What's the only thing better than a Bushtit? Two Bushtits! Or better still, cuddling Bushtits.
We're fortunate that we live pretty near to a couple of excellent National Wildlife Refuges, including our go-to wetland, Ankeny NWR. There have been some extraordinary rarities in the few years we've lived here, including a Tufted Duck this winter, and a Ruff the year before.
|American White Pelicans are annual at Ankeny, but never seem to stick around for long|
Aside from the birds, Ankeny is still one of my favorite places for the sheer number and variety of arthropods it hosts. It's always worth stooping to closely inspect the grasses or the rails along the boardwalk trails. And it's taught me that it's always worth have a macro lens on hand, even if it's just my handy iPhone clip that I carry everywhere.
|Forest Tent Caterpillar|
Bush-katydid nymph, cutest of all insects.
Tundra Swans are a highlight every winter when they gather at Ankeny by the dozens, sometimes numbering nearly 100. I know it's cliché to associate swans with grace, so I won't. I'll just show this series Maureen shot and defy you come up with a better, more apt word.
Ankeny isn't the only place in town to find swans, since Minto-Brown Island Park is home to a pair of their Mute cousins. Yeah, they're invasive and pose a huge menace to wetland ecosystems by aggressively driving out the competition, unsustainably devouring native vegetation, and choking waterways with their waste... but there's no arguing with those good looks.
One of the coolest finds at Minto-Brown last year was this mating pair of dagger flies. The male brings her a nuptial gift in an attempt to win her over. If he's successful she goes to work on the gift while the male starts going to work on her.
|The same pair dagger flies, as seen from above|
|Townsend's Chipmunk is the default chipmunk here in the Willamette Valley. I still haven't figured out how to tell it apart from Oregon's four other chipmunk species other than by range, but since I think Townsend's is all we get in the valley...|