I found myself with some time off that Heather does not and after spending the first day getting the car serviced and receiving my first dose of COVID vaccine (YAY) I spent the next morning exploring the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. We had visited once before in 2014 for a short hike described by Sullivan in his “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” guidebook (post). This time I hoped to explore more of the refuge by hiking some of the dike trails that are open from April 1st to September 30th. I started my morning at the Eagle Marsh parking area on Buena Vista Road.
There is a nice kiosk there overlooking the marsh from which quite a few ducks and geese were visible.
Canada goose and mallards
Ring-necked ducks (I’m not sure all the females are the same.)
Geese flying over Eagle Marsh as the Sun rises.
There was more vegetation at the southern end of the marsh where robins and blackbirds were singing.
At the end of Eagle Marsh the dike split and I had intended to stay straight (the Refuge trail map appeared to show a possible loop around Willow Marsh but other maps do not show a dike at the southern end) but a sign there announced that dike was closed due to active nesting so I turned left instead.
There were a lot of ducks in Willow Marsh but they were keeping a safe distance from me.
A bufflehead and mallards
Mallards and ring-necked ducks
I then turned right along a dike passing between Willow and Teal Marshes.
Teal Marsh to the left of the dike.
It was more of the same treatment from the ducks in Teal Marsh.
Mallards an northern shovelers
While the ducks stayed away I had better luck with the smaller birds.
Female red-winged blackbird
At the end of Teal Marsh I turned around and headed back past the ducks.
Geese coming in for a landing on Teal Marsh
Ring-necked ducks and a bufflehead pair
Pie billed grebe at Eagle Marsh
The out-and-back was a nice, albeit windy, 3.2 mile walk with no elevation gain. From Eagle Marsh I turned left (SW) onto Buena Vista Road and drove a quarter mile to a small pullout at a green gate.
From here I planned on following another dike past Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh to Wintel Road and then follow that road briefly to the Rail Trail Loop Area which is where we had been on our first visit. A bald eagle flew over Mohoff Pond just as I set off.
Mohoff Pond was busy with a number of different ducks but primarily they seemed to be northern shovelers.
I didn’t see it when I took the picture but it appears there is an eagle on the ground in the distance here.
The activity wasn’t only at Mohoff Pond though as a handful of egrets were mostly out of view in a field on the other side of the railroad tracks.
One of the egrets taking off.
Brewer’s blackbird on a tree along the railroad tracks.
I stayed right at a junction with a dike running between Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh.
Pintail Marsh ahead on the left.
The dike between Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh.
Ducks at Pintail Marsh
There was a gravel parking area at the southern end of Pintail Marsh where I hopped onto Wintel Road and headed left following the narrow shoulder for .3 miles to another green gate on the right hand side of the road.
Looking back at the gate and Wintel Road
I followed a grassy track which split 100 feet from the gate and turned right (left would have led me to the Rail Trail Parking area). The path led past a little standing water before leading onto a dike along Wood Duck Pond.
I passed the Rail Trail Boardwalk and stayed on the dike now retracing our steps from our first visit.
The dike turned south wrapping around Dunlin Pond.
The boardwalk across Dunlin Pond from the dike.
Ring-necked ducks taking off.
Hawk and a sparrow
At the far end of Dunlin Pond the dike split again at Killdeer Marsh. Here I turned right and looped around Killdeer Marsh.
Another yellow legs?
Mustard along Killdeer Marsh
A killdeer amid ducks at Killdeer Marsh
The dike didn’t quite go all the way around the marsh but it was easy walking along the edge of a field to get back to the dike on the north side of the marsh. The only issue was a 5 foot wide wet area between the field and dike where try as I might my shoes wound up wet. Once I was back on the dike I had the choice to go left back along Killdeer Marsh or a different dike veering off to the right along South Pond. I chose right and followed this dike around the end of South Pond.
Cinnamon Teal in South Pond
The dike led me to one of two actual trails in the Refuge, the Rail Trail.
Damaged trees from the ice storm earlier this year.
I turned right at the boardwalk and followed it over the water to the dike on the far side.
I think this is a ring-necked duck and a lesser scaup.
At the dike I turned right and retraced my steps back to Witnel Road and headed back toward Pintail Marsh. Instead of going to the gravel parking lot that I had been at earlier I left the road at the Pintail/Egret Marsh Boardwalk Trailhead.
I followed this short boardwalk along and over Bashaw Creek to a bird blind.
Again on the trail map it appeared that the boardwalk connect to a dike at Egret Marsh but it instead it dead ended at the blind.
The dike from the blind.
I turned around and headed back to Witnel Road a little dissapointed but then I spotted a little green frog on a log and all was good.
When I got back to the lot a Pintail Marsh I turned right thinking I would follow the dike on the other side Pintail Marsh and Mohoff Pond.
I stayed right when I passed another dike that allowed for a loop around Frog Marsh and stopped at a photo blind (reservable from 10/1-3/31).
At the junction with the other end of the Frog Marsh Loop I ran into another obstacle, more active nesting had closed the dike along Pintail Marsh so I did the loop around Frog Marsh and back to the gravel lot I went.
I retraced my steps on the dike along the west side of Pintail Marsh before turning right on the dike between the marsh and Mohoff Pond.
Killdeer on the dike.
A whole lot of geese in the air ahead.
I turned left at a four way junction where the closed dike joined from between Pintail and Egret Marshes.
I was now on a dike between Mohoff Pond (left) and Mallard Marsh (right).
Ducks and geese were everywhere as I trudged directly into the wind along the dike.
Another green-winged teal
A green-winged teal and a yellow legs
My second stop wound up coming to 7.5 miles making for a 10.7 mile day. I only passed two people all day and saw a lot of different birds which made for a great hike. If I were a more patient person I would have sat at a blind or two and waited for some closer encounters but I prefer to keep moving so I have to settle for the long distance shots more often than not. Either way Ankeny is a great place to visit. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Ankeny Wildlife Refuge