayish-green, there's a dark cheek patch, and very little cinnamon on the tertials and wing coverts. Diagnostically, the scapular feathers are brown with blackish subterminal anchors and buffy fringes.

Undocumented, Mike Marsh reported a Semipalmated Sandpiper at Fernhill Wetlands on August 22, 3 birds on August 24, and one bird on August 27. [See September report.]

Semipalmated Sandpiper. Photo by Greg Gillson
Semipalmated Sandpiper at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, on August 21, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Eurasian Collared-Dove. Photo by David Smith Eurasian Collared-Dove. Photo by David Smith Eurasian Collared-Dove. Photo by David Smith
  Eurasian Collared-Dove at Verboort, on August 14, 2006, by David Smith  

2006 seems to be the "Year of the Eurasian Collared-Dove." These photos document the first record from Washington County, in a week that also saw first county records in Jackson and Yamhill counties. Greg Gillson first identified a pair birds at Verboort, north of Forest Grove, on the evening of August 12. David Smith then got these point-and-shoot photos two days later. According to David, neighbors have noted these birds present for about 3 weeks. Carol Karlen reported these birds copulating and carrying nesting material on August 17. [See September and October Highlights.]

The four Purple Martins first seen at Fernhill Wetlands last month (See June and July Highlights) continued. Leslie Meserve and Mike Screen saw one bird on August 13. David Smith saw the male August 14. Greg Gillson again saw all 4 birds on August 21.

July 2006:

Purple Martin. Photo by Greg Gillson
Purple Martin at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, on 3 July 2006, by Greg Gillson

It has been several years since Purple Martins have been reported regularly in the county (see June Highlights). When Greg Gillson first discovered the 4 birds (adult pair and two immature) over Fernhill Wetlands on July 3, he assumed these birds were migrants. However, they were spotted from then on through the summer. It seems they must have bred here this summer. Pat Waldron notes that this would be quite an early fledging date, based upon her experience with numbers of nesting martins near Scio, Oregon. Lars Norgren reported hearing three birds here at Fernhill Wetlands on July 4. [See August Highlights for more sightings.]

Khanh Tran reported a Western Kingbird along Evergreen Road at Hillsboro on July 10. Genrally rare in the northwestern part of the Willamette Valley, individuals are reported from the county nearly annually, from late April to early June (See April Highlights). There are a few summer records, but breeding has not been confirmed. [See September report.]

Gadwall. Photo by Greg Gillson
Gadwall and chick at Fernhill Wetlands on July 3, 2006, by Greg Gillson

First recorded breeding in Washington County in 2003, Gadwalls now seem well-established breeders at Fernhill Wetlands, Jackson Bottom Wetlands, and Tualatin River NWR. Greg Gillson counted 60 total Gadwall at Fernhill Wetlands on July 3, many apparently molting adults; however there were 20 chicks in 2 broods there. Careful counting on July 15 revealed 100 birds, including 8 hens with 3-10 chicks each (average 7, for about 56 chicks). Gillson spotted a female with 7 chicks at Jackson Bottom on July 3. Erik Knight found a female with 4 chicks at Tualatin River NWR on July 13.

Ruddy Duck. Photo by Greg Gillson
Ruddy Duck at Fernhill Wetlands on July 3, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Up to 3 Ruddy Ducks were at Fernhill Wetlands in July. A pair were reported July 4 and July 15 by Greg Gillson, and 3 birds were spotted by Erik Knight on July 9. This species has nested successfully here on only one other occasion. The pond dried up only a few weeks later without anyone reporting chicks.

Migrant Wilson's Phalaropes are not quite recorded annually in the county. Thus a single bird at the Tualatin River NWR is noteworthy, seen by Harry Nehls on July 3, Erik Knight on July 6 and 13, and Marcia Cutler on August 9 (perhaps a different bird?).

