Monday, August 30, 2010

Cold Springs NWR.

This weekend I wanted to visit somewhere new so I picked a random spot from Birding Oregon and headed out...   I ended up near Hermiston at Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge.

Between I-84 and the refuge are cows, farms, more cows, some horses, and these hawks:


They look to me like Swainson's Hawks with the lighter patches on the face... I could be wrong (as always).

I eventually arrived at the refuge after stopping to check Google Maps on my phone a couple times..  There are no signs from the "main" roads and the directions from Birding Oregon were vague at best.


The refuge consists of several parking areas with trails to different areas of the Cold Springs Reservoir.  The trails pass through cottonwoods and willows while the rest of the refuge consists of sagebrush fields.

My first find:

The willows were filled with warblers...  A Townsend's Warbler:

A new one for me!

Jake and I walked along the reservoir shoreline for quite awhile...


It got pretty hot quickly and I decided to head back to find a motel nearby... The next morning we got an early start just before sunrise.


Along one of the farm roads was a deer carcass... I was sad to see some beautiful Black-billed Magpies doing something very gross...


Ok no more dead stuff.  Back at the refuge some (live) deer were enjoying the morning...


As well as some Western Grebes...

A pair of Greater Yellowlegs were wading near us...


Did I mention it was a beautiful morning?


Some shorebirds flew by... and then flew by again... and again...


I am assuming they are Western Sandpipers based on really bad close-up photos I'd rather not share :)

On my way out of the refuge I stopped to admire some sunflowers growing along a fence..

So pretty!

While I was stopped I noticed a bird in a field on the other side of the road...


What the heck is this bird??? I don't even know where to begin!  Seriously, help!  If you have any ideas at all let me know!!  Unfortunately this is the best picture I got of him... ***Thank you for the help! It's a Western Meadowlark!

On my way home I stopped by the Umatilla NWR and was super disappointed... On the auto tour I saw more hunters than birds.  I think I took one picture of a California Quail's butt as it dashed into a bush.  Boo!  Cold Springs was a fun little trip though.  I imagine it's even more impressive during migrations...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ecola State Park/ Bayocean Spit.

I decided to take a trip to the coast yesterday morning for some hiking and some birding..  When I arrived it was pouring rain... Brilliant me had not checked the weather.  So I drove south instead of north as I had planned and stopped at Ecola State Park where it was dry but patchy fog...

Here are some blurry faraway oystercatchers... Wish I could have gotten closer.

Next up was this guy in the tall grass:
I realize it's a bit blurry but I am so curious as to what it is... Could it be a Hermit Warbler? 

On the trail we took were tons of Chestnut-backed Chickadees...
They were very interested in what we were doing...


After some hiking I drove down to the Bayocean Spit near Tillamook to look for shorebirds...  I was somewhat successful.


A relatively small group of sandpipers was hanging out by the bay...


Yikes I'm having trouble with the ID on these guys... I might have to come back to these ones.  Not far from these guys was a lonely Semipalmated Plover...


And that was all I got photos of...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ridgefield NWR 08-21-10

I can't believe I went almost 3 weeks without visiting Ridgefield!  Wow.  Anyway... I decided there was no better way to start off my birthday than to get up early and see what I could find there.. I felt like the animals knew it was my birthday and were especially patient just for me....

I started off on the Kiwa Trail and was greeted by this guy:


I made it almost halfway around the trail when I heard something that made me stop short.  Dog scuffle?  Huh?  It took me a second to remember I was not at work and that this sound made no sense.  Oh wait, nope, not dogs... FIVE coyotes!!!

One of them caught sight of me right away and took off, pausing to look at me from a distance.


I assume this is the family of coyotes that I have seen photos of on Flickr... Finally I got to see them myself!   I was sort of stuck on that bridge that goes over the marshy area because I wasn't sure how 5 coyotes would react to my sudden appearance during their breakfast (yep, they were scuffling over something dead).  So I kept my distance...

You can sort of see something dead dangling from the coyote's mouth here..


Here's a picture just to show the four at once:


Eventually they noticed me and took off..  I could not have asked for a better birthday present than breakfast with a family of coyotes.

