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Recent Features & Commentaries

Mary's Peak
The summit of Mary's Peak is the highest point in Oregon's Coast Range.  For centuries it was considered a sacred place, inhabited by spirits.  Our culture's more prosaic view of the mountaintop can be seen as a reflection of the difference in our world view.  The breathtaking otherworldliness of this mountain peak seems to have a universally profound effect on visitors here.

Snag Boat Bend
Snag Boat Bend contains some of the best preserved backwaters remaining on the Willamette.  These quiet waters are connected to the main stem of the river and provide a refuge for fish and other creatures away from the main current.  These braided backchannels offer an abundance of habitat for a number of native species of animals and plants.

Dawn at Delta Ponds
Dawn is one of the best times to view wildlife.  Delta Ponds, although surrounded by apartments and freeways is busy with the comings and goings of many birds and mammals during the early hours.  Beavers have returned from near extinction in the Willamette Valley and are common here.

Siuslaw Estuary
The McKenzie River Trust recently purchased a 217 acre dairy ranch on the north bank of the lower Siuslaw River.  Estuaries are among the most productive places on earth.  Fish species, such as Salmon depend on their health.  Restoration work is going on throughout the basin to help Salmon and other plants and animals of the salt marsh.

Siuslaw Estuary
The McKenzie River Trust recently purchased a 217 acre dairy ranch on the north bank of the lower Siuslaw River.  Estuaries are among the most productive places on earth.  Fish species, such as Salmon depend on their health.  Restoration work is going on throughout the basin to help Salmon and other plants and animals of the salt marsh.

Beaver Pond
Plant growth and animal activity are at their summertime zenith at Beaver Pond.  Hunters often become the hunted, as creatures struggle to feed themselves and their young.

North Bank Deer Preserve
Douglas County's North Bank Deer Preserve offers one of the few places in Western Oregon that one can hike through a White Oak savanna habitat  Wildlife is abundant here and seasonal wildflowers abound.  This is a last refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer.

Events:  Join nature guide, Dave Hagen, longtime Arboretum guide on a walk exploring the diversity of butterflies found at the Arboretum.  This will be a gentle walk by the river and through the meadow lands.  Nets and bug boxes are provided to get a cloer look at these amazing organisms. Meet at the Arboretum Visitor Center on Saturday, July 13th at 1:00 pm.  There is a small fee for non members.

Cheadle Marsh Trail
Late spring at Finley National Wildlife Refuge serves as a good example of the kind of paradise that seduced settlers to come here in the mid-nineteenth century.  This wetland prairie landscape at the base of the Coast Range is abundant with life and could be easily farmed.  Today this protected land gives us a glimpse of what the early settlers first encountered.

Sightings:  Harlequin Ducks winter in the churning rocky intertidal zone at the coast and then move inland to breed on turbulent mountain streams that mimic the crashing waters of their coastal environment Harlequin Ducks can be viewed in the spring and early summer along the middle and upper McKenzie River at Cook's Rapid or Bear Creek Rapid and the Middle Fork of the Willamette River around the town of Oakridge.

Honey Bee Swarm
Honey Bees swarm in the early spring, so as to take advantage of the abundant food found in the variety of blooming flowers at this time of year.  The hive is vulverable during this process, which effectively gives birth to a new hive.

Events:  Join Alison Center and members of the North American Butterfly Association for a casual exploration of Eugene's nearby wetland areas where butterflies are abundant in the early season.  The event is free and all are welcome.  Meet at the West Eugene Wetlands office at 751 Danebo Ave. at noon on Saturday, June 15th.  Call 541-344-7630 or go to NABA's website to preregister.

Strawberry Hill Wayside
Minus tides on the rocky Oregon Coast open a world of strange animals and plants to those curious enough to visit.  Representatives from nearly all of the major phyla are present and visible for a brief time before the waters return.

Sighting:  Winter Steelhead and Spring Chinook are migrating upstream and passing through Winchester Dam Fish Ladder on the North Umpqua River, which is free and open to the public.  To view migrating fish go to exit 129 on I - 5, proceed southeast on 99 to the fish ladder on the north side of the river.

A Wind Storm on the Marsh
Spring weather in the Pacific Northwest can vary from warm and mild to cold and rainy.  Wind and rain are normal events until mid-summer.  The grasslands thrive throughout the year, despite wide variations in temperature and humidity.

Events:  There is a spring bird walk at Mt. Pisgah Arobretum this Saturday, June 1st, from 8 to 10:30 a.m.  It is led by Arboretum nature guides, Jill Schwab & Chris Roth.  This is a perfect walk for beginner and intermediate level birders.  Come explore the diverse bird life at the Arboretum, while looking for breeding behaviors, listening for distinctive vocalizations, and talking about how to use behavior and habitat clues to help identify local birds.

Cosumnes River Preserve
The Cosumnes is the last undammed river flowing into California's Great Central Valley.  This preserve, where the calm lower stretch of river meets the tidal marsh, is one of the last places to see ancient stands of Valley Oaks.  The lush semi-tropical landscape is filled with wildlife.

Events:  Award winning wildlife biologist, Marcy Houle discovered that the Zumwalt Prairie holds the densest concentration of hawks in North America.  Wondering why, she went on to study the area and found that ranchers, grazing and wildlife can coexist.  Her work has been published in the New York Times, and Readers Digest.  "Oregon's Zumwalt Prairie: Last of the Wild Grasslands" is the title of her presentation for the Lane County Audubon Society program on Tuesday, May 28th at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St. at 7:30 pm.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge
Birdsong has inspired poets, musicians and others, as long as people have been around to hear it.  Mid-May is an ideal time to hear this wild symphony.  Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge offers a little bit of wildness in the midst of the Willamette Valley.

Events:  The Native Plant Society presents "Drawing and Painting Wildflowers Throughout the West" on Monday, May 20th, at 7:30 PM.  Join nationally known botanical illustrator, Dr., Linda Ann Vorobik, for an illustrated tour through her life as a present-day botanical artist, as she relates how her botanical training supports her professional illustration career.  Meet at the EWEB Training Room, at 500 E. 4th Ave., in Eugene.  For more information, call 514-349-9999.

Cleawox Lake
The dichotomy of Humanity's reaction to the natural world is all too apparent at the Oregon Dunes.  The disparity between those that wish to use and those that wish to preserve may never be resolved, but this spectacular place attracts both types of people.

Events:  Join Gail Baker and Sabine Dutoit for a wildflower tour of Meadowlark Prairie and Buckbrush Creek on Mt. Pisgah's east slope, this Saturday, May 11th, from 9 A.M. to noon.  You will see a variety of spring wildflowers, including Camas, Iris, and Strawberry, and learn how the Friends of Buford Park's efforts are bringing back the splendor of the rare prairie and Oak savanna habitats.  Regiser for this and other tours on the website, bufordpark.org.

Coyote Spencer Wetlands
McKenzie River Trust recently purchased 161 acres of wetland forest and pasture five miles southwest of Eugene.  It is remarkable for its beauty and its wildness.  Many plants and animals find sanctuary there.

Events:  Coyote Spencer Wetlands is not open to the public; however there are numerous tours available throughout the year.  For instance, you can join long-time McKenzie River Trust board member and bird expert, Kit Larsen on a bird tour, this Saturday, May 4th, at 9 A.M.  Got to the website mckenzieriver.org to register for this and other tours.

McCredie Hot Springs
Superheated water migrates up through faults and fractures along the backbone of the Cascade Mountain chain, creating warm pools, where people have soaked away tensions, aches and pains for countless generations.

Sightings:  Three species of Garter Snake occur in the Willamette Valley.  Thhey are the most commonly seen snakes.  Much variability in coloration exists in Garter Snakes but the best identifying characteristic is a stripe down the middle of the snake's bakc.  A good place to see these harmless snakes is on gravel roads and trails through wetland areas.  Best viewing conditions are on warm sunny days.

Massing of Migrating Geese
The spectacle of massive staging of Canada Geese before migration is an unforgettalbe experience.  Willamette Valley Wildlife Refuges provide some of the best opportunities to view this annual event.

Events:  Bob Flemming, who has visited many parts of the Himalayas over the years, is the featured speaker at Lane County Audubon Society's Tuesday, April 23rd program meeting, starting at 7:30 pm.  His presentation will offer a naturalist's overview of the Himalayan Mountain System, ranging from One-Horned Rhinoceros and Giant Hornbills at low elevations to Tibetean Snow Cocks, who dig for tubers amid clumps of Golden Edelweiss and Sedums at 18,000 feet.  The meeting takes place at the Eugene Garden Club, 1655 High St. in Eugene.

Spring at King Estate Winery
King Estate is the largest organically farmed vineyard in Oregon .  Spring activity is beginning to accellerate, while the vines are just now beginning to bud.  A variety of plants and animals live along the margins of the carefully tended vines.

Lowland Old Growth Forest
Very little of the original lowland old growth forest that originally grew in Oregon remains today.  These magnificent forests produced spectacular trees, due to mild climate and rich soils.  It is truly sobering to walk among these giants on an early spring morning.

Events:  The Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association presents Dr. William Neill, Author of Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest".  While adult butterflies gather nectar from a variety of plants, the caterpillars have developed special relationships with particular plants that are called their host plant.  Dr. Neill will pose the question of who depends on whom in this animal/plant relationship.  Meet at the EWEB Training Room, 500 E. 4th Ave., at 7:00 pm on Monday, April 8th.

The Arrival of Spring
Longer days, warmer temperatures, and abundant water have reinvigorated life in the valley. Spring arrives in full force in the Water Garden at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum.

Events:  The first morning minus tides of the year begin at the end of March and contnue through April.  More hours of daylight make this prime time for visiting tide pools and watching the life that was, just a few hours ago, under as much as 10 feet of water.  The three series of morning minus tides are: March 28th to April 1st, April 10th through the 13th, an April 24th through the end of the month.

Oysters on Yaquina Bay
Most people have not tasted a native oyster from Yaquina Bay.  When settlers first arrive these delicious mollusks lined the floor of the bay, tempting people to simply rake them up and sell them around the country.  Today native Olympia Oyster populations are greatly reduced.  With the help of some people they are making a comeback.

Events:  Pat Boleyn of Boleyn Bird Walks and members of the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute will describe the experinces to be gained from expeditions into the canopies of old growth forests at the March 26th meeting of the Lane County Audubon Society.  Meet at 7:30 pm at the Eugene Garden Club at 1645 High St.  All are welcome.

The watching and appreciation of birds has become more and more popular as technology allows us to get "close up" views of the birds around us.  Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is a good place to encounter numerous wetland species.

Events:  Erin Gray of the Native Plant Society's Rare and Endangered Plant Committee introduces the "Citizen's Rare Plant Watch".  Learn how you can become involved in the conservation of Oregon's rare species by searching for and documenting historical rare plant populations.  Meet at the EWEB Training Room, 500 E. 4th Ave., in Eugene at 7:30 pm, on Monday March 18th.  For more information call 541-349-9999.

Early Spring at Fern Ridge Reservoir
Infrequent sunny days in early March highlight spring awakenings at the marsh.  Birds are more active and plants are sending up new shoots, flowers and leaves.  Frogs are mating and Bald Eagles are repairing their nests.

Events:  Do you enjoy working with kids and being out in nature?  Join Mount Pisgah Arboretum's Nature Guide Team.  Reconnect students in the community to nature by leading small groups of K through 5th grade students on two-hour nature walks at the Arboretum.  Free training includes natural history of the Willamette Valley, and interactive teaching techniques for the trails.  For more information call 541-747-1504.

Night Sounds
Few people have the skill and knowledge necessary to call in Owls in the night.  Steve Gorden has been Owl calling for a number of years and loves to share.  Many creatures are only active in the night.  This includes Pacific Chorus or Tree Frogs.  On warm nights they fill the air with their mating calls.

Sightings:  Turkey Vultures are beginning to arrive in our area.  Many of these birds migrate from North America to South America annually.  They generally return to Oregon in late winter or early spring.  As the season progresses their abundance will increase.  They provide a great service to communities in Oregon by scavenging on dead animal carcasses, thus cleaning up our environment.

Side Channels on the McKenzie
EWEB, the McKenzie River Trust, and the BPA have recently purchased a bit of riverfront property to preserve some of the best remaining riparian side channel habitat remaining on the lower river.  These quiet waters provide a sanctuary for a number of rare and endangered species.

Events:  The Native Plant Society is showing an hour long biographical video, "Finding David Douglas" tonight at 7:30 pm.  This compelling story of the adventures of the 19th century botanist was filmed in Scotland, Canada, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest.  Meet at the EWEB Training Room, 500 East 4th Avenue, in Eugene.  For more information call 541-349-9999.

Hiking in the Rain
Seasonal rains set our area apart from the eastern portion of the state.  The coastal rainforest is adapted to an abundance of moisture from September through June.  When Europeans first explored this area it seemed lush and strange.

Events:  Come to the February meeting of the Eugene Natural History Society and enjoy "Tidal Marsh Restoration on Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge."  Roy Lowe, project leader for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, guided this restoration to improve estuarine health for the benefit of a wide array of fish, wildlife and invertebrates.  Roy is a fine naturalist and will captivate your interest with both his photography and stories of the Bandon project.  Meet in Room 100, of Willamette Hall, at the UO Campus, at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, February 15th.

E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area
Winter has ravaged the wetland forest, leaving it a landscape of dormancy and decay.  Yet, there are many plants and animals that remain active.  E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area was a busy military base during World War II.  Today very little remains of that once bustling, temporary city.

Events:  If you are curious about the producrtion and other aspects of this radio p;rogram, I will be speaking on Monday, February 11th, at 10 a.m. at the Moreland Auditorium at 1101 Main St. in Philomath, as part of the Benton County Historical Society's Lecture Series..."Oregon by Nature".  There is a small fee for non-members.  For more information call, 541-929-6320.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse
Cape Blanco is one of the oldest named landforms in Oregon...its name dating back to the beginning of the 17th century.  Today this westernmost headland in Oregon is remote from modern day life.  The surrounding beaches can be a treasure trove after a winter storm.

Many different types of waterfowl and raptors currently use Delta Ponds in Eugene.  With the higher water and earlier dusk, now is a good time to see beaver and muskrat.  The best viewing time is around 4:30 p.m.  When viewing wildlife, please remeember to be respectful and try not to disturb the animals' natural behaviors.  Sometimes, the best way to view animals is from inside your vehicle, so as to not frighten them away.

Sunset and Sea Rocks
An inversion layer has trapped cold air in the valley, while the Oregon Coast has warm temperatures and clear skies.  Sea rocks provide a diverse and dynamic environment for many creatures.  Some of them are highly specialized, while others are suited to survive in many different environments.