June 2006:

Little Blue Heron. Photo by Darin Rhein Little Blue Heron. Photo by Darin Rhein
Little Blue Heron at Tualatin River NWR, on June 11, 2006, by Darin Rhein Little Blue Heron at Tualatin River NWR, on June 11, 2006, by Darin Rhein. Other photos at: http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/ v626/cougar101/Bird/

An incredible, first-county record of Little Blue Heron, June 11 by Darin Rhein and Tom Shreve, introduced the new Tualatin River NWR to Oregon birders. The bird was seen again by refuge personnel on June 12, but the sighting was not generally known to the birding community until June 14. It was never relocated.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge officially opened this month. This is a great birding location. See a photo trip report by Greg Gillson from June 25, 2006: http://thebirdguide.com/washington/site_guides/tualatin_river_nwr/Tualatin_River_NWR.htm.
See also: Friends of Tualatin River NWR: http://www.friendsoftualatinrefuge.org/

Paul Sullivan and Ron Spencer found a male Purple Martin at the Tualatin River NWR on June 2. Paul has birded extensively in Washington County and this was his first county record. Erik Knight spotted one here at Tualatin River NWR on June 22. Late report: Lars Norgren reports a female was near Mountaindale in early June. [See July and August Highlights for more records.]

Also on June 2, Doug Robberson found 2 Black Terns at the Tualatin River NWR. These are very rare spring migrants.

Lazuli Bunting. Photo by Khanh Tran
Lazuli Bunting at West Union, August 2006, by Khanh Tran

Lazuli Buntings have been rather local and difficult to find in Washington County in the past. That changes, now, with access to the Tualatin River NWR. Tim Janzen spotted 6 birds there on June 14, with most visitors to the refuge mentioning them in June.

Another species that is often hard to detect within the county is Chipping Sparrow. On June 17 Greg Gillson recorded one at the David Hill Winery, one on Hillside Drive, and a recently fledged family group on Old Wilson River Highway near Thornburgh. The low pastured hillsides and small ranchettes near the town of Gales Creek seem to be the proper habitat within the county.

Late report: A single Black Swift reported from Hillsboro on 29 June (Warbler 70(9).

Late report: Lars Norgren reports single Northern Goshawks in June. One was soaring very high over Mountaindale and another flying out of woods at Jackson School Road near North Plains during the month. These seem a long way from breeding habitat, yet an odd time for migrants. These were the only reports for the year.

An adult Golden Eagle was reported by Lars Norgren at Banks on June 7, 9, and 12. These are very rare in the county, reported only every 5 years or so. [See August Highlights for an aditional sighting.]

Lars Norgren spotted a Common Nighthawk on June 5 over his house along Hayward Road. Greg Gillson found another over a nearby clearcut on June 16. It takes searching to find these rare summer residents in the county. These ended up being the only ones mentioned in the county in 2006.

Acorn Woodpecker. Photo by Greg Gillson
Acorn Woodpecker at Pacific University, Forest Grove, on June 17, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Don Boucher performed a survey on OBOL (Oregon Birders On-Line, email list) on August 7, asking for the best publically-accessible location to see Acorn Woodpeckers in the Willamette Valley. The choice "most popular by far" was the colony at Pacific University in Forest Grove. This, despite the fact that Washington County is the northernmost area to see these woodpeckers in the Willamette Valley. Birds can be found regularly at Orenco Grade School in Aloha, Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro, farmsteads between North Plains and Roy, Dawson Creek Corporate Park and several other areas near the Hillsboro airport.

Eleven Hammond's Flycatchers were counted by Greg Gillson at Reeher Forest Camp, near Timber, Oregon on June 11. This is a great area to find these rather difficult to locate and identify birds (see April reports for lowland migrants).

A revised (June 2006) site guide to the Timber area in the Coast Range of western Washington County: http://thebirdguide.com/washington/site_guides/timber/timber.htm.

The immature Snow Goose at Fernhill Wetlands, first detected February 5, remained until June 5 when Rainer Wieland spotted it (see February, March, and April reports). [See October Highlights.]

May 2006:

With only one previous county record, amazing were reports of 2 White Pelicans on May 6 at Fernhill Wetlands by David Smith and Tim Shelmerdine, and 7 birds reported by Pamela Johnston at the Tualatin River NWR on May 24.

Lars Norgren had a nesting Barred Owl at his place above Hayward. For everyone else in the county this was a very rare bird. Greg Gillson went up at dusk on May 10 and found this bird for his personal first county sighting. [See September Highlights for an additional sighting.] Earlier in the afternoon, Gillson found 4 Mountain Quail on a clearcut along Hayward Road. These are usually local and difficult to find in the county.

