Date: 5/22/18 10:25 am
From: Hal Opperman <hal...>
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Portholes Reservoir nesting colony
Dennis (and Tweeters),

JoLynn and I had a similar experience there last week (Thursday May 17). We saw no active nests and almost none of the expected species anywhere nearby: one Great Egret in flight and two Double-crested Cormorants swimming — that was it. We had not been there for years, and the depopulation compared to before was a shock.

One surprise on the way in was a Grasshopper Sparrow, singing from atop a low, mostly dead shrub a hundred feet off the road. This was on the north (right) side of the road 150 yards, more or less, from the “T” where you turn west (right) from the entrance road to head toward the (ex-) rookery.

The previous afternoon (May 16) we visited the Tricolored Blackbird colony on Morgan Lake Road in the Columbia NWR, as described on Tweeters by Jim Elder from May 11. One could not have asked for a more satisfying experience of this species in Washington.

Hal Opperman

> On May 22, 2018, at 9:04 AM, Dennis Paulson <dennispaulson...> wrote:
> Hello tweets,
> Netta and I visited the north end of the Potholes Reservoir on Sunday, and I was shocked to see scarcely any birds at the big nesting colony there. I was there last year, and the air was full of Double-crested Cormorants flying to and fro, with scattered Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets among them. Dozens of nests had birds on them, mostly cormorants but the other two species as well. On Sunday we saw a half-dozen birds on nests with considerable searching and a single egret the only bird in flight.
> Does anyone know any more about this? I speculated that a few angry fishermen got tired of the cormorants taking “their” fish and raided the colony. Of course I have no proof of that, but why the huge decline from one year to the next, especially of a bird so successful and persistent as the Double-crested Cormorant?
> I think Black-crowned Night-Herons have virtually disappeared from out there. They used to be common at the same colony. I don’t think there have been any there in recent years, and we hardly ever see them any more. I have spent a lot of time out there since around 1980 and have seen the demise of the Columbia Basin (some would argue that it has been “reclaimed”), one of the saddest stories in my time in the Pacific Northwest.
> Dennis Paulson
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