Many wintering waterfowl are taking advantage of the full ponds at EE Wilson Wildlife Area, near Corvallis.  The close of duck season on January 27th should improve viewing conditions.  During the recent Audubon Christmas bird count, volunteers discovered several unique birds at the EE Wilson Wiledlife Area, including a Palm Warbler and an American Tree Sparrow.

Winter Hummingbirds
As winter's coldest weather sets in, tiny, colorful visitors frequent feeders in Western Oregon.  Anna's Hummingbirds have expanded their range northward over the last several decades making it possible to seen Hummingbirds year round in our area.

Events:  Lane County Audubon Society's "Third Saturday Bird Walk" will be led by John Sullivan, on Saturday, January 19th, to Dexter Reservoir to look for winter ducks and check out the new wetland mitigation project.  Meet at the South Eugene High School parking lot for carpooling at 8:00 a.m. and plan to return by noon.  All birders are welcome.  For more information call 541-343-8664.

Hunting at Fern Ridge
Duck hunters have supported wetland restoration for many decades.  Places like Fern Ridge Wildlife Area owe their existence to fees from licenses and taxes on gun purchases.  Groups like Ducks Unlimited have also stepped up over the years, purchasing lands to turn back into wetland habitat.  The sport of hunting has been declining for a number of years.  Schemes to raise funds like ODFW's parking permits provide a way that wildlife viewers can help...

As of January 1st, all OdFW wildlife areas, including Fern Ridge, require either a daily or an annual parking permit.  They can be purchased on-line or from any store that sells hunting licenses.  Revenue from the Parking Permit Program will be used to improve habitat and infrastructure and to enhance viewing opportunities at wildlife areas.  In the past, ODFW wildlife areas have been primarily funded by hunters tghrough federal excise taxes on sporting arms, ammunition and hunting license fees.

Life as we know it cannot exist without water.  Not only does this amazing substance play a large role in the physiology of life, but it literally shapes the world around it.

Sightings:  Gray Whales are starting to head south on their annual migration to Baja, Mexico, passing within sight of the Oregon Coast.  Cape Perpetua is a great place to catch a glimpse of the great mammals while remaining warm and dry within the Visitor Center.  A variety of Whale watching sites are staffed up and down the Oregon Coast.

Oregon Truffles
Several species of Oregon truffles are sought after this time of year.  A trained Truffle dog makes hunting for these culinary treasures much easier.  Truffles and their associations with other organisms in Pacific Northwest forests are little understood, but their importance is only now being realized.

Sightings:  Look for birds of prey on your next road trip.  When the weather turns foggy, several raptoprs including Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons leave the tops of trees and look closer to the ground for their next meal.  They can be easily seen along highways as they perch on the tops of road signs and power lines watching for mice and other rodents in ditches and empty fields.

Odell Lake in Winter
While alpine winters in the Central Oregon Cascades appear quiet and still. life is abundant and well adapted to the cold conditions.  Looking for signs of life in newly fallen snow and vivid, open skies can be rewarding.

Sightings:  Wintering concentrations of waterfowl and migrant shorebirds can be observed on Fern Ridge Reservoir and surrounding mudflats and wetlands.  Several thousand Canada geese use the lake for an evening roost site.  Sunset and sunrise departures and arrivals of the large flocks of geese provide a spectacular viewing opportunity.

Varied Thrushes at Willow Creek
Winter rains have soaked the wetland prairie.  Animals and plants that live here have adapted to the drastic seasonal differences, creating a home for many that are found nowhere else.  People have radically altered the original valley floor, making survival difficult for many endemic species.

South Fork of the Alsea River
The Pacific Northwest's coastal rainforests are some of the most biologically productive environments on earth.  Conifers, ferns, lichens, mosses and fungi all have evolved to take advantage of the cool, moist winters, allowing two very distinctive seasons of growth.

Events:  The Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association presents Scott Hoffman Black, in a talk entitled Bringing Back the Pollinators.  He will discuss the importance of insect pollinators and present straightforward actions that each and every one of us can take to protect and provide habitat for them.  Meet at the EWEB Training Center at 500 E. 4th Ave., at 7:00 pm on Monday, December 10th.

Winter Birds at the Arboretum
Saturating rains have become the norm in the Pacific Northwest.  Rivers are swelling and most trees have lost their leaves.  Birdlife is easier to see in the winter, as large numbers of these small feathered creatures make their winter home in our forests.

Sightings:  Late November and early December can be an excellent time to look for wildlife.  When the weather turns wet and cold and foliage drops from the trees, several raptors including Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons leave the tops of trees and look closer to the ground for their next meal.  They can be easily seen along highways as they perch on the tops of road signs and power lines watching for mice and other rodents in ditches and empty fields.  The absence of foliage makes other wildlife species easier to see as well.

Spawning Chinook
Despite severely depleted populations, it is still possible to observe spawning Chinook Salmon in a few of Oregon's coastal streams.  Whitaker Creek in the Siuslaw Basin is one such easily accessible place.

Events:  Dave Stone will bring a multimedia slide and music show on Texas Gulf Coast Treasures to the Lane County Audubon Society meeting on Tuesday, November 27th, at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St., at 7:30 pm.  Dave visited ten birdingg hotspots in Texas and New Mexico and recorded images of such species as Roseate Spoonbill, Chachalaca, Green Jay and many more Everyone is welcome.

The Murmuration
Erratic Rock State Natural Site offers profound evidence of the immensity of the Missoula Floods.  The Northern Willamette Valley is Pinot Noir Country.  Huge flocks of Starlings converge on vineyard lands to feast on grapes each year at this time.

Events:  Charlene Simpson of the Native Plant Society will be presenting, "Little Shop of Horror: Carnivorous Plants of Oregon" on Monday, November 19th, at 7:30 pm.  Her slide show will include Cobra Lilies, Sundews, Bladderworts, and Butterworts found in Oregon's bogs.  The public is welcome at the EWEB Training Room, at 500 E. 4th Avenue in Eugene.  For more information call 541-349-9999.

Return of Waterfowl to McFadden Marsh
Tens of thousands of ducks and geese return each fall to overwinter in the Willamette Valley.  This spectacle can be observed almost anywhere in the valley, but it is especially intense in marshy wildlife refuges like William L. Finley. 

Sightings:  Autumn is a good time to see rich colors in the valley and  an abundance of birds and wildlife.  Look and listen for songbirds and game birds, quail, doves and pheasant - as well as waterfowl that are arriving in large numbers.  Alert observers should also be able to spot deer, rabbit, otter or beaver in wildlife areas around dawn or dusk.

Cummins Creek Wilderness
Stormy weather has returned to the Pacific Northwest.  Coastal rainforests receive the brunt of the incoming precipitation.  Cummins Creek Wilderness is a small example of the healthy old growth forests that once covered much of Oregon's Coast Range.

Sightings:  There are dozens of good places on the Central Oregon Coast to go tide pooling.  Some of the best are in state parks and recreation areas, including Seal Rock, Yachats State Recreation Area, Strawberry Hill State Wayside, and Neptune State Park.  Yaquina Head Ooutstanding Natural Area, four miles north of Newport, has easily accessible tide pools and rangers on hand to provide tours and answer questions.

Willow Creek Prairie
One way to preserve the few remaining acres of wetland prairie in the Willamette Valley is a traditional one...burning.  The plants and animals of the prairie have adapted to fires set by the first people over the course of thousands of years.  Life rebounds quickly after a fire.

Sightings:  The Tillamook Bay Wetlands Area is located just west of Tillamook, off Highway 101, at the end of Goodspeed Road.  This relatively unknown, county-owned parcel is several hundred acres in size and has some great birding opportunities...both freshwater wetlands and intertidal waters.  You can simply park at the gravel lot in front of the access gate and walk out to the roads and dikes in the area.  Recently, birds like American Bitterns and White-shouldered Kites have been seen there.

Return of the Monsoons
Stormy weather has finally returned to the Pacific Northwest, bringing invigorating moisture to coastal forests.  The ocean provides a livlihood for many birds along its shoreline, depositing tons of organic flotsam free for the taking.

Events:  Dr. Craig Young, director of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and his students are currently investigation sea life, at cold methane seeps near oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and at hydrothermal vents found in areas of underwater volcanic activity in the eastern Pacific.  Dr. Young will share his findings and his experiences at the October meeting of the Eugene Natural History Society.  The public is invited free of charge, on Friday, October 19th, at 7:30 pm, in Room 100 of Willamette Hall, on the UO campus.

Siltcoos River Canoe Trail
Early fall is one of the mildest times of year on the Oregon Coast.  The Siltcoos River Trail is a beautiful stretch of quiet water, leading to the river estuary and finally the ocean. 

Events:  The Native Plant Society has invited Chris hansen of the Oregon Natural Desert Association to speak on the Owyhee Canyonlands...a large stretch of unprotected desert wilderness in Southeast Oregon.  Chris will show some amazing images of this wild place.  He will share stories about scenic river trips, Sage Grouse counts, and the unique Redband Trout.  The presentation is on  Monday, October 15th, at 7:30 pm, in the EWEB Training Room, at 500 E. 4th Avenue, in Eugene.  For more information, call 541-345-5531.

Blue-green Algae and Fern Ridge Reservoir
A bloom of toxic Blue-green Algae has been reported in Fern Ridge Reservoir.  These microscopic organisms are ubiquitous and have played a crucial part in the history and evolution of life.

Events:  The Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association presents Peter Laufer at 7:00 pm, on Monday, October 8th, in the EWEB Training Center, at 500 East 4th Ave.  Dr. Laufer is currently the James Wallace Chair in Journalism and Communications at the University of Oregon.  He will discuss his book, The Dangerous World of Butterflies:  The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists.

Elkhorn Slough
Elkhorn Slough is a drowned river valley open to Monterey Bay.  It is one of the most productive and diverse estuaries on the west coast of North America.  Pelicans, shorebirds, Harbor Seals and Sea Otters all confront paddlers in this amazing place.

Sightings:  Shorebirds are beginning to migrate south for the winter.  Large numbers of them representing a variety of species can be seen along coastal beaches and in local bays at low tide.  Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge along the lower Coquille River is an excellent place to see these birds.  Mud flats visible from Cape Arago Hwy in Coos Bay is another good place.  Check tide tables for low tides.  These birds will begin to congregate on mud flats as the water recedes from the flats well before peak low tide.

Fall Shorebird Migration
Fall brings bird hunting season as well as the migration of birds that have spent the summer breeding in the far north.  Shorebirds appear in our area, seeking rest and food for their long journey.

Sightings:  Resident waterfowl, such as Mallards and Canada geese, are starting to congregate in estuaries like the lower Columbia River, Nehalem Bay and Tillamook Bay.  Look for them along the shorelines, feeding in shallow water or on mud flats.  They will soon be joined by early season migrants from the north, like Green-winged Teal and Pintails.

Fall Shorebird Migration
Autumn brings the beginning of bird hunting season along with the annual southern migration of birds that breed in the far north.  A great number and variety of shorebirds pass through our area each year at this time.

Sightings:  Resident waterfowl, such as Mallards and Canada geese, are starting to congregate in estuaries like the lower Columbia River, Nehalem Bay and Tillamook Bay. 

Paddling the Lower Willamette

Each year The Willamette Riverkeeper organizes a five day paddle with a hundred or so people.  They call it "Paddle Oregon" and it is intended to get people on the river so they can personally experience its delights.  The one hundred or so river miles that we paddled have remained startlingly natural, despite being harshly used and mistreated for more than a century.

Events:  Molly Juillerat, District Botanist for the Middle Fork Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest will give a slideshow presentation explaining policies and management of rare fungi in the Pacific Northwest.  Molly will speak about research that has come out of their efforts, and show how you can help find and protect rare fungi in our area.  This meeting of the Cascade Mycological Society begins at 7:00 PM tonight in room 115 of the Science Building (#16) on the Lane Community College Campus.  It is free and open to the public.


Lookout Creek
Seasonal drying is normal for the forests of the Pacific Northwest.  This season has been unusually dry, causing stress to plants and animals that have adapted to more moist conditions.  Lookout Creek provides a cool refuge from summer's drying heat.

Events:  Vaux's Swifts nest only in Western North America, migrating to Central and south America for the winter.  Each year, thousands of Swifts gather in old industrial chimneys, as they begin their fall migration.  At sunset during migration, Swifts gather in the dozens, sometimes hundreds or thousands, to communally roost.  While numbers vary from year to year, the display can be spectacular.  Contact your local Audubon Society to find a roosting site near you.

Toadlets in the High Cascades
One small spectacle in the High Cascades each summer is the disbursment of hoards of tiny Western or Boreal Toads.  The sheer abundance of these tiny amphibians is astounding to encounter.

Sightings:  The Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers are species that inhabit the high country in the Cascades.  A good place to see these two birds is in forested areas that have burned in the past and created an abundance of dead snags.  One such area is a burn at the north end of Waldo Lake.  Park at the northern trailhead for the Waldo Lake Trail and follow it to the burn site.

South Meadow
In August extensive drying changes our normally green landscape into a temporary desert.  Plants and animals have to adapt to these conditions in order to survive.  Restoration of side channels into South Meadow from the Coast Fork of the Willamette is providing critical habitat for many endangered native plants and animals in the Willamette Valley.

Sightings:  Shorebirds are beginning to migrate south for the winter.  Large numbers of them representing a variety of species can be seen along coastal beaches and in local bays at low tide.  Bandon marsh National Wildlife Refruge along the lower Coquille River is an excellent place to see these birds.  Check tide tables for low tides.  They will begin to congregate on mud flats as the water recedes from the flats well before peak low tide.

Meteor Shower
Due to predictably clear, driy weather patterns, the Perseid Meteor Shower is the most often observed of several annual events in the Pacific Northwest.  It is best to get away from city lights when viewing, which allows you to observe some nocturnal creatures that are usually hidden away during the day.

Sightings:  The Pileated, or Crested Woodpecker is a large black-and-white bird with a bold red feathered crest and distinctive call.  It prefers mature forests with large snags and logs, requiring large diameter snags for nesting and foraging.  The Pileated Woodpecker eats Carpenter Ants, Beetles, and Termites it uncovers while excavating large diameter dead or fallen trees and logs.  Once the woodpecker has moved on, its rectangular excavations serve as home to other birds and mammals.

Sandpiper Pond
Sandpiper Pond in the West Eugene Wetlands is simply a shallow scrape in the wetland prairie.  Much of it remains below the water table throughout the year, providing surface water for plants and animals that do not tolerate drying.

Events:  Bring your kids to Nearby Nature this Saturday, August 11th, from 10 am to noon for a creepy-crawly bug safari in the Walama Butterfly Meadow of alton Baker Park.  Use butterfly nets, magnifiers, bug barns and more to catch and learn about all sorts of insects and other creatures.  Meet in the Learnscape of Alton Baker Park.  There is a small fee for non-members.  Pre-registration is required.  Call 541-687-9699.

