Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Osprey.

As you might recall, there is an Osprey nest rather close to my house.  I can see it from my front yard.  When a pair showed up this spring I was thrilled, even more so when I caught them mating.  They would soar over my house regularly, occasionally on snack runs from the river, but often just soaring for soaring's sake.  I dare say I heart them.

But then terrible weather came- pouring rain and super cold for a week straight.  I stopped hearing them, I stopped seeing them.  The nest was empty every time I visited.  I was pretty bummed, my dreams of baby Osprey crushed.  

A couple weeks later I was out in the yard and I thought I heard one.  Soon after I was walking the dogs and I saw one on the nest and my hope was restored.

Yesterday was hot and I finally walked to the store to buy a kiddie pool (too big to fit in the car).  I brought my bins and camera to check on the nest and I am so freakin stoked to report there are TWO lil Osprey kids up there!  It looked like one of the parents was trying to shade them from the sun. 

Look at those teeny tiny heads!  I really hope they survive this heat wave....  Good times!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More from Sisters.

There's a dirt road near Sisters that leads from the main highway (20) to highway 242, right next to Cold Springs Campground.  I kind of love the road, especially the first quarter mile from 20. 

When I pulled in on Friday afternoon I was planning on just taking the dogs out to pee really quick but immediately got distracted.  A Hairy Woodpecker zipped by us while a White-headed fellow called nearby.  Bluebirds were catching snacks and Williamson's Sapsucker nestlings were loudly calling for their parents from a nest hole.

 Western Bluebird

Williamson's Sapsucker

 White-headed Woodpecker (from Cold Springs Campground Saturday evening)

After an hour and a half of being distracted I finally made my way to the campground to enjoy the summer solstice...

A much tastier beer than I usually bring camping, I highly recommend it. 

Saturday afternoon I headed back to Calliope Crossing to try again, in much warmer weather.  A Common Nighthawk was soaring above us when we got out of the car. 

And a flicker was peeking out of a nest hole along the creek...

Farther up along the creek was an active Red-naped Sapsucker nest hole. 

After watching them fly around for a bit I started walking the dogs back to the car.  I came across a couple of other birders, one of whom (his name was Peter I think) mentioned he had seen the Northern Pygmy-Owls when he arrived.  He was able to quickly refind them for me and the other birder and we were treated to a most awesome show.

My photos were mostly crap, unfortunately.  We watched the parent owl feeding a juvenile a little dead rodent.  They were quite active and changed location a number of times.  Finally the bloody-faced parent came to rest on a tree branch just ahead of us and sat for a long time. 

Ahhhh so awesome... and a lifer!  I have heard them several times on Larch Mountain but never been able to see one.  Yay!

In the evening I drove around town looking for the local Pinyon Jay flock.  I never found it but did find some entertaining bluebirds at the middle school.  Dad had obviously just caught a worm and wanted to bring it inside the nest box.  Dumb baby was obviously in the way. 

He never made it in the box while I was there, hopefully the baby moved after I left.  Also found during my jay search:

Cute.  That evening when I was driving down Cold Springs Cutoff I noticed some color through the trees.  I went to investigate and found a random field of lupine buzzing with bumblebee activity.  It was super random and kinda magical.

Sunday morning I woke up warm, but to the sound of rain drops.  I packed up our stuff and we headed back to Portland.  I stopped at one of the sno parks along the way to go to the bathroom and found these beauties...

It was excellent weekend!  Good times!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rooster Rock Burn.

This weekend I took the dogs camping out in central Oregon near Sisters.  The scenery there is gorgeous and the birds, just plain rad.

On Saturday morning when we woke up I was super cold, but figured I was being silly.  I stopped for some hot coffee and drove up to Calliope Crossing to explore.  I made it about ten minutes before nearly crying from how frozen my fingers felt.  A quick weather check on my phone indicated the temp to be 33 degrees.  Oh.  I changed my plans and drove down to the Rooster Rock Burn, figuring I could at least car-bird until things warmed up.

A quartet of bucks completely escaped the notice of the dogs...

 Interesting that the front fellow is missing half his antlers.  I drove up until it seemed like things were getting birdy, and I took the dogs out to start walking.  Thankfully it warmed up quickly and we ended up spending over four hours wandering and it was pretty awesome. 

I found a bird along a creek that I really want to be a Gray Flycatcher.  Thoughts?

I may be way off.  Nearby a speckly young bluebird confused the heck out of me for a second while I turned it into a Wrentit.  Obviously it is not.

Farther along the creek I was trying to locate some Lazuli Buntings singing from somewhere when I heard a woodpecker behind me- a young Hairy.

And the bunting...

