Sunday I hiked on Mt Talbert, a small butte in Clackamas County. It's similar to Mt Tabor, Powell-Division Butte and other "bumps" around the SE Portland area. I have a class coming up that I needed another field trip site for and wondered if this would be a good spot. I'd been up there a few times back before it was a Metro park and remembered some good birds, like Hutton's Vireo and Pileated Woodpecker, being present.
Unlike some of the other buttes, there are lots of oaks here and much restoration is being done within the oak habitat. If you Googled "oak restoration oregon" you'd probably come up with lots of hits.....it's a popular topic. I saw evidence of the many volunteer work parties that Metro holds; debris piles, new plantings, nice boardwalk.
The trails were muddy in spots but for the most part it was really nice walking.....never saw another soul. Didn't hear too many birds either but did find myself in the midst of a "tweety bird flock" made up of chickadees and golden-crowned kinglets. As usual, never saw the kinglets since they stay high in the trees.
I helped James Davis lead a birdwalk here some years back.....there were 20 or so people signed up and he needed someone to bring up the rear since they wouldn't be able to hear him from all the way at the front of the line. This was great and I was having a fine time birding with the folks at the end and translating what I could hear James saying from the front. It became a real life version of the game "Telephone" when from the front James said of Pileated Woodpeckers, "50% of their diet is carpenter ants!"
The woman next to me said with a shocked voice...."What? 50% of them die of heart attacks??"
I made it to the top!
A bird I heard quite a bit of singing from today was the Winter Wren. I work at the nearby Clackamas Promenade and one day a customer came in saying he'd just seen a Winter Wren outside the Claim Jumper restaurant. I expressed my surprise but he insisted so I let it go. For the record, here's a picture of ideal wren habitat:
Below is the same habitat from a wren's eye view. Lots of hiding places, lots of bugs under the litter. Yum yum!
The habitat at a typical Claim Jumper:
Need I say more?
After my hike I decided that it wasn't appropriate to bring my group here. Not because it didn't have potential but because the class is in March and I don't think this place will be hopping until May or June. On one July visit there with my folks we must have seen dozens of Western Tanagers as well as Black-headed Grosbeaks. I will definitely wait til spring migrants show up and will be happy to revisit Mt Talbert.....a mere 8 miles from my house and far less crowded than Mt Tabor.