Finding Sanctuary

I discovered tonight that I’m almost out of digital photos I haven’t used in a blog post!  Who knew a year of blogging could use up 9 years of digital photos?  I’m going to have to start searching the archives again–there have to be more photos in there!

I did discover these series of shots taken two years ago during an annual trip to Portland, Oregon.  Pat and I went to the local Audubon Society Preserve there and did a hike through their woods.

It’s an amazing property for many reasons.  First, it’s been meticulously maintained as a natural, native habitat.  Most people don’t associate “meticulous maintenance” with “natural, native habitat.”  Usually, we think of a golf course.  Unfortunately, as I know from volunteering at the Audubon Society here in Chattanooga, without ongoing hard labor to remove the invasive species that pop up every time one turns one’s head, they get out of control and turn native habitat into something completely foreign.  It’s unfortunate we humans can’t agree that invasive species shouldn’t be sold or planted.  Until we do, those of us who value preserving native ecosystems have a lot of work to do to prevent those habitats from being overrun by the rest of the population’s right to decide what to plant on their own property.  But, don’t let me get on that soapbox.

The Portland Audubon Sanctuary is a 150 acre property of dense forest, including a stand of old growth trees, a pond, and a creek that’s carved some small hills within the already hilly Portland topography.

Walking through the forest area made us think we were in the rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.  We didn’t see too many birds while we were hiking.  Those we did see were a tough for me to ID–somehow, even the birds that also live in the East looked different enough that I couldn’t feel confident I’d correctly identified them.

When we stopped at the lovely gazebo on the pond at the sanctuary, we discovered a group who was out watching a Northern Saw-whet Owl perched in a tree and up so high that without binoculars, it couldn’t be spotted.  Fortunately, a kind man let me look through his so I could see it, too.  It was about the size of a Screech Owl (tiny) and very adorable.

The Portland Audubon Sanctuary also boasted some spectacular fungal growths.  Between the mushrooms and the weird, coral-like growths, I didn’t mind my limited success at birding (especially since I was without binocs).

In addition to the Sanctuary, they also provide rescue services for injured birds and keep some unreleasable birds on display for educational purposes.  This mean being guaranteed to see some interesting birds even if nothing in the woods showed itself.  I particularly liked the Americal Kestrels on display.  They looked like they were making faces at me.

It’s a great place to visit and support if you’re ever in the Portland area.