Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I spent this weekend camping with my friend down in the Deschutes National Forest outside of Sisters.  Before we looked for a camp site we stopped along Cold Springs Cutoff to walk the dogs and check out the birds.  Mountain Chickadees were abundant. 

After that we drove out to FS 1018 and starting looking for a good spot.  About six miles down the road we found a pullout that had a fire pit and a couple trails leading out from it.  Looked good.  Jake was bummed on the heat so we took a break in the shade nearby,  where a couple wood nymphs came to visit.

We set up camp and then headed back into town.  A California Quail family crossed the road in front of us- my first quail kids!

Cute.  Since it was about 90 degrees and Jake was not doing so well with the heat we decided to take an air conditioned drive down to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.  It was a pretty drive, though most of the pulloffs and lake spots were packed with people.  A few weren't bad, and Jake was even able to cool off in the crazy green yet clear waters of Devils Lake. 

We stopped at a viewpoint for Mount Bachelor and Sparks Lake where I found some Pine Siskins. 

We made it back to camp where the mutts seemed completely refreshed and ready to keep tabs on the local ground squirrels.

Common Nighthawks called overhead while we ate dinner...

The next morning my friend and I woke up super early and walked the dogs down a nearby trail.  Our camp area was surrounded by healthy trees, but just a quarter mile away there were huge areas of burned trees.  As the sun rose we started hearing more and more woodpeckers. 

Many of my woodpecker views looked like this:

Hairy Woodpecker

Sometimes they actually hopped out into the sun. 

Black-backed Woodpecker

Throughout our hike we would catch glimpses of North Sister between the trees and didn't want to turn around till we found a good clean view of it.  Finally...

We hiked back down to our camp spot to finally indulge in some coffee and breakfast.  Gray Jays and this little beetle guy came by to check us out.

Just after breakfast some Red Crossbills came by...

The dogs napped for awhile before we set out on another hike, but I will save that for next time.  Good times!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Frenchman's Bar, the Clackamas, old pygmy-owls, and other random things.

It's July.  I don't have a whole lot of birds to show you.  Time to get random.  I will be interspersing Northern Pygmy-Owls throughout this post to make it interesting. 

Frog, Alder Flat Trail to the Clackamas River

You all should check out Sondra from South Carolina's Birdathon post from last month!  She joined my team, the Bloggerhead Shrikes, and had an awesome day of birds I can only dream about.  Not only does she include photos of a Summer Tanager, an Anhinga, and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, but also a video of a gator!!  Go now!

Portland, Spring 2014
Yesterday I walked the dogs along the Frenchman's Bar trail in Vancouver.  It was warm and tame but a there were a few highlights...

Portland, Spring 2014
A Swainson's Thrush was being followed by a vocal young bird that did not strike me as a young thrush.  I never got a good look at it, besides this quick photo:

Perhaps if the thrush had read this helpful information, it would not have had to spend so much time plucking snow berries for this young nuisance.  Unless of course I am wrong and that is actually a young Swainson's Thrush. 

Bad bad photo

The Osprey nest in the river has been successful with two healthy-looking young birds in the nest.  Last year I watched the same nest with two healthy-looking young birds.  Unfortunately those birds did not live to adulthood because of dickwads and fishing line. 

Portland, Spring 2014

So, how are you guys at identifying underwater creatures?   My friend and I spent Saturday submerged in the Clackamas River, watching strange critters.  There were lots of shells of stoneflies on the rocks...

Underwater there were critters that covered themselves in pine needles and critters that covered themselves in tiny rocks and sand.  I read that stoneflies lay their eggs underwater and their nymphs are aquatic.  Is this related?  I know little about these critters, please share your wisdom.

Two of the critters covered in rocks.  

 Critter covered in pine needles (or something similar)

 Also.  This guy was cute:

This spot on the Clackamas was recommended as a more mellow spot on this fast-moving river.  I've been to worse spots, danger-wise, but this was no safe swimming hole.  We found spots where we could wade in and stay cool, though, and the views were lovely.

Can you spot the Spotted Sandpiper?

What else, what else... Oh!  There's a new bird book in town!

It's a fun little book, especially because it's geared towards birds in the northwest.  So many kids books are filled with cardinals and Blue Jays, but here we have Steller's Jays and Varied Thrushes.  The woman that put this book together founded the Friends of Force Lake and loves our local birds.  If you know a kid that could use a book, I would definitely recommend this one!  It can be found at, or that other online book retailer. 

Ok, I think that's it. 

Good times!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Clark County.

This week I hit up Ridgefield and the other Larch Mountain to see what was going on.  Ridgefield was a let down, as the grass and teasel is so overgrown that trying to view any shorebird sites is impossible.  Also I saw no coot babies.  What good is Ridgefield in July if there are no coot babies?  I recall seeing exactly one coot.  Wtf.

There were some young Pied-billed Grebes that almost made up for it.  But they were losing their zebra stripes already...

Want to know how boring Ridgefield was?  Here:

Yeah.  I took photos of geese.  Rough day.  Larch Mountain (the OTHER Larch Mountain, that is) was more interesting.  I had only been up there once before in the winter and it was rainy and foggy.  Ok so it was still a bit foggy.

I walked the dogs around this clearcut area off L-1400 for awhile.  Many warbler songs were heard, none of which I felt confident enough to slap an ID on without getting a visual.  They were mostly in the Hermit-ish, Townsends-ish realm.  Thankfully other birds were not so secretive.

 Spotted Towhee

Band-tailed Pigeon sounds add an extra eerie quality to foggy forests. 

When I got back to the car to head to the next stop I found this:

SERIOUSLY?  Apparently I was supposed to display a Discover Pass here.  I have a Discover Pass in my glove box.  Perhaps they will use my benjamin to buy some signs to actually tell people where they need to display their Discover Passes. 

Ugh.  Anyway.  I dug out my pass after this incident and displayed it at future stops. 

Western Tanager

 MacGillivray's Warbler

 Busted Steller's Jay

 Willow Flycatcher with a sick view

 Turkey Vulture doing epic poses

 Bad photo of a Pine Siskin.  First one I've seen all year.  Wild.

 Mount St. Helens with Mount Rainier peeking out on the right

Mount Rainier from a different viewpoint

Good times except for the ticket!