Smith Rock State Park & Sisters

I bought a new tent a couple weeks ago and this weekend's warm temperatures made for the perfect opportunity to test it out.  Turns out I hate the tent.  It's going back to REI where it came from.  Luckily I kept my old one just in case...  Anyway, the warm weather meant that I felt confident about driving through the mountains finally so I headed east to Smith Rock State Park yesterday morning.

I took the dogs on a two-hour hike, as well as another 2-hour hike this morning.  I was finally able to see the White-throated Swifts that nest there.  Not really great for photos:

I was really hoping to finally see a Canyon Wren, instead of just hearing them, but no luck.  I did find a couple of Rock Wrens and House Wrens though...

Rock Wren

 House Wren

 Other good birds at the park were nesting ravens, a Golden Eagle, kestrels, and Canada Geese perching all over the canyon walls.  I found a cool lizard but my camera refused to focus on it (ok it was probably my own fault, but whatever)...

And probably the most unusual sighting of the day, this guy:

Yes, that is a unicycle, and yes we were on a steep rocky trail down the side of a canyon with sharp switchbacks.  Dude is nuts.

After leaving Smith Rock yesterday I saw a small falcon perched on a wire.  I was hoping for something good and was disappointed that it was just a kestrel... till I noticed it had a snack:

Yummy.  I drove down to Sisters and decided to camp at the same campground where I've stayed before, Cold Springs.  I did lots of hiking and exploring in the afternoon but didn't have much luck.  Cold Springs Cutoff seemed to be woodpecker-free (besides flickers) but some Mountain Chickadees and bluebirds tried to make up for it.

Ralph made sure I was up well before sunrise this morning so we were able to get started driving down Cold Springs Cutoff at 6:00 a.m.  We encountered a nice herd of elk and a Townsend's Solitaire (not pictured):

After walking the dogs around away from the elk herd I headed into town for some convenience store coffee.  As I was walking into the store I heard a Pinyon Jay, which was perfect because I planned to try to find them after I acquired my fix. 

I stopped by the Best Western to check their feeders before heading out of town.  I am glad I did because the area was smothered in Evening Grosbeaks, a bird I have much trouble finding despite their regularity at many Portlanders' feeders. 

On the feeder itself were a couple of finches which I had assumed were both House Finches.  Now looking at the photos, the male was definitely a House Finch but the female actually looks like a Cassin's.  Thoughts?

 Lastly, on my way home from Smith Rock today I spotted a couple of Swainson's Hawks perched near the highway...

It was a really fun little adventure and now it's time to buckle down and get ready for my real road trip to CA, AZ, & TX!  Good times!


  1. Wowzers. Pinyon Jay and Evening Grosbeaks in one day!? Mine envy doth overfloweth. My respect for Best Western has now also increased.

    It looks like a cool change of scenery, some more around mountains and clearer skies than I imagine you find in the Portland area. It's great to have those outlets, even if the tents never do them justice (I've never found a satisfactory tent).

    That's going to be one intense road trip. I don't know if you're taking bets, but I'm betting you'll see 174 different species of birds between those 3 states.

    1. I like the idea of taking bets! 174 sounds reasonable, I think. Any other takers??

  2. Very cool trip and you saw so much! Since you hadn't posted in a few days I wondered if you had already left on your big trip. Can't wait to see what you find. We will miss you on Birdathon- but you could pledge me if you want :)

    1. I will gladly pledge you! I am bummed I can't make it this year...

  3. Do we win a prize if we win? ;) I'm thinking you will see 157. I have no idea, but I want to "enter".

  4. OMG YOU are not!! IM so happy for you a road trip just when IM so stuck working and getting so depressed about it...I will live thru your trip!!
    Sorry bout the tent...Tents are like a good bra if its fits its a lifer!
    Speaking of lifers, Im going to be say you will add at least 15 lifers and your total count will be around 150 for sure!! WHEN you leavin? I dont want to miss anything.
    Meanwhile your photos today are awesome, love the kestrel with the 5 lined skink!!

  5. Smith Rock looks like a cool place to visit. The besting sighting of the day, though, has to be the guy on the unicycle...what the.....I thought he was on roller skates before I read about the unicycle; that would probably be just as funny. The Elk sighting is very cool as well. Hope you have a blast on your trip!

  6. It's a Cassin's Finch.

    200 species. At least 60 lifers.

  7. Jen, I always love reading your blog and seeing the great shots you get. Yesterday was a rarity for me though... when I saw that shot of the unicyclist fool I thought "Is that Ross?!?" So I asked him if he was at Smith over the weekend and showed it to him. Indeed, you captured a photo of him. Too funny and yeah, dude is nuts.

    I'm in for 163.

    1. Oh man that is too funny! Well, hope he wasn't upset I took a picture of him...

  8. My bet is on 173 species between the 3 states, one dollar Bob, one dollar. Awesome hotel Evening Grosbeaks! I've only ever seen one in my whole life. Apparently they used to be all over the northeast, sadly not anymore.

    Excited for you and your upcoming trip, you'll have tons of fun - can't wait to read about it!

    Love Sandra's comment about the lifer bra, well said Sandra, well said.

    1. Ha Ha, yep, well I had to come back over to see how I did on the "pool" I got the total count almost on the head, but wayyyy off on the lifers! 49 amazing...


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