Birders flock to presentation in Forest Grove

Forest Grove’s Carlos Montoyer enjoys walking around Fernhill Wetland. Erin Dopfel and Nathan Mealey come from Portland to see the birds at the wetland just outside the city. Betsy Hauser, of Cornelius, finds it’s a great place to expose her two young sons to birds and nature, while Portland photographer Scott Carpenter finds the wetland a great place to photograph shorebirds.

They were among 30 people who flocked to the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center Thursday night to learn about birds and mammals seen at the wetlands. It was the second meeting of the newly revived Friends of Fernhill, founded in 1996 by Barbara Story.

The former sewage treatment ponds have long been a favorite of Portland area birders. In fact, said Phil Khaler, the first presenter, it’s listed as a “hotspot” on, a site for birders around the world.

“Since 1990,” Khaler noted, “216 species of birds have been seen.” The count this year is 167 — so far. Khaler, a science teacher at Tualatin Valley Academy in Hillsboro, takes his students to Fernhill once every winter. They make use of websites such as eBird, and report observations to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

“Several have had their findings published,” Khaler added after treating the audience to a slide presentation and a variety of handouts for beginners and experienced birders alike.

Another Friend of Fernhill, photographer Steve Halpern of Hillsboro, shared some of his photos and videos taken during the year at the wetland, noting the joys and challenges of photographing birds.

“There are more than birds to see and photograph,” he said as his photos of butterflies, dragonflies, tree frogs and a river otter flashed across the screen.

Next neeting of the Friends is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center, 2037 Douglas St.

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