Some more highlights from the burn:

Mountain Bluebird

 Pygmy Nuthatch

 Mountain Chickadee

 Townsend's Solitaire

We were making our way back to the car along one of the dusty roads when I saw hawk soaring.  It appeared to be an accipiter, but I tried to contain my excitement that it looked pretty big...  Indeed it was a Northern Goshawk!  A lifer, confirmed later by a nice local birder I met at my campground, Tom Crabtree.

So awesome!!  Some other good birds around the burn that I didn't manage to get decent photos of included Black-backed Woodpecker, Common Nighthawk, Say's Phoebe, Cassin's Finch, and others I am probably forgetting.  Such a great morning!  More to come from my trip soon!  Good times!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Larch Mountain.

I went up to Larch Mountain a couple of times recently, both times sort of looking for grouse, but mostly just wandering around.  I stopped at Chanticleer Point (aka Portland Women's Forum Overlook, but that name is long and less cool) one morning and watched the fog swirling around.

I decided to hike the trail from the top of Larch Mountain down to where the trail turns towards Multnomah Falls.  It was a gorgeous morning, cool and sunny, with most birds being quite vocal.  Finding them was a bit more difficult though Pacific Wrens were easy to see.

I was psyched to find a Hairy Woodpecker nest hole.  The homeowners came out to chirp and grab some grub, then headed back inside.  Perhaps to feed some young?

The dogs rather enjoyed the hike too.

On another morning I went up to explore one of the many clearcuts.  It was a dreary foggy morning but all the blooming wildflowers brightened up the landscape. 

Willow Flycatchers dominated the clearcut while Pacific-Slopes ruled the forest...

Willow Flycatcher

 Pacific-slope Flycatcher

The only other bird I managed a photo of was a MacGillivray's Warbler that popped out right in front of me then disappeared just as quick. 

Once again, no grouse heard nor seen.  Just another reason to go back, right?  Good times!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wasco County.

I spent yesterday exploring some spots around Wasco County I had never visited before.  Say what you want about county listing (like that it's totally stupid or whatever), but I gotta say I love having a reason to creep around new places, finding awesome little spots.  I started the day by getting off the interstate at Mosier to check out the scenic route to The Dalles, and stopped at a little park that may be called Rock Creek.

The park had a little sheltered spot that I can only imagine is for birding as it had no seats nor scenic view.

The dogs and I went in to investigate.  I was surprised to see a crow sitting on a branch about a foot from the shelter.  I decided it had to be fake, it wasn't moving and it was SO close.  Of course it was not in fact fake, but was in fact a gorgeous blue-eyed juvenile crow...

Back on the Historic Columbia River Highway I stopped a bunch of times to look at birds...and architecture and scenery and ground squirrels and deer and...

Western Bluebirds were abundant throughout the day, though this fella picked the nicest backdrop (and the weirdest lion face perch):

I pulled over just before the gorgeous Dry Canyon Creek Bridge, mainly because I had to pee, but also because it looked like a cool spot to walk around.

A couple of Black-capped Chickadees came by to check on me while I took care of business. 

We stopped at Rowena Crest next to check out the scenic views.

While checking out the view, I noticed a bird hop up onto the stone wall near me.  It was a fuzzy little guy, a juvenile Rock Wren I believe...

I stopped in The Dalles to eat the sandwich I brought, then drove up 197 to the Bank Swallow colony I first visited a couple years ago.  They were out and about and I tortured myself with the task of getting a decent photo of one.

You get the idea.  I kept driving south looking for a turnoff for Dufur Mill Road.  I missed the turn, but turned on Dufur Gap Road instead where I found this dumb baby in the middle of the road.

Bad photos, but any ideas what it is?

I herded it off the road where it took cover in a bush.  Natural selection will probably take its course soon anyway.

I finally found the correct road and made my way to Rail Hollow Road, a paved road that turned to gravel and dust.  It got fairly hot out and the dogs were not too impressed, but I found some good stuff.

Western Tanager

 American Goldfinch

There were House Finches along the road but also some that were either Purple or Cassin's.  Both are expected in this area as the elevation is decent (I saw more Mountain Chickadees than other kinds here) but I have never had to discern the two.  Photos aren't great but hopefully can help determine which species I have here...

My last stop was the town of Dufur with the goal of tracking down some Eurasian Collared-Doves.  Dufur is a funny little town, a town where people kept waving at me like they knew me, a town where the local school (yep, the only school, K-12) uses a Pepsi sign for its announcements.  Like this gem:

Nearby I found my doves, as well as some House Sparrows, as well as some House Swallows.

Pretty cool, since Northern Rough-winged Swallow was not on my Wasco County list yet.

It was an excellent trip, though the drive home was interrupted by an accident on 84 that turned the highway into a parking lot.  Seriously people were out and about walking their dogs and stuff.  Mine were dead asleep.  Eventually they cleared a lane, only adding about 40 minutes to my drive.  Good times!!