Tag Archives: Madrona Marsh

Hawkspotting

I’ve been seeing hawks lately when I’m out walking, which is new. I know partly it’s that I’m actively looking for suburban wildlife, but I’ve been doing that since last June when I started participating in iNaturalist. I started noticing how many squirrels and sparrows and phoebes and finches were around (in addition to the crows and pigeons and seagulls) right away. Maybe it’s seasonal? Maybe it’s the time of day I’ve been looking?

Whatever the reason, I’ve logged four observations over the last month or so. First, two red-shouldered hawks I spotted while hiking.

A hawk with brown feathers surrounded by mostly-bare leaves.

This is the best photo I managed to get of any of them, because it was perched in a relatively short tree at Madrona Marsh Preserve. Maybe only ten feet off the ground, just off the trail and not too far ahead of where I was standing. When I saw it, I stopped and took about five photos. It looked around, no doubt trying to spot some of the zillion tiny frogs I could hear (but not see), and then flew up to a higher tree, presumably for a better view.

A brown hawk perched on the end of a long, bare branch, a few twisted branches nearby, but mostly empty gray sky.

This one’s not as detailed, but I like the way it came out. I saw it from a few hundred feet away in a tall tree at the South Coast Botanic Garden. Yay for zoom lenses! (Though I still cropped the heck out of this shot.) It stayed there for a while, but I decided not to try to get a closer view and just continue hiking.

And then on two occasions I’ve spotted red-tailed hawks up in the same electrical transmission tower while walking along a bike path. In both cases I spotted them from a distance, perched up in the metal struts, not sure what kind of bird I was looking at until I could get closer.

Winter Birds of Madrona Marsh

I went hiking at the marsh preserve this weekend and was astonished at just how many different types of birds I saw. Five species of ducks alone (it is winter, after all) — not just the more common mallards, but shovelers, teals, wigeons, and one I hadn’t heard of before called redheads (for obvious reasons). The usual coots, egrets and Canada geese. Red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, a heron that was standing so still I started to wonder if it was a statue, and a very patient hawk that sat in a tree completely ignoring me and my camera until I was finished and it flew off to another tree.

I also heard frogs all over the place, but couldn’t actually see any of them. I asked about them at the visitor center and apparently the pacific tree frog can be very small, about the size of a quarter, but they can still be very loud when singing in a chorus. Next time I’m there, if the frogs are still in season, I need to at least record the audio.

A very clear photo of grass stalks...with a blurry rabbit behind them.

Damn You, Autofocus!

Gotta love it when the camera’s autofocus insists gives you this wonderfully clear image of…the grass in front of the skittish animal you’re trying to get a picture of before it scampers away.

I did manage to get one shot of it before moving on, and then I was able to spot a clearer view of another rabbit during the same hike.

The last few hikes I’ve done at Madrona Marsh, I’ve taken a lot fewer photos. This time…I went a little overboard taking pictures of just about every type of plant or animal I could to post to iNaturalist. Then I narrowed it down to around 40 “good” photos that I’m posting on Flickr over the next week or so. Sadly, my camera battery ran out about halfway through, leaving me with only my phone. Which was perfectly fine for close-ups and landscapes, but not for zoom shots.

Seasons of Madrona Marsh

Last weekend I returned to the Madrona Marsh Preserve to see what our late summer/autumn heat wave had done to the place. The fields of sunflowers I saw in August have gone to seed and dried up, and the pools have continued to retreat. I managed to get a third shot in the same grove as before, where trees grew out of a pool in spring, towered over low ground cover in summer, and now stand alone, waiting for winter rains to flood the grounds again.

The image above is a combination of spring, summer and fall (specifically May, August, and October) views at the same spot.

The higher parts of the preserve are covered with dry scrub, though volunteers have cleared a lot of it out. The broken tree limb I had to walk around in August has been cleared away as well. Deep into the wooded area we did find mud flats teeming with reeds, smaller plants, dragonflies, songbirds and insects. I don’t know if any standing water remains, since we turned back at that point. (Kids have boundless energy, but limited stamina.)

Over on Flickr I have about a dozen photos of the hike, showing the preserve’s current range from dry scrub to muddy grass.