Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sauvie Island

Today Emily and I drove out to Sauvie Island to check it out.  This is an island created by the split of the Willamette River into the Multnomah Channel and it’s entrance into the Columbia River.  It’s small at about 26,000 acres and has only about 1200 residents but it is less than 10 miles from our house.  We had heard that the island contains a lot of wildlife, especially birds, so we decided to drive out in the winter when the leaves aren’t on the trees to obstruct our views.  Read on…

It was a beautiful day to get out of town and take leo for a walk on a beach, yet avoid the 1.5 hour drive to the Pacific to do so.  We had never been to the island before and had heard that it is a great place to go to relax, bird watch, and road bike.  We found that upon crossing over a bridge to the island that we needed to pay $7 for a day parking pass… seems a bit silly.  There only seems to be one market on the whole island where we first came over, otherwise the entire island is either wildlife sanctuaries or agriculture.  

Driving along the island it was odd to look over quaint farmhouses and pastures to massive shipping vessels and industrial docks that appeared to be sitting in the backyard of people’s houses.  What we were actually seeing was the industrial shipping park just north of St. John’s on the other side of the Willamette river.  In the distance we could also clearly see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and even glimpses of Mt. Rainier in the far distance.  

We were able to locate a public beach off NW Reeder Road to take Leo for a walk on.  Oddly there were literally hundreds of what appeared to be smelt dead or dying along the shore.  This really interested Mr. Lee who decided to wade into the water to check them out and even try eating a couple of them which we quickly discouraged.  It was pleasant to sit along the sandy beach and watch tug boats and barges make their way up the Willamette to their docks near Portland just south of us.  Yes… unlike the Northeast “upriver” in the Northwest often means going south.  

We drove out to the terminus of NW Reeder road and again went for a short walk along a beach there with Leo before heading out of the island.  On our way out I noticed something strange in a big tree just off the road and pulled over to check it out.  To our sheer amazement we discovered that the tree was filled with what seemed like nearly 50 Great Blue Heron nests!  I’d never seen so many of these birds in one place and I had no idea that they nested together like this.  As you can see from the photos in this post these weren’t the only birds we saw - egrets, ducks, juvenile eagles, hawks, herons and a million song birds as well frequent the island.  It was a great day to be out with Leo and I certainly got some great photos!

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