I like to check the flora and avifauna of the Coffee Lake Wetlands natural area in Wilsonville from time to time. My first meaningful (in-field) effort was last January where I birded the western half of the area and found Wilson's Snipe abundant. The water at that time was too high to bird anywhere else in the wetland and I looked forward to being able to get into the heart of the place once the water level lowered. I was sure that it would be much easier going when things dried out and I wouldn't have to muck-through the mud. I couldn't have been more mistaken.
My walk today started out harmless enough but it didn't stay that way for long. It took me three and half hours to traverse two-and-half miles of terrain covered by grass six to seven feet tall, that is surrounded by dense thicks of poison oak, nettles, and very healthy blackberry bushes protecting the forested sections on higher ground.
This natural area is a difficult but manageable place to visit and enjoy so long as you don't try to cross it east to west or vice versa. Pick the half that you'll bird and then stay there and keep your travel on a north-south line.
Intimate encounters with MARSH WREN, and (paradoxically) RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER on nests provided nice rewards for what was otherwise a painfully difficult day in the field.
Interactive Map of the Area (Red track Jan 2015 - Blue track June 2015):
The harmless-looking entry point off Boeckman Rd.:
A rare elevated perspective that I stumbled upon while I was thinking I'd lost my mind for taking this walk:
Then the call of a Marsh Wren - it didn't take me long to understand that I needed to quickly move on . . .
It was watching over the little one below - the fledgling Marsh Wren was first for me!
It is easier said than done to traverse the (edge) of this wetland to the forest - but my persistence paid-off:
Red-breasted Sapsucker feeding nestlings:
Immature Red-tailed Hawk calling for a feeding:
Marsh Wren protecting nest:
Finding the Marsh Wren's nest below was another first for me:
View from the west-side point of entry that I thought I might never find: Another Red-Breasted Sapsucker: I was so tired at this point that I did not investigate the snag holding the nest of these American Kestrel: