Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wildlife refuge


Ok, so I shouldn't have said it snowed the other week, because this last week it really snowed. Don't laugh, you guys, but we got a whole 1-3 inches of snow in this area. People abandoned their cars. Buses were chained up to drive on the ice. School was canceled for the next two days. And, like always, the tweets summed it all up.

Wednesday, 4:30 PM.
Downtown, about 6pm.

Just a few days before that, D and I went for a walk in the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

This place is a 45-minute drive from the city center, out near the suburb of Sherwood. We originally wanted to drive out to Multnomah Falls, but the highway was still icy from the first snow day, so I randomly found this wildlife refuge on a Google map.

It was free, beautiful, and peaceful.

Or rather, it was peaceful... except for the sound of the thousands of birds also hanging out there. No joke. From the government website: The Refuge boasts an average of 20,000 waterfowl during mid-winter, and in some years, over 50,000 have been observed in a single day. 

I swear there are birds here. Really.

Can you imagine 20,000 birds in the same place?? Massive flocks of geese did a fly-by every few minutes. Tiny baby birds splashed themselves in puddles. I didn't get a single good bird picture- what's the trick to this?- but we did talk to a bird watcher who had just spotted a bald eagle. These two little creatures were pretty much the extent of our wildlife finds:

The first part of the trail was open and bright.

We followed the trail along the river. At one point, there was a scary huffing sound down by the river. I freaked out thinking it was, of course, a killer animal getting ready to charge out of the bushes (always a logical conclusion to jump to, right?)... and it was just some guy paddling frantically in a canoe, haha.

Then, the forest. Doesn't it look dark and a little ominous?

There is SO MUCH MOSS here. It gives some of the trees a weird "seaweed" feel, like you're actually in some underwater scene.

If you looked closely at the moss, there were wet spiderwebs and itty bitty mushrooms everywhere.

I like the colors of the forest right now. Do you think it looks completely different in the summer?

Inside the forest, the path splits into two. The left fork will take you up a hill, closer to all the noisy birds in the wetland.

The right fork continues on along the river.

When you see this-

- it means you're at the end, where two benches look out over a field of tall grass.

We saw four deer here... again, I captured them marvelously with my unparalleled wildlife photography skills ;)

The deer.

... and stopped for a snack. When D's family moved to Hawaii, they passed on their термос, thermos, to us. Now we can be totally Ukrainian- go out into nature on the weekends, look for mushrooms, and drink hot tea. D was carrying this big thermos of earl grey tea in his backpack all the way to this spot.

A group of little kids came along and told us about the orange-bellied salamander they'd found back on the trail. Then we set off back through the forest.

The rain was just starting to come down as we left the forest.

For a random, last-minute Google find, we totally lucked out with this place! Have you ever had a lucky find on Google maps?


  1. Such a Russian thing to bring a thermos! I love it though. I've never used Google Maps, but I use Instagram a lot to find places in Ufa.

    1. Instagram... I really need to start an account there! Still have your account (and a few others) bookmarked ;)