Friday, April 19, 2013

Talking Water Gardens

Friend Toni and I have been wanting to visit Talking Water Gardens in Albany, where Toni lives, ever since we heard about it. Finally today, April 18, we did. A website telling about this amazing partnership between private industry and government is here:   This 50 acre waste water cooling wetland is one of a kind in the nation. I hope the idea spreads. It is fabulous. Wetland birds and animals agree. The place was teeming with wildlife on this warm and windless spring day. I took over 100 photos of waterfalls, birds, frogs, waterfalls, birds, turtles... and more waterfalls. I'll post photos in the order of our meanderings. My first photo was of, what else?, a waterfall.

The first group of mallard ducklings we saw were "teenagers", wandering around without close parental supervision, although they hustled back to mom when we pointed our cameras at them.

 That's Toni on one of the many bridges over waterways.

These frogs were thick along the banks and made a loud alarm call as they hopped into the water. The green is, I believe, from the algae in the water. Update: bad news. Naturalist Don Boucher says bullfrogs startle with an eeep when they jump into the water. Bullfrogs are non-native and eat the native frogs so those "cute little frogs" will grow into big nasty frogs. And some of them *are* green so that's not algae. I hope the Talking Water Gardens people can figure out how to rid the place of bullfrogs.

Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere, declaring their territories within the cattails.

 A long narrow lake separates the marshes from the Willamette River. A Wood Duck swam past as I was peering at Western Pond Turtles on a log.

 A bit farther along, were ten turtles lined up on a log with a pair of wood ducks.

  Back over the wetlands we noticed two birds skirmishing in the air. A Bald Eagle was chasing an Osprey. The only photo I could get was a very distant one of the eagle and much smaller osprey. I then watched the action with my binoculars. The osprey was more agile than the eagle but the eagle was determined. I thought at first it was trying to get the osprey to drop a fish but there was no fish to be seen. Soon a second eagle joined the fray but the osprey circled higher and farther and both eagles gave up the chase and flew back toward the Willamette River. I suspect they have a nest there and the osprey got too close for comfort.

 After that excitement, we continued on, enjoying more waterfalls...

 And a pair of Scaup. My guess is Lesser, because of the pointy purple head on the male.

 A mama mallard and her nine tiny babies scurried away from us.

 Papa mallards are really quite lovely. There were many, many mallards in these wetlands. This one is keeping company with a Bufflehead.

 Two more Scaup made a scenic picture with a log.

 Did I mention there were lots of waterfalls and I love waterfalls?

 I could not get a photo to do justice to this gorgeous Cinnamon Teal.

 Eventually, it was time to leave this enchanting place. We walked back to the parking area at Simpson Park, just outside the Talking Water Gardens gate. That park was lovely with blooming Camas flowers.

A five minute drive returned us to Toni's new apartment. I left for home then, via Ankeny Wildlife Refuge which is only fifteen minutes from Toni's new place. A Black Phoebe apparently owns this kiosk at Eagle Marsh and hunted from it all the while I watched. Another was just across the parking lot.

I could not stay long as chores waited at home on the farm. But with Toni now only fifteen minutes from Ankeny, we can hike there another day... although it will be tough to beat our day at Talking Water Gardens with scores of birds, more Western Pond Turtles than I've ever seen anywhere, Eagle/Osprey excitement and... waterfalls.

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