Along the Swale: January 2018

Glencoe Swale is a remarkable sub-watershed of McKay Creek… which flows in the greater Tualatin River watershed. “Along the Swale” features photos and stories that highlight the natural history of Glencoe Swale. Find out what kinds of wildlife dwell in our suburban wetland/creek/forest ecosystems.

January 16, 2018

Mild weather, 55/42F  with partly sunny skies  Glencoe Swale this afternoon. Water fowl included usual Mallard ducks. Joining them were Gadwall pairs and a hungry Great Egret. View from land bridge over the Swale at NE Shannon Street.

Further north, near Glencoe High School, a Great Blue Heron hunkered into the Swale grass to preen and rest.

January 21, 2018

Cool weather, 49/45F  with rain along  Glencoe Swale.

Every now and then, a pair of River Otter are spotted swimming through the swale.

View from private deck near the Swale at NE Shannon Street.

River otter

Lutra canadensis

The River otter is adapted for both terrestrial and aquatic environments. The heavily muscled, somewhat cylindrical body is thickest at the thorax and tapers posteriorly to a thick, flattened tail. The body tapers to a blunt and slightly flattened head. The legs are short and powerful; and the toes are webbed. The eyes are small, forwardly directed and set high on the head. The underfur is grayish, short, and dense, and overlain by longer, stiff and shiny guard hairs. The dorsum is brown and the venter a lighter brown or tan; the lower jaw and throat are whitish.

In Oregon, River otters are mostly found west of the Cascade Range but have been found in eastern Klamath County and in Deschutes, Wallowa, and Malheur counties. The River otter is associated with river, lake, pond or marsh habitats, but may make extensive overland excursions from one such habitat to another.

River otters are considered among the more social members of the mustelidae family. In addition to the adult male-female association during the breeding season and the maternal female to young association, a variety of groupings of otters in different sex and age-classes have been observed. (cut from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website 01/27/18: River Otter )

January 29, 2018

Cool weather, 52/44F  with light rain. fog along  Glencoe Swale.

Birds with orange feathers brightened the dreary, gray day.

Northern Flicker

Large, brown woodpecker with black barring on the back and black spots on the belly. Easily recognized in flight by its bright white rump. Also note large black crescent-shaped mark on breast. Underwings are yellow or red, depending on the subspecies. Generally “Yellow-shafted” is found in eastern and northern North America, and “Red-shafted” in the West south through Mexico. Often seen feeding on the ground in lawns, where they eat lots of ants and worms. Nests in cavities.

(Information cut from: Merlin Bird ID)

Varied Thrush

A beautiful, boldly-patterned thrush. Males are an exquisite combination of blue-gray, orange, and black. Note black breast band, orange eyebrow, and orange markings on the wings. Females show a similarly gorgeous, but duller pattern. Breeds in mature, wet forests in the Pacific Northwest; found in a broader range of wooded habitats with fruiting plants in winter.

(Information cut from: Merlin Bird ID)

January 31, 2018

Weather: Scattered clouds, 48/35F.

Blue Moon is when two full moons happen in the same calendar month. Blue Moons are not as rare as the old saying “once in a blue moon” implies; they happen about once every 2.7 years, because the number of days in a lunation (new moon to new moon) is a bit less than the usual calendar month — 29.53 days as opposed to 31 or 30 days (except for February, which has 28 days, so a blue moon cannot occur). A sequence of 12 lunations adds up to 354.36 days, against the 365.24 days in a year. The discrepancy adds up over time, until a year will have 13 lunations as opposed to 12. For some observers, 2018 will feature two Blue Moons — one in January and one in March (with no full moon in February).