South Slough Estuarine Reserve
This remnant of the formerly vast salt marsh system of Coos Bay was set aside in 1974 as the first National Estuarine Sanctuary.  If you mind the tide and pick your way through the morning fog it can make for a spectacular day of paddling.

Sightings:  Bait fish such as Sardines, Herring and Smelt are in the local bays and near shore in Coos County right now.  These fish attract birds that feed on them.  Large numbers of California Brown Pelicans, Common Murres, Terns and other birds can be seen in these areas feeding on schools of fish.  At times, the activity can be spectacular to watch.

T. J. Howell Fen
The Siskiyou Mountains in the southwest corner of Oregon contains some of the highest concentrations of serpentine rock in North America.  These soils are toxic to most plants, but life has evolved to accommodate this extreme environment.  Many plants and animals live here that can be found nowhere else.

This is an important time of year for breeding waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife species, so please keep your dogs on leash at all times until Sept. 1st.  Many of the birds are ground-nesting species, and it is particularly important to keep dogs under control and on leash when hiking.  If your dog does flush a bird from a nest or get in close proximity to a brood, please lead the dog away immediately, and try to minimize the disturbance to the birds.

Pigeon Butte
Pigeon Butte lies in the heart of William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge.  For many decades market hunters and "sportsmen" came here to shoot Band-tailed Pigeons, while they drank from mineral springs at the base of the mountain.  Today these birds are slowly recovering.

Sightings:  Blacktail deer bucks are now re-growing their antlers, which are covered in soft velvet. They rub their antlers on trees during late summer to scrape it off.  Elk can often be seen this time of year at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis.  Look into the herds and you may be able to see the young bulls showing their spikes.  While out and about in the Valley, keep your eyes open for upland game birds, such as Grouse and Valley Quail traveling with their young.

Middle Fork of the Willamette

Summer weather has finally arrived in Western Oregon.  The Middle Fork of the Willamette River at Elijah Bristow State Park has preserved lush riparian areas with a large abundance and complex diversity of life.  Many plants and animals go about their lives here, much as they have for countless millennia.

Events:  Alan Curtis will be leading a wildflower tour opf Elk Meadows at 4,000 feet elevation, just 30 miles southeast of Cottage Grove, on Saturday, July 21st from 8 am to 4 pm.  This hike is sp;onsored by the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon.  There are over 200 species of plants here including several rare ones.  The walk is 2 miles through forest and meadow.  Wear boots.  Bring lunch and water.  Meet at South Eugene Hich School at 8:00 am  For more information call Alan at 541-345-2571.


Site of the Oregon Country Fair
For most of the year the site of the Oregon Country Fair is deserted.  Evidence proves that the banks of the Long Tom River have supported Human life for thousands of years.  Despite its intensive use for one weekend per year, the grounds remain relatively natural.

Events:  The Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association is holding their annual 4th of July Butterfly Count this Saturday.  Meet at 10 am at the Campbell Senior Center parking lot at 155 High St. in Eugene to split into groups and to carpool to the sites. There is a small fee for this event.  Preregister through NABA's website or by phone at 344-7630.

Spring on the Wetland Prairie
Willow Creek Preserve holds one of the last remants of an animal and plant community that was once common throughout the Willamette Valley.  Some species can tolerate a great deal of variation in their environment, while others cannot.  Extinction can result from subtle changes.

Events:  The Nighthawk is part of the Nightjar family that also includes Poorwills in Western Oregon.  They are commonly observed flying high in the evening sky catching insects on the wing emitting a nasal call.  The National Nighthawk Survey is conducted in Oregon from June 19th to July 4th.  The best opportunity for observing Nighthawks is from one hour before sunset and as the full moon rises above the horizon until one hour after sunset, usually over a valley floor with ample insects.

Eugene's Masonic Cemetery
When first established in 1859, the Masonic Cemetery was an open, grassy knoll with a few White Oaks and wildflowers.  Over the years, development has surrounded the cemetery with homes and schools.  Yet the grounds still contain many of the native plant species that have been overtaken and crowded out by civilization.

Sightings:  Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge now has lots of bird activity.  Cormorants and Gulls are regular residents there, some even nesting on the ledges and on the faces of the rocks.  Some large groups of Common Murres have been seen staging on and around the rocks in recent weeks.  Bald Eagles are still regulars there and are sometimes in groups of 5 or more.  It will remain to be seen if the Bald Eagles will keep the Murres from nesting on these near-shore rocks as they have in recent years.

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area has recently been designated an "Important Bird Area".  Thousands of birds winter over here and thousands more breed during the spring and summer.  A stroll around the ponds reveals the intimate lives of dozens of species.

Events:  The Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council invites you to join them for "Birding at Bristow".  Join Naturalist/Ornithologist, Dave Bontrager this Saturday, June 16th, from 8 to 11 am for a morning of birding at Elijah Bristow state Park.  whether a beginner or seasoned birder, all are welcome on this family outing.  Meet at the restrooms and picnic area at the end of Elijah Bristow Road.  Group size is limited.  Call 541-937-9800 to reserve your spot.

Paddling on the Willamette
For thousands of years the Willamette River and its tributaries was the main avenue of transportation in the valley.  The first people skillfully carved boats and paddles to transport themselves from place to place.  It was not until the early 1920's that roads superceded waterways as routes of transportation in the Willamette Valley.

Sightings:  Listen for a rhythmic drumming as you hike the forests of Western Oregon this spring. Male Ruffed Grouse are out courting.  Their Rhythmic wing beating is used to advertise their presence and draw females into their territories.  Drumming starts with a slow but powerful wing beat every second, rapidly speeding up, and ending 8 to 11 seconds later.  This acoustic "calling card" is repeated every 3 to 5 minutes in the early morning and late afternoon during the breeding season.

Kirk Park Ponds
Spring brings heavy growth and activity to plants and animals in the Pacific Northwest.  Each has a strategy for avoiding predation and special adaptations for exploring the world and aquiring the food they need.

Events:  The Eugene/Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association is offering a free field trip to the West Eugene Wetlands this Sunday, June 3rd, at 1:00 pm.  Join NABA officers for a casual, educational exploration of Eugene's nearby wetland areas, where butterflies are abundant in the early season.  Meet at the Wetlands office on the corner of 11th and Danebo.  Pre-register through NABA's website or by calling 541-344-7630.

Cosumnes River Preserve
The deeply lobed leaf of the Valley Oak is familiar to most people as the logo for the Nature Conservancy.  This riverine property at the eastern edge of California's Great Central Valley borders the last undammed river flowing into the valley.  Its lush diversity is a pleasure to walk through.

Sightings:  The Western Pond Turtle is a species that was once extremely abundant throughout the Willamette Valley.  This is the best time of year to see them.  These turtles spend a lot of time basking on warm sunny days in the spring.  Look for them on logs that stick out of the water in ponds or slack water areas along any of the major streams in the Willamette Valley.  Turtles are shy and often will dive into the water if they feel threatened by activity or disturbance nearby. 

Nesting Seabirds at Yaquina Head
Colony Rock, next to Yaquina Head Lighthouse is one of the best places to observe nesting seabirds in North America.  It is now the beginning of the nesting season and the rocks are crowded with Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants and Western Gulls.

Events:  Robert Michael Pyle, the author of fourteen bookds, including Chasing Monarchs, Where Bigfoot Walks, and Wintergreen, will be sharing his insights with Lane County residents in a special lecture, The Natural History of Butterflies.  The local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association and the Eugene Natural History Society are co-sponsoring the talk.  The public is invited free of charge to enjoy his presentation in Room 100, in Willamette Hall, on the UO Campus, at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 18th.

Springtime at Willow Creek Preserve
As the wetland prairie begins to dry out, previously dormant plants and animals, as well as tropical migrants begin to actively grow and breed.  Plants and animals that have evolved together over the centuries resume their cyclical dance.

Events:  Willamette Resources & Educational Netowrk (WREN) will hold its 6th Annual "Walkin' & Rollin'" event on Saturday, May 26th, from 10 am to 2 pm.  The event is free, open to the public and encourages participants to explore the West Eugene Wetlands by biking, rolling or walking the Fern Ridge Bike Path between Bailey Hill and Greenhill Road.  Local experts and organizations will have educational displays highlighting the many wonders of the wetlands and participants receive a Wetland Passport they can have stamped at each booth for a chance to win prizes in a drawing.

Excelsior Farm
Warmer temperatures and longer days have stimulated plants and animals around the farm into activity.  On an organic farm such as this one, the health of the soil is a major concern.  The abundance and diversity of creatures that inhabit this underground world is a wonder to behold.

Events:  Bird watchers, wine lovers, and nature enthusiasts are invited to the Seventh Annual Fern Ridge Wings and Wine Festival, scheduled for Saturday, May 12th near Veneta.  Birding stations, nature walks, Native American story-telling, and guided boat trips will be held at various locations around Fern Ridge Reservoir.  In the afternoon and evening, Domaine Meriwether Winery will host a showcase of frine artisan wines, live music, food vendors and more.  Many festival activities are free, but some require a fee.  Form more information call 541-935-8443.

Sand Ridge Cemetery
It is hard to imagine that this beautiful, isolated spot was once consdered a candidate for the county seat and thus, an important site for a city.  Today it is a place to escape city life for a sanctuary of bucolic tranquility.

Events:  During April, listen closely for the musical call fo Sandhill Cranes as they pass through the valley on their way north.  Large flocks can be seen flying very high.  They occasionally land in fields east and north of Salem for a few days of rest.

Elk Head - California's Humboldt Coast
The Trinidad Coast area is one of Northern California's most spectacular and dramatic areas of coastline.  Thousands of seabirds nest each year on sea stacks just beyond the headlands.

Events:  Hike up and around Buford Park's Swing Hill on the new and improved Trail 32, this Saturday, April 21st, from 10 am to noon.  The hike is about 2 hours long and is led by trail guides who know the park's trails, plants and wildlife intimately.  Enjoy sweeping views across the Willamette Confluence as the trail traverses an open savanna, crosses through thick fir forest, then passes through a wet prairie before it continues south to Buckbrush Creek.  Pre-registration is required.  For more information contact Lyn at 541-344-8350.

Springtime at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
In early April the "nice days" of spring are few and far between.  Nevertheless, migrating birds are arriving or preparing to leave as the wetland vegetation awakens.

Events:  Tim Giraudier will speak on "Icons of the Pacific Northwest Natural Environment" on Monday, April 16th, at 7:30 pm.  Tim is a renowned, local nature photographer.  For some years the focus of his work has been on the birds, flora and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest from the Cascade crest to the ocean shores.  The presentation will be held at the EWEB Training Room, at 500 E. 4th Ave.  For more information call 541-345-5531.

Channel Lake
Wintry weather has superceded any chance of an early spring in the Pacific Northwest.  Powerful storms have altered landscapes and left havoc in their wake.  Channel Lake is a tranquil sanctuary from the chaos.

Events:  The Eugene Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association presents Cary Kerst & Steve Gordon.  Steve and Cary coauthored books on the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Willamette Valley and Oregon.  They'll discuss the life history, habitats, and behavior of these fascinating insects along with a photographic introduction to the Oregon species.  The meeting is on Monday, April 9th, at 7:00 pm in the EWEB  Training Center at 500 East 4th Ave. in Eugene.

Sutton Creek Trail
Sutton Creek cuts through the northern edge of the most extensive and spectacular unbroken dune landscape in North America.  The forested dune trail winds toward the ocean through thick and diverse vegetation.  Bird life and even fish thrive in this unusual environment.

Events:  Volunteers are needed to train as nature guides for Mt. Pisgah Arboretum's School Field Trip Program this spring.  Lead small groups of students along the trails and reconnect kids in your community to the natural world.  An orientation session will be held on Tuesday, April 3rd, from 6:30-8 pm at Wayne Morse Family Farm, at 595 Crest Drive. For information call 541-747-1504.

Barely Spring
Wintery weather has been ruthlessly battering the Pacific Northwest.  Despite the weather the timing of springtime events proceeds at a relatively normal pace.  The first wildflowers are blooming and the first returning migrating birds are beginning to arrive.

Events:  Richared Weeks will be presenting a beautifully illustrated program on warblers of the US for the March 27th program of the Lane County Audubon Society.  Having made 9 trips to various locations in the lower 48 states to locate, photograph, and paint our breeding warblers, Richard wound up with 51 of 52 possible species, thus the title of the talk, "Not Quite a Full Deck".  Meetings are held at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St., at 7:30 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

Sweet Creek Gorge
Discovery of the first blossoms of spring can be a revelation...especially in a setting as dramatic as the trail above the rushing waters of Sweet Creek Gorge.  Early blossoming plants have unique strategies for enticing animals to pollinate them.  This tiny valley has a surprisingly long history of settlement.

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon is presenting Daniel Mosquin of the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens on Monday, March 19th, at 7:30 pm.  He will talk on "Plants of the Southern Interior British Columbia".  The region has great diversity, ranging from alpine and subalpine to sagebrush.  Meet at the EWEB Training Room, at 500 E. 4th Ave., in Eugene.  For more information call 541-345-5531.

Whale Watching in Magdelena Bay
Gray Whales congregate to mate and give birth every winter in lagoons on the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  In the last few decades they have developed behaviors that bring them closer to Humans...the same species that hunted them mercilessly for centuries.  These giant, intelligent creatures seem legitimately interested in making contace with peope.  No one knows why.

Events:  Rufous Hummingbirds, one of the earliest spring migrant b irds, are showing up on the Oregon Coastr in good numbers.  This bird nests further north than any other hummingbird.  Most Rufous Hummingbirds winter in wooded areas in the Mexican state of Guerrero.  They travel more than 2,000 miles - a prodigious jhourney for a b ird weighing only three or four grams.  They often stat in one spot for a considerable time and aggressively take over and defend feeding locations.

Isla Espiritu Santos
The desert island of Espiritu Santos lies in the sunny turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez.  Its strange endemic life forms and "in your face" geology make it a magical place to hike, snorkel, or paddle.  It is estimated that these islands have been inhabited for more than ten thousand years.

Events:  The Cascade Mycological Society presents Toby Esthay, a renowned local area Truffler.  He'll be sharing some of his experience in havesting Mushrooms and Truffles commercially.  The meeting will be Thursday, March 8th at 7:00 pm, in room 115 of Building 16 at Lane Community College.

Drift Creek Falls
The suspension bridge above Drift Creek Falls is one of the most amazing hikes in Oregon's Coast Range.  This hike after a major wind storm was doubly impressive.  Giant old-growth trees line the trail.

Events:  Mt. Pisgah Arboretum presents a "Life Among the Mosses Walk: this Saturday, February 25th, from 1-3 pm.  Botanist David Wagner will tell Moss stories and weave Lichen yarns to help you understand the elfin world of Mosses, Liverworts, and Lichens.  This event is rain or shine.  No registration is required, however there is a small fee.  Call 541 747 3817 for more information.

