You Down with PPP (Yea You Know Me)

Go ahead and roll your eyes at me. I’ll give you a few minutes. Don’t run out of eye rolls though, because once I define this marvelous abbreviation for you, you’ll be back at it again.

PPP = the Philomath Poo Ponds, aka the Philomath Sewage Ponds.

Note: Access to these ponds is restricted! You need to have a permit, which is available free of charge from the Philomath Public Works Department.

It’s been several months since I’ve birded the PPP because it’s now more than 2 hours away. But, enter the Willamette Valley Birding Symposium in Corvallis, plus a visit from my birding sister Lindsay, and I’m back down in arguably the best birding area in Oregon (IMHO). The symposium was on the Saturday, and we birded on Sunday. We planned on birding the PPP and Finley, but hitting both in 1 day is difficult when the sun sets at 4:30-ish and you’ve slept in and had a lazy morning birding your AirBNB property.

Views of the Coast Range from the Poo Ponds.
And sometimes, you get a rainbow over the sewage ponds. But … where are all of the birds?
There are six cells (ponds). We found the birds. This cell is boiling over in Northern Shovelers. We counted approximately 930 individual shovelers. No that’s not a typo.
A possible Eurasian x American Wigeon (hybrid)? https://ebird.org/checklist/S63844912
An Eared Grebe with a robust dust ruffle!
The cacophony that is the PPP seed pile. Check out my video here, if only just to hear the juncos and their crazy 80s video game-themed calls.
https://youtu.be/uTbaCbODsZI
This Lincoln Sparrow was a nice highlight at the seed pile.
A White-crowned Sparrow nestled in a small depression. I’m guessing he’s full of seed.
A Northern Harrier flying in for some afternoon preening. See video here:
https://youtu.be/pJ6j_TJBBcU
Alfred the Greater Sage-Grouse at the Willamette Valley Symposium with pals Lindsay and Linda.
The traditional post-symposium beers and burgers at Squirrels in Corvallis.

January 13, 2018

One of the reasons why I’ve always loved birding is that it essentially brings me to some of my favourite places, namely forests and wetlands. This is also a fair assumption by folks who find out you’re a birder:

birder = a person who spends time outdoors in beautiful, natural places looking for birds

While this is often the case, on Saturday, January 13, I headed out to one of my area’s seriously birdy Hot Spots: the Philomath Sewage Ponds.

The Philomath Sewage Ponds are just south of the town of Philomath. They comprise three lagoon cells (i.e., ponds). After passing through the facility’s headworks, raw sewage is stored in these three ponds, which are designed to kick-off the treatment of raw sewage by “storage under conditions that favor natural biological treatment and accompanying bacterial reduction.”1 The water from these ponds is treated further when it is eventually pumped to what’s called a chlorine contact chamber. Eventually it is either discharged to the Mary’s River or is used for irrigation, depending on the season.

Anyway, these sewage ponds did not let me down. I found myself going from pond to pond, as if I were opening up Christmas gifts of birds to myself. After feeling pretty comfortable with the ponds, I moved onto the adjacent shrubby-wooded area to the south of the ponds where I saw a new-to-2018 species and lifer, a Black Phoebe.

Breaking the rest down for you here:

Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
*Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
*Black Phoebe (lifer!)
American Crow
European Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
*Savannah Sparrow

BLPH

Black Pheobe; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

BLPH2

Black Pheobe; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

NOSH1

Northern Shoveler; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

NOSH2

Northern Shovelers; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

RTHA

Red-tailed Hawk; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

SVSP

Savannah Sparrow; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

AMKS
American Kestrel; Philomath Sewage Ponds; January 13, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

*New Birds for 2018: 3 species
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 60 species (this includes two additional 2018 species I saw earlier in the week on January 10—*Gadwall and *Green Heron—both of which were at the Koll Center Wetlands Park near my eye doctor in Beaverton, Oregon. I stopped there for a few minutes before I went back to work).

  1. Westech Engineering, Inc. 2017. Wastewater System Facilities Plan. Philomath, Oregon. Available at: http://www.ci.philomath.or.us/vertical/sites/%7B2CFF016E-1592-4DB3-9E2B-444FA3EFC736%7D/uploads/PhilomathFacilitiesPlanV3.pdf