Shorebird migration is fully evident at Ridgefield now...

Greater Yellowlegs...



An American Bittern was out wading nearby...


I decided to make a second trip around the loop... This time the Yellowlegs were joined by several Great Egrets... They were stunning.




I could have watched them all day... Instead I drove up the road a little ways before finding this fella:

My first thought was a Green Heron, probably because there had been a recent sighting posted on the board, but once I got home and looked it up I realized it was an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron!

Awesome!  I had never seen one at Ridgefield before.  It also didn't seem to mind me taking a phone call while taking pictures of him (yes, Mom & Dad, that's the bird I was photographing while talking to you this morning!).


He was sooo cool-looking, I took about 100 pictures of him.


Ok just one more of this gorgeous bird...


On my way out I took a few shots of a kestrel on a refuge sign...


A perfect trip to Ridgefield!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

South Central Oregon.

Over the weekend I went camping at a great campground near Crater Lake.  The campground itself was on Miller Lake, a nice and dusty 12-mile drive down a gravel road from Chemult, OR.  It was a lot of fun since I had never been to Crater Lake (I know!  I've lived in Oregon for 9 years in September and had never made the trek). 

I got up early both days to go exploring...
That might be Diamond Peak but it might be something else.  Just a pretty view along the gravel road...

I started off heading towards the Upper Klamath Basin... This eagle was perched along one of the roads bordered by fields of cows:

Not where I would expect to find an eagle...  I was hoping for a Golden Eagle but I believe it's just an immature Bald Eagle. 

Further down the road were these blackbirds perched on a fence.. The whole scene made me think of a Country Time Lemonade commercial for some reason.


A Great Egret flew in to perch on a fencepost:


I followed the road down to a bunch of supposed birding spots and failed to find many birds... I took Jake on some short hikes and gave up.  I moved on to the next suggested area and found an Osprey nest...


Too cute.  Later on my way back out I saw a second youngin' up in the nest... No good pictures though.  My first stop was Petric Park which I realized after I stopped was only a boat ramp...and this promising sign:


I drove a little bit up the road and found a much better place, Wood River Wetland.  There was a great trail along a couple waterways that lead to Agency Lake. 

There were tons of these birds:
Western Wood-Pewees I think...

Jake and I scared up some egrets out of the reeds... This one was flying in a different form than normal:


It was a beautiful trail....


Alright, so before this weekend I had thought I had seen a lot of swallows before... I was wrong.




NOW I can say I've seen a lot of swallows.  There were also quite a few grebes swimming in the waterways but they were mostly too far away for good pictures.


Clark's or Western... I never know...  And of course some Pied-billed:


White Pelicans flew by...


After spending a couple hours here Jake looked like he was going to pass out... I decided to head back to Digit Point campground for some more hiking and some swimming in Miller Lake.

On the trail around the lake this Dark-eyed Junco was hopping from tree to tree:


We stopped to go swimming and this bird was very interested in us:

A Spotted Sandpiper!

Back at our tent site were tons of chipmunks and squirrels.  Sadly Jake had to stay on a leash because of them... Chipmunks are pretty much his favorite thing ever.


The next morning I got up early to finally visit Crater Lake National Park... One of my first stops was a little gravel turn-off with a restroom... I'm so glad I had to stop because here I found my first (and second and third) Clark's Nutcrackers!!!



I was so happy to finally see them!  I had definitely heard them before but could never quite locate one.  Next we drove up to the Cloud Cap overlook... I stopped to make some snow graffiti:


At Cloud Cap were oodles of chipmunks...

I swear they were posing for the camera.


Oh and the lake view wasn't too bad either...


Back down the road from the viewpoint was a pull-out with lots of bird activity... This group of trees was dripping with Yellow-rumped Warblers and Red-breasted Nuthatches:



Oh and another Clark's Nutcracker joined us for a bit:


Our next stop was the Pinnacles viewpoint... Pretty cool-looking!



There was a Western Tanager hopping around nearby..


My last stops were around Rim Village... There are some great viewpoints near there..


It was an awesome trip- I'm so glad I decided to finally visit Crater Lake!