Oregon Oaks at Finley Wildlife Refuge
During this cold and rainy time spring seems far away.  There are already signs that the seasons are changing, if you know where to look for them.  Oregon White Oak savanna has survived at this refuge.  They played an important role in the lives and history of the first people.

Sightings:  Large numbers of Robins continue to forage on Juniper berries throughout Central Oregon.  Other birding opportunities abound. Steller's Jays, White-headed Woodpeckers, Juncos, several Sparrow species, Ravens, Spotted Towhees, Hairy Woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwings and Red Crossbills are just a few of the species that can be found this time of year in the Deschutes National Forest and BLM managed lands.

Long Tom River - Kirk Park
The base of Fern Ridge dam can be wildly exciting this time of year, as large draw-downs of water turn the narrow channel of the Long Tom River into a roiling whitewater river.  Bird life is abundant and easily visible, as most of the trees are leafless and provide good views.

Events:  The Willamette Valley is a significant wintering area for Bald Eagles, othert birds of prey and waterfowl including Tundra Swans.  Resident Bald Eagles begin their pre-nesting and mating behavior this time of year.  The local population of Bald Eagles has increased dramatically in the Willamette Valley over the last couple of decades.  Nesting is becoming common in large Cottonwood trees along the Willamette River with nests spaced roughly 5 to 10 miles apart along much of the main stem of the river.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse
Cape Blanco is the westernmost spot in Oregon.  While today it is remote from most of Oregon's population, this spot has a long history and is profoundly beautiful.

Events:  Neil Bjorklund recently spent three months chasing and photographing butterflies in the four corners of Ecuador.  He will share his views of the country and its portion of th3e great Amazon River Basin on Tuesday, February 7th, at 7:00 pm, in the EWEB Training Room at 500 E. 4th Ave. in Eugene.  This meeting of the Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association is free and open to the public.

Dorris Ranch
Winter flooding has stimulated the Army Corps of Engineers to release water from the dams above the confluence of the Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette River.  More rain is on the way.  Hopefully these precautions will prevent further flooding.

Events: The Umpqua Valley Audubon Society invites you to a presentation tonight at 7:00 pm at the Douglas County Library in Roseburg. Dale and Elva Paulson will present a digital image show titled, "Don't Mess with the Ravens".  It is about the interactions of ravens, coyotes, bald eagles and wolves during a ten day period of feeding on several winter-killed elk and bison in Yellowstone National Park.  Elva is an accomplished wildlife artist and Dale is a retiredd National Forest Soil Scientist.  They have been photographing wildlife since 1971 and have been presenting wildlife related shows since 1980.

Finley Wildlife Refuge in Winter
Icy weather has given way to more temperate rainfall.  Birdlife at Finley Wildlife Refuge is at its peak. 

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the native Plant Society of Oregon is presenting a talk by Geology professor, William Orr on Monday, January 23rd.  The presentation entitled, "Bio-mimicry in Nature" will demonstrate adaptations of plants and animals that coincidentally remeble man-made innovations.  Meet at 7:30 pm in the EWEB Training Room, at 500 E. 4th Avenue, in Eugene.  For more information call 541-345-5531.

Cape Perpetua
An unseasonably warm  sunny day on the coast contrasts dramatically with the cold foggy valley.  Migrating Gray Whales are an attraction on the Oregon Coast this time of year.  The Cape Perpetua Viewing Shelter is a perfect place to attempt to view them.

Events:  The Cascade Mycological Society presents Dr. Charles LeFevre.  He will be discussing the Oregon truffle industry and upcoming truffle festival.  The meeting is tonight at 7:00 pm in room 115 of the Science Building #16, at Lane Community College in Eugene.  The talk is free and open to the public.  For additional details go to their website at cascademyco.org.

Meadowlark Prairie
A rainstorm on Meadowlark Prairie reveals hardships endured by the plants and animals of the West Eugene Wetlands.  A patient observer can see a lot of activity that would be missed by someone seeking more comfort.  Many species of birds are perfectly adapted to survive winter storms in the Pacific Northwest.

Events:  Winter is a great time to go bird watching at the coast.  Many species of ducks spend the winter in coastal estuaries.  Some species such as scoters, harlequins, and long-tailed ducks are rarely seen inland or at other times of the year.  The trail behind the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport is a good place to observe shorebirds and waterfowl in the Yaquina Estuary.  Hiking trails and abandoned roads on Tillamook Spit provide excellent viewing opportunities on the west side of Tillamook Bay.

Winter on the Riverbank Trail
The cold, dry weather that has persisted in the Willamette Valley is slowly giving way to more temperate rains.  Winter birds thrive in this seemingly barren world.  Their strategies reveal themselves through observation.

Events:  Golden Gardens Ponds were once gravel pits used for the construction of Beltline Road.  In 1974, the City of Eugene acquired this parcel of land from Lane County and since then, many improvements have been made to this 146 acre natural area.  In 2009, pond enhancement projects were completed to improve wildlife habitat and user safety.  WREN staff and volunteers will lead you on a walk through the area from 9 to 10 AM on Tuesday, January 10th.  Call 541-338-7047 for more information.

E. E. Wilson Wildlife Area
The decaying ruins of a World War II base north of Corvallis have been converted into a wildlife area.  Winter is a good time for a quiet walk through this fascinating ghost town.

Events:  Polish the lenses on your binoculars and mark some days late this month to watch the gray whale winter migration.  It is short and quick - usually only about four weeks - from mid-December to mid-January.  The whales are not slowed by having calves in the pod and single-mindedly drive southwards in straight lines a few miles offshore.  You can see their spouts but they are distant.  About 18,000 gray whales will pass by the Oregon Coast on their way to breeding grounds in Mexico.

Marsh Winter
What at first appears a lonely and hostile landscape, is actually filled with wildlife.  The valley's marsh lands served as a food source for the Kalapuya people during the winter.

Events:  The Umpqua Valley Audubon Society is holding a Beginner Birding Class tonight at 7:00 pm in Confernece Room 3, at the Mercy Education Center in Roseburg.  The class will include birding basics, such as how to select binoculars, birding field guides, where to go birding locally, and how to attract birds to your yard.  Also, participants will have the opportunity to join in the  Annual Christmas Bird Count on December 17th.  Call 673-3355 for more information.

Peoria was, for a time, the commercial hub of the Willamette Valley. This quiet town played a large role in the early history of the state of Oregon.

Events:  Marine birds have amazingly diverse lifestyles, including their intricate adaptations and survival mechanisms.  Come enjoy a program on sea birds by Jan Hodder, Academic Coordinator and instructor at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.  She'll be speaking at the December meeting of the Eugene natural History Society.  Attend this free lecture in Room 100 of Willamette Hall, on the UO campus, at 7:30 pm, on Friday, December 9th.

Oregon Hatchery Research Center
Chinook and Coho Salmon are spawing in Fall Creek just behind the Oregon Hatchery Research Center.  It is a spectacle that is increasingly unfamiliar to inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest.  This site allows visitors to get very close to the wild fish and watch an annual ritual that has occured for millennia in Pacific Northwest streams.

Viewing:  Visitors are welcome seven days a week at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center, which is located on Fall Creek, just outside of the community of Alsea.  Depending on the time of year and the current research projects taking place, visitors may see fish being studied in the artificial streams or the tank farm, or fish spawning in nearbyh Fall Creek.  There are always some fish in the concrete raceways.  There is an outstanding indoor interpretive center, as well. For more information go the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Karnowsky Creek
Karnowsky Creek flows through a small valley in the lower Siuslaw.  It was settled in the late 19th century.  The creek was ditched and channeled to recapture the land for agriculture.  The land is being restored to a more natural state to provide spawning grounds for Coho Salmon.

Viewing:  As many as 6,000 Harbor Seals, Northern Elephant Seals, Steller's Sea Lions, and California Sea Lions haul out on Simpson's Reef this time of year.  It is about the only place in Oregon where you can see all four of the state's pinnipeds in one place.  The Simpson's Reef Overlook, located in Cape Arago State Park, just south of Coos Bay, provides breathtatking views of Shell Island and Simpson's Reef, part of the Oregon Islands national Wildlife Refuge.  With a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope you can watch these marine mammals interact with each other and their environment.

Fire at Willow Creek Preserve
The Nature Conservancy has carried out a controlled burn on its Willow Creek Preserve property, carrying on a tradition of managment practiced by the Kalapooya for countless generations.  Most of the plants and animals on the valley floor have evolved strategies to survive low-intensity fires.

Events:  Susan O'Donohoe, a wildlife biologist currently visiting from Ireland, will present an overview of Ireland's bird species and birding projects that she has been involved with.  She will also talk about her work banding migratory birds near the headwaters of the McKenzie River as part of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship Program.  The talk is sponsored by Lane County Audubon and will be held at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St., at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, November 22nd.

Lake Creek Falls

Fall Chinook and Coho are returning to their spawning grounds throughout the Pacific Northwest.  One good place to observe their return is Lake Creek Falls at the western end of Triangle Lake. 

Events:  The Eugene Natural History Society, Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Willamette National Forest, and UO Department of Environmental Studies are sponsoring a premier showing of the movie "Green Fire: Also Deopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time.  The Movie highlights Leopold's life and extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation in the 20th Century and still inspires people today.  This free documentary will be shown in Room 150 of Columbia Hall, at the UO campus, on Friday, November 11th, at 7:30 PM.


River Otters at Delta Ponds

Eugene's Delta Ponds have been reconnected to the Willamette River, allowing Chinook Salmon smolts a place to grow and overwinter.  The project has also removed invasive plants, replacing them with natives.  A family of Northern River Otters takes advantage of the concentration of fish, frogs, and crayfish in the ponds.

Events:  This is one of the best times to see pelicans on the Oregon coast before these magnificent birds fly south to nest in the Sea of Corte3z.  Up to 1200 brown pelicans are now gathered at Bandon, while about 6000 are still at the mouth of the Columbia River.  Nearly 13,000 brown pelicans visit the Oregon coast each year.  Prior to the 1982-83 El Nino, the birds didn't show up much before June and left after November.  But now they arrive earlier and stay later each year.


Autumn at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
The colors of falling leaves signify the beginning of the opening of the forest canopy.  This is the time of greatest growth for Mosses, Lichens and Fungi.  Rain and cool temperatures signal dormancy for many of the plants and animals of the arboretum.

Events:  Don't miss the annual fall celebration of mushrooms and the harvest season, co-presented by Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, the Cascade Mycological Society and Lane Community College.  This event is one of the largest mushroom displays on the West Coast.  There will also be a huge plant sale, live music, a scarecrow contest, children's activities, hayrides, craft ventdors, mushroom-inspired food, fresh cider, wine and much more.  The event is this Sunday, October 30th, from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Call 747-3817 for more information.

Kentucky Falls Trail
The first autumn rains have reawakened rainforest fungi.  Kentucky Falls Trail winds through old growth forests and provides spectacular views of several of Oregon's little know scenic wonders.

Events:  Enjoy a birding adventure in northern Colombia with Jim Regali at the October 25th meeting of the Lane County Audubon Society.  Visits to a variety of habitats, such as ther Caribbean Coast, the Guajira Desert scrub and the Santa Marta Massif will chowcase many of the birds endemic to these areas along with other beautiful species.  Meetings are held at 7:30 PM at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St. in Eugene.

Tahkenitch Lake
An abrupt turn in the weather heralds the beginning of hunting season.  Tahkenitch Lake has been inhabited continuously for more than 8,000 years.  It likely has a much smaller Human population now, than it has for centuries. 

Events: The Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon presents Melanie Gisler of the Institute of Applied Ecology.  She will talk about her research with several rare, native Oregon plants.  These plants grow in wetlan d areas in the Willamette Valley and along the coast.  The presentation will be at the EWEB Training Center at 500 East 4th Ave., in Eugene, at 7:30 pm, on Monday, October 17th.  For more information call 345-5531.

Matoleus Springs
The Matoleus is an ancient river that lies partially buried beneath a volcano.  Kokanee Salmon breed near its headwaters on a beautiful fall morning.

Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge
Tranquil sunny days are rare near the mouth of the Columbia River.  Wildlife coexists with oceangoing freighter traffic in this part of the river.  Two centuries ago, this stretch of river signaled the end of a long journey of discovery.

Events:  The Eugene/Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association is presenting a talk on the Moths of the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest on Monday, October 3rd at 7:00 pm at the EWEB Training Center at 500 E. 4th Avenue in Eugene.  Dr. Bitty Roy, U of O Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Systemic Botany will speak on the diversity of cloud forest moths and their ecosystem.

Paper Wasps
An invasive species of Paper Wasp has established itself in the Pacific Northwest.  These creatures are similar to our native species, but outcompete them in their own home.  Wasps and Hornets play a large role in keeping down pest insects. 

Events:  Oregon hiking guru, Bill Sullivan takes the Lane County Audubon Society members and friends on a tour of his favorite trips at a meeting on Tuesday, September 27th at 7:30 PM.  His prsentation will be based on his new book, "Oregon Favorites".  The show includes tips on new trails, as well as anecdotes about history, geology, wildlife, and people along the way.  Audubon meetings are open to anyone and are held at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St. in Eugene.

Goodman Creek Trail
The rainforest in the Cascade Foothills reawakens each fall.  Mosses, Fungi, Ferns and Lichens thrive in the moist temperate atmosphere.

Events:  Come wish a bon voyage to Vaux's Swifts at Agate Hall, on Friday, September 16th at sunset.  The Swifts use the chimney to roost for the night as they gather prior to migration.  Last year at this time, 7,000 birds were seen using this location as a gathering place.  Lane Audubon will have handouts with information about the birds.  Look for the LCAS banner at 17th and Agate St.  Stop by and enjoy this annual natural phenomenon.

Channel Lake
While smoke from forest fires in the east fills the valley and Blackberries begin to ripen, this hidden backwater provides a refuge for Western Pond Turtles.

Events:  Discover the yoouthful haunts of David Wagner in a program titled, "A Naturalist Returns to India" presented by the Eugene Natural History Society.  David is known to many in the community for the numerous walks he has led at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and always intrigues his audiences with spectacular photography and elegant insights into nature.  The Public is invited free of charge to hear David at the monthly meeting of the Eugene Natural History Society on Friday, September 16th, at 7:30 pm, in Room 100 of Willamette Hall on the UO Campus.

Santiam Wagon Road
The Santiam Wagon Road was built to connect the Willamette Valley to Eastern Oregon in the mid 19th Century.  Today it is little changed and a nice place to stroll on a hot summer afternoon.

