Sunday, March 14, 2010

Return to Lagoon Campground - Mar 13, 2010

We’ve come back to Lagoon Campground, hoping to find the great blue heron again. Too many dogs and people today. Last week the heron didn’t mind us on the trail, but I suspect dogs are a bit much.

A wrentit has popped out of the bushes and peers at me. Wrentits are funny little jerky birds who love to sing from somewhere within the dense tangle of thick coastal huckleberry and salal. When I get close to one, I always find their feathers fascinating. He almost looks hairy. Careful inspection makes me think the flow of the long barbs of his back and breast feathers is designed to help Oregon’s frequent rains slip off. The wrentit quickly slips back into the bushes so I “phish” him (phishing is birder talk for making little squeaky noises). Leaves wiggle but no bird. I decide to try a new sound, a quiet “click”, a sound I might make if I was saying giddy-up to a miniature horse.

Zoom! I just got dive-bombed by a midget. It took a few minutes to verify I have
upset a rufous hummingbird. I didn’t think he would have come north yet, but there he sits, in the gnarly shore pine above me. A few more clicks and he zooms me again. I must admit quarreling hummingbirds sound rather like my ‘click.’ I think I’m a monster who has infringed on his territory.

Many years ago the top broke out of this shore pine, and now a tangle of branches has grown a-new. His favorite resting spot is on a wisp of a twig near the tangle. He fluffs, and calls, and flutters his wings ; then flies off, soon to be back. I’m sketching the hummer and the shape of the tree quickly and then I’ll move away to work on details.

Oh ratzle-fratzle! I’ve been sitting on a trail bench working on my drawing while Dale has been waiting to photograph either the marsh wrens or the Virginia rails that I heard here an hour ago. No wrens or rails when I returned to show Dale where I heard them. The milky sunshine has turned to grey and all is quiet. Dale finally went scouting and I’m twenty feet from the camera and tripod. I see riffles in the water – right next to shore. The marsh vegetation is thick so I can’t see what is disturbing the water. I hope it can’t see me. I try to sneak over to the camera.
Up pops the Virginia rail. He drops into even thicker marsh grasses just a few feet away and scolds me. At least I got to see one.

This is a good spot. A pair of wood ducks flew by when we arrived and now they fly by in the other direction. The lady flies in front and the colorful drake right behind. They have a funny petulant call when they fly. I get a little more drawing done and now a scuffle in the three foot sedges distracts me. The marsh wrens have returned. One chases a second . Is it a male after an intruder or is this courtship? One disappears and the other bursts into his scratchy warbles and gurgles. Singing marsh wrens always remind me of the song of an old treadle sewing machine. The wren keeps me company while I sketch and wait for Dale to return.

No great blue herons today, but the other birds have been good to us.


  1. The detail is amazing. I love to come here to learn all that I can about the world you visit and document.

    In my own observations the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in the wild was a flock of swans flying up from a gray lake into a gray sky where they were highlighted by the rising sun. The sight was so captivating that it stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I had seen.

    I know there must be moments like that for you.

  2. Such fun to read about your morning quarrels with hummingbirds and visits with wrentits and other mysterious rustlings in the bushes!

    There is an award over at Painted Thoughts blog for you!

  3. wow, what beautiful work you do. Congrats on your award from Laure also. Stop by my blog and say hello.

  4. Lovely work here. I love how that bird looks. The tree is nice too. I enjoyed the story especially about the birds not appreciating your clucking. I came over from Laure's blogpost and am glad I did.

  5. hehe, dive-bombed by birds! Your plein air sketching sounds so tranquil. Well, except for the dive-bombing part!