Over the last few years I have become an avid birdwatcher. A friend of mine who is also a birdwatcher would talk at length about his “local patch.” I decided I needed to get a local patch too. A patch is a term for a spot that a birdwatcher can frequent regularly and get to know intimately. It’s often in the neighborhood and within walking distance. I have lived in the Cedar Mill area for nearly ten years and noticed the ponds by Barnes Road and Hwy 26 and often referred to them as Teufel Ponds because Teufel nursery was close by at one time. Over the years the area developed with condos and apartments and then I noticed a paved path by the gravel turn out on Barnes Road. In March I decided I need to find my local patch so I headed over with my binoculars to investigate. Cedar Mill Wetlands turned out to be an understated gem!
On my first visit I found 20 species and was excited to see Green-winged Teal and Hooded Mergansers, two flashy ducks. I only spent thirty minutes walking the small space, but I knew I had indeed found my local patch. Over the next month I visited Cedar Mill Wetlands 18 times and noted 53 species! I often stopped on my way to work for a quick walk. It’s been almost 6 months since I first walked the trails at Cedar Mill Wetlands. Although I am not visiting my patch with the same frequency as I did in March, I manage to make it to the wetlands about once a week. I have tallied 79 species so far.
Spring highlights mainly focused on nesting activities which included a Red-tailed Hawk nest, American Robins collecting nest materials, Red-breasted Sapsucker hatchlings begging from a snag, and Lesser Goldfinch babies in a nest.
With the onset of summer I noticed an upswing in calling parents and begging juvenile birds. Virginia Rail chicks calling, Dark-eyed Juncos begging, and Western Wood-Pewees “pee-eer”ing were common. Wetlands are not only important to birds, but provide habitat for insects, mammals and amphibians. I have seen newts, coyote scat, and dragonflies. The marshy wetlands and ponds host many species of dragonflies and I managed to photograph at least 6 species one summer afternoon. As I write this in early August, migrant passerines are moving through and before long the wetlands will fill with water and more waterfowl will move in. What new birds will turn up in this little oasis sandwiched between a freeway and ongoing construction? I am looking forward to finding out as I complete my first year of birding at Cedar Mill Wetlands, my local patch, this winter.
More Photos by Michele Dupraw My Local Patch http://www.naturenutnotes.com/search/label/My%20Patch