Events:  If you love nature and enjoy working with kids you may be interested in Nearby Nature's Fall New Volunteer Orientation.  Learn all about leading fall school nature walks in Alton Baker Park, as well as other Nearby Nature volunteer opportunities on Thursday, September 8th, from 6:30-7:45 pm in the Singer Room at the Eugene Public Library.  There is no experience needed.  If you have questions, call Nearby Nature at 541-687-9699, or email info@nearbynature.org

Backyard Sunrise
Light pollution has disconnected most of us from our traditional experience with the night sky.  Taking the time to watch the Moon  and the sunrise helps to regain prospective.

Sightings:  Oregon has 15 species of Bats, most of which occur in the Willamette Valley.  Anywhere close to water is a good place to see Bats and they may even fly over your backyard.  These little creatures are good to have around as they can eat up to 600 Mosquitoes in an hour!  The Valley wildlife refuges are some of the best places to see these fascinating animals.

Cascade Head
Cascade Head was saved from development in the mid 1960's by a group of volunteers, who raised enough money to purchase the land and entrust it to the Nature Conservancy.  The hike up its slopes and the view from its summit are two memorable Oregon experiences.

Events:  The final field trip of the year, sponsored by the Eugene/Springfield capter of the North American Butterfly Association will be held on Saturday, August 20th.  Holland Meadows, close to Oakridge, with its large, interconnected network of lush meadows is a great late-season destination for butterflies.  This will be a moderate physical challenge.  Beginners are welcome.  Pack water and a lunch. Meet in the Campbell Communityu Center parking lot at 155 High St., Eugene at 9:00 AM to carpool to the site.

Delta Ponds Restoration
The restoration project aimed at reconnecting Delta Ponds to the Willamette River is nearly complete.  This tiny bit of wilderness is being reconfigured to accommodate native plants and animals in the midst of a network of freeways and shopping malls.

Events:  WREN is sponsoring a Family Exploration Day on Saturday, August 13th, from 10 AM to 2 PM.  Spend the day discovering the West Eugene Wetlands.  WREN will provide nets, magnifiers, bug boxes, field guides, binoculars and more.  Bring water and wear sturdy shoes.  Stewart Pond is located on Stewart Road east of the intersection with Bertelsen Road.  For more information call 541-338-7047.

Cosumnes River Preserve
The Nature Conservancy's Cosumnes River Preserve protects land around the last free flowing river from the Sierras into California's Central Valley.  From here it is easy to imagine what the Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta were like before they were altered by civilization.

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the Nttive Plant Society of Oregon is sponsoring a wildflower hike on Friday, August 5th.  This easy hike to Blair Lake will be co-hosted by the Middle Fork Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest and the native Plant Society.  Meet at the Lowell Covered B ridge at 8:30 AM or the Middle Fork Ranger District in Westfir at 9:00 AM.  Call 541-782-2283 to register.

Palmer Point - Redwood Park
When the Earth, Sun and Moon allign precisely, low low tides expose intertidal life that is seldom seen.  The Redwood coast is one of the most dynamic places on the West Coast of North America.  Colorful creatures live out their lives beneath the violent surf.l

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon is sponsoring a field trip to Balm Mountain on Sunday, July 31st.  Explore this rarely visited high point in the western Cascades with guide, Tanya Harvey.  There are terrific plants, great views and amazing rock formations.  The hike is 4 miles round trip and is for the adventurous only.  To register contact Tanya at 541-937-1401.

South Slough
The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is a beautiful place to paddle on the Southern Oregon Coast.  Abundant wildlife greets the paddler in the water and on shore.

Events:  The 2nd summer butterfly count, sponsored by the Eugene/Springfield chapter of the North American Butterfly Association will take place on Saturday, July 23rd.  There Will be two different count groups.  On will travel by car along Browder Ridge with frequent stops.  The other group will hike to the summit of Iron Mountain or Cone Peak in the Cascades.  This will be a low to strenuous physical challenge, depending on the group.  Beginners are welcome.  Pack water and a lunch.  Meet at 8:00 in the Campbell Community Center parking lot at 155 High St, in Eugene.  There is a small charge.  Preregister at NABA.ES.trips@gmail.com.

Pigeon Butte
Band-tailed Pigeons were common in the Willamette Valley before settlement.  The population was decimated by overhunting, due to their propensity for congregating at mineral springs during breeding times.  Pigeon Butte at Finley National Wildlife Refuge is one of those sites.

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon is sponsoring a wildflower tour of Upper Elk meadows southeast of Cottage Grove on Saturday, July 23rd.  Alan Curtis will lead a walk 1 1/2 miles through a wet meadow at 4,000 feet elevation.  Meet at 8:00 AM at South Eugene High School.  Wear boots.  Bring lunch and water.  Plans are to return to Eugene by 4:00 PM.  For more information call Alan at 541-345-2571.

Monarchs at Willow Creek
Summer has arrived late in Western Oregon.  Butterflies and wildflowers are lingering into July.  Willow Creek currently has a spectacular variety of wildflowers and insects.

Events:  Harlequin Ducks are Oregon's only "anadromous" duck.  This seaduck winters in the churning rocky intertidal zone at the coast and then moves inltand to breed on turbulent mountain streams that mimic the crashing waters of their coastal environment.  Harlequin Ducks can be vie2wed in the spring and early summer along the middle and upper McKenzie River at Cook's Rapid or Bear Creek Rapid and the Middle Fork Willamette River around the town of Oakridge.

Saltspring Island
Ruckle Park is located on the southern shore of Saltspring Island and is part of the Gulf Island chain in British Columbia.  A mixture of wild land and seascapes collide to form a fascinating combination of wildlife.

Events:  The Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association is sponsoring a butterfly count at various local hotspots on Saturday, July 2nd.  Four different groups will explore in the West Eguene Wetlands, Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, East Buford Park, and Spencer Butte.  This will be a low to moderate physical challenge, depending on the destination.  Beginners are welcome.  Meet at the Campbell Community Center parking lot at 155 High St. at 10:00 AM.  Email NABA.ES.trips@gmail.com to preregister.

Turkey Vultures at Snag Boat Bend

With the arrival of summer growth and activity of plants and animals are vigorous.  Turkey Vultures are prominent scavagers in our area.  Keen eyesight and a heightened sense of smell aid them in finding the dead animals upon which they feed.

Events:  Join the Umpwua Valley Audubon Society on June 25th for a short birding class followed by a bird walk along the bike trail at Gaddis Park.  The class begins at 8:00 A.M. If you have binoculars bring them, along with a water bottle.  Call Robin at 541-817-2275 for more information.


Drake's Bay
425 years ago Sir Francis Drake landed on this spot to repair and refit his ship, the Golden Hind.  This was the first real contact that British had with native Americans.  The Miwok people trades peacefully with these stranded profeteers.

Events:  On Saturday, June 18th, the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant society of Oregon is sponsoring a field trip.  alan Curtis is leading a hike to Horse rock Ridge in the Coburg Hills.  This is a 3-mile walk with some steep, rocky areas.  The views are great and there is an abundance of wildflowers.  Bring water and lunch.  Meet at South Eugene High School parking lot at 9:00 AM.  For more information, call 541 345-2571.

Coyote Creek
Bird life is at its most visible and abundant this time of year at the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area.  A quiet paddle on Coyote Creek allows one to enter a different world.  Purple Martins can be reliably seen in the reservoir.

Events:  The Umpqua Valley Audubon society is sponsoring a birding field trip this Saturday, June 11th, beginning at 8:00 AM.  Linda Smith will lead the trip to Sunshine Park via Douglas Avenue.  This will be a good event for novices, as well as more experienced birders.  The group will carpool from the parking lot east of the library, at the corner of Diamond Lake Highway and Fowler.  For more information go to the website Umpquaaudubon.org.

Snag Boat Bend
Migratory birds have returned to Western Oregon in great numbers.  Snag Boat Bend is a good place to observe life as it was before civilzation arrived.

Events:  Western Pond Turtles can be observed basking on logs in ponds or slack water areas along any of the major streams in the Willamette Valley.  Some good viewing areas are Kirk Pond, north of Fern Ridge Reservoir, Delta Ponds in Eugene, Truax Island Greenway, northeast of Corvallis, Woodburn Pond, and Brown-Minto Island in Salem.

Life Underground at Willow Creek
While life is abundant on the wetland prairie, there is a hidden world below ground.  The plants and animals that live on the surface depend on these underground organisms in many ways.

Events:  The Eugene Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association is sponsoring a field trip this Sunday, May 29th, at 1:00 PM, to the West Eugene Wetlands.  Beginners and experienced butterfliers are welcome.  Meet in the Parking area at the West Eugene Wetlands office on the NE corner of W 11th and Danebo.  Preregister on line at NABA's website.

Ona Beach State Park
The Oregon Coast is transformed every spring with the activities of nesting sea birds.  Pigeon Gillemots are easy to observe on the sandy cliffs above Ona Beach.

Events:  The Eugene Natural History Society presents a free lecture entitled: "La Nina, El Nino, and La Nada: The Big Weather Makers in the Northwest" with John Fisher, former Chief Meteorologist at KEZI.  The public is invited on Friday, May 20th, at 7:30 PM, in room 100 of Willamette Hall, on the U O campus.

A Houseboat On Tahkenitch Lake
Tahkenitch Lake is the largest undeveloped inland body of water on the Oregon Coast.  Many of its remote inlets and extended arms are seldom visited.  Wildlife is less cautious and more easily visible.

Events:  All units of Fern Ridge Wildlife Area have been open daily for public use since May 1st, providing great wildlife viewing opportunities.  Look for waterfowl, shore birds, wading birds, songbirds, raptors, rep;tiles and amphibians.  The Pacific Tree Frog chorus is raucous in the wetland areas and near creeks on warm spring nights.

Fisher Butte Unit - Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

These flooded wetlands provide numerous opportunities to aquatic breeding birds.  A walk along the gravel trails is filled with viewing opportunities.

Events:  The Native Plant Society of Oregon is sponsoring a Habitat Restoration Tour of Coyote Prairie near Fern Ridge Reservoir on Wednesday, May 11th, from 3 to 5:30 pm.  Trevor Taylor of Eugene Parks and Open Spaces will lead a 2-mile walk through this wetland preserve.  Meet in the parking area at the northeast corner of West 11th and Bailey Hill Road to pool rides.  For more info call 541-746-9478.


Hendricks Park
Hendricks Park was Eugene's first public park.  Its 60 year-old Rhododendron Garden has garnered world attention.  Its spring floral display is one of the most magnificent anywhere.

Events:  Each spring, Osprey make their return to Oregon in preparation for the breeding season.  Osprey can be seen throughout the Willamette Valley, nesting on the very top of dead/dying trees, cell phone towers, power poles, river pilings, and even on abandoned Human structures such as cranes.  Enjoy watching the Osprey, but be careful not to disturb them during their critical nesting time.

Drift Creek Wilderness
When Europeans arrived in Oregon, old-growth rainforests dominated the landscape.  Very little of these mature forests still exist.  Drift Creek Wilderness is an excellent example. 

Event:  Kit Larsen will take us "Birding in Ecuador" at the April 26th meeting of the Lane County Audubon society.  Kit will recount some of his adventures with photos of birds, butterflies, animals, plants, places and people from his recent trip.  Meet at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St. at 7:30 PM.

Willamette Confluence
The Nature Conservancy and the Friends of Buford Park have aquired 1,270-acres of riverside property abutting Buford Park.  The long difficult job of restoration is before them.

Events:  The Eugene Natural History Society is presenting a lecture by author and birder-at-large, Noah Stryker, titled, "among the Penguins: A Bird Man in Antarctica".  The monthly meeting and presentation is on Friday, April 15th, at 7:30 PM, in Romm 100 of Willamette Hall on the U of O campus.  It is free and the public is invited.

MacDonald-Dunn Research Forest
Spring is bursting out in full force in the Coast Range.  The first wildflowers are capeting the forest floor.  Birds have come out of hiding and are boldly attempting to establish territory and attract mates.

A Cold, Rainy Spring Day on McFadden Marsh

Early spring is often indestinguishable from winter in the Willamette Valley.  Despite the cold, wet weather, migrants still arrive and the breeding season begins.

Events: The Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association presents Dr. Paul Severns, of Washington State University, in a talk entitled Butterflies, People, and Hydroelectric Schemes in Northeastern Anatolia, Turkey.  Dr. Severns will talk about his recent trip to the Kackar Mountains in northeastern Turkey.  This region is recognized as a world "hot spot" for biodiversity.  He will show photographs of butterflies people, and breathtakeing landscaptes.  Meet at the EWEB Training Center at 500 East 4th Ave. in Eugene at 7:00 P.M. on Monday, April 4th.


Willamette from Eugene to Harrisburg

The course and the character of the Upper Willamette are constantly changing.  Much of the history of our state revolves around the river.  Today a boat trip reveals a healing riverscape that often appears as wild as it has been for centuries.

Events:  Discover the West Eugene Wetlands with your family on Saturday, march 26th, from 10 AM to 2 PM, during WREN's Family Exploration Days.  WREN staff and volunteers will be on hand to check out equipment and provide guidance for independent exploration of spring wonders in the wetlands.  Bring a picnic lunch, water, a rain coat, and sturdy shoes.  meet at Stewart Pond east of the intersection of Bertelsen and Stewart Roads.  The event is free.  For more infoermation call 338-7047.


Whitakker Creek
Whitakker Creek still holds healthy populations of spawning Steelhead Trout and Salmon.  Our world is connected in many ways.  Events in one part of the world cause unexpected outcomes...sometimes in places far away.

Events:  The Eugene Natural History Society presents a lecture titled, "How Will Climate Change Impact Terrestrial Ecosystems?" with Dr. Scott Bridgham, Professor at the Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biolgy at the University of Oregon.  The lecture is on Friday, March 18th at 7:30 P.M. in room 100 of Willamette Hall on the U of O campus.

Sweet Creek Gorge

The first spring wildflowers are beginning to blossom along the trail leading to Sweet Creek Falls.  This short walk is one of the most beautiful in the Coast Range.  River levels are high this time of year and the misty atmosphere in the shaded canyon creates a paradise for plants.

Events:  OSU professor, Clinton Epps will give a presentation for the Audubon Society of Corvallis on Elephants, Impalas, and large carnivores in Tanzania.  he will discuss his research in Tanzania on the movement and gene flow of large mammals in the country's protected areas.  Meet at the First Presbyterian Church, on the corner of 8th and Monroe in Corvallis, at 7 PM on Thursday, March 17th.


Bald Hill Natural Area
An unusual late winter cold spell has cover the parts of the valley in snow.  Bald Hill park is a popular place for Corvallis residents to get outdoors.  Signs of spring erupt from this frosty setting.

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon is sponsoring a walk on this Saturday, March 5th, beginning at 9:00 A.M.  View early wildflowers and tour the habitat restoration project on the floodplain of the Coast Fork of the Willamette.  Meet at 9 A.M. at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum.  For more information call 541-345-5531.

