Monday, November 5, 2012

November 4: Urban birding

Joined two friends for a day of birding in Portland. They know the area well and were familiar with all the pockets of vacant lots, community gardens, and patches of woods along city trails like the Eastern Promenade. Also, Portland being on a peninsula meant we had opportunities for scanning the water. It was a different kind of birding than I usually do, particularly one stretch along West Commercial St., a wasteland which, in warmer weather, is clearly a refuge for many homeless people. Piles of clothing, tarps, and, more heartbreakingly, toys lay scattered in various clearings below a bluff on which sit several large, well-kept houses. It was a surreal experience to witness this evidence of social drama while walking the trails in search of birds, and I found it somewhat challenging at times to focus on birds.

We did come across some interesting birds in this area, including a flock of Hermit Thrushes lingering later into the season than expected. The highlight, however, was a Barred Owl that flew through the woods to land right in front of us. It perched there as we watched it, occasionally giving us a glance, but otherwise, we might not even have been there.

Sodden toys and clothing
scattered in the woods
under owl's dark eyes.

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