For this year’s 31st Annual Great Blue Heron Week there will be only one signature event -- the annual Ross Island Regatta -- which will give Portlanders an opportunity to enjoy a morning on the Willamette River, paddling through the no-wake zone on the Holgate Channel, into the Ross Island lagoon, around Ross Island and back to Willamette Park.
May is the perfect time to circumnavigate the four-island archipelago (Ross, Hardtack, East and Toe), which will be redolent with bird song, including the eerie melody of Swainson’s Thrushes. We might even see a river otter or two!
The paddle will launch at Willamette Park boat ramp and proceed to the west side of the Willamette River and head downstream for a serene “birdy” journey through the Holgate Channel’s no-wake zone. We will be looking and listening for Black-headed Grosbeaks, Purple Martins and other migratory songbirds, Spotted Sandpipers, Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed Hawks and Wood Ducks. In the Ross Island lagoon we’ll see nesting Bald Eagles that took over what had been a large Great Blue Heron nesting colony. Farther downstream, we will get a good look at the relocated heron colony near Ross Island’s tip. From there we will head back upstream past little Toe Island, keeping a look out for beaver dens and Belted Kingfisher burrows.
The paddle is a leisurely 2.5 hours and is suitable for beginning paddlers and families. You must provide your own life jackets and kayak or canoe. There will be a safety boat accompanying the paddlers.
Mike Houck, Urban Greenspaces Institute|
Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland
Lynn Barlow, Portland Parks & Recreation
Jane Bacchieri, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.
DIRECTIONS & INSTRUCTIONS
Meet trip leaders no later than 10 a.m. at Willamette Park Boat Ramp to unload your canoe or kayak and get into the water by 10:30 am.
Willamette Park entrance is at SW Macadam Avenue and SW Nebraska Street. If you are renting a canoe or kayak from Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe or the nearby Portland Kayak Company, make sure you leave plenty of time to get your craft and be at Willamette Park at 9:30 am sharp to put in.
Alder Creek Kayak, 503-285-1819, www.aldercreekcom. Portland Kayak Company, 503-459-4050, www.portlandkayak.com.
After unloading your craft at the boat ramp be sure to park in a CAR parking space. You will be ticketed if you park in a trailer space. Be sure to pay for parking. There are two parking pass machines near the restroom at the south end of the main parking lot.
Free, and no registration required. See you at the regatta!