The Awakening of the Frogs
As temperatures rise above 40 degrees, male Pacific Tree Frogs begin their chorus to attract mates.  Invasive species have put our native amphibians in jeopardy.

Glover's Reef Marine Reserve
Glover's Reef Atoll is one of the most pristine coral reef environments left on earth.  The abundance and diversity found here rivals that of tropical rainforests.  These reefs are in danger from a number of man-made sources.

Events:  The Eugene natural History Society presents a colorful illustrated talk by OSU Professor, Dr. Lynne Houck.  She has been the recipient of numerous National Science Foundation grants and will present "Salamander Courtship" at the February meeting of the Society.  The community is invited free of charge.  The presentation will be on Friday, February 18th, at 7:30 PM, in Room 100, of Willamette Hall, at the UO campus.

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is more than a birding paradise.  It is an historic and vital Creole village.  The tropical dawn is filled with birdsong. 

Events:  The Native Plant Society of Oregon is presenting a talk of ethno-botanist, Eric Jones on monday, February 14th.  Eric explores the uses of wild plants by native and rural Americans.  he will stress the benefits of protecting and restoring native habitats.  The talk will be in the EWEB Training Room at 500 East 4th Avenue, Eugene.  Call 541-746-9478 for more information.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Tidepooling on the Central Oregon Coast is a good way to observe life forms that have been evolving for hundreds of millions of years. 

Events:  Large concentrations of Canada Geese can be seen in grass fields, ponds and parks throughout the Willamette Valley.  Although they look very similar, there are actually 7 different subspecies of Canada Geese that winter in the valley.  There are more geese wintering in the Valley now than at any other time in recorded history.  Farmers are concerned about the growing Goose populations and the increasing damage problems. 


Jackson-Frazier Wetlands
Jackson-Frazier Wetlands offer a seasonal marsh to waterfowl and curious observers in North Corvallis.  A great diversity of bird and animal life finds sanctuary in this watery park.

Events:  The Great Egrets have returned to Tillamook County.  They can be seen in agricultural fields troughout the western portion of the county, but most regularly in the fields just south of the cities of Bay City and Tillamook, along Hwy 101.  These majestic white wading birds are nearly as large as a Great Blue Heron and pure white in plumage, making them an easy find when looking.  This year there has been a noticeable increase  in the number of birds wintering here.  Groups of up to 80 have been seen, whereas in previous years, the maximum group size has been around 15 or so.

Willamette Confluence
The Nature Conservancy has recently purchased a 1700 acre parcel of land on the south bank of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.  This will unite a number of public lands surrounding Mt. Pisgah.

Events:  This month's meeting of the Lane County Audubon Society features Jeff Krueger, a landscape architect with Lane Council of Governments.  He will present an inspiring long-range vision for the Willamette River corridor that will help lead the way for coordinated efforts to further improve this outstanding resource in the coming years and decades.  This 30-year vision calls for significant habitat improvements, the addition of multiple paths, trails and recreational facilitties, and outlines concepts for eco-friendly river-oriented development.  The meeting is on Tuesday, January 25th, at 7:30 PM at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St.

Finley Wildlife Refuge in Winter

An abundant diversity of waterfowl have always wintered in the Willamette Valley.  Finley National Wildlife Refuge is perhaps the best place to view this annual spectacle.

Events:  The January speaker for the Cascade Mycological society is Britt Bunyard, editor of Fungi Magazine.  he will give a talk titled "From Maitake to Morels...a Regional Look at the Edible Mushrooms of North America."  Britt is a college professor who's scholarly achievements include publication of scientific papers in numerous research journals, articles in popular science magazines, and a full-length book of travel essays from living in Southeast Adia.  The meeting is tonight at 7:00 pm, in room 115, of the Science Building...#16 at Lane Community College.


Stewart Pond
Stewart Pond still provides shelter for waterfowl despite freezing temperatures.  Ducks and shorebirds huddle together for warmth and company.

Events:  The Native Plant Society is presenting Bruce Newhouse speaking on the "Delights, Myths and Legends of native Plant Gardening", on Monday, January 10th, at 7:30 pm.  Bruce tells how to bring nature to your garden and to make it both attractive and purposeful.  Meet in the EWEB Training Room, at 500 East 4th Ave. in Eugene.  For more information call 541-343-2364.

Winter on the Long Tom
The riparian rainforest is a wet, cold place in the winter.  Seasonal life thrives, however, giving the sensative hiker an abundance of things to look at.

Events:  The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is seeking volunteers to help with a bird census in 2011 at Beaver Creek State natural Area south of Newport.  The census starts January 8th, and will be held each Saturday through the year.  The count begins at 8:00 am and should be done by noon.  The area features a large freshwater marsh surrounded by hills with a mix of deciduous and coniferous forest.  The variety of habitats makes for a great birding area.  Call 541-563-6413 for more information.

Truffle Dog
Oregon Truffles are critically acclaimed by culinary experts around the world.  These mysterious underground fungi are unpredictable, and difficult to find.  The rewards are impossible to quantify.  A local woman and her dog, Gusto are bringing the European tradition of Truffle hunting to our area.

Breitenbush River Basin
Warm winter storms have melted Cascade snows and filled rivers.  A walk along Devil's Creek can be dramatic.

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the native Plant Society of Oregon is holding a holiday social and slide show this Monday, December 20th, at 7:30 pm in the EWEB Training Room at 500 East 4th Avenue, in Eugene.  Bring 10 to 12 slides (traditional or digital) and a snack to share, if you wish.  Meet others who share your interest in native flora.  For more information call 541-746-9478.

Mt. Pisgah Arboretum - Riverbank Trail

Winter decay and dormancy is simply part of the cycle of life.  Some plants and animals thrive in the cool wet atmosphere, while others simply try to survive until the weather warms and dries out.

Events:  The tropics will seem a little closer when songbird enthusiast, Doug Robinson gives a talk entitled, "Why have so many birds disappeared from a tropical island in Panama?  Somewhere over Missouri..." at the December meeting of the Eugene natural History Society.  Doug is an Assistant Professor at OSU with special interests in both tropical and arid land ecology - especially when it includes birds.  The community is invited free of charge.  The meeting is this Friday, December 10th, at 7:30 P.M., in Room 100, of Willamette hall, on the U of O campus.


Cranes on Sauvie Island
Sauvie Island is the largest island in the Willamette.  Much of it is preserved as a wild area at the confluence of the Willamette with the Columbia, west of Portland.  Area wetlands provide winter habitat for many species of waterfowl, including Swans and Sandhill Cranes.

Severe storms sometimes create good viewing opportunities for unusual birds that get pushed out of their normal range.  If severe Arctic weather pushes south, watch for Snowy Owls and Gyrfalcons in fields near the Eugene Airport, Finley National Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis or at Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge, west of Salem.  Wintering Bald Eagles may be seen in the Willamette Valley within several miles of the Coburg Hills, where they sometimes concentrate  for night roosting.  These birds havbe become a relatively common sight along area streams, reservoirs, Fern Ridge Wildlife Area and ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.  They are commonly seen in grass seed fields and sheep pastures in Linn County where they scavenge dead sheep.

Willamette Confluence at Dorris Ranch

The historic Dorris Ranch is the site of the first Filbert orchard in the U.S.  The Nature Conservancy has recently purchased more than 12-hundred acres of land at the base of Mt. Pisgah.


Spawning Salmon at Whitaker Creek
As coastal rivers rise, Chinook Salmon return to the streams of their birth in the Siuslaw Forest.  Whitaker Creek is a convenient place to observe these iconic Pacific Northwest fish as the attempt to reproduce. 

Events:  Victor Emanuel has traveled the world for over 35 years, ranging over all continents multiple times.  He is the guest speaker at this month's Lane County Audubon Society meeting.  Victor will share some of his favorite birding regions and discuss why he likes those areas.  He will also consider why birds have attracted the interest of more people than any other animal category, and how watching birds changes people's lives.  The meeting is on Tuesday, November 23rd at 7:30 P.M. at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High Street.  Everyone is welcome.

Autumn at McFadden Marsh

Autumn brings thousands of waterfowl into Western Oregon.  The flooded landscape provides food and protection, while these birds have provided a source of food for people for many centuries.

Events:  The Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon presents Ed alverson of the Nature Conservancy on Monday, November 15th, at 7:30 P.M.  His presentation is titled, "A Botanist in Southern Iowa".  Ed shows us pictures of some of the remaining grassland prairie that once covered hundreds of thousands of square miles, providing grazing land for numerous Bison and Elk.  The presentation is free and in the EWEB Training Room at 500 East 4th Avenue in Eugene.  Call 541-746-9478 for more information.


Autumn at Delta Ponds
As cool, wet weather returns to the valley, so do great numbers of wintering waterfowl.  Delta Ponds lies in the midst of a busy shopping mall and numerous apartments.  This watery sanctuary is surprisingly well populated.

Fern Ridge Dam
Fern Ridge Dam is part of a flood control system that has been in place since the middle of the 20th century.  Before dams were in place, flooding was common and helped to shape Willamette Valley life. 

Events:  Don't miss the 29th annual fall celebration of mushrooms and the harvest season, co-presented by Mount Pisgah Arboretum, the Cascade Mycological society and Lane Community College.  This event is the largest mushroom display on the West Coast.  Hundreds of locally collected wild fungi will be on display, with experts on hand to answer questions and indentify any specimens that visitors bring in.  The Mt. Pisgah Mushroom Festival takes place this Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Coastal Dunes

Oregon's coastal dunes are home to several unique habitats.  An impenetrable tangle of Shore Pine, Salal, Huckleberry and Coast Willow provides shaded and protected spaces for many creatures to make their living.

Events:  Bluebirds, trails, and quilts will be the topic presented by Mary Nyquist Koons for the October 26th meeting of the Lane County Audubon Society.  Mary will share her passion for these birds through slides of nesting seasons on her trails in South Eugene and Sisters.  She will also read from her book Mor Far's Bluebirds and show the original quilts she created to illustrate the books.  The meeting will be held Tuesday, October 26th at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St., at 7:30 P.M.  Everyone is welcome.



Weeds are an artificial construct.  They are simply plants that interfere with our plans by insinuating themselves into our gardens and landscapes.  They are constantly evolving to survive in our disturbed "footprint".

Events:  Join mushroom enthusiast, Josiah Legler for a short lecture and a hike to observe mushrooms in their native habitat this Saturday, October 16th from 10 AM to 4 PM.  He will discuss mushroom biology and ecology, edible and medicinal mushrooms, terminology and identification, and more.  meet at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and carpool to a nearby site about 30 minutes away for the hike.  Dress for a walk in the woods; bring a lunch, water and a field guide, if you have one.  Registration is required.  There is a fee for this field trip.  Call 541-747-1504 to sign up or for more information.


Drift Creek Wilderness

Drift Creek Wilderness was set aside in 1984, protecting the largest remaining stand of old-growth rainforest in Oregon's coastal mountains.  Fall brings mushrooms and the beginning of the rainy season.

Sightings: Now is a good time to see salmon entering ODFW hatcheries throughout the region and the associated spawning activities of hatchery staff.  Chinook Salmon are currently spawning in the McKenzie River.  Adult Chinook are easily seen at McKenzie and Willamette Hatcheries.  Another place to view the salmon during this spawning ritual is in front of Leaburg hatchery.  Please remember to be respectful of the spawning fish and to oberve the salmon quietly, without disturbing them.


Cascade Head

The dynamic interface between land and sea is most dramatic at the mouth of the Salmon River at Cascade Head.  Conservation groups are urging the governent to create a marine reserve to protect ocean habitat out to the three mile limit.

Events:  Join REI, the city of Eugene, Willamette Riverkeeper, and the international Plastic Quilt Project at the Great Willamette River Clean Up, this Saturday, October 2nd.  This is part of a 187-mile regional conservation effort stretching through the entire Willamette Valley.  Event organizers will provide tools, water, gloves, restrooms, and instruction.  Come prepared with appropriate footwear and clothing.  In Eugene-Springfield, register online at REI's website, or arrive at 8 A.M. at Alton Baker or Island Park for check-in and orientation.  A volunteer celebration will follow at 1 P.M. at Alton Baker Park.


Shark Reef

The west coast of Lopez Island is a great place to experience the drama of tidal change in the Puget Sound.  Offshore rocks support many marine birds and sea mammals, allowing the viewer to get uncharacteristically near these magnificent animals.

Events:  The new season of Lane County Audubon Society programs begins on Tuesday, September 28th with a talk entitled, "Birding in Colombia" by Christopher Colonje.  Chris is a native of Colombia and is president of "Colombia Birdwatch".  His program will feature a photographic tour of Colombian birds, as well as information on georgraphy, food, and culture.  There are over 1870 species of birds in the country, due to the diversity of its topography and climate.  Meet at the Eugene Garden Club, at 1645 High St. at 7:30 P.M.  Everyone is welcome.


Alsea Falls

Alsea Falls is an easily accessable spectacle from Eugene or the coast.  Few people are aware that Pacific Lampreys migrate out to sea and back to coastal streams to breed.

Events:  The Eugene Natural history Society is presenting a talk by author, Billsullivan, entitled, "Exploring Oregon's Wilderness Areas".  These monthly programs are free and open to the public.  The group will meet on Friday, September 17th, at 7:30 P.M. in Room 100 of Willamette Hall on the U of O Campus.  Call 541-484-4477 for more information.


The Waning Days of Summer at Snag Boat Bend

The Willamette River was home to extensive Salmon runs before European contact.  Ditching, draining, and rip-rapping the shore has eliminated many of the quiet backwaters that served as nurseries for Salmon and other creatures.  Snag Boat Bend is a refuge for riparian wildlife. 

Events:  Mt. Pisgah Arboretum is sponsoring a "family walk", they're calling, "Animals and Plants Preparing for Winter".  C0ome join nature guide Tom Bettman for this kid-friendly walk in the Arboretum.  See how the animals and pants that live there are bustling with activity to get ready for the upcoming cold winter months.  The walk takes place this Sunday, September 12th from 10 AM to noon...rain or shine.  Meet at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Visitors Center.


Fall Migration at Fern Ridge

The annual fall bird migration has begun.  Signs of the changing seasons are everywhere, if you know here to look.  The West Eugene Wetlands are a spectacular place to witness the ancient cyclical event.

Now is the time to start watching for the annual migration of Vaux's Swifts.  From late August to early September, Swifts gather at migratory roosts, which include chimneys and large hollow trees, before traveling to their winter homes in Central and South America.  In the fall, up to 40,000 birds may use the larger roosts at one time.


Echo Basin Old Growth Trail
Due to its unusual structure, Echo Basin is home to plants and animals usually found much farther north or at higher elevations.  This beautiful trail offers access to a spectacular late season floral display.

