Working some more in our 5MR, we started our day at Mirror Pond just north of the Salem Courthouse. Here, our first bird was a Scarlet Macaw (no kidding). There was some type of exotic animal trade show that day at our convention center, and this guy escaped for a tour of the Salem Riverfront. We met his “owner” who did not appear to be too worried.
After that, we headed to the north end of our 5MR to check out, for the first time, the Keizer sewage ponds, that is, the Willow Lake Water Pollution Control Facility. I knew this area wasn’t 100% open to the public, which is one of the reasons I’ve never bothered checking it out. Because it’s not open to the public, it’s not birded much, so any birding data from this area pale in comparison to the everyday-it’s-birding-Christmas Philomath Sewage Ponds. It’s also possible that the types of ponds/cells here are not as attractive to birds are other ponds/cells.
But, because it’s in our 5MR, and because of what it is, I’d be remiss to not at least do a drive-by. Maybe there’s a berm outside that I could climb up with my scope? I could have examined the Google imagery more, but it’s within my 5MR. Just drive on up there!
To our surprise, adjacent to the facility are walking paths through a constructed wetland complex. It’s called the “City of Salem Natural Reclamation System” (NRS). Well what the heck does that mean? It means this, from the City of Salem’s website:
NRS is a five-year demonstration used to determine whether a constructed wetland approach can provide reuse water for farming and could provide us with a new way of dealing with treated wastewater, reusing it instead of directly discharging it into the Willamette River. (City of Salem 2017)
I’m slowly learning that my 5MR is chocked full of natural and constructed wetlands, and I could not be happier. Naturally, we spent the rest of the day here and got 25 species in under 2 hours, including a flipping Virginia Rail!. We also met a really nice man named “Bob” who goes for his daily walks here. We could see the actual circular cells from the wetland complex, but it was through a gate. The cells were also full of gulls, and I wasn’t really in a “gull” mood that day.