Wasco County.

Yesterday morning I drove out past Mount Hood to explore a few areas in Wasco County.  My first stop was Camas Prairie, though I never actually saw a prairie.  I followed the two signs from Highway 216 and ended up at this sign:

This seems simple enough.  I went about a quarter mile in the direction the sign is pointing and found a trail head.  I walked the dogs about a mile straight down the trail, never seeing anything prairie-like, only cow pie after cow pie.  We backtracked and followed another trail.  Nope.  I had been hoping for American Three-toed Woodpeckers and came up with one flicker.  Oh well.  On our way back down the trail I found a couple of Hermit Thrushes...

They looked a lot greyer than the ones I usually see- perhaps a different subspecies?  After the [lack of] prairie we headed east past Pine Grove and drove up Victor Road.  You might recall my last trip back in July to this very spot when I ended up in Short-eared Owl heaven.   It's really a gorgeous area...

Doesn't get more scenic than that!  Instead of driving all of Victor Road this time I took a turn-off for White River Crossing Road.  I was hoping to find the river and its accompanying canyon from here, something you would never guess was there when you stare across the land.  But first, some birds got in the way!

This fella was chattering away, hidden in the shadows at first, but eventually hopped to the top of a tree for excellent viewing (and listening!). 

A Townsend's Solitaire!  Behind me I could hear another one singing the same chattery song.  Definitely not a bird I was expecting to find there.  Also poking around in the shadows were a couple of towhees and a White-crowned Sparrow.

A bit farther up the road were the first views of the White River Canyon...

The drive down into the canyon was pretty rocky and dusty, but could have been worse.  I found some chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches in one spot, with ravens and vultures soaring constantly overhead.  I found a spot to park where I could walk the dogs down to the river and do some exploring. 

I quickly found an American Dipper hopping around eating stuff off the rocks...

I was hoping for some warblers by the water but only found this one mysterious empid (yes, Fly Jen is back!):

According to eBird, the empids expected here are Hammond's and Pac-slope/Cordilleran.  I unfortunately have zero concept of what is a long vs. short primary projection.  Also, it's fall migration so perhaps other empids would be possible too.  Argh.  Maybe I do still hate birds. 

Lots of the rocks in the river had these little growths on them... What are they?

They made the river look like it was filled with deer poop.  I am guessing they do not taste like deer poop though, because Ralph did not try to eat them.

One last shot of one of the canyon walls (towards the top of the canyon).  So freakin pretty...

Just like on my last trip, my favorite bird of the day was on my way back down Victor Road.  I saw something perched on a telephone pole that was strongly backlit.  I briefly turned it into a Ferruginous Hawk (I saw lots of pale areas, that's my only defense), until it took flight...

Prairie Falcon! 

So awesome- a bird I had only seen twice before.  And now I shall leave you with something else I found to be rather impressive... This horse's weiner:

Good times!!


  1. What a trip!

    Sweet array of birds and mammalian genitalia. I think that empid is a Pacific Slope. In fact, I'm willing to stake ALL of my experience and reputation on it. ALL of it!

    American Dipper is such a neat bird...it's too bad tobacco advertising is illegal, because they'd be a great mascot for Dip (also, someone should start a dip company called Chewbacca)

    1. Yeah, I was thinking Pacific-slope when I saw it but my own first impressions (involving empids) mean zilch usually.

    2. Not a Pacific-slope, despite the perfect teardrop-shaped eyering. The bill is too short. Pacific-slopes also frequently have a break at the top of the eyering, which this bird lacks. Laurence, you may send me your reputation at your leisure via postal service.

      Primary projection is a great field mark to know but can be misleading if dont get to see the bird from many angles. I would lean towards Hammond's on this one; the alternative is Dusky.

      I havent heard a solitaire sing in a long time; such a good song.

    3. Thanks for taking a look at it... I wonder how much it costs to ship a reputation. Should probably get delivery confirmation. Just sayin.

    4. I am beginning to think you all just set me up. Alas, either way, there goes a year's worth of work. I should probably start a new website too, with a new new pseudonym, and maybe resume a geology hobby, where long primary projections and un-broken eye rings do not ruin my life. Or I'll just focus on the tobacco dip company. Dunno...everything is in flux now, need to sort shit out.

      In my case Jen, it will not cost very much to ship (they charge by weight you know, after the flat fee).

      Anyway I wouldn't say the beak is so short. The Pac-slopes I saw in Arizona had full eye-rings...maybe I'm just bitter. I've had to loo at lots of co-worker pictures of Mourning Doves to get that reputation you know.

      Steven, a deal is a deal. I will mail you reputation, but only if you have a residential address amidst your perpetual weekend. If you do provide an address, then I might call you out on not really being on a perpetual weekend birding holiday, and that would hurt your Global Birding Ranking Scale, which would make me feel better.

    5. If you started Chewbacca (Chewbacco?????), I would probably get addicted to dip as quick as possible.

      The broken eyering is something I just learned about (in the new Nat Geo guide), Im sure its not a totally diagnostic thing. I have been looking at a ton of Pac-slopes this fall though, so am pretty comfortable with this bird not being one.

  2. HI Jen, what a great day and great bird sightings. Love the Townsend's Solitaire and the cool Prairie Falcon. The Dippers are cute birds. Great post! Happy Birding!

  3. What a beautiful place! Looks like you had a good visit.

  4. The Prairie Falcon is the coolest! I like your new header by the way- and I won't even comment on that last photo.

  5. Man, I know what you mean about hating birds when it comes to flycatchers! They have been driving me crazy. I would guess Hammond's because the beak is a bit stubby and greyish. I cross compared photos on whatbird.com


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