Sightings:  You can observe native Western Pond Turtles at Delta Ponds near Valley River Center, as they soak up the sun basking on logs.o  The best time to see turtles is early to mid-mornings on sunny days.  The turtles will retreat back into the water if the temperature is too hot.  Please try to watch the turtles from a distance to avoid disturbing them.  Unfortunately, viewers will likely see Red-eared sliders in addition to the Western Pond Turtlesl.  The Sliders are a non-native, invasive species that compete with our native turtles for habitat and food.

Summer on the Coast Fork

An amazing diversity and abundance of life exists on and just below the surface of the Coast Fork of the Willamette.  It is especially easy to observe in the summer, when the river is calm and shallow.

Events:  Lane County Audubon is sponsoring a "Farms and Birds Walk" this Saturday, August 21st, from 7 AM to noon.  When the Blick family started the Living Earth Farm in 2007, they made a commitment to sustainable practices and restoring native plants and wildlife habitat.  Tour their 15 acres, learning how farming and wildlife, including birds, co-exist.  Finish the morning with a look at the wildlife on the nearby Amazon Canal in the West Eugene Wetlands.  All levels of birders are welcome, from first timer to expert.  Meet at South Eugene High at 19th and Patterson, rain or shine, at 7:00 AM.  A small donation is suggested.  For more information call 968-5533.


Cox Island

Cox Island is a strange place to walk.  Depending on the tides, it is either exposed or under water.  There is an enormous amount of biological activity taking place beneath its muddy surface.

Oregon has 15 species of Bats, most of which occur in the Willamette Valley.  Look for Bats foraging for insects at dusk.  Anywhere close to water is a good place to see Bats and they may even fly over your backyard.  These little creatures are good to have around as they can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in an hour!  The Valley wildlife refuges are all good places to see these fascinating animals.


Row River Trail

Row River Bicycle Trail is part of the Rails to Trails movement.  This beautiful 26-mile round trip ride draws people from all over. 

Events:  Willamette Riverkeeper is hosting the 10th annual Paddle Oregon from Monday, August 16th to Friday, August 20th.  Join more than 100 other people in conoes and kayaks for a 96 mile journey on the Willamette from Eugene to Willamette Mission State Park, north of Salem.  All meals, gear shuttle, safety support, camping acco0mmodations and entertainment will be provided.  Paddle Oregon is a benefit for Willamette Riverkeeper...a group devoted to protecting and restoring the river.  Go to www.paddleoregon.org to register or for more information.


Waldo Lake

Waldo Lake is one of Oregon's largest lakes and among the purest lakes in the world.  Paddling across its surface can be a surreal experience, as the paddler is surrounded by an unusual and intensely beautiful landscape.

Sightings:  Nighthawks may be seen feeding on insects on clear warm summer evenings.  They often fly fairly high and are usually heard before they are spotted.  They have a distinctive nasal "peent" call and they also make a roaring sound with their wings as they swoop towards the ground.  These birds were once common but are now considered a sensitive species in the Willamette Valley.  They are most visible about one hour before dark.


Ten Mile Creek
The meeting place between land and sea is one of the world's most violent and chaotic environments.  Many creatures take advantage of this chaos to find food and avoid predators.  The first people exploited the rocky intertidal coast for many centuries.

River Trail - Mt. Pisgah Arboretum

The pace of life is frantic in the Willamette Valley in mid-summer.  Riparian plants are going to seed, insects are abundant, while birds and mammals are raising the next generation.  A walk in the woods will reward the observer with an abundance of sights and sounds.


Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
The overgrown marsh west of Eugene is full of hidden life.  Many animals use the dense growth for food and shelter.  A little patience will reveal many unexpected surprises.

Spencer's Spit State Park
Spring tides create a watery chaos around the placid San Juan Islands.  The lagoon at Spencer's Spit State Park on Lopez Island features abundant life as land, sea and air intersect.

KLCC Garden Tour
Garden #6 on this year's KLCC Garden Tour features the natural landscaping at Lane Community College.  There is widespread use of native plants, organic practices, with conservation and sustainability in mind.  Garden tourists should be able to get a good look at how native plants can be used in landscaping in their own yards.

Tidepooling at Palmer Point
June's low tides are a perfect opportunity to view intertidal life.  The Redwood Coast is a dramatic setting to do so.

Spring Flooding at Willow Creek
Unusually wet weather has visited the Willamette Valley over the last few months.  Unstable and changing weather patterns are the new normal.  How plants and animals are able to adapt to these unpredictable changes will determine their ability to survive.

The Tumblebug Fire
Last fall's Tumblebug Complex Fire left acres of devastated rainforest.  Signs of a return to life are already evident on the burned out forest floor.  Morel mushrooms are bursting from the ground in numbers...a rare seasonal delight.

Willamette Mission State Park

Willamette Mission State Park is home to the world's largest Black Cottonwood tree.  This stately icon sits in an riparian area next to an abandoned channel of the Willamette River.  This is also, coincidentally, where Jason Lee attemped to build the first permanent American settlement in the Pacific Northwest.


Humboldt Bay Estuary
Humboldt Bay Estuary is one of the most important stops for birds travelling the Pacific Flyway.  Much of it has been ditched and drained to reclaim land for agriculture.  In the last few decades much of the remaining marsh has been preserved.  Hiking and boating trails are easily accessible today.

Horse Rock Ridge
Horse Rock Ridge, near the summit of the Coburg Hills, is a sanctuary for rare and endangered plants and animals.  This time of year wildflowers are abundant and diverse.  While out of the way, the rewards for a trip to this steep fragile refuge are many.

Elija Bristow State Park
Spring is in full swing in the Willamette Valley.  Wildflowers and returning migrant birds are rapidly changing the landscape.  This park on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River harbors a remnant landscape of riparian forest, preserving much of its natural diversity.

Sand Ridge Cemetery

Much of the history of pioneer settlement in the Willamette Valley can be gleaned from its early cemeteries.  The area around Sand Ridge Cemetery is, ironically, little changed since the mid-nineteenth century.  This seldom-visitied grassy knoll offers a panoramic view of the eastern and central valley.


Sweet Creek Falls
Sweet Creek Falls Trail offers a short, beautiful walk alongside of a small coastal tributary of the Siuslaw.  Numerous waterfalls tumble down this fairly steep grade.  In the spring wildflowers are abundant and sunlight still reaches the forest floor through the leafless branches of riparian hardwoods.

Spring Wildflowers at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum

The early spring wildflower show at the Arboretum is spectacular.  Each of these plants has evolved a way to entice animals to pollinate them and to employ them to spread their fertile seeds.  Walk slowly through the grassland and shaded forest and enjoy the show.


Grizzly Island
Suisun Marsh is the largest estaurine marsh in the lower 48 states.  Grizzly Island Complex is a game management area within the marsh that is open to wildlife viewing between hunting seasons.  Grizzly Island is one of the best places to view some of the last herds of California's endangered Tule Elk.

Darlingtonia Wayside
Darlingtonia californica or the Hooded Cobra Lily is an insectivorous plant that has an 18-acre park set aside for people to observe it in its natural habitat.  Oregon's coastal dunes provide a nutrient poor environment that gives these plants an advantage over plants that cannot capture and digest insects.

Sutton Creek Trail
Sutton Creek cuts through coastal dunes on its way to the Pacific.  A cool, wet climate creates a unique environment for a particular group of well adapted plants and animals. 

Birdwatching at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
Birdwatching has become America's most popular pasttime.  The Wildlife Area around Fern Ridge Reservoir has become one of the best areas in the state to observe birds. 

Spring at Delta Ponds
Even though it is surrounded by a shopping mall and freeways, Delta Ponds is a sanctuary for lots of animals that one would expect to find outside of an urban setting.  Spring is slowly unfolding and many birds are beginning their mating and nesting behaviors.

Enchanted Valley

Enchanted Valley is a silted in arm of Mercer Lake, near the Central Oregon Coast.  This former dairy farm is being restored to its natural state.  Many early signs of spring are evident in a hike up the valley


Late Winter at McFadden Marsh
The shallow marsh at the southern end of William L. Finley Wildlife refuge is a place one can view thousands of waterfowl.  Many ducks and geese depend on wetlands areas in the Willamette Valley for food and shelter during the winter.

South Meadow

Restoration of the 200 acre South Meadow at Howard Buford Recreation Area is well underway.  The land has been scraped and mounded, exotic plants have been removed, and native plants are now growing in their place.  A side channel has been extended from Coast Fork of the Willamette to create more habitat for native plants and animals.


Champoeg is now a remote park along the Willamette River in the north part of the valley.  This location was the home to one of Oregon's first centers of settler population and government.  The floods of 1861 changed history, leaving the community of Champoeg to revert to its natural state. 

Stonefield Beach Wayside

Winter storms have eroded most Oregon beaches.  Extreme winter tides provide some of the most dynamic ocean viewing of the year.  Shorebirds can be seen waiting for the tide to retreat, exposing their intertidal prey.



Dorris Ranch
Dorris Ranch lies at the confluence of the Middle and Coast Forks of the Willamette River.  It was the first commercial Filbert orchard in the U.S.  It is now a public park.  The riparian forest has been allowed to take over on much of the property. 

Baskett Butte
Even though it is mid-winter, the signs of spring are beginning to emerge all around.  Baskett Butte is a refuge for native plants and animals that have been forced out of their long-time habitat by building and agriculture.  A walk through an Oak savanna is a unique experience any time of year.

Anna's Hummingbirds
One does not usually associate the cold days and nights of winter with the appearance of Hummingbirds.  These tiny sprites are among us, however, and they have developed unique ways to survive through the darkest, most frigid weather.

West Shelter - Cape Perpetua
Cape Perpetua, while a lonely coastal outpost, has a long history.  The West Shelter provides a spectacular view and a wonderful place to contemplate that history.

Winter on the Long Tom
Near freezing temperatures bring a special kind of solitude and beauty to the valley.  Riparian forests are leafless, but full of life, if you know where to look for it.

Devil's Punchbowl
It's storm season on the Oregon Coast.  Each winter coastal residents experience some of the most severe weather on the planet.  These seasonal monsoon rains make the luxurient growth in the western part of our state possible.  "Storm watching" can be a harrowing experience.

E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area
Western Oregon has experienced a long spell of sub-freezing weather.  Freezing temperatures have killed off many of the plants and animals that grew so vigorously during the summer.  This "resetting" of life allows for the next generation to flourish as warm weather returns.


For many years the Willamette River was the cultural and commercial center of life in Oregon.  In the mid-nineteenth century Peoria was a commercial hub that had few rivals.  People and goods could most efficiently travel on the river.


Winter at Willow Creek Preserve
Grasslands are a fairly new innovation of life on Earth.  Over the last 35 million years life has been transformed by its association with these amazingly adaptable plants.  Humankind owes its very existence to co-evolution with grasslands.

Alsea Autumn
Falling leaves and the seasonal monsoons change the character of the Coast Range.  Some plants and animals actually are more productive during the winter months. 

Raptors Return to the Valley
The Willamette Floodplain Research Natural Area is the largest remaining wetland prairie left in the valley.  Hawks, Eagles, Kites and Falcons are moving into the Willamette Valley for the winter.  They must adapt to a changing landscape in order to survive.

Brown-Minto Island
The Willamette River is the main geographic feature that has shaped life in Western Oregon.  The history of Western settlement began at the river.  Brown-Minto Island is now a serene, publicly-owned park.  Its history reflects the diversity of people that came to live here in the mid-19th century.


"Umwelt" is a German term for sesory point of view.  It is obvious that different creatures experience the world differently.  What often escapes our notice are the innate biases that we Humans bring to our own experience. 


Autumn Comes to Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
As days shorten and cool, wet weather arrives, the riparian forest is transformed.  Deciduous trees lose their leaves, while Lichens, Mosses, Fungi and Liverworts blossom and grow in the new, muted light of the winter months. 

Autumn Comes To the Valley
The transition from warm, dry weather to the cooler, wetter days of fall seems abrupt.  Many of the animals that are able, leave.  Plants go into dormancy.  Many birds arrive to spend winter in our temperate valley.

Mushrooming on the Coast
It is Mushroom season in the Pacific Northwest.  One of the best places to find them is in the sand dune coastal forests.  Temperate Pacific storms create perfect conditions for reproduction of our great diversity of Fungi.

Elk Prairie Trail
Elk Prairie Trail leads through the heart of an ancient grove of Coast Redwoods.  The remaining stands of these ancient giants are only a remnant of forests that covered much of the northern hemisphere in the ancient past.  Roosevelt Elk have a refuge here, where they can be easily observed.

Shark Reef

A trail on the southwest coast of Washington's Lopez Island leads to a rugged section of coast that overlooks the San Juan Channel...a narrow gap between Lopez and San Juan Islands.  The tidal flow is tremendous, bringing abundant nutrients to supercharge this dynamic section of the Salish Sea.


Fern Canyon

Redwood National Park holds many attractions.  The short trail through Fern Canyon is one of the most strikingly beautiful hikes in the world. 


Carmen Spawning Channel

Schools have a difficult time finding funds for field trips for students into the natural world.  Oregon Trout has a program that allows children to experience Salmon spawning streams without cost to the schools.  Children learn more easily through direct experience.


Goodman Creek Trail

September rains have reawakened Mosses, Lichens, and Mushrooms in the forest.  Plants and animals of the rainy season are beginning to arouse from their summer hiatus.


Honey Bees
Gardens are nearing their most productive time.  Honeybees help pollinate our crops, while providing honey and beeswax.  Native Bees are often overlooked.  They have always played a large role in pollination of our native flora. 

Hosmer Lake
Hosmer is one of the most beautiful lakes in the High Cascades.  Atlantic Salmon were planted there years ago and now thrive.  Paddling in the morning light during a mayfly hatch in the midst of anxious, hungry fish is both thrilling and relaxingly beautiful.

South Jetty Deflation Plain
The deflation plain on the Siuslaw River's South Jetty is a mysterious environment, not quite desert and not quite wetland.  This windswept sandy plain hides a surprising amount of wildlife and is seldom visited.

Butterfly Watching in the Cascades
The late-season abundance and diversity of life in the high Cascades attracts Butterfly lovers to the higher elevations.  I was allowed to tag along on a field trip with enthusiasts.

Clear Lake
The McKenzie River begins at the outlet to Clear Lake.  A lava dam purifies the water and has left a "ghost forest" standing beneath the lake's waters.  Paddling over these indigo blue waters provide an eerie experience.

Tidepooling on the Redwood Coast

The alignment of the sun, earth and moon have conspired to create a very low tidal event.  Creatures that are usually hidden by surf pounding against this rocky shoreline are briefly exposed to those willing to crawl across the slippery rocks to view them. 



John Dellenback Trail
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the largest single expanse of sand in North America.  The John Dellenback Trail crosses the widest portion of this remarkable environment.

