Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Portland oasis

With my daughter, Leila, and her ward, Hazel the owl

Trillium blooming in Forest Park
This is a lot less wild and wooly than I’m used to writing about.
However, I’ve got to pass along a tip if you ever travel to Portland, Ore.
Try the Audubon Society of Portland’s Sanctuary in sprawling Forest Park up in the hills just above the city.
I’ve been visiting for the last couple of years because my daughter, Leila, is a volunteer there. She works with the Wildlife Care Center that rehabilitates injured birds and other animals. Her special charge is a Spotted Owl named Hazel whose injured wings won’t let her fly.
While there over Easter holiday I got to see an elderly Redtail hawk, a peregrine falcon, a Great Horned owl, among other birds on display.
I also got to walk on one of the trails on the 143 acre sanctuary.
This is not forest like you would find in northcentral Montana where you can see forever. This is dense, tall forest where you have to guess what’s around the next corner, and where only occasionally there might be an opening to a vista. It is a dark, but beautiful place where it rains a lot.
Here’s the society’s own Web site http://www.audubonportland.org/trails_sanctuary) description:
“…The mixed conifer forest along Balch Creek has a lush understory of Vanilla Leaf, Fendler's Waterleaf, Swordfern, Maiden Hair Fern, Oregon Grape, Indian Plum, Salmonberry, and Stinging Nettle.
A stand of old growth Douglas Firs stands as testimony to the giants that once graced the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.
Balch Creek is home to a small population of native Cutthroat Trout. An anadromous species, this population is landlocked due to several culverts along the length of the creek.
Look for Steller's Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Varied Thrush, Mourning Dove, Pacific Giant Salamander, and Douglas Squirrel, as well as Roughskin Newt, Red-legged Frog and Western Painted Turtle in the pond.
Our small pond and pavilion structure provide a peaceful place to have lunch and let the wildlife come to you. The pond provides sanctuary to a diverse group of amphibians.
The Wildwood trail and greater Forest Park is accessible from our sanctuary if you would like to lengthen your hike. Pittock Mansion is a short 25 minute hike up the hill from Portland Audubon.
Sanctuary Sightings are posted weekly. Seen something interesting in our Sanctuary? Let us know. general@audubonportland.org.”
Portland is in full spring flower. Now is a wonderful time to visit as a contrast to the snow I returned to.

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