Do you remember a time, somewhere +/- nine months ago, when I said we were making some changes in our lives?
No, no, not that kind of change. Somewhere around June of last year, we moved to the Pacific Northwest to take on new jobs and a new corner of the country. Since then, we’ve been exploring pretty much non-stop, and I have to say, hiking in our new location is a bit different than at our prior abode: more elevation changes, more climate zones, more amphibians, more people. Up here, if you aren’t out at dawn or dusk, you’re pretty much guaranteed to run into at least a few dozen people and their canine companions on even the shortest walking trails.
One of the first places we checked out was the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1992, it is another fairly recent addition to the US refuge system. The area open to the public is a square section of land (approximately 640 acres) along some drainage dikes and through a quiet wooded area studded with benches.
The first time we visited in August, invasive nutria lined the waterways, along with frogs and waterfowl.
While enjoyable, there wasn’t a lot of diversity during our trip. On a subsequent trip in the height of waterfowl season, there were far more birds,despite the dreary weather.
Though the perimeter summer trail is closed during the winter season, we weren’t hurt by the change. Most of the waterfowl congregate in the floodplain outside of the refuge headquarters, allowing views of ring-necked ducks, cackling geese, mallards, pied-billed grebes, and northern pintails intermixed with a few green-winged teals and American widgeons.
Heck, there was even a little kestrel checking out the place. And in the unit across the road, thousands and thousands of tiny cackling geese fed in the short, cultivated grasses of the refuge lands.
All in all, it is a nice outing, albeit with only a short walk around the area. It hasn’t generally been crowded the few times we’ve been there, which makes it much more restive than some of the other parks we’ve been to. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in spring.