Summer at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
Early morning in mid-summer is an active time in the riparian forest at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum.  Animals and plants are busy nurturing the next generation, while avoiding being eaten.

Tahkenitch Lake
Tahkenitch Lake is one of several large and dozens of small lakes on a fifty mile strip of coastal dunes between Coos Bay and Florence.  These lakes are filled with a great diversity of fish life.  They are part of a dynamic landscape like no other in North America.

Spencer Spit
Violent spring tides and sunny weather make this visit to Lopez Island idyllic.  Bald Eagles snack on Shiner Perch at the outlet to a small lagoon. 

A Shaded Native Garden

Gardens are both a way of connecting with nature and a way of manipulating it.  This "native" garden is an expression of art and wildness. 


Cheadle Marsh Trail
Cheadle Marsh Trail winds along Muddy Creek at the Finley National Wildlife Refuge.  There are few places are left in the Willamette Valley that one can stroll alone through a luxurient marsh, while viewing such an abundance of wildlife.

North Bank Deer Preserve
Ten square miles of rolling hills along the North Umpqua River have been set aside to preserve habitat for the Columbian White-tailed Deer.  This little known area is a delight to hike through in late spring. 

Tidepools at Strawberry Hill
Tidepools offer a chance to come into contact with creatures utterly unfamiliar to most people.  Many of these plants and animals have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands
The Jackson Bottom Wetlands were ignored and abused for decades.  This unique and interesting habitat has been rehabilitated and preserved within the City of Hillsboro.  Spring is a great time to visit and observe the chaotic struggle of new and emerging life.

Extinction at Willow Creek Wetland

Spring at Willow Creek Wetland Preserve bursts in fits and starts in response to temperature and sunlight.  This tiny remnant of wetland prairie is a precious legacy from the past.


Nesting Birds at Yaquina Head

The base of the lighthouse at Yaquina Head offers one of the most spectacular views of a breeding sea bird colonies on the North American coast.  The chaos is readily available to anyone who comes here this time of year.


The Spraying of Mt. Baldy

Gypsy Moths have been discovered in South Eugene, requiring spraying in an attempt to eradicate them.  Organisms are constantly evolving and looking for opportunities.  Changes brought about by "invasions" cause disruptions that can change the character of an environment.


Camas Fields at Willow Creek
As warm weather returns and the wetland prairie begins to dry, wildflowers and grasses grow wildly, adding lush color to the once bleak landscape.  Camas bulbs were a staple food for the first people.  Harvest and preparation were major activities in the early spring in the Willamette Valley.

McCredie Hot Springs
Although McCredie Hot Springs is only a minor side trip today, it was a major resort attraction for many years.  This place has been used by people for countless generations.  These soothing, warm baths are well worth a quiet, contemplative soak.

Cottonwood Springs

A spring morning at the southern end of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California.  Desert plants and animals sustain themselves through a long searing drought.   


The First Spring-like Day in the Wetlands
A drastic change in the weather awakens the plants and animals of the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area.  The competition for mates and territory is fierce. 

Whale Watching On the Oregon Coast
Stormy weather on the Oregon Coast further conceals the mass migration of thousands of Gray Whales returning to their feeding grounds in the Bering Sea.  Coastal waters are extremely productive this time of year, supporting a massive feeding frenzy.

Paddling the Upper Willamette
The Willamette River was the first major route of transportation in the valley.  An early spring paddle reveals the return of migrating birds amidst sprouting leaves.

Headwaters of Amazon Creek

Amazon creek has been quietly running toward its confluence with the Long Tom across a rapidly changing landscape.

Note: Dan Gleason will give a talk titled "Feathers and Flora" at the March 24th meeting of the Lane County Audubon Society at 7:30 p.m. at the Eugene Garden Club at 1645 High Street.



The Miniature Deflation Plain Forest

A walk through the dense Beach Pine forest of the deflation plain and a climb up the foredune to view the beach.  A Fin Whale has beached near here.  An unseasonably cold storm moves in from the Arctic.


Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve
Sandhill Cranes have been wintering in California's Central Valley for millions of years.  They are staging now for their trip north to breed.

Fisher Butte
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is a refuge for many species of wintering waterfowl and other birds.  The first spring migrants are returning.

Mouth of the Yaquina River
A cold wintery day at the Newport Jetty.  Wind and fog do not effect the numerous diving birds fishing in this rich environment.

Long Tom Nature Trail
The Long Tom River traces an ancient trail, used for centuries, leading to and from the Willamette Valley.  The river supports a dense forest and many creatures, including Beaver.

Delta Ponds
Originally aired in 2002.  These ponds now hold their greatest diversity of waterfowl.  Set near downtown, surrounded by freeways, this unlikely setting shelters hundreds of ducks and geese.  Predators, as always, are there to take advantage of the situation.

Burning the Wetland Prairie

Wetland prairie was once one of the most common ecosystems in the Willamette Valley.  Now it is one of the rarest landscapes on earth.  The Kalapooya maintained the prairie for centuries by burning.


Cape Blanco Lighthouse
A remote beach near Cape Blanco Lighthouse yields treasures not usually found on beaches that are frequented by beachcombers.  This westernmost part of Oregon was one of the first landforms to be noted on maps, but remains a remote outpost.

Tokatee-Klootchman Natural Site
An extreme high tide has completely erased the beach below.  The surf crashes directly into the land.  Many seabirds and mammals feel right at home amidst the chaos.

Pine Grove Cemetery

Flood warnings are up for most of the Willamette Valley.  Flooding has been an annual event in the valley for many centuries.  Different people have had different ways of coping with the floodwaters.


Stewart Pond

Stewart Pond lies in the heart of a busy industrial area in
West Eugene, yet wildlife abounds and is easily seen, especially after winter rains have saturated the wetlands.  Many species of waterfowl, as well as other wetland creatures thrive within this well-populated sanctuary.


Storm Watching on the Central Oregon Coast

Winter storm watching can be exhilerating and even dangerous on the Oregon Coast.  Few natural experiences can be as chaotic.  Yet, plants and animals have adapted to thrive in this harsh environment.


Duck Hunting At Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
An abrupt change in weather is about to change the nature of Western Oregon.  Freezing temperatures will usher in winter.  Hunting is a popular activity with birds, as well as Humans.

Snowshoeing Around Odell Lake
Deep, crisp snow surrounds Odell Lake and the High Cascades.  Snowshoes provide a means to get off the trail and see the countryside.

The Oak Savanna
A quiet foggy morning on the Oak savanna at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum.  Oak trees support many types of creatures and may have been critical in the progression of Human civilization. 

Snowy Owl Irruption
Winter storms are beginning to pass through with a certain regularity.  A Snowy Owl has been spotted in the Willamette Valley.  These large white birds attract a lot of attention amidst the flat greening landscape.

Waterfowl Return to McFadden Marsh
Tens of thousands of ducks, geese and swans have returned to the Pacific Northwest.  The Willamette Valley is the wintering destination of the Dusky Canada Goose.  Since 1964, we have accommodated their winter stay with a complex of wildlife refuges.

Migrating Salmon at Lake Creek Falls
The monsoon rains have returned to the Pacific Northwest.  Rivers and creeks are rising, providing a pathway for Chinook, Coho and Steelhead to return to their native spawning grounds.  The view is spectacular next to Lake Creek Falls.

Amazon Creek
Amazon Creek flows near the center of downtown Eugene.  Locked away in a cement canal, few people pay it much notice.  There is a long history associated with this creek and the area's inhabitants.

An Autumn Morning at Willow Creek Preserve
A morning walk through this remnant wetland prairie at the dryest time of year...just before the return of seasonal rains.  Plants are closing down their activities for the coming winter, but birds are still very active.

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest
H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest was established in 1948 to study the inner workings of old-growth Pacific Northwest Forests.  Much has been learned over the years at this beautiful, hidden outdoor campus.

Autumn Comes to Delta Ponds
Water birds return to the Pacific Northwest for the winter.  Delta Ponds provide an excellent place to observe them in the midst of the city. 

Gwynn Creek Trail
A hike through Cape Perpetua's Gwynn Creek Trail.  Mushrooms are plentiful this time of year in this climax, old-growth coastal rainforest.  Hidden relationships tie plants and animals together.

Opal Creek
A hike into Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area on the Little North Santiam River.  Early autumn sunlight plays on brilliant butterflies and hungry Trout in clear river pools.

Bandon Marsh

Fall shorebird migration is near its peak.   Bandon Marsh is one of the best places to observe this phenomenon on the Oregon Coast. 


Tall Trees Trail
A hike through Tall Trees Trail in the Fall Creek Watershed in the Willamette National Forest.  Downed trees block the road and the trail, but this small area of old growth forest sits in an isolated valley high above Fall Creek.

Long Tom River
Originally aired in 2000.  A walk through the riparian forest along the Long Tom River before it meets with Fern Ridge Reservoir.  It is early autumn and seasonal changes are beginning to show themselves.

Old Santiam Wagon Road

A walk through a protected segment of the Old Santiam Wagon Road, while recounting its history and observing the plants and animals of the surrounding old-growth rainforest.


North Jetty - Mouth of the Siuslaw
A walk on the North Jetty at the mouth of the Siuslaw River.  An approaching storm pushes warm air over the coast.  Birds are everywhere.

The End of Summer at Fern Ridge Wetlands

Originally aired in 1999.  Drying conditions change the character of the Eugene Wetlands. 


Harbor Seals at Strawberry Hill
Originally aired in 1999.  Harbor Seals relaxing on the rocks at Strawberry Hill on the Central Oregon Coast.

Irish Bend
John Cooney visits Irish Bend on the Willamette River.

Redwood Coast Tidepools
Originally aired in 2004.  A slippery walk into the lower intertidal zone during a low tide.  The fogged drenched Redwood forests coat the rugged hills in the background.

Life Around a Farm Pond

Sunrise and early morning around a small farm pond.  Insect and bird activity is at its height.  Dragonflies abound.


Odell Lake
Dawn on Odell Lake.  Encounters with a River Otter, Lake Trout, and an Osprey. 

Big Island Preserve

Originally aired in 2003.  A hike through one of the last remaining low elevation back-channel fish nurseries and gallery forests in the Mckenzie River Basin.  Includes sounds of a Heron rookery.


Solstice on Marys Peak
A late afternoon hike to the summit of Marys Peak on Solstice.  Spring wildflowers are bursting out of the newly rejuvenated landscape.

Salt Creek Falls
Black Swifts and spring wildflowers at Salt Creek Falls in the Oregon Cascades.

Paddling Coyote Creek and Fern Ridge

I find a Honeybee swarm and explore an island, built to attract and relocate Caspian Terns.


Butterfly Meadows

Originally aired in 2003.  A walk through rare Willamette Valley upland prairie habitat and witnessing the mating of the endangered Fender's Blue Butterfly.


Little Creek Preserve
John Cooney takes a walk in the Little Creek Preserve in West Eugene.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
A wetlands restoration project in Hillsboro is now home to native birds and other wildlife.

Green Island
John Cooney visits Green Island on the Upper Willamette River Flood Plain near Coburg.

Willow Creek Preserve
John Cooney takes a walk through the preserve in West Eugene and discusses Camas preparation by the Kalapooya

Skinner Butte
Spring bird migration from the top of Skinner Butte.  Point of view alters context.

Chemical Warfare in the Natural World
A walk along the Woodpecker Loop Trail at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge.

North Bank Deer Preserve
John Cooney takes us on a  walk on a beautiful early spring day through Oak savanna by the North Umpqua River.

MacDonald-Dunn Research Forest
A spring walk through a Coast Range forest.  Spring wildflowers are beginning to become abundant.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
John Cooney takes a walk through the heart of California's first State Park and the site of the beginnings of the Conservation Movement.

Tree Swallows Return to Fern Ridge Wetlands

Early spring in the West Eugene Wetlands.  Originally aired in 2002.


David Douglas

Early spring at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum.  A hike on the Water Garden and South Boundary Trails.


Sweet Creek Gorge

Originally aired in 2004. 

John Cooney takes a hike along Sweet Creek Falls Trail.


Smelt Sands Natural Area
John Cooney reports from the central coast.

Willow Creek Natural Area
Originally aired in 2002.

Drift Creek Falls Trail
John Cooney Hikes the trail in the central Oregon coast range.

Yaquina Bay Estuary
Originally aired in 2002.

Blue Ruin
The lost town of Lancaster on the Willamette.

Silver Falls State Park
Originally aired in 2003.

The Flooded Forest
Mt. Pisgah Water Garden Trail

Winter on the Coast Fork of the Willamette

Meadowlark Prairie



Jackson-Frasier Wetlands
Originally aired in 2001.

Winter Solstice at Delta Ponds

Breitenbush River Basin
Originally aired in 2004.

The Refuge
Dusky Canada Geese

Fall Creek Trail After the First Winter Rains
Originally aired in 2003.

Hunters at the Marsh

Karnowsky Creek
Originally aired in 2005.

Fort Hoskins Historical Park

Spawning Salmon in the Coast Range
an archive edition

Dorris Ranch
Originally aired in 2001.

An Early Winter Storm On the Oregon Coast



Matolius Springs
First aired in 2005.

Drake's Estero

Elkhorn Slough - Monterey Bay

Tamolitch Pool
Dedicated to the memory of Simon Simonton.

The Sky Islands of Southeast Arizona
Originally aired in 2000.

Echo Basin Old Growth Trail

Cascade Head
Originally aired in 2002.

Paddling on Coyote Creek

Strawberry Hill
Originally aired in 2000.

Insect Life at E. E. Wilson Wildlife Area

Paddling on Waldo Lake
Originally aired in 2005.

A Summer Hike to the Top of Pigeon Butte

Aviary at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Originally aired in 2003.  Auklets, Murres and Guillimots...Oh my!

Big Island Preserve
Originally aired in 2003.

Abundance at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

An Alpine Meadow on Mary's Peak
A stunning floral display at the summit of Mary's Peak.

Eugene's Masonic Cemetery

A walk through Eugene's Masonic Cemetery.


A Spring Hillside Hike at Mt. Pisgah
Originally aired in 2002.

Black Terns at Fisher Butte
Originally aired in 2002.

Cosumnes River Preserve
A spring walk through California's rare Valley Oak woodland.

John Cooney reports from Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

ATV's at Cleawox Lake
A serene inlet at Cleawox Lake, along with the roar of ATV's.

Black-necked Stilts Invade Fern Ridge Wetlands
A spring walk through the Fisher Butte Unit of the Fern Ridge Wetlands.

Spring in the Low-Elevation Old-Growth Forest
McDonald-Dunn Forest Old Growth Trail

Spring Comes to the Oak Savanna

Early Signs of Spring at the Fern Ridge Wetlands

Calling Owls in West Eugene Wetlands

The Oak Forests of Finley Wildlife Refuge

A Winter Walk Through Willow Creek Prairie

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