Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Dalles & Sherman County, Oregon.

I wanted to explore some new territory today so I headed east to The Dalles to look for the Bank Swallows that nest there.  They were very easy to find! 



The first new bird of my trip!  After finding the swallows I drove further east to Highway 97 and headed south towards Kent.  I stopped at lots of random places if I saw birds or there was a decent pullout.  The bird of the day was definitely the Western Meadowlark.  They were everywhere, including young ones that kept confusing the heck out of me...


I assume this is a young meadowlark: (or is it a Horned Lark?)


Western Kingbirds were pretty common too.  I had never seen one so I was stoked.  They are freakin beautiful.



In Kent I was hoping to find some magpies but no luck..  There was some interesting stuff though, like a bunch of random metal decorations in someone's yard...


They also had a stack of birdhouses with a scrub-jay on top.


I drove back north on 97 to the turnoff for Hwy 216 and headed east towards Sherar's Bridge.  About a mile down the road I saw two black birds in a field flicking their tails rather noticeably.  I thought that seemed odd and did a u-turn to check them out... Turns out they were Great-tailed Grackles!



Not only a new bird for me, but according to the responses I have received on a local birding site, it could be a first record for Sherman County.  Crazy!  We'll see if I get any more input on the matter... I watched the two grackles until a kestrel watching from a telephone pole decided he had let them walk around long enough and swooped down at them.  They took off out of sight...


I made my way down the road, stopping to look for birds in the sage.  Mostly more meadowlarks, but also some purty bugs and things...


There was one area that was particularly sparrow-y though my photos aren't great and I am having the worst time ID-ing them.  They seem to be the same species...


I have turned these birds into at least four kinds of sparrows.  My brain is mush.  Please help. (Thank you, they are Lark Sparrows! )


And one more bad shot... This guy had his mouth full the entire time I was there, which was probably fifteen minutes...


I finally made it down the canyon to the Deschutes River where Lazuli Buntings were singing like crazy...


Ok, the bad photos aren't over yet.. There was a gull checking out a mini waterfall within the Deschutes River... California Gull? 


While I was at this spot some dark clouds started rolling in and I could hear thunder rumbling, so I headed back towards home.  It was an awesome trip!  Three new birds (make that five)!  The scenery was alright too...

12 comments:

  1. Great shot of the Bank Swallow! I think the young bird on the post is a Horned Lark (solid brown with a long tail, not patterned and short-tailed like a meadowlark). The sparrows are Lark Sparrows in very worn plumage. The Great-tailed Grackles were a wonderful find.

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  2. Thanks, John! I had been leaning towards Lark Sparrow but they seemed too dull, but worn plumage would explain that. Your help is much appreciated!

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  3. Congrats Jen, on all your new birds. I love the flight shots of the swallows. And the Western Kingbird and Lazuli Buntings are both beautiful birds. Great sighting of the butterflies, they are beautiful too. It look like you had a great day..wonderful birds and great photos.

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  4. Hell yeah new birds. You bird junkie! Props on the grackles, that is a quality Oregon species for sure. I dig the junk sculpture. Totes a Horned Lark.

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  5. Boy the scenery looks so western and BANG the Western Kingbird and the W. Meadowlark sure signs of the west!!! ENJOYED all your photos of what must have been such a fun day!!

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  6. Love the barbed wire fence in the shots. Great bunch of birds!

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  7. Oh boy those grackles were a good find! I think I saw those in Dallas and was impressed with their noises and displays. great swallow shots!

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  8. Looks like a fun day! I'd love to see those great-tailed grackles!

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  9. I remember Western Kingbirds being common in Minnesota where I grew up. Haven't seen one in years.
    Great Bank Swallow shots!

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  10. Fabulous list of new sightings Jen. Super flight shots of the Swallows ... never managed to keep up with ours over here. The Kingbird is a stunner. FAB.

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  11. What a great day! The first Western Kingbird's I saw were this spring and I think they are gorgous, too! I would love to see a juvenile Meadowlark...fun stuff!

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  12. What an odd lawn ornament.

    I like the scenic photo.

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