A year ago the eastside Delta Ponds had already frozen solid. Ice was an inch thick under seven inches of snow and thawed completely by the New Year. In February another snowfall was accompanied by a freezing rain the likes of which we hadn’t seen for many years. It was hard on the birdwatchers and really hard on the birds. Hummingbird feeders froze.
What will it be like this winter? The Christmas Bird Count morning was sunny and beautiful. This year, high water in the river prevented seeing many of the usual waterfowl. The Delta Ponds were so deep from riverbank overflow that almost no dabbling ducks were seen.
The swelling buds on the willows, cottonwoods and osoberries sing a song of glee in the plant world. White alder and cultivated filberts are already shedding pollen. Low groundwater levels from last summer’s dry spell are being replenished. Willamette Valley is not likely to be in drought condition anytime soon. A rapid and vigorous spring flush depends on temperatures staying mostly above freezing. Seeing Oregon grape flowers open on Christmas indicates unusual bloom events are taking place.
The neighborhood birds seem to be thriving. Our circulating flock of little birds include both lesser and American goldfinches, pine siskins, black capped chickadees, juncoes, nuthatches and a solitary downy woodpecker. It’s hard to say which I enjoy more: the exquisite Townsend’s warblers or the elegant varied thrush. Having feeders clean and filled, and the fountain running, keeps them coming around.
EDITOR'S NOTE: David Wagner's new 2015 Oregon Nature Calendar and Coloring Book can be obtained at fenzenmosses.com