We housesat in Portland while Josh and Tanya flew off to Hawaii’s big island. We thought of them lazing on sandy beaches by the blue sea, and we wished that we’d thought to escape to the island, too.
Well, we’d make the best of it: a week in Portland’s St John neighborhood and who knew what we’d discover? We typed into the search engine, “what to do in Portland.” One thing led to another, and we discovered the hottest spot for bird watching is Sauvie Island.
We knew the island! Josh and Tanya – both farmers — had lived there and worked at Sauvie Island Organics for years. Our many trips to the island were centered on visiting them at the farm, and we’d not done much exploring of the island.
We discovered the island was too large to explore in a single day, so we planned three excursions. The first took us to Wapato Access State Greenway, a wooded area that included Virginia Lake. Birds called (and a few mosquitos hummed) nearby. As we walked, we also heard the background hum of bees at work among the bushes and plants. It took some time before we could find any birds in the deep foliage, but, by the time we left that morning, we’d seen 25 different species.
We hiked a 2-mile loop trail in a refuge down Oak Island Road on our second visit. Another couple strolled up, and we ended the walk together. Diane and Dave showed us a bald eagles’ nest and helped us to see a new bird (for us) – an American house wren.
We read that over the years, marshes and food sources for migrating birds have become scarce on their journey in western North America. The value of birds to the environment is critically important. (Imagine life if birds didn’t consume all those insects?) On our third visit to the island, we met a volunteer who told us that the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife was planting nearly 400 acres in wheat, millet, and corn on Sauvie Island for the birds to eat during their migration. Bravo!
We continued up Reeder Road, past a long beach, when it occurred to us that, while Josh and Tanya were enjoying the big island of Hawaii, we were enjoying the big island of Portland.
No, not exactly the same experience, but we definitely found it was a rewarding island get-away.