Over the mountains.

I could barely sleep last night after putting an offer on a pretty sweet house, so I had plenty of time to ponder where to go birding this morning.  I decided to do a little lifer hunting just past the Cascades in Wasco county.

The first area I wanted to check was Victor Road where someone had reported some Mountain Quail.  Horned Larks were the first to greet me...

This next bird was closely associating with the larks so I had thought it to be a juvenile, but not completely sure...

I never found the Mountain Quail but I did see more California Quail than I have ever seen in one area before.  Two huge family groups plus other random pairs and singles...

I found a little family of Western Kingbirds making a ruckus in a tree.  Only one was kind enough to pose for me...

Across the road from the kingbird tree a couple of birds paused on the fence for me...

Ummmmm.... What the hell are they??  Finches?  Sparrows?  That one on the right is soooo busted-looking. 

And what about this thing on the ground:

One of my favorite birds of the day was this young Say's Phoebe:

Super cute.  Also cute is this lizard (fence lizard?):

Super not cute but super creepy was this structure... Gallows?


After Victor Road I headed down Juniper Flats Road to see if I could find the Tricolored Blackbirds I saw reported on eBird.  Success!   There were dozens of them in this one cattail marsh.  Terrible lighting for photos...

But a lifer nonetheless!  The white patches (rather than yellow on Red-winged Blackbirds) really stands out when they fly.  But I have no photos to prove this.

While I was watching the blackbirds several Common Nighthawks cruised by overhead...

Alright, and the last bird of the trip... When I first arrived on Victor Road I was driving slowly when suddenly a Short-eared Owl took flight from a fence post.  I was scrambling for my camera when a second one took flight a little further ahead.  I was in owl-overload and fumbled too much and ended up with no photos worth sharing.  I was bummed, and even more bummed when a THIRD freakin owl took flight and I missed that one too.

So on my way back home I stopped at Victor Road again and amazingly one owl had returned, and upon seeing me flew straight to the ground.  And let me take a billion photos of him (or her, I had trouble deciding which).

 I have never sat so long with a Short-eared Owl, it was pretty awesome.  I don't even care that the sun was in a bad spot.  There's something to be said about a bird like that looking you straight in the eyes...

So yeah, obviously it was a pretty good day!  Definitely helped distract me from waiting around to hear about the house (have to wait till Monday, ugh).  Good times!!


  1. WELL cant wait to hear about the HOUSE hope you get it and we get the grand tour when you're all settled. WOW what a great line up of great birds, that Says is awesome, and is that poop?
    THE OWL omg what a golden moment!
    I need to cool off...Im thinking CATTLE WATERING TROUGH..red neck swimming pool eh? THE sides are made or rigid plastic, no liner and so the dogs can swim too!

  2. Woah! The Flycatcher Jen train just keeps on rolling, That's a crazy cool tale with the Short-eared Owls, and Tri-colored Blackbird is a solid bird!

    I'm glad the celtic gallows didn't turn you back. That's a very eery construct there.
    House Finches seem like a good guess for those mysterious brown birds, but they seem a bit and darker and actually look more bunting-y to me

    Looks like some nice, high quality bird poo in the photo below them.

    Good luck with the house. If it helps seal the deal, you can use your bird blogger network to vouch for you too.

  3. First of all- whoa!--that header is like a mushroom trip. I love all the owl photos. Looks like a great day. My parents have had mountain quail visit their feeders, but not in the last few years. Such neat birds. What is that thing- a glass turd?! LOL! Keepin' my fingers crossed that you get the house!

    1. Haha, yeah I'm not sure about the header- got a bit involved with messing around with Picasa and that's what happened.

  4. I suspect that poop (however big it is) could be bird OR it could be herpetofaunal (lizard, toad). Almost started writing about the "distinctive white cap" when oog, it's too early, even for me.... =) If you DO wanna figure it out and don't know, how big is it?

    1. I am very curious about it.. Kind of wish I had taken it with me. It was about two inches long and maybe 1.5 inches across. I have another photo from another angle- I'll add it to the post now.

  5. Fantastic owl shots!! The bird in the third picture looks a Pipit to me. Good luck with that house - hope to hear more about it.

    1. Yeah it had a pipit-y shape, but I think it would have some streaking if it were...

  6. Laurence is right about the House Finches, and BB is right about the fecal source, Im pretty sure that is snake poo. I saw a lot of it the other day at one of our study sites. The other brown bird is a young lark.

    Glad you redeemed your owl strike out with a home run, those are great shots, Im totes jealz. Props on becoming Tricolored as well, sounds like a great trip.

    1. Wow snake poo. I guess I've never noticed it before. Only noticed this one because I happened to pop a squat right next to it.

  7. Nice Short-eared shots!!! How lucky are you??? The only time I had looks at one like that, I had forgotten my camera at camp! Ouch... It's one of the few missing from my owl gallery, and I'm dying to photograph one. What an awesome and fortunate experience - congrats!

    Nice work on the Trikes as well - a very striking blackbird.

    Good luck with the house!

    1. I feel no sorrow for your lack of SEOW's in your gallery considering the array of other owls I know you have photographed (and allegedly petted)! Seriously though, thanks!

    2. Hi Jen,

      Great photos and post! The SE owl is a recently, fledged bird hence the dark colors and facial pattern.

      Looks like I have to make another venture to Wasco County and at least it is less than 5-7 hours from my usual birding haunts.

      Keep up the great work and thanks for keeping your postings fun to read and follow!!

      Khanh Tran

    3. Good info on the owl, much appreciated. Thanks for all the kind words! Your videos always make me pretty dang envious!

  8. Great blog, I loved it!
    I'll follow you.
    Cheer from Argentina.

  9. Those are fantastic pics of the Short-eared Owl! Your new banner is wicked cool.


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