I love this time of year. Cool, cloudy mornings that give way to sunshiney afternoons that hit a manageable 80 or 82 degrees, leaves that are just beginning to change color and drop but not so much that I feel inundated with yard work, rain storms that last a few hours and then give way to big, puffy white clouds and a little bit of sunshine. That’s the kind of day that Sunday was last weekend when we decided to take a few hours and visit Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge. It’s just about a 10 minute drive from home and easy to squeeze in on one of those weekends that are filled with more mundane tasks like catching up on laundry, grocery shopping and household chores.
The Common Yellowthroats and Savannah Sparrows that were out in force on our last visit were absent, most of the grasses that lined the walk along the back forty of the refuge had changed from green to beautiful muted shades of brown.
Some of the loveliest creatures on our mid-morning walk around the refuge were on the ground. We had to watch carefully where we walked because these little guys were scurrying across the path by the hundreds.
Grasshoppers were everywhere. Our every step was echoed by the hops of dozens of grasshoppers. They were little guys that looked white as they hopped but brown when stationary.
Western Bluebirds were moving about the refuge in groups of three or more, probably adults with their young, Turkey Vultures looped over our heads looking for a meal, White-Crowned and Golden-Crowned Sparrows were busy in the thickets and large groups of geese were coming in for a rest in the far pond.
The gunshots I usually hear in the distance this time of year when I visit the refuge were present, too, and I always find it disturbing. I’ve had to learn to harden my heart to it because I know things will never change and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Still, we had a good morning and raced back to the car with where we ate our lunch just as the rain started coming down hard.