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...
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!