Short-billed Dowitcher. Photo by Greg Gillson
Short-billed Dowitcher at Fernhill Wetlands on May 6, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Short-billed Dowitchers are rather rare spring migrants in the Willamette Valley. This could be due either to their actual scarcity or to the difficulty in making an accurate identification. Thus the one photographed by Greg Gillson at Fernhill Wetlands on May 6 is noteworthy.

Rare in spring, David Smith found 2 Pectoral Sandpipers on May 7 at Fernhill Wetlands. [See August and September Highlights for more individuals.]

Nashville Warblers are very hard to find spring migrants in this corner of the state. Khanh Tran found at least two this spring, one at Scoggins Creek Picnic Area at Hagg Lake and one along Killin Road at Narup Road in May, though actual dates were not given.

A single Yellow-headed Blackbird at Fernhill Wetlands on May 21 by Monika Wieland was the only report of spring, as typical.

Rare migrants, three Caspian Tern were rather late over Hagg Lake on May 29 and spotted by Greg Gillson.

The Hagg Lake Site Guide has been completely update in 2006. Maps have been added and twelve birding sites along the lake are described in detail. New photos include habitats and locales and some new bird photos. See: http://thebirdguide.com/washington/site_guides/hagg_lake/hagg_lake.htm.

Cassin's Vireos are rather difficult to find in the county. Thus noteworthy are 4 birds along Lee Road and trails from the summit down to the shores of Hagg Lake (See Hagg Lake Site Guide in sidebar, above, for trail description and map) by Greg Gillson on May 29. A pair has been regular in summer at the summit of Lee Road for the past several years. [See September report.]

A single very rare Black Swift on May 20 was a surprise migrant for Khanh Tran at Killin Wetlands (See April Highlights). It has been several years since the last swifts were reported. [See August report.]

April 2006:

A well-described male Black-chinned Hummingbird at a feeder near Hagg Lake April 10 (Oregon Birds 32(3):128) is the first known county report, though it is listed in the Summers and Miller checklist based on unknown provinance.

Two rather early Black Swifts were reported April 14 by Mike Marsh at Rock Creek. [See May and August Highlights for additional sightings.]

The Snow Goose from February (see February and March Highlights) remained throughout the month and was spotted on April 9 and 29 by Greg Gillson. [See June and October Highlights.]

The only lowland migratory reports of Hammond's Flycatchers came from April 21 when Greg Gillson detected 3 separate birds at Tualatin Hills Regional Park in Beaverton. This is a rather rare species in migration, but this is a typical date and location. [See June Highlights for the breeding location in the Coast Range.]

Tim Shelmerdine, Jay Withgott, and Greg Gillson set a new Washington County Big Day record on April 29, 2006. Read the Big Day narrative leading to 123 species!

Solitary Sandpipers migrate annually through the county in spring in small numbers, in restricted habitat, during a narrow range of dates, making them rare and rather hard to find. Greg Gillson recorded one bird on April 22 at Killin Wetlands, a favorite location. Rainer Wieland found one April 23 at Koll Center Wetlands Park in Beaverton. Tim Shelmerdine, Jay Withgott, and Greg Gillson found three at Killin Wetlands on April 29.

Black-bellied Plover is rather a rare annual migrant in the county, more frequent in fall than spring. Thus the single birds detected April 29 by Greg Gillson at Fernhill Wetlands and May 24 by Pamela Johnston at Tualatin River NWR are noteworthy.

A rare annual spring migrant, a Western Kingbird was spotted at Killin Wetlands by Jay Withgott, Tim Shelmerdine, and Greg Gillson on April 29. [See July Highlights for a summer sighting, and September report.]

An amazing 1200 Greater White-fronted Geese were gounded by a heavy shower at North Plains on April 29, where spotted by Tim Shelmerdine, Jay Withgott, and Greg Gillson. This is a huge number for the county. Typically, detected flocks are less than 150 birds. [See September report.]

March 2006:

Late report: Lars Norgren reports (January 2007) that he had a flock of Horned Larks near Roy "perhaps early March." These were the only reports of this species during the year. They are found not quite annually throughout the year in small numbers and may breed occasionally.

The Portland Audubon Rare Bird Alert reported 5 Vaux's Swift on the incredibly early date of March 27 in Hillsboro.

The Snow Goose from February (see February Highlights) remained throughout the month and was spotted on March 4 and 5 by Leslie Meserve, and March 26 by Rainer Wieland. [See April, June, and October Highlights for more sightings.]

