I had a rare opportunity to go birding with my mom last month. Well, the reality of it is, we were coming home from a weekend in Hood River with family and I saw an opportunity to drive up I-5 through Washington and stop at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This coupled with a stop at a new-to-us yarn store in Chehalis, sounded OK to mom. Her words exactly were “You’re the driver!”

If you haven’t been to or even heard of Ridgefield, I’ll give you the “skinny.” Well marked on I-5, it’s a short drive off the freeway. Mom and I visited the River S’ Unit Auto Tour Route. There is a small fee of $3.00 to drive around a fabulous loop with many great habitats for birds and other animals. I always laugh out loud at a sign posted at the beginning. It states that it takes about 45 minutes to drive around the loop at the speed limit of 15 mph. I told mom it took me five + hours last time I visited. We made it around in 2.5 hours this time, definitely a compromise on my part.

The weather was perfect, warmish for mid-April and party sunny, which birds tend to like! We saw 41 species of birds that day and 4 other animals including White-tailed deer and Western painted turtles.

About a third of the way around, my mom, starting talking about “birding by bump,” which she described as seeing a bird shaped or abnormal bump on a branch, the ground or in the water. Okay, yeah, that’s what we birders do along with watching for movement and sounds, but I nearly busted my guts laughing at the way my mom phrased it. We soon came upon a bare branch at the top of a tree with an obvious “bump” on it. When I asked Mom what is was, she said she couldn’t tell. I laughed for a good while. After that she concentrated on writing down the species we could identify.

My Dad, my greatest birding buddy, was born in April and loved wildlife refuges. This time at Ridgefield felt like a tribute to him. I love being from a birding family!

Hope you can get out “birding by bump” as the weather begins to improve!

And don’t forget the First Sunday Cannon Beach Bird Walk on June 4! Join us at 9 o’clock at the Lagoon Trail on Second Street. We will be walking around the loop! Starting at the Lagoons, along Ecola Creek to the ocean, up to Haystack Rock and then back through the neighborhoods to end at the Lagoons. Bring binoculars and wear appropriate clothing. Everyone is welcome!

Susan has spent her life enjoying the great outdoors from the lakes and woods of Northern Minnesota, Mt. Adams in Washington and now the Oregon beach environs. After spending many pleasurable hours driving her avid birder parents around, she has taken up birding as a passion. Susan resides on Neawanna Creek in Seaside where her backyard is a birder’s paradise.

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