[Tweeters] Eclipse bird behavior at Alkeny Wildlife Refuge, OR.

Nadine Drisseq bearsmartwa at gmail.com
Tue Aug 22 16:15:37 PDT 2017

For description and photos of the eclipse and people/refuge go to:


Like many others, I was excited to finally experience a total Solar

I’d seen plenty of partial eclipses, and they were interesting, but I had
watched the Ted talk that had been doing the rounds on Facebook, so I was
convinced a total Eclipse was completely different, and was not to be

Leaving the Seattle area at 1am was a good idea, and we had no traffic at
all. I had a co-pilot to help with the driving, and we arrived at 5.30am at
a destination I had chosen at the last minute using Google Maps: Ankeny
National Wildlife Refuge, was at the heart of the eclipse path, and also
just a mile off I-5, south of Salem OR. With few trees, and a clear
horizon, the chance to observe birds as well as the event were both covered.

We fortuitously arrived in time to be 10th in line to get into the Wildlife
Refuge and its small parking lot which opened at 6am. (Someone told me we
were so lucky I should play the lottery this week so I will.) Cars were
double-parked up on the grass verge all along the mile-long road to the
refuge; and people had camped there overnight. Once parked, we napped for
an hour, and then woke up in time for the eclipse. I had binoculars which
could be used with eclipse glasses, and I had also brought my camera plus
24-105mm lens to take many photos of people watching the approaching
eclipse as I was also interested in the Spectacle from a social standpoint.
We met another Seattle-lite, Walter, and his brother who had driven to meet
him all the way from San Diego for the event. Walter had a small 2-3inch
refractor hooked up to his iPhone which took some pretty great photos of
the sunspots. He let me take a photo and sent it to me (see below) in which
you can see some sunspots on the lower edge of the solar disk. Using
Walter's iPhone/telescope we were able to see sunspots. (see pic)

Watching the eclipse among so many people was a marvelous experience with a
festive atmosphere, and one I will never forget. Groups of young nerds or
geeks with equipment, families with small children, friends young and old,
chatting side by side with their equipment set up, all waited for and
watched the celestial show together. Cries of “ It’s started!” came out,
and I took photos and watched for the duration. As totality approached, a
kind astronomer gave the countdown to totality. At about 5 minutes to
totality, I became aware that the birds started singing very loudly and
also moving around a lot, despite all the people there (whereas prior to
the event they had been very quiet in the warm morning sunshine.) I
observed a group of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, hopping and chirruping in a
tree, very busily, as Kinglets can do. I also noticed our shadows did
indeed become sharply defined – even stray hairs were visible as shadow.

Then, Totality was reached…And…

…It REALLY was the most beautiful celestial event I think I have ever
experienced. *Nigri Solis* - the Black Sun was so intense and perfectly
shining - a gleaming power emanating from all sides yet totally obscured
and pitch black. It is no wonder this event has been mythologized
throughout the ages. It really is of the most unusual, stridently bizarre
and powerful beauty to behold.

I was able to watch the event using my binoculars, and watch the corona and
streamers radiate from a heart of darkness. The area all around us was
suspended in an extremely eerie twilight like no light I had ever
witnessed, and a rose-hue hung all along the entire horizon. By now, birds
had completely stopped singing, but the crowd cheered and clapped, and many
people were also simply awestruck, like myself. Two minutes seemed to go by
extremely fast. Then, all too soon, a small bite-size piece of sun
reappeared, and totality was gone. All of a sudden the birds began singing
a second dawn chorus that day - and people too sung a cheer - all for the
return of the sun.

Today, every part of me hurts like heck, mainly from the long drive home in
traffic. The next eclipse here is in 2108 so I don't think I will be able
to attend but Tuesday 21st August 2017 will never be forgotten.

*Nadine Drisseq*
*Biologist, **Bear Smart WA*

*PO Box 152*
*Issaquah, WA. 98027*

Tel: (530) 628-7787 (call / text)
bearsmartwa at gmail.com

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