The Black-crowned Night-Herons at Fernhill Wetlands were last seen by Leslie Meserve on March 4 (see January and February Highlights).

February 2006:

Snow Goose. Photo by Greg Gillson
Snow Goose at Fernhill Wetlands, on February 5, 2006, by Greg Gillson
Snow Goose is a rare annual winter visitor. Single birds are often mixed with flocks of Canada Geese. A single immature was spotted February 5 at Fernhill Wetlands and it remained to June 5. [See March, April, June, and October Highlights.]

Greater Scaup are rare to uncommon in early spring within the county. Greg Gillson noted one at Hagg Lake on February 2, then 3 at Fernhill Wetlands on February 19. Leslie Meserve recorded this species at Fernhill Wetlands on March 5.

A female Surf Scoter was scoped by Greg Gillson on Hagg Lake February 5. These very rare birds are reported about once per decade from the county. [See October Highlights.]

One or more of the 4 Black-crowned Night-Herons at Fernhill Wetlands since November (see January Highlights) were spotted during the month. Leslie Meserve, Erik Knight, and Greg Gillson reported all or some of them on February 5, 12, and 19. [See March Highlights for the final report.]

Sandhill Cranes seem to follow the Willamette River in migration. This flight path sometimes produces birds overflying Beaverton on the eastern edge of the county, where they must be considered rare and hard to find. This year Leslie Meserve spotted a noisy flock of 25 overflying Beaverton on February 11.

Rare annual visitors, Common Goldeneyes were reported from Fernhill Wetlands on February 19 by Leslie Meserve and February 21 by Greg Gillson, possibly different birds.

Though regular, 75 Canvasback counted by Greg Gillson at Fernhill Wetlands on February 18 seems like a very high number for this species (but see January Highlights).

A Swamp Sparrow heard calling by Greg Gillson on February 20 at Killin Wetlands, where rarely reported. This is a rare species, usually found annually with specialized searching. This was the only report of the winter since the new year. [See November report.]

Western Meadowlarks no longer nest and are only winter visitors or early spring migrants through the county. The only report since December was of a single bird at Fernhill Wetlands on February 18 by Greg Gillson.

A Red-breasted Merganser was reported at Fernhill Wetlands on February 25 (Portland Audubon Rare Bird Alert). This is a very rare species, recorded about once every 5 years, on average. [See December record.]

Albinistic Glaucous-winged Gull. Photo by Greg Gillson hybrid Gull. Photo by Greg Gillson
Albinistic Glaucous-winged Gull at Fernhill Wetlands, on February 18, 2006, by Greg Gillson Apparent Herring x Glaucous Gull at Fernhill Wetlands, on February 18, 2006, by Greg Gillson

Thayer's Gulls are rare annual winter visitors. Greg Gillson saw one at Fernhill Wetlands on February 18 and John Rakestraw saw it, or another, on February 25 (See December highlights). Also on a freezing day on February 18, Gillson recorded a first-year Glaucous Gull and photographed an albinistic Glaucous-winged Gull and an apparent Herring x Glaucous Gull hybrid, the so-called "Nelson's Gull." That day there were 3 Western Gulls present. Pure Western Gulls are quite unusual inland, most apparent Western Gulls inland reveal hybridization with Glaucous-winged Gulls upon closer inspection.

Continuing the trend of recent years, 3 winter Barn Swallows were cruising about Fernhill Wetlands on February 5 and spotted by Greg Gillson. Gillson didn't record them again until their normal spring migration arrival on April 9.

January 2006:

Gray Jay. Photo by Jerry Gaiser
Gray Jay at Pumpkin Ridge, north of North Plains, on January 27, 2006, by Jerry Gaiser

Three Gray Jays were at Pumpkin Ridge on January 27 and photographed by Jerry Gaiser. These birds are quiet forest residents, with large family territories, thus infrequently reported in the Washington County Coast Range.

200+ Canvasbacks reported on January 6, 2006 by Sarah Pinnock at Jackson Bottom Wetlands, in Hillsboro, may be a Willamette Valley record! [See February Hightlights for another concentration, though not so large.]

The four Black-crowned Night-Herons, present since November 27 at Fernhill Wetlands, were seen until March 4. Leslie Meserve saw 3 birds on January 22. [See February and March Highlights.]