Portland Audubon just wrapped up a daylong trip to Ankeny NWR, where 9 hearty souls braved incredibly cold weather, starting at 22 and sunny, and ending at 36 and cloudy. We were happy to not be among the hordes watching figurative Ducks and Beavers in an outdoor arena.
While the specatcle of watching geese coming in to land on sheets of ice proved amusing at Eagle Marsh, the lack of water meant low overall numbers there, but AMERICAN PIPIT and SAVANNAH SPARROW entertained nearby.
Pintail Marsh had the usual waterfowl, and a good assortment of shorebirds, including LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, LEAST SANDPIPER, DUNLIN, and two GREATER YELLOWLEGS. Loads of KILLDEER and a single WILSON'S SNIPE rounded out a six shorb day. A calling RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was one of five raptors, but we were unable to find any roughies or larger falcons (a Prairie Flacon was reported from Pintail yesterday, but I haven't seen if it was confirmed).
Just before we left Pintail, a single NORTHERN SHRIKE perched on a tree in the parking lot, not long after a BLACK PHOEBE made its way through.
At the Rail Trail we had the usual assortment of mixed winter flock passerines, but SWAMP SPARROW and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW were nice, if uncooperative, additions. Both were seen and heard just past the observation blind.
To end the trip to Ankeny, we were treated to some avian slapstick: a Bald Eagle coming in to perch next to its presumed mate on a bare tree, only to have the branch break completely off nuder their combined weight, upon which both birds tumbled down, barely able to right themselves before hitting the ground, and then fly up to find a sturdier branch to rest on. It underscored one of my favorite things about birding: seeing even familiar birds do something you've never seen before, and may never see again.