I Saw an Owl On Woodpecker Loop
By Dwip October 14, 2014, 10:54 am Comments (2) RSS Feed for this post

…but he flew away before I could get a picture off. Sorry.

Today we’re going to Finley Wildlife Refuge, which is directly between Corvallis and Monroe, and a place I have been many, many times given that it’s just about in my back yard. I’ve been there for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, school, just because Dad wanted to go, and a couple times just because I wanted to go.

And now you can go too.

This is the first parking area when you come in, looking across a pond towards the Refuge office and one of the several hiking trails.

I was a bit worried when I set out that it was going to be a bit too cloudy to make the excursion worthwhile, but as I think you’ll see we got on ok.

If you turn around from the parking area you can see a bunch of fields. One of them looks for all the world like it was burned off, why or how I’m not exactly sure.

This is the fence line running along the overlook. These rail fences are all over the place.

Up the service road a ways is the entry to Woodpecker Loop, one of the major trails. At a little over a mile long it’s probably the most accessible, especially to a bus full of grade school kids who probably wouldn’t make it all the way around one of the others. As such, I’ve been here a whole lot of times.

Most of the trail looks like this, and passes through various stages of oak forest. This is all pretty classic Willamette Valley, no different than I could have had by walking out my back door in Monroe.

There are lots of these little bridges and boardwalks all down the trail. This is the first one, and you definitely want to hang a right here and cross the bridge rather than go left down the loop the other way. All the best stuff is over that bridge.

Woodpecker Loop varies between copses of trees and a sort of shrubby savannah look.

I said a moment ago that what you get at Finley honestly isn’t all that much different from what I got a few miles away in Monroe. We had an oak tree kind of like this one down the hill from the house. My brothers built a tree fort in it.

All of that is to say that that it’s a lot harder to have a real appreciation for what the adults were trying to do by dragging us here. We didn’t really get the wildlife aspect of this place as kids, and it’s hard to commune with nature in a herd of rampaging 8 year olds. And to my jaded young self, what’s the point of taking a field trip to go see something I see when I go play every day?

As an adult who doesn’t normally play in the trees all day, who in fact spent many years not playing in trees at all, it’s a lot easier to get behind the idea of a nice, peaceful walk in nature, though I confess I’m still terrible at spotting wildlife beyond the odd bird.

All of that said, there’s an observation deck around that tree, and both kid me and adult me can agree, anything that looks like a tree fort is gonna be pretty cool. This tree is my major memory of Finley.

This is the observation deck itself. I’m honestly kind of surprised it’s still here – it’s been sort of old and weathered since the first time I saw it in the 1980s, and it looks just about the same as it ever did – old and weathered.

Unlike days of yore I had to do a lot less fighting the other kids to get up to the front, however.

This is kind of why I came this way, for the view from this deck. Here we’re looking out slightly to the side of where we came in, just to the right.

And over to the side a bit. This whole cloud situation came out better than I thought it was going to.

And over a bit more. That black dot is a falling leaf from the giant tree.

And thanks to the super zoom on the loaned camera, this is back across the field, zoomed in a bunch.

We’re back on the trail again, through more of what the signs term oak savannah. In the background, you can see the hills and their dense carpet of fir trees.

This is another one of those boardwalks, covered in chicken wire to keep you from slipping in the winter.

And another scenic little bit of trail. We’ll be spending most of the rest of this excursion back in the trees.

This is the root structure of a fallen tree, covered in dirt clods. We used to throw these at each other back in the day. The clods, not the trees.

Speaking of trees, here are some moss covered fir tree branches. Things like this happen to fir trees a lot.

This, meanwhile, is a really crazy oak tree. Things like this don’t really happen to oak trees, and while someone once told me what the deal was here, I don’t remember what it was at this late date. Fire or disease, I think.

This is another gnarly old oak nearby. Again, I forget the reason given for all the burls. I want to say I was told fire, but I could be very wrong. Either way, a very unique tree.

And a closeup of one of the back side burls, because I wanted to test out the macro setting on the camera.

This is the backside of that tree, showing the high degree of damage that’s occurred to it. It’s been like that for years – I remember it looking that way when I was here as a youngster.

And yet another in the same bunch of trees. A few more burls, a lot more moss. This whole section of the loop is pretty unique.

There was a berry bush near where I parked, so I decided to do some more closeups with the macro setting on the camera.

Come to find out, and I didn’t really until a couple of years ago when Dad casually dropped it into conversation, but there are a bunch of parking spaces and overlooks along the south side of the refuge.

So, you know me, picture time.

This is looking back down the road towards the main part of the refuge. Woodpecker Loop is a couple of miles off in the northwest corner.

Also, it turns out that if you want to provoke nostalgia in me, throw me on a gravel road like this. It’s funny how, even if you don’t drive on one for a while, you still remember all the little tricks it takes to drive one successfully. It’s a much more tactile experience than pavement.

Also, I grew up in a really awesome spot to grow up, scenery wise. Let me just throw that out there.

And here we are looking sort of west-south west towards the mountains.

And a closeup.

And sort of off to the side. On the other side of those trees is Highway 99, and Monroe itself is somewhere beyond the horizon.

Oregon, Photoblogging Comments (2) Trackback URL for this post RSS Feed for this post
Comments on I Saw an Owl On Woodpecker Loop
avatar Comment by cyborgsuzy #1
November 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Hi! Is it awkward to leave a comment on an older post? (Or when I haven’t left a comment in literally years?) Anyway, love the photoblogging, just getting caught up. FYI I believe the second and third trees with the crazy burls are big leaf maples, and, also, burls are usually caused by viruses or healed wounds.

avatar Comment by Dwip #2
November 21, 2014 at 2:07 am


Or maybe, but I love comments and never get any, and we haven’t said anything to each other in ages, so I’m gonna go with nope.

(hi, how’s things)

You’d know better re: trees than I, of course. I reflexively put oak, but on second look I see what you’re on about. Probably right on burls, too. I could swear somebody told me fire was the cause of these when I was in Scouts back in the day, but of course the fun thing about back in the day is, you remember everything wrong, so.

*shakes cane at tree*

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