Mid-December. A cold and partly cloudy day. Time to return to Sauvie Island a few miles northwest of home. I drove to the Virginia Lake Trailhead and did the easy 2 ½ mile loop twice. It’s an interesting hike that travels around marshy, wildlife-rich Virginia Lake. A side trail visits Multnomah Channel where anglers try their luck in the Columbia River backwater.
Luck was with me. A barred owl was sitting on a branch in an alder tree close to the trail. They are the bigger cousins of the infamous spotted owl. Sometimes they interbreed with their smaller cousins, but most of the time they kill and eat them. I suppose the good news is that they may eliminate the use of the spotted owl as an impediment to the efficient and effective management of public forest land.
The lake was frozen for the most part, providing an interesting display of nutrias, geese and ducks slipping and sliding on the ice. And, along the trail were great blue herons and many small birds of many species. A fun afternoon indeed.