Thursday, June 30, 2005
Date last visited: June 20, 2005
Agency: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Path Surface: Dirt
Elevation gain/loss: None
Distance: 2.9 miles
Ratings: Setting ++++ Calorie-burning ++
Directions: From Highway 30, turn onto the Sauvie Island Bridge. Go north on Sauvie Island Rd. An ODFW permit is required to park and you can pick one up at the little grocery store located a short distance from the bridge. After 1.8 miles, turn right on Reeder Rd., then, after 1.2 miles, left on Oak Island Rd., which turns into a gravel road. Continue forward, cross the dike and look for a "Nature Trail" sign. Park at the gate.
Many areas in the Portland area have a surprising variety of bird life, once you start looking. Close to the city but seemingly miles away, this is one of our favorite places to spot songbirds during the summer and, nearly always, some birds of prey. Bring binoculars and a field guide and you won't be disappointed.
Start out through the white oak forest-there's a reason why this is called Oak Island. We often spend a long time in this first quarter mile because of the abundance of bird life. When the path splits, we generally by force of habit go to the right (east), but it doesn't really matter because you are starting out on a loop.
As you skirt the oaks to the left, be on the lookout for the great horned owl that sits quietly in these trees. Also keep an eye and ear out for our favorite bird of the area, the Bullock's Oriole, which you will often hear chattering in the trees.
The path eventually reaches a view of Sturgeon Lake and Mt. St. Helens, then turns north. Along this stretch of the path we nearly always hear common yellowthroats and occasionally the flap and splash of carp in the lake. Cedar waxwings seem to like this area as well. Deer roam through here and the fields ahead. Bald eagles are becoming much more common-on this day we saw an immature eagle on a large stump about 25 yards away. As you round the corner and turn back south toward your car, the fields open up and remind me of the vast fields of rural Washington County when I was growing up (yes, that was a long time ago!)