Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nature at its finest

When it's winter here in the Willamette Valley, one of the things we like to do is head for William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge south of Corvallis. When going, you never know what you will see, but that's part of its appeal. Of historic interest at the refuge is the Fiechter House, completed in 1857-- thought to be one of the oldest homes in Benton County. 

The refuge was named for William L. Finley, an early conservationist who persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt to set aside the first national wildlife refuge west of the Mississippi River. It is because of farsighted people, where the government purchased the land, that such places for migrating and wintering wildlife exist in a time of dwindling habitats. 

There is an interesting history attached to the place, be sure and read the link under Fiechter House. It involves a killing which might have been accidental, of course... or was it? It was assumed to be at the time but would definitely arouse my suspicions as a fiction writer ;).

Many of the trails are blocked during the winter to offer the birds a protected space. They did, however, build a boardwalk that goes out to offer views of the larger of the two ponds. It was from that gazebo where we got photos of the swans which were across the pond. 

The big thing we hope for is the remote chance we will get to see and hear thousands of geese take off. It's a sound you don't forget. It is not just the beauty of these birds but the energy that makes this a wonderful place to sit and for a time just watch them as they fly off and back. This time, because we saw so many at the other end of the second pond, we had hopes we'd get lucky. We were also then ready for when it happened with our cameras. 

What makes them suddenly arise as one? Often, we have seen one or two lift off but the other birds don't go. Then suddenly it happens. Is there one leader who determines it?

When they take off in a flock, often one or two realize they don't know where their mate is, and they will turn back. I guess they get as pulled in by the excitement of that liftoff as we do in watching them. After awhile small flocks will come back and settle into a different spot on the shallow lake. These birds are not ready to migrate, not yet but one day, this practice will benefit them, I guess :).

This time, besides taking a lot of photos, we were able to make a video with our phone. It was mostly to capture the sound of their wings beating the water and air as they rise. I hope you can access it. In me, it arouses emotions of gratitude every time I am there to, for a tiny moment, share the world with these beautiful birds.


Tabor said...

Thank goodness for these refuges where animals can find shelter and food as the winter comes in. Great photos! I wish I could visit there some day.

robin andrea said...

What a beautiful wildlife refuge. Love that video. It really captures the awesome size of that flock of geese. Wonderful.

Rain Trueax said...

The interesting thing about such refuges, Tabor, is that you never know what you will see when you go. Sometimes only a few ducks and blackbirds, maybe a bald eagle or hawk. Once we watched a coyote hunt. We've only seen the elk herd there once. But not knowing is part of its appeal.

If you ever come to my part of Oregon, I'd love it if you made it out here to the farm, the covered bridge, and for a visit :)

Rain Trueax said...

thank you both. I always love your photos of the birds you see, Robin :)

Linda Kay said...

So many birds in one spot! Must have been a gathering for some reason.I'm always so happy when there are special unspoiled places for the birds and animals.

Rain Trueax said...

Watching the geese as they interact and communicate with each other is always beautiful and like a mystery to me. They will sometimes be in large flocks and other times spread out. I have no idea of the reason but this refuge is set up to provide them many places to be where it's safe.

Dick said...

In our Skagit River Valley of Washington State every winter there are thousands of Trumpeter Swans that winter here, along with the geese. It is like they are gleaning the farm fields. It is amazing when you see one of these birds up close how large they actually are! Then there are the eagles who winter here although most of them are farther up-river than our area in Mt. Vernon. A short drive that way can usually let you see 25 or more of them in one trip.

Our winters here are fairly mild, thanks to the moderating effect of the Pacific Ocean. Today is particularly warm, with sunshine and a high temp of around 60. Then tonight on the TV news we will see how many inches of snow they are having back east.

Go Seahawks!

Rain Trueax said...

We don't generally get as mild a winter as this is so far. Although December had freezes, January has been particularly mild like today is 50s. And 60s at the beach. The fog is what we are seeing more of.

Tara Crowley said...

Beautiful photos! We, too, are lucky to have lots of migrating birds pass through here. It's crazy sometimes how dense the sky becomes with these beating wings.

Ingineer66 said...

That video is great. We get lots of geese in the rice paddies just south of town. Sometimes they are loud when they fly over the